Posts Tagged ‘Jew’

Minutes of the Conference

Monday, August 6th, 2012

At the beginning of the discussion Chief of the Security Police and of the SD, SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich, reported that the Reich Marshal had appointed him delegate for the preparations for the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe and pointed out that this discussion had been called for the purpose of clarifying fundamental questions. The wish of the Reich Marshal to have a draft sent to him concerning organizational, factual and material interests in relation to the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe makes necessary an initial common action of all central offices immediately concerned with these questions in order to bring their general activities into line.

The Reichsführer-SS and the Chief of the German Police (Chief of the Security Police and the SD) was entrusted with the official central handling of the final solution of the Jewish question without regard to geographic borders.

The Chief of the Security Police and the SD then gave a short report of the struggle which has been carried on thus far against this enemy, the essential points being the following:

a) the expulsion of the Jews from every sphere of life of the German people,
b) the expulsion of the Jews from the living space of the German people.

In carrying out these efforts, an increased and planned acceleration of the emigration of the Jews from Reich territory was started, as the only possible present solution.

By order of the Reich Marshal, a Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration was set up in January 1939 and the Chief of the Security Police and SD was entrusted with the management. Its most important tasks were

a) to make all necessary arrangements for the preparation for an increased emigration of the Jews,
b) to direct the flow of emigration,
c) to speed the procedure of emigration in each individual case.

The aim of all this was to cleanse German living space of Jews in a legal manner.

All the offices realized the drawbacks of such enforced accelerated emigration. For the time being they had, however, tolerated it on account of the lack of other possible solutions of the problem.

The work concerned with emigration was, later on, not only a German problem, but also a problem with which the authorities of the countries to which the flow of emigrants was being directed would have to deal. Financial difficulties, such as the demand by various foreign governments for increasing sums of money to be presented at the time of the landing, the lack of shipping space, increasing restriction of entry permits, or the cancelling of such, increased extraordinarily the difficulties of emigration. In spite of these difficulties, 537,000 Jews were sent out of the country between the takeover of power and the deadline of 31 October 1941. Of these

  • approximately 360,000 were in Germany proper on 30 January 1933
  • approximately 147,000 were in Austria (Ostmark) on 15 March 1939
  • approximately 30,000 were in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia on 15 March 1939.

The Jews themselves, or their Jewish political organizations, financed the emigration. In order to avoid impoverished Jews’ remaining behind, the principle was followed that wealthy Jews have to finance the emigration of poor Jews; this was arranged by imposing a suitable tax, i.e., an emigration tax, which was used for financial arrangements in connection with the emigration of poor Jews and was imposed according to income.

Apart from the necessary Reichsmark exchange, foreign currency had to presented at the time of landing. In order to save foreign exchange held by Germany, the foreign Jewish financial organizations were – with the help of Jewish organizations in Germany – made responsible for arranging an adequate amount of foreign currency. Up to 30 October 1941, these foreign Jews donated a total of around 9,500,000 dollars.

In the meantime the Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police had prohibited emigration of Jews due to the dangers of an emigration in wartime and due to the possibilities of the East.

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The Jewish Question as a Weapon at Home and Abroad

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

It has become apparent that the reduction of public discussion about the Jewish Question has misled a great part of the public, who now are starting to see the Jewish Question as a weapon we can do without, since the Jewish Question has, after all, been solved in Germany. This view is dangerous and false. Were it correct — and this line of thinking has been often used — the church could have ended its meetings hundreds of years ago, since everyone was Christian, and the Christian Question was therefore resolved. It is true that we have solved the Jewish Question in Germany, but it has become even more important outside Germany during this war, for this war is a war of the Jews against Germany and its allies. Just as the domestic struggle in Germany ended in an anti-Semitic revolution, so, too, this war must end in an anti-Semitic world revolution.

The best foundations for that have already been laid. There are already important anti-Semitic movements in nearly all the nations of Europe, along with more or less advanced Jewish laws aimed at diminishing the influence of the Jews. Even in enemy nations, anti-Semitic voices are so strong that leading newspapers and leading politicians and churchmen have to face the matter in public.

In Germany, we have made the whole nation anti-Semitic by always pointing the finger at the Jews, as hard as they tried to hide themselves. We always ripped the mask from their faces. The Jews attempted often enough to divert the public from the subject by busying them with other matters, since our propaganda was most unpleasant for them. That was still more reason to stubbornly continue that propaganda.

The Jewish Question must be the central issue in the meeting waves of the immediate future. Each German must know that everything he suffers in this war, all the unpleasantness, shortages, overtime, bloody terror against women and children, and bloody losses on the battlefield, are the fault of the Jews. Each meeting must include the following line of thinking:

The International Jew wanted this war. He possessed key economic positions within every enemy people and in every enemy nation, and used his power to ruthlessly drive the peoples into war.

He today controls public opinion in enemy nations, owning the press, radio, and film, and uses them as the voice of these peoples. Still, knowledge of the nature of Jewry has taken hold in enemy nations, and is increasing.

There is no crime in which the Jew is not involved. Just as was once the case in Germany, well over half of all those engaged in financial crimes, cases of fraud, bankruptcy, corruption, and stock speculation are Jews.

Where Jews do not want to appear as important men themselves, they have bought leading personalities in public life to do the Jews’ work for them.

Jews earn money from war, and therefore have an interest in a long war, though hardly a Jew bears a weapon himself, or earns his living by his own hands. Just as was once the case in Germany, Jews let others fight and work for them.

The Jews incited this war as a final attempt to maintain their power in the world and to defeat all those who saw through them.

This war will end with an anti-Semitic world revolution, and with the destruction of Jewry in the world, which is the prerequisite to a lasting peace. The key thought is this:

Everything is the fault of the Jews!

Recent events, particularly Katyn and the related developments in the Allied camp give much current information on this matter (see Redner-Schnellinformation issue 56).

Reichsleiter Dr. Goebbels published an article in Das Reich on 9 May 1943 titled “The War and the Jews.” This article will be sent to all speakers as a special edition of the Sonderdienst der RPL, issue 20/43). It provides extensive material on the Jewish Question.

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Monday, April 30th, 2012

During the early 1950’s numerous FBI investigations and trials were conducted against communist agents. Here follows a brief summary of the most well-know cases which demonstrate the disproportionate involvement of Jews in communist activities against the United States.

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The Palestinians and Zionism: 1897-1948.

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Mr. Neff recently published Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy toward Palestine and Israel since 1945 (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1995).

The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem is rooted not in 1948 but in the fermenting soil of the rise of Zionism in the late nineteenth century, specifically with the convening of the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. The meeting, which began August 29, 1897, attracted 204 Jews from 15 countries and had been arranged by Zionism’s founder, Theodor Herzl. The delegates agreed that “Zionism aims at the creation of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine to be secured by public law,” and to that end they would encourage emigration to Palestine. When the congress ended three days later, Herzl confided to his diary: “If I were to sum up the Basel Congress in a single phrase–which I would not dare to make public–I would say: in Basel I created the Jewish State.”(1)

At the time of the Basel congress, Arabs represented 95 percent of the population of Palestine and they owned 99 percent of the and.(2) Thus it was obvious from the beginning of Zionism that dispossession of the Palestinian majority, either politically or physically, would be an inevitable requirement for achieving a Jewish state. It was not only land that was needed to reach Zionism’s goal, but land without another people in the majority.

Since Palestinian Arabs were by far the majority throughout the period up to Israel’s establishment as a Jewish state in 1948, the Zionist state could emerge only by denying the majority its rights or by becoming the majority either through immigration or in reducing the number of Palestinians by ethnic cleansing. There was no other way to create a Jewish, rather than democratic, state.(3)

That the Jewish state was secured in 1948 by the expulsion of the Palestinians should have come as no surprise. Expulsion as Zionism’ s logical imperative was clearly seen by Herzl as early as June 12, 1895. At the time he was still formulating his ideas about Zionism and confided to his diary: “We shall try to spirit the penniless population [Palestinians] across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”(4) Even if this was perhaps the fanciful imagining of a rather romantic personality, as some sympathizers of Herzl contend, its essential imperative was inescapable. This was recognized by most early Zionists, as evidenced by the fact that the theme of expulsion consistently ran through Zionist thought from the very beginning.(5)

For instance, as early as 1905, Israel Zangwill, an organizer of Zionism in Britain and one of Zionism’s top propagandists, who had coined the slogan “a land without a people for a people without a land,” acknowledged in a speech in Manchester that Palestine was not a land without people. In fact, it was filled with Arabs: “[We] must be prepared either to drive out by the sword the [Arab] tribes in possession as our forefathers did or to grapple with the problem of a large alien population, mostly Mohammedan and accustomed for centuries to despise us.”(6)

This comment came at a time when there were around 645,000 Muslims and Christians in Palestine and only 55,000 Jews, mainly non-Zionists or anti-Zionists in the Orthodox neighborhoods of Jerusalem and other cities.(7)

David Ben-Gurion, the man who along with Herzl and Chaim Weizmann was one of the progenitors of Israel, explicitly acknowledged the linkage between Zionism and expulsion: “Zionism is a transfer of the Jews. Regarding the transfer of the Arabs this is much easier than any other transfer.”(8) Or, as Israeli scholar Benjamin BeitHallahmi put it: “While the basic problem confronting Diaspora Jews was to survive as a minority, the basic problem of Zionism in Palestine was to dispossess the natives and become a majority.”(9)

Much attention has been paid to how the early Zionists secured land in Palestine, but relatively little study has focused on the equally essential effort by Zionists to delegitimize and replace the Palestinian majority.(10) Without Jewish control, the Zionists concluded they would be no better off than in Europe, where Zionism arose specifically as a way to escape antisemitism, pogroms, the ghetto and minority status.

As former defense minister Ariel Sharon, a leading spokesman of Zionism’s right wing, has commented: “Our forefathers did not come here in order to build a democracy but to build a Jewish state.”(11) A similar view was recently expressed by Labor leader and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin: “I don’t believe that for 2,000 years Jews dreamed and prayed about the return to Zion to create a binational state.” (12) Though the terms are softer, the meaning is the same.

Thus from the very beginning of Zionism’s dream of creating a Jewish state, there were two complementary and equally imperative objectives: gain land and replace the majority population, either by denying them their rights, out-populating them or displacing them by one method or another. Despite soothing promises by Herzl and other Zionists that Jews and Palestinians would live happily side by side, there was, indeed, no other way to create Zionism’s envisioned Jewish state in Palestine.

The early Zionists pursued several strategies to achieve their goal. One was Jewish immigration. In their early enthusiasm, many Zionists and their supporters genuinely believed that large-scale Jewish immigration would soon solve the “Palestinian problem” by giving Jews a majority. Another rested on the belief that enough Palestinian farmers and labors, denied work, would accomplish the same thing by migrating out of Palestine. A third strategy, less well-known because it was conducted largely in the corridors of power in Constantinople, Berlin, London and Washington, was to gain the sponsorship of a world power, thereby affording legitimacy to Jewish claims as a counterbalance to the rights of the Palestinian majority.

The Zionists pursued all of these strategies simultaneously with lesser and greater success. But in the end it was only forced expulsion that secured their state.

The roots of Zionism reached deep into the psyche of Jewish suffering. But the major immediate cause for its emergence at the end of the nineteenth century was the massive waves of migration set off by pogroms in Russia in 1881 and the spread of blatant antisemitism throughout Eastern Europe in the waning decades of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. Individuals, families and even whole communities fled the antisemitic terror. Up to the outbreak of World War I in 1914, about 2.5 million Jews had left Russia and other European countries, the vast majority of them seeking new homes in the West, particularly in the United States, Canada, South America and Australia. Less than 1 percent of them moved to Palestine and remained there.(13)

The figures for the United States alone were indicative of the profound demographic changes taking place. In 1880, there were about 250,000 Jews in America. By the end of World War I, there were four million.(14) With such a massive population change taking place, the question of the Ubiquitous Jew became the subject of dinner conversation even in the White House. President Woodrow Wilson, his wife and presidential confidant Colonel Edward M. House speculated one night in 1918 about the number of Jews in the world. House guessed 15 million, Mrs. Wilson 50 million and Wilson 100 million. At the time there were around 11 million.(15)

This torrent of Jewish migration unleashed events that directly favored the development of Zionism and, incidentally, its early embrace by both Britain and the United States. Reluctance and even refusal by many countries to receive the desperate Jewish immigrants fleeing antisemitism increased Jewish disillusionment with the gentile world and helped emphasize the Jews’ sense of isolation, an alienation that lay at the heart of Zionism. Zionism, was explained by Herzl in his seminal pamphlet Der Judenstaat in early 1896: “We have sincerely tried everywhere to merge with the national communities in which we live, seeking only to preserve the faith of our fathers. It is not permitted us.”(16)

At its heart, then, this was the fundamental rationale of Zionism: a profound despair that antisemitism could not be eradicated as long as Jews lived among gentiles.

It was not a sentiment universally shared by Jews, particularly those scholars and businessmen who had successfully assimilated in the secular Western democracies or had found security under guarantees of religious freedom. In fact, Zionism remained a minority movement among Jews well into the twentieth century. There were strong and vocal anti-Zionist groups like the American Council for Judaism in the United States as late as the 1950s. Among the fruits of Israel’ s 1967 victory over its Arab neighbors was the final acceptance of Zionism by nearly the whole of the Jewish community from that time hence.

But even in its infancy, Zionism enjoyed the advantage of having powerful advocates in both London and Washington, Christian as well as Jewish. Moreover, the social problems caused by the massive Jewish migrations convinced other Western political leaders to favor the idea of a Jewish state. This was because the flood of Jewish emigrants seeking entry in those countries became so great over the years that they eventually provoked anti-immigration riots in London and restrictive immigration laws in both Britain and the United States.(17) Establishment of a Zionist state was an obvious way to divert Jewish immigrants from Western shores and thereby calm the political storms building over immigration policy. That little consideration was given by ambitious politicians to what impact Jewish immigration would have on the Arabs already in residence was hardly surprising under such circumstances.

But while Zionism slowly gained converts in the West, opposition to it built in the Middle East. In Palestine, Arabs and the Ottoman Empire, which had ruled Palestine for 400 years, were not unaware of the dangers to the established order posed by unlimited Jewish immigration. Although only about 60,000 of the 2.5 million who fled Eastern Europe up to World War I became permanent residents in Palestine, even this small number found themselves unwelcome.(18)

As early as 1882, Sultan Abdul Hamid II decreed that while he was “perfectly ready to permit the Jews to emigrate to his dominions, provided they became Ottoman subjects, he would not allow them to settle in Palestine.”(19) He justified this restriction by saying that “Jewish emigration may in the future result in the creation of a Jewish government.”(20) At the time, before the massive Jewish emigration began, there were about 25,000 Jewish and a half-million Arab residents in Palestine.(21) Despite the sultan’s orders, a steady if small stream of Jewish immigrants managed through bribery and stealth to continue to arrive in Palestine.(22)

By 1891, some Palestinian merchants were concerned enough that they sent off a telegram to Constantinople complaining that they feared Jewish immigrants might come to monopolize trade and pose a threat to local business interests.(23) As early as 1897, the same year as the first Zionist Congress, the mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Tahir Husseini, father of Hajj Amin Husseini, headed a commission established specifically to study land sales to Jews. The result of the commission’ s work was effectively to halt land sales to Jews in the Jerusalem district for several years.(24)

In 1899, Mayor of Jerusalem Youssuf Zia Khalidi, a Palestinian scholar and a member of the Ottoman Parliament, wrote a letter that was later forwarded to Herzl that warned against Zionist claims to Palestine. Palestinians were particularly resentful of Zionism’s assertion that Jews had a right to Palestine because they had once lived there two millennia earlier. Khalidi noted that Zionist claims to Palestine were impractical since the land had been under Muslim control for the last thirteen centuries and that Arabs and Christians had inherent interests because of the holy places. Moreover, he added, the existing majority population of Arabs opposed Jewish control.(25) When Constantinople decided in 1901 to give foreign residents, essentially meaning new Jewish immigrants, the same rights as Arabs to buy land, a group of Palestinian notables sent a petition to the Ottoman capital protesting the action.(26)

Nonetheless, despite these early suspicions by some Palestinian leaders and merchants, relations between Palestinians and Jews remained in general fairly friendly up to the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. According to historian Neville J. Mandel: “By the eve of the Young Turk Revolution…it is clear that Arab anti-Zionism had not yet emerged. On the other hand, there was unease about the expanding Jewish community in Palestine, and growing antagonism toward it.”(27) Added Israeli historian Gershon Shafir: “The revolt of the Young Turks in July 1908 is to be viewed as the beginning of open Jewish-Arab conflict, as well as the cradle of the Arab national movement.”(28)

In large part, the general Palestinian apathy up to 1908 resulted from the fact that the early Zionists successfully emphasized their quest for land and friendly relations while masking any intention to displace the Palestinians. As Herzl’s diary entry about acting “discreetly and circumspectly” implies, even in the waning days of colonialism the idea of deliberately displacing an indigenous population in favor of foreign immigrants carried with it a cynical odor that the early Zionists sought to avoid for political reasons as well as for the need to maintain peaceful day-to-day relations with their neighbors. Thus plans to dispossess the Palestinians soon became euphemistically known among Zionists and to the outside world as the “transfer” issue. Publicly, Zionists emphasized the benefits Palestinians and the Ottoman Empire would gain from new Jewish immigrants, who brought with them money, intelligence and international connections.

But privately, transfer of the Palestinians was a recurrent topic in the inner councils of Zionists for the half-century leading to the massive expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948.(29) While there were Zionists opposed to transfer on humanitarian grounds, the logical imperative of Zionism dictated that there was no other way short of delegitimizing the Palestinian majority or out-populating them to achieve Jewish statehood. But gaining a Jewish majority turned out to be unrealistic: even in 1947, after nearly six decades of immigration, there were in Palestine only 589,341 Jews among a total population of 1,908,775.(30)

Ultimately it became clear that the Zionists had only two major strategies for gaining control: delegitimizing the Palestinians, which the Zionists proved exceeding successful at over the years, and expelling them, either through denying them jobs or through forcible expulsion. For many years the early Zionists clung to the belief that the Palestinians could be replaced by the expedient of denying them work. This was obvious to outside observers, such as the U.S. King-Crane Commission, which issued its report on Palestine in 1919: “The fact came out repeatedly in the commission’s conference with Jewish representatives that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine by various forms of purchase.” It added that non-Jews represented “nearly nine-tenths of the whole.”(31) [See American-Arab Affairs, no. 9, Summer 1984, for text of the King-Crane report.]

The campaign to evict the Palestinian farmers was done in the name of Labor Zionism. On its surface this was a beneficial and benign policy aimed mainly at rehabilitating the stereotypically weak diaspora Jews into the New Jew of Palestine. One of Labor Zionism’s prominent advocates, Aharon David Gordon, wrote that such redemption must come through “work with our very own hands,” adding: “We must feel all that the worker feels, think what he thinks, live the life he lives, in ways that are our ways. Then we can consider that we have our own culture, for then we shall have life.”(32)

As late as the 1929 constitution of the Jewish Agency, the goals of Labor Zionism were embraced in an article decreeing that only Jewish labor could be hired on land owned by the Jewish National Fund: “The Agency shall promote agricultural colonization based on Jewish labor, and in all works and undertakings carried out or furthered by the Agency, it shall be a matter of principle that Jewish labor shall be employed.”(33) The Jewish National Fund was the Zionist Organization’ s land-buying agency in Palestine. It had been founded in 1901 by the Fifth Zionist Congress with the express purpose of holding all land it purchased as inalienable Jewish property that could not be sold to non-Jews. Its charter also decreed that land held by the fund could be leased only to Jews. Lessees were forbidden to sublease.(34)

While there could be no doubt about the sincerity of the effort to create the New Jew through labor redemption, there was nonetheless a dark underside to the program. If Jews were going to do the work’ then it was the Palestinians who would necessarily go jobless. That was because most of the land purchases by Zionists were from absentee landlords, who gave the Palestinian peasants no choice in the matter.(35) Just as Herzl had early dreamed, they became “penniless” and ripe for migration.

But the prohibition against hiring Arabs was not uniformly observed, nor did Palestinians show any inclination to move from Palestine, even when they were denied their jobs. Instead, they simply relocated from farms taken over by Jews to others where they could find employment, sometimes with other Jewish owners. In addition, the program eventually came under criticism as being intrinsically racist. Historian Arnold Toynbee joined other critics, charging in 1931 that Labor Zionism was creating “an exclusive preserve for the Jews, what in South Africa is called segregation.” Others called it “economic apartheid.”(36)

Ultimately, Labor Zionism failed. Not only did it increasingly tarnish Zionism’s humane face, it never achieved its most important goal–to displace the Palestinians.

While one of Zionism’s strategies was to delegitimize the Palestinians, its corollary was to legitimize the Jewish presence. From the beginning, Herzl was acutely aware that the Zionist community would need a major power as a sponsor. His first efforts were directed at Sultan Abdul Hamid, a logical choice since the Ottoman Empire exercised ultimate control over Palestine. Even before officially founding Zionism in I 897, Herzl traveled to Constantinople in 1896 to seek the sultan’ s grant of land in Palestine in return for helping the empire restore its depleted treasury through Jewish financiers. Significantly, a draft of his proposed charter written after this trip sought from the sultan the right for Jews to deport the native population.(37)

But the sultan repulsed Herzl’s efforts, finally sending a message that urged Herzl “to take no further steps in this matter. I cannot alienate a single square foot of land, for it is not mine but my people’ s. My people fought for this land and fertilized it with their blood….Let the Jews keep their millions.”(38)

Next, in 1898, Herzl turned his attentions to Germany and Kaiser Wilhelm II, who had ambitions in the Middle East. Herzl bluntly told the Germans: “We need a protectorate and the German would suit us best.”(39) He pointed out that the leaders of Zionism were German- speaking Jews and that the language used at the First Zionist Congress the previous year had been German. Thus a Jewish state in Palestine would introduce German culture to the region. However, the kaiser turned Herzl down, largely because he did not want to provoke the Ottoman Empire, which was a major purchaser of German arms, or anger Christians at home.(40)

Undaunted by this latest rebuff, Herzl next turned to Great Britain in 1902. Here he found more fertile ground. There was a tradition among Protestant Christians and English writers stretching over the previous two centuries for support of “the return of the Jews” to Palestine, a tradition that had also moved to the United States. Moreover, Britain’s concern for the security of the Suez Canal as the lifeline to its Indian colony had led to its takeover of Egypt in 1882, and protection of the canal remained the focus of London’s interests in the region. Having a friendly population in the region would be to London’s advantage.

However, since Britain was no more interested in antagonizing the sultan than was Germany, gaining British support for a Palestine charter was out of the question at the time. So Herzl sought a charter for nearby British territory: Cyprus, El Arish or the Sinai Peninsula. Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain ruled out Cyprus because a Jewish presence would mean angering the existing Greek and Turkish inhabitants, and Egypt was ruled out because the local British governor opposed granting any Egyptian territory. So Chamberlain suggested a compromise: territory about the size of Palestine in British East Africa. Although it was called Uganda at the time, it corresponded to today’s Kenya.(41) Herzl was delighted with the offer, if not as a substitute for Palestine then as a stepping stone to it. But the suggestion was met by a fire storm of protest from many Zionists, especially among the Russians, and equally from British colonists. By early 1904 both Herzl and Chamberlain were glad to drop the idea.(42)

But the experience had been profitable for Zionism. A major connection had been made with high officials of the British government, a link that Herzl correctly prophesied would eventually lead to concrete results. Shortly before his death on July 3, 1904, Herzl confided to a friend: “You will see, the time is coming when England will do everything in her power to have Palestine ceded to us for the Jewish state.”(43)

After this, Zionist ambitions focused solely on Palestine as the site of the hoped-for Jewish state.

By 1914, on the eve of World War I, there were about 604,000 Arabs and 85,000 Jews in Palestine, an increase of about 30,000 Jews in a decade.(44) Despite the comparatively low rate of immigration, it had already become clear to a growing number of Palestinians that Zionism was a permanent and pervasive threat, however slow its development. This dawning awareness was prevalent among members of Palestine’s leading families, intellectuals and merchants. After listening to the claims of Zionists and their forerunners for nearly two decades, many prominent Palestinians by the eve of World War I recognized that, if successful in its stated goals, Zionism ultimately meant dispossession of much or all of the Arab community, Muslim and Christian alike.

With distrust growing of the Young Turks in Constantinople and new winds of Arab nationalism beginning to blow over the Arab world, political activism increased in Palestine during the 1908-14 period. A number of newspapers and local political organizations espousing Arab rights sprang up in Palestinian communities. Regardless of their varied programs, almost all of the new groups shared a common thread of anti-Zionism.(45)

A political tract distributed anonymously in Jerusalem in 1914 read in part: Men! Do you want to be slaves and servants to people who are notorious in the world and in history? Do you wish to be slaves to the Zionists who have come to you to expel you from your country, saying that this country is theirs?(46)

By the outbreak of war, almost all the Arab arguments against Zionism that still echo today had been expressed, and Arab-Jewish hostility had become a permanent feature of what was soon to become an open conflict.(47)

Among the Palestinian activists was a young teenager, Muhammad Amin Husseini, scion of a wealthy family that for centuries had controlled the most important religious and political posts in Jerusalem. Already by the age of 13, in 1913, Husseini had formed a short-lived anti- Zionist club and begun writing tracts against Jewish immigrants. One of the new Arab nationalists, he was to become Zionism’s greatest foe. In 1921 he would be elected mufti of Jerusalem, a post that his family had held with few exceptions since the seventeenth century, a position that in essence made him leader of the Palestinians.(48) From that time until the founding of Israel, Husseini would exert his considerable talents to prevent the Zionists from establishing a state.

Husseini and other Palestinian notables like him were neither naive nor innocent. They had dealt for centuries with the Ottoman Empire and were conversant with the subtle and internecine plottings of the oriental court as well as the perils and privileges of the complex communal relations between Muslims, Christians, Jews, Druze and others living side by side in Palestine. While they had by World War I identified the threats in Zionism and their own strengths, including their rights as a majority and the weakness of the Zionist claim to Palestine on the basis of a residency 2,000 years before, they lacked a sophisticated understanding of the West. They were unable to compete with the extent and entree of Jewish influence in Britain and the United States, and they underestimated the historic trends in the West that favored a Jewish state.

The Palestinians were also placed at a great disadvantage by their inability to counteract Zionist propaganda in the West, which painted Palestinians as variously ignorant, dirty, rapacious anti-Christians undeserving of support. Although not successful enough by itself to gain a Jewish state, the effort was highly effective in delegitimizing the Palestinians.

The Zionists employed every known technique to reinforce anti-Islamic stereotypes, propaganda that no doubt predated the Crusades. The Arabs were pictured as vicious and dirty in news stories and books (and later movies and television) as well as in lectures, pamphlets and face-to-face interviews. It was a process that continues to this day, even after the Israeli-PLO mutual recognition in 1993. Typical of the results of the Zionist effort were such passages as the following written by the distinguished president of Brandeis University, Dr. Abram Leon Sachar:

The Arabs remained sullen and unimpressed [with Zionist farming and industrial achievements in Palestine]. They were constantly fomented to resentment and riot by a small clique of Arab landowners who were violently opposed to Jewish immigration. For centuries these parasitic effendis had with impunity exploited their peasant vassals, the sharecroppers, the poor fellahin who could easily move from dissatisfaction to revolt. In one area was the Jewish colony, green, tidy, productive, the laborers well paid, educated, secure, singing at their work. Adjacent to it was the miserable, squalid, dirty Arab village, ignorance the rule, discouragement the climate….How long would it be before the dispossessed and the disinherited, stirred by the example of Jewish standards, cried out for a decent way of life? It was in the interest of feudal self-defense to forestall such demands by persuading the fellahin that the Jews were trespassers who had come to rob the Arabs of their land, to steal their jobs, to subjugate them, to pollute their holy places.”(49)

Such views were propagated at the highest levels of academia, especially in the United States and Britain, perpetuating over the decades an image of glorious and selfless Jewish labor against the greed of exploitative Arab landowners and the ignorance of dirty Arab peasants. These crude cartoons provided a powerful argument in enlisting Christians and their political leaders in the Zionist cause.

How effective the Zionists were in promoting their program became startlingly clear in 1917, when they obtained Britain’s public (and America’s private) support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Finally, after two decades of effort, Zionism gained a major power as its sponsor.

The success rested on differences between Britain in 1902, when Herzl first sought London’s sponsorship, and 1917 when Britain no longer cared about the sensitivities of the Ottoman Empire because it was now at war with Constantinople. British troops were about to overrun Palestine, and the ancient land was to come under London’s control. With this shift in the geostrategic kaleidoscope, one thing remained constant: British concern for the security of the Suez Canal.

It was no coincidence that defense of the canal was highlighted by British Zionists to find favor for their cause. They and their influential supporters propounded the idea that a friendly Zionist presence in Palestine would be of great political and military importance to the British Empire. As the pro-Zionist Manchester Guardian argued in 1915: “A couple of thousand years before the Suez Canal was built, the rulers of Egypt were perplexed with the problems of the defense of their land frontier, and what helped them to solve it was the existence in the old Jewish nation of powerful buffer-states against the great military empires of the north.”(50) Although this was bad history- -there had been no “great military empires” in the north at the time- -it was good propaganda. It associated a Zionist state with British security.

Another event favoring the Zionists was the coming to power in late 1916 of David Lloyd George as prime minister and Arthur James Balfour as foreign secretary. Balfour had been prime minister in the early 1900s at the time of the British offer of “Uganda” as a Jewish homeland and, although not Jewish, he considered himself a Zionist.(51) Welshman Lloyd George was a firm believer in the Old Testament’s claim to the right of the Jews to Palestine.(52)

Both men shared a common concern for gaining U.S. support for Britain’ s postwar goals to divide up the tottering Ottoman Empire, including the ambition of taking over Palestine. In this, they were advised by the British embassy in Washington that Britain could be helped in achieving U.S. backing by finding favor with Jewish Americans. Reported the embassy: “They are far better organized than the Irish and far more formidable. We should be in a position to get into their good graces.”(53)

One seemingly obvious way to do this was to follow the natural inclinations of Lloyd George and Balfour and support Zionist ambitions in Palestine, if only London could be sure President Wilson agreed with such a path. In this, Lloyd George and Balfour failed to appreciate that there remained major Jewish American groups opposed to Zionism, including the Jewish Socialists representing New York’s sweatshops, the Agudath Israel orthodox religious movement, which considered Zionism “the most formidable enemy that has ever arisen among the Jewish people,” and wealthy assimilated Jews like former ambassador Henry J. Morgenthau, who called Zionism “wrong in principle and impossible of realization.”(54) Moreover, Secretary of State Robert Lansing was distinctly cool to Zionism.

Nonetheless, supporting the Zionists was one of the policies pursued by the two British leaders. Specifically, they worked to gain U.S. support for a declaration that would be approved by the British Cabinet and commit that country to endorsing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In this they were immeasurably helped, as well as goaded, by a persistent and persuasive Russian-born Jewish chemist, Chaim Weizmann. In 1917 he was head of the Zionist movement in Britain and a tireless worker in that cause. His achievements were so great that eventually he would be head of the World Zionist Organization and Israel’s first president.

Aware of Lloyd George’s and Balfour’s desire for U.S. support, Weizmann sought a backdoor past the State Department to the White House via America’s foremost Zionist, Louis B. Brandeis, an intimate of President Wilson, who had appointed him in 1916 to the Supreme Court. On April 8, 1917, Weizmann cabled Brandeis, advising that ” an expression of opinion coming from yourself and perhaps other gentlemen connected with the Government in favor of a Jewish Palestine under a British protectorate would greatly strengthen our hands.”(55) A month later, following America’s entry into the war, Brandeis had a 45-minute meeting with Wilson on the president’s views of Palestine and discovered that he was “entirely sympathetic to the aims of the Zionist Movement” and favored a British protectorate in Palestine.(56) However, Wilson did not want to make a public declaration because of his concern with French ambitions toward the region and a futile hope that Turkey could still be persuaded to quit the war.

This vital intelligence Brandeis shared with Balfour, who was in Washington at the time. In turn, Balfour gratified the justice by proclaiming “I am a Zionist.”(57)

When Britain sought Wilson’s endorsement in September 1917 of a draft declaration, however, he responded that the time was “not opportune” for him to go public. In desperation, Weizmann cabled Brandeis that it “would greatly help if President Wilson and yourself would support the text. Matter most urgent. Please telegraph.”(58) Brandeis was able to use his access to the White House to meet with Colonel House, and together they assured Weizmann that from talks I have had with President and from expressions of opinion given to closest advisers I feel I can answer you in that he is [in] entire sympathy with declaration quoted in yours of nineteenth as approved by the foreign office and the Prime Minister. I of course heartily agree.”(59)

However, Wilson would not make a public statement at the time because of his continuing hope of a separate peace with Turkey and concern about France. Weizmann felt more was needed to counteract anti-Zionist sentiment in Britain, including strong opposition from the only Jew in the Lloyd George cabinet, Edwin Montagu, the secretary of state for India. Montagu was able to bring to the argument an anti-Zionist assessment by one of the greatest Arabists of the time, Gertrude Bell, a colleague of T.E. Lawrence and currently involved in British intelligence in Cairo. She wrote that two considerations rule out the conception of an independent Jewish Palestine from practical politics. The first is that the province as we know it is not Jewish, and that neither Mohammedan nor Arab would accept Jewish authority; the second that the capital, Jerusalem, is equally sacred to three faiths, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, and should never, if it can be avoided, be put under the exclusive control of any one location, no matter how carefully the rights of the other two may be safeguarded.(60)

Another dissent from the Middle East came from A.P. Albina, a Levantine Catholic merchant from Jerusalem who enjoyed good relations with top British officials. He wrote that it was contradictory for the Western powers to grant freedom to small nationalities while at the same time planning to give Palestine to the Jews. He described the Zionists as a foreign and hated race, a motley crowd of Poles, Russians, Romanians, Spaniards, Yemenites, etc., who can claim absolutely no right over the country, except that of sentiment and the fact that their forefathers inhabited it over two thousand years ago[.] The introduction into Palestine of Jewish rule, or even Jewish predominance, will mean the spoliation of the Arab inhabitants of their hereditary rights and the upsetting of the principles of nationalities….Politically, a Jewish State in Palestine will mean a permanent danger to a lasting peace in the Near East.(61)

To appease the anti-Zionists, the British cabinet drafted a revised declaration. It specifically addressed Montagu’s concern about non- Zionist Jews living outside of Palestine by adding a final clause that said the establishment of a Jewish national home would not prejudice the “rights and political status enjoyed in any other country by such Jews who are fully contented with their existing nationality.(62)

Once again, Weizmann turned to Brandeis to help get Wilson’s endorsement of the new text. In a long letter on October 7, Weizmann wrote “I have no doubt that the amended text of the declaration will be again submitted to the President, and it would be most invaluable if the President would accept it without reservation and would recommend the granting of the declaration now”(63) [Italics in original].

When the British Foreign Office sent the draft to Wilson at about the same time, he turned it over to Brandeis for his comments. The justice and his aides redrafted it in slightly stronger and cleaner language, substituting “the Jewish people” for “the Jewish race”– thereby muting the vexing question of who is a Jew–and making the final clause read that there would be no prejudice to the “rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”(64)

Colonel House sent the revision on to Wilson, who as a son of a clergyman and a daily reader of the Bible was predisposed to a Jewish homeland. But, in the midst of world war, he felt no urgency about the matter. It was not until October 13 that he sent a memo to House saying:

I find in my pocket the memorandum you gave me about the Zionist Movement. I am afraid I did not say to you that I concurred in the formula suggested by the other side. I do, and would be obliged if you would let them know it.(65)

So casual was Wilson about this momentous decision that he never did inform his secretary of state, or publicly announce his decision.(66) Thus, in the most off-handed way possible, the United States lent its enormous weight to supporting the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in Palestine. It was a decision that was to have a profound effect on Middle East history and on the daily lives of Palestinians.

Its immediate result came on November 2, 1917, when Britain issued the fateful statement that was to become known as the Balfour Declaration. It came in the form of a personal letter from Foreign Secretary Balfour to a prominent British Jew, Lionel Walter, the second Lord of Rothschild:

Foreign Office November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothchild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’ s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours, Arthur James Balfour(67)

Arabs and anti-Zionists could not help noting the totally pro-Zionist content of the declaration. It failed to mention Christians or Muslims, Arabs or Palestinians, even though they remained by far the majority population in Palestine. It spoke of a homeland, but that was widely understood to mean a Jewish state, although many Zionists continued to deny it. And it pledged to actively help Jews while merely promising to protect the rights of “the non-Jewish communities.”

Arabs far beyond Palestine were alarmed and disappointed. It was clear to them that British wartime promises of Arab independence were being ignored by London. The campaign to chase the Turks from Palestine was just now being concluded, with Arab help. British forces aided by Arabs stood at the gates of Jerusalem. Soon they would clear the area, and Palestine would pass from the Ottoman to the British Empire. But Arab aspirations were now being ignored.

However, for the Zionists the timing of the Balfour Declaration could not have come at a more propitious moment. Now, in their twentieth year, Zionists had found a major power as their sponsor. Britain’s endorsement of their ambitions at last gave a gloss of legitimacy to their enterprise.

For all that, the Zionists still were faced with the fact that they had to employ other strategies to realize their dream. For however impressive their new international standing, the Zionists faced one undeniable reality–the Palestinians’ presence in the land. They remained and they continued to be the vast majority. Precise figures are not available for the period when the Balfour Declaration was issued. Both the Arab and Jewish populations had declined during the war, which hit Palestine hard leaving perhaps 55,000 Jews and under 600, 000 Palestinians.(68)

The first fairly reliable figures only came in the British census taken in 1922. For the Zionists it was more evidence that their dream remained far away. The census put Palestine’s total population at 757,182, of whom nearly 88 percent were Arabs (590,890 Muslim and 73,024 Christians) and 11 percent (83,794) Jewish.(69)

Within the inner councils of Zionism it became increasingly clear that the only realistic way to gain a Jewish state was to reduce the size of the Palestinian majority. Although it had been true from the beginning that there was an irreconcilable conflict between Zionism and Palestinians, the issue increasingly came out in the open as the years passed. After anti-Zionist riots in 1920-1 and again during new riots in 1929, David Ben-Gurion admitted: “The Arab in the land of Israel need not and cannot be a Zionist. He cannot want the Jews to become a majority. Herein lies the true conflict, the political conflict between us and the Arabs. [Both] we and they want to be the majority.”(70)

In that same year, it was clear that a campaign of ethnic cleansing would be necessary to realize the Zionist goal. By the beginning of 1930, Chaim Weizmann, president of the Zionist Organization, secretly urged the British, as Palestine’s Mandate ruler, to assist in expelling Palestinians to Transjordan. The British declined. But Weizmann did not suspend his campaign to rid the land of Palestinians. In an article he wrote that same year, Weizmann discreetly suggested a “voluntary transfer” of Palestinians because “it would be just as easy for landless Arabs or cultivators from the congested areas to migrate to Transjordan as to migrate from one part of Western Palestine to another.”(71) Weizmann remained a strong supporter of transfer, whether voluntary or compulsory, throughout his life.

In 1931, Revisionist Zionists, led by fire-brand Vladimir Jabotinsky, became a major force with the slogan “The aim of Zionism is gradually to convert the land of Israel [including Transjordan] into a self- governing Jewish Commonwealth, resting on a permanent Jewish majority.” The implication was clear: the Palestinian majority would have to go. Commented Michael Bar-Zohar, an Israeli biographer of Ben-Gurion, on the Revisionist slogan:

It must be admitted that this was the true and faithful slogan of Zionism. The other Zionist parties…favored quiet diplomacy toward the British and not arousing the anger of the Arabs prematurely. All the same, there is no doubt that the Revisionist slogan correctly expressed the feelings of Zionists all over the world and consequently gained many supporters.(72)

The revisionists that year became the third largest faction with 21 percent of the delegates at the Seventeenth Zionist Congress.(73)

Although Ben-Gurion, as leader of the majority Labor Zionists, despised Jabotinsky (Ben-Gurion referred to him as Il Duce because of Jabotinsky’s admiration for the Italian dictator.(74)), he essentially agreed with Jabotinsky in his attitude toward transfer. Israeli historian Simha Flapan observed: “…[w]here the Arabs were concerned, [Ben- Gurion] espoused the basic principles of Revisionism: the expansion of the borders, the conquest of Arab areas, and the evacuation of the Arab population.”(75)

Zionist plans for transfer gained urgency during the middle 1930s, a time when Palestine began filling with Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, increasing the proportion of Jews among the Palestinian population to around 30 percent, and thus for the first time making the prospect of a Jewish state more realistic than ever before.(76) Sensing the new threat, the Palestinians erupted in 1936 in the Arab rebellion. Britain responded by appointing the Royal (Peel) Commission to study deteriorating relations between the two communities. The commission report, released on July 8, 1937, found differences between Arab and Jew irreconcilable and for the first time called for partition of Palestine into two sovereign states, “one an Arab state consisting of Transjordan and the Arab part of Palestine, and the other a Jewish state.”(77)

The stunning feature of the Peel report was its essential adoption of the Zionist idea of transfer. Although it gingerly called it an “exchange” of population, the report proposed that 225,000 Palestinians be expelled from the allotted Jewish state while 1,250 Jews would be moved from the Arab state, leaving vague whether the exchange would be voluntary or compulsory. Paradoxically, it insisted at the same time that there had to be guarantees for the protection of minorities.(78)

The Twentieth Zionist Congress withheld endorsement of the Peel report the following month despite the fact that it proposed allotting a Jewish state 33 percent of Palestine even though Jews at the time owned no more than 5.6 percent of the land.(79) The Congress thought the size of the proposed Jewish state was not large enough. But it agreed that discussions should continue with London on the subject of how a Jewish state might be created. This in itself was a major achievement, since negotiations from now on focused on the establishment of an actual independent Jewish state instead of a homeland. Britain the next year abandoned its support of partition and transfer, but its brief embrace of the idea encouraged Zionists.(80)

Internally, the Peel report energized discussion of the transfer issue among Zionists, an issue that from now on assumed a new prominence and seriousness as the road to statehood increasingly opened up. Among the immediate reactions was the appointment by Moshe Shertok, head of the political department of the Jewish Agency and later Israel’ s first foreign minister under the Hebraized name of Sharett, of a Population Transfer Committee.

Like Ben-Gurion and Weizmann, Shertok was a firm believer in transfer. Among the members he appointed to the transfer committee was Josef Weitz, director of the Jewish National Fund’s Land Department. He was the man in charge of purchasing Palestinian land so that it could be held “in inalienable possession of the Jewish people,” as the fund’ s charter decreed. Weitz was among the strongest believers in compulsory transfer, as he made clear at an early meeting in November 1937 of the transfer committee. He informed the committee that the transfer of Arab population from the area of the Jewish state does not serve only one aim–to diminish the Arab population. It also serves a second, less important, aim which is to evacuate land presently held and cultivated by the Arabs and thus to release it for the Jewish inhabitants.

He added that the goal was to reduce by one-third the Arab population inside a Jewish state within two to three years. Another member of the committee, Alfred Bonne, said that in his opinion “all the Arabs must be removed in ten years.”(81)

The discussions of the transfer committee were long and detailed, and they provided the basis for keeping the Zionist leadership informed on the most minute matters of the distribution of Palestinian land and population as well as illuminating the complex issues surrounding transfer. In 1938, David Ben-Gurion, who since 1935 had been the powerful chairman of Jewish Agency Executive, declared at a meeting of that body: “I support compulsory transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it.”(82) Around that same time, he proposed paying Iraq 10 million Palestinian pounds [$50 million] in exchange for taking 100,000 Palestinian families.(83) Given the large size of Palestinian families, the number amounted to well over half of the Palestinian population of nearly one million people; Jews at the time numbered around 400,000.(84) But Britain, already scorned throughout the Arab world for issuing the Balfour Declaration and reneging on its wartime promises to the Arabs, declined the additional opprobrium of publicly acting as the power that forced the Palestinians to leave in order to make room for the Jews.(85)

The outbreak of World War II in 1939 brought a global instability that Ben-Gurion recognized had the potential for generating momentous change. Ben-Gurion noted: “The possibility of a large-scale transfer of a population by force was demonstrated when the Greeks and the Turks were transferred [after World War I]. In the present war the idea of transferring a population is gaining more sympathy as a practical and the most secure means of solving the dangerous and painful problem of national minorities.”(86)

Indicative of Zionist thinking in this period was a diary entry made by Josef Weitz, the man in charge of land-purchasing activities for the Jewish community in Palestine. On December 20, 1940, Weitz confided to his diary a conversation with a JNF colleague:

Amongst ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples in this country. No “development” will bring us closer to our aim to be an independent people in this small country. After the Arabs are transferred, the country will bewide open for us; with the Arabs staying the country will remain narrow and restricted….The only way is to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries, all of them, except perhaps Bethlehem, Nazareth and Old Jerusalem. Not a single village or single tribe must be left….And only then will the country be able to absorb millions of Jews and a solution will be found to the Jewish question. There is no other solution.(87)

During the fighting in 1948 that resulted in Israel’s establishment, Weitz was placed in charge of another Transfer Committee, this time with the specific aim of destroying villages left empty by Palestinian refugees.(88) He and others did the job well. At least 418 Palestinian villages disappeared after Israel took them over.(89)

It was such leaders and planners as Ben-Gurion, Weizmann, Shertok and Weitz and their strong support for compulsory transfer of the Palestinians that in 1948 resulted in reducing the Arab community from the majority to a minority inside Palestine. Although Israelis long contended–with more success than common sense should allow– that the Palestinian exodus was a “miraculous simplification,” as Weizmann put it, in which Israel had little responsibility, the fact is that elimination of the Palestinian majority was fundamental to the achievement of Zionism’s aim of a Jewish state.

The fact that no document or order outlining a specific strategy of expulsion has been found should not carry excessive weight. In the circumstances, it is not persuasive to claim that the lack of documentary evidence proves that an expulsionary policy did not exist, any more than it would be to claim that the Holocaust did not occur because no written orders have been recovered with Hitler’s name on them. The evidence emerges from what actually occurred, not the lack of prior written intentions.

For instance, while it is true that Ben-Gurion consistently refrained from issuing clear or written orders or even confiding in detail the subject of transfer in his diaries, it was well known that, in his words, he wanted as many areas as possible “clean” and “empty” of Arabs.(90) Israeli historian Benny Morris notes, “He preferred that his generals `understand’ what he wanted done. He wished to avoid going down in history as the `great expeller’ and he did not want the Israeli government to be implicated in a morally questionable policy.” Nonetheless, Morris adds, “Ben Gurion clearly wanted as few Arabs as possible to remain in the Jewish state.”(91)

Another Israeli historian, Simha Flapan, noted:

That Ben-Gurion’s ultimate aim was to evacuate as much of the Arab population as possible from the Jewish state can hardly be doubted, if only from the variety of means he employed to achieve this purpose: an economic war aimed at destroying Arab transport, commerce, and the supply of foods and raw materials to the urban population; psychological warfare, ranging from “friendly warnings” to outright intimidation and exploitation of panic caused by dissident underground terrorism; and finally, and most decisively, the destruction of whole villages and the eviction of their inhabitants by the army.(92)

In the end, what is more persuasive than any written document about the Zionist effort to expel Palestinians are the facts: the displacement of well over half of the Palestinian community and the emergence of a Zionist state with a Jewish majority.

The size of the remaining Palestinian minority was also an important consideration for the Zionists. Ben-Gurion early on warned that the 1947 U.N. partition plan left Israel with an Arab minority that he put at 40 percent and which he deemed unacceptable. He told a Zionist meeting on December 30, 1947, that “such a [population] composition does not provide a stable basis for a Jewish state. This fact must be viewed in all its clarity and acuteness. With such a composition, there cannot even be absolute certainty that control will remain in the hands of the Jewish majority….There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60 percent.”(93)

Indeed, it was the relatively huge size of the Palestinian population that had convinced Arab leaders to believe the United Nations would not ultimately support partition. To them it was clear that the proposed Jewish state with its bare majority would soon be overtaken by an Arab majority. Sir Hugh Gurney, the chief secretary of the British Palestine government in 1947, reported the Arabs were struck dumb by the passage of partition since they realized they would soon become a majority by natural increase.(94)

At the beginning of the 1948 fighting, there were an estimated 900,000 Palestinians on land allotted to Israel by the United Nations and the additional 21 percent of land Israel had captured during the war. On August 18, 1948, while the war continued, Shertok wrote to Weizmann:

As for the future, we are equally

determined…to explore all possibilities of

getting rid, once and for all, of the huge

Arab minority which originally threatened

us. What can be achieved in this period of

storm and stress will be quite unattainable

once conditions get stabilized.(95)

At the end of the 1948 fighting, more than 400 Palestinian villages had been destroyed and depopulated, and there were only 156,000 Arabs left in the territory of Israel. In addition, 13,000 Palestinians had been killed in the fighting.(96) The Arab minority had been reduced to under 20 percent of the Jewish population inside the frontiers controlled by Israel.(97) At the time of its birth on May 14, 1948, there were about 650,000 Jews in Palestine, substantially less than the number of Palestinians who were turned into refugees, 726,000.(98)

For the Palestinians, Zionism turned out to be, as scholar Rupert Emerson observed, “a prolonged and tragically successful invasion [by] an alien people under Western imperialist auspices, ending in the expulsion of most of the people whose country it was.”(99) But without the massive slaughter and transfer of Palestinians, there would have been no stable Jewish state. This achievement was the fruition of a half-century of Zionist ambition, furthered by the opportune chaos of war, the result inherent in Zionism’s quest for a Jewish, rather than a democratic, polity.

(1) Howard M. Sachar, A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, Tel Aviv: Steimatzky’s Agency Ltd., 1976, pp. 44-46.

(2) Walid Khalidi (ed.) From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem until 1948, Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, second printing, 1987, p. xxii.

(3) For Zionist efforts to delegitimize or deny the existence of the Palestinians, see Edward Said, et al., “A Profile of the Palestinian People,” pp. 235-96, in Edward Said and Christopher Hitchens (eds.), Blaming the Victims, New York: Verso, 1988.

(4) Raphael Patai (ed.), The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, Translated by Harry Zohn. New York: Herzl Press and Thomas Yoseloff, 1960, pp. 88-9. Also see Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of “Transfer” in Zionist Political Thought, 1928-1948, Washington, DC: Institute of Palestine Studies, 1992, p. 9; John Quigley, Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice, Durham: Duke University Press, 1990, p. 5.

(5) David McDowall, Palestine and Israel: The Uprising and Beyond, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989, p. 196.

(6) Masalha, p. 10.

(7) Ibid., p. 39, note 4; Mark Tessler, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994, p. 60; Shabtai Teveth, BenGurion–The Burning Ground: 1886-1948, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987, p. 40.

(8) Masalha, p. 159.

(9) Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel, New York: Olive Branch Press, 1993, p. 72.

(10) Two excellent studies are Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi’s Original Sins and Nur Masalha’s Expulsion of the Palestinians.

(11) Menachem Shalev, Forward, May 21, 1993.

(12) Clyde Haberman, The New York Times, July 7, 1995.

(13) Tessler, p. 61; Shlomo Avineri, The Making of Modern Zionism: The Intellectual Origins of the Jewish State, New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1981, pp. 4-5.

(14) Abram Leon Sachar, A History of the Jews, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, pp. 304, 398.

(15) Peter Grose, Israel in the Mind of America, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983, p. 66.

(16) Howard M. Sachar, p. 40.

(17) Khalidi, pp. xxix-xxxi.

(18) Tessler, p. 61.

(19) Ronald Sanders, Shores of Refuge: A Hundred Years of Jewish Emigration, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1988, p. 121.

(20) Conor Cruise O’Brien, The Siege: The Saga of Israel and Zionism, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986, p. 91.

(21) Philip Mattar, The Mufti of Jerusalem: Al-Hajj Amin Al-Husyni and the Palestinian National Movement, New York: Columbia University Press, 1993, pp. 7, 10.

(22) Neville J. Mandel, The Arabs and Zionism before World War I, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976, pp. 18-9.

(23) Tessler, p. 127.

(24) Mandel, p. 21.

(25) L.M.C. Van Der Hoeven Leonhard, “Shlomo and David: Palestine, 1907,” p. 119, in Khalidi.

(26) Tessler, p. 127.

(27) Ibid., p. 128.

(28) Ibid., p. 128.

(29) Masalha, pp. 15, 49.

(30) Janet L. Abu-Lughod, “The Demographic Transformation of Palestine, ” p. 155, in Ibrahim Abu-Lughod (ed.), Transformation of Palestine, 2nd ed., Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1987.

(31) Ralph H. Magnus (ed.), Documents on the Middle East, Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 1969, pp. 32-3.

(32) Avineri, p. 156.

(33) Quigley, p. 21.

(34) Leonhard, “Shlomo and David: Palestine, 1907,” pp. 117-8, in Khalidi; Masalha, p. 24; Quigley, p. 21.

(35) Rashid Khalidi, “Palestinian Peasant Resistance to Zionism before World War I,” p. 216, in Said and Hitchens.

(36) Quigley, p. 21.

(37) Leonhard, “Shlomo and David: Palestine, 1907,” p. 119, in Khalidi; Walid Khalidi, “The Jewish-Ottoman Land Company: Herzl’s Blueprint for the Colonization of Palestine,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Winter 1993.

(38) Neville Barbour, Nisi Dominus: A Survey of the Palestine Controversy, (Beirut: Institute of Palestine Studies, 1969), p. 45.

(39) Howard M. Sachar, p. 47.

(40) Desmond Stewart, Theodor Herzl, (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1974), p. 275.

(41) Barbour, p. 50.

(42) Howard M. Sachar, pp. 62-3.

(43) Howard M. Sachar, p. 63.

(44) Tessler, p. 145.

(45) Rashid Khalidi, pp. 210-3, in Said and Hitchens Tessler, p. 144.

(46) Tessler, p. 144.

(47) Ibid., p. 128.

(48) Matter, p. 27.

(49) Abram Leon Sachar, pp. 412-3. Sachar’s book was written in 1930, but similar reports of the idyllic life provided by Zionism had begun circulating almost as soon as the first Zionists arrived in Palestine.

(50) Barbour, pp. 56-7.

(51) Grose, p. 64.

(52) Ronald Sanders, The High Walls of Jerusalem: A History of the Balfour Declaration and the Birth of the British Mandate for Palestine, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983, pp. 119-20.

(53) Grose, p. 63.

(54) Ibid., p. 72.

(55) Bruce Allen Murphy, The Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection: The Secret Political Activities of Two Supreme Court Justices, Garden City, New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1983, p. 57.

(56) Murphy, p. 57.

(57) Grose, p. 64.

(58) Murphy, p. 58.

(59) Ibid., p. 58.

(60) Sanders, The High Walls of Jerusalem, p. 585.

(61) Sanders, The High Walls of Jerusalem, p. 586.

(62) Sanders, The High Walls of Jerusalem, pp. 590-1.

(63) Murphy, p. 59.

(64) Ibid., p. 60; Sanders, The High Walls of Jerusalem, p. 598.

(65) Sanders, The High Walls of Jerusalem, p. 598.

(66) Grose, Israel in the Mind of America. p. 64.

(67) Sanders, The High Walls of Jerusalem, pp. 612-3. The text of the early and the final drafts of the declaration are also in Thomas and Sally V. Mallison, The Palestine Problem in International Law and World Order, London: Longman Group Ltd., 1986, pp. 427-9.

(68) Tessler, p. 145.

(69) Janet L. Abu-Lughod, “The Demographic Transformation of Palestine, ” p. 142, in Abu-Lughod.

(70) Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben-Curion: A Biography, New York: Delacorte Press, 1978, p. 81. Bar-Zohar reports the remarks were made during a “discussion” but fails to provide with whom; presumably it was with other Zionists.

(71) Masalha, pp. 30-5.

(72) Bar-Zohar, p. 63.

(73) Ibid., p. 63.

(74) Ibid., p. 68.

(75) Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities, New York: Pantheon Books, 1987, p. 37.

(76) Masalha, p. 49.

(77) Ibid., pp. 60-1; Howard M. Sachar, pp. 204-5. A third independent region was to be reserved for Britain between Jerusalem and Bethlehem with British rule continuing in the main towns in the north and a corridor to the sea between Jaffa and Jerusalem.

(78) Christopher Sykes, Crossroads to Israel, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973, p. 171. Also see Jewish Chronicle, “Dr. Chaim Weizmann’s Conversation with Mr. Ormsby-Gore the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the Partition of Palestine 1937,” August 13, 1937, pp. 24-5, in Walid Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest.

(79) Walid Khalidi, Before the Diaspora, p. 189.

(80) Howard M. Sachar, pp. 207-8.

(81) Masalha, pp. 94-7.

(82) Ibid., p. 117.

(83) Teveth, p. 688.

(84) Janet L. Abu-Lughod, “The Demographic Transformation of Palestine, ” pp. 151-2, in Abu-Lughod.

(85) Masalha, pp. 93, 117, 126.

(86) Ibid., p. 128.

(87) Ibid., pp. 131-2

(88) Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, pp. 136- 7.

(89) Walid Khalidi (ed.), All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948, Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1991, p. xx.

(90) Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestine Refugee Problem, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987, p. 218.

(91) Morris, pp. 292-3. Also see McDowall, p. 195.

(92) Flapan, p. 90.

(93) Masalha, p. 176.

(94) Michael Palumbo, The Palestinian Catastrophe: The 1948 Expulsion of a People from their Homeland, Boston: Faber and Faber, 1987, p. 29.

(95) Masalha, p. 193; Flapan, p. 105.

(96) Walid Khalidi, All That Remains, p. xxxi; Appendix III. Also see Janet L. Abu-Lughod, “The Demographic Transformation of Palestine, ” p. 161, in Abu-Lughod; Quigley, p. 86.

(97) Masalha, p. 199.

(98) Noah Lucas, The Modern History of Israel, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1974, p. 335; Walid Khalidi, All That Remains, Appendix III.

(99) From Emerson, From Empire to Nation, quoted in Quigley, p. 86.

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Fallen Pillars

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

At the end of the Nineteenth Century, Palestine emerged as an issue engaging the attention of world Jewry and the State Department. The rising interest in this eastern Mediterranean province of the Ottoman Empire resulted from the official establishment of the new political creed of Zionism in 1897 at Basle, Switzerland. The delegates, 204 Jews from fifteen countries, agreed that “Zionism aims at the creation of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine to be secured by public law” and to that end they would encourage emigration to Palestine. At the time, Arabs represented 95 percent of Palestine’s roughly half-million people and they owned 99 percent of the land.

That same year, 1897, the first Zionist Federation was established in the United States. It attracted few followers, either from the established Jewish community in America or among the hundreds of thousands of new Jewish immigrants flocking to east coast cities to escape East European anti-Semitism and pogroms. The settled and prosperous upper class Jews of German origin believed in social assimilation. Their social position and wealth proved to them that the American melting pot worked. The last thing they wanted was to embrace an ideology that advocated establishment of a foreign country specifically for Jews, thereby bringing into question their loyalty to the land that had brought them a comfortable and secure life.

By contrast, Zionism openly rejected assimilation and the whole melting pot metaphor. As explained by Theodore Herzl when he first formulated its purpose and aims in early 1896 in his seminal pamphlet Der Judenstaat: “We have sincerely tried everywhere to merge with the national communities in which we live, seeking only to preserve the faith of our fathers. It is not permitted U.S.”

At its heart, this was the fundamental rationale of Zionism: a profound despair that anti-Semitism could not be eradicated as long as Jews lived among gentiles. Out of this dark vision came the belief that the only hope for the survival of the Jews lay in the founding of their own state.

Such stalwart leaders of the U.S. German-Jewish establishment as financier Jacob Schiff and Rabbi I.M. Wise instantly denounced Zionism. Wise pronounced: “Zion was a precious possession of the past…but it is not our hope of the future. America is our Zion.” Schiff thought it was a “sentimental theory.” It came as no surprise, then, that uptown New York Jews founded in 1906 the American Jewish Committee (AJC). While not specifically formed to oppose Zionism, its establishment offered a different vision. It was an organization designed to assure that its kind of American Jews would be urbane, well educated and socially assimilated.

In this quest the elitists of AC would try to deal with the huge problems posed by the massive influx of often illiterate and isolated Eastern European Jews in a subtle and soft-spoken way. Its central strategy was to employ the medieval Jewish tradition of the shtadlan, the “court Jew” who served as adviser to goyim (non-Jewish) governments and powerful families. These were wealthy and talented Jews who had earned the trust of gentile masters and in turn could influence them on behalf of the Jewish community. This determinedly low profile approach was typified at the Jewish-owned New York Times, where Jewish-sounding bylines were disguised by substituting initials.

AJC depended on the social standing and influence of its well connected members to pursue its vision rather than on a mass membership. When one AJC officer was asked how many members the group had, he replied: “We don’t count AJC members…we weigh them.” Opposition to Zionism in America extended to Jewish socialists and workers, who disdained it as a form of bourgeois nationalism, while ultra orthodox religious groups considered Zionism “the most formidable enemy that has ever arisen among the Jewish people” because it sought to do God’s work through politics.” Not even the new immigrants streaming out of Eastern Europe were immediately attracted to Zionism, as was obvious from the fact that most of them chose to bypass Palestine in favor of going to the United States and other Western countries.

With the Jewish community so divided, the State Department dismissed Zionism as merely a minority political group and essentially an internal Jewish affair. But as Zionism gained ground in Europe in the first decade of the century, it also began attracting a select group of new converts in the United States. Though small in number, probably less than 20,000 of the 2.5 million Jewish community before World War I, the new Zionists began counting among their ranks lawyers, professors and businessmen. They were slowly becoming a group that Congressmen, particularly in the eastern cities, began to listen to, if not yet closely.

Still, up to World War I, American Zionism remained, in the words of a pro-Zionist wanted, “a small and feeble enterprise. It provided an outlet for some thousands…who met in their societies like votaries of some bizarre cult….The movement remained an ‘East Side affair,’ which meant that it had no money or influence or social prestige.”’

The State Department established a Near East Division in 1909. This was not because of an especially acute interest in Palestine and Zionism but because of America’s world-view at the time. The new division had as its bailiwick an enormous region that included Russia, Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire plus far-flung areas stretching from Persia to Abyssinia. Among such nations and the problems they posed for the United States, Palestine was not highly visible. If anything, it was becoming an annoyance. Rising Zionist demands for support of a Jewish nation were increasingly resented among U.S. diplomats, who saw such requests “as an illustration of the purely Hebraic and UN-American purposes for which our Jewish community seek to use this government,” in the words of one U.S. diplomats.

The State Department defined its chief function as protecting and promoting American interests abroad, not in endorsing or encouraging the efforts of a small group of Americans to help found another nation in a foreign land. In the eyes of the State Department, this would be interfering in another country without any obvious U.S. interest at stake and with a good chance of worsening relations. This was especially so with the Ottoman Empire, where relations were never easy and Zionist agitation against Ottoman rule in Palestine raised suspicions in Constantinople about broader U.S. policies and goals, complicating the State Department’s daily chores.

Nor did reports over the decades about the Jewish community in Palestine incline the State Department to encourage Jews to go there or to support their effort to do so. The Jews living in Palestine in the last half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century-about 25,000 among 500,000 Arabs-were generally poor, living in squalid, crowded city housing and dependent for their sustenance on donations from Jews living abroad. After small groups of Jews fleeing the Russian Pale of Settlement began arriving in the early 1880s, they tried setting up agricultural settlements but these often proved unsuccessful. A report on one settlement by the U.S. Consul in Jerusalem, Selah Merrill, who served in Palestine, with intervals away, between 1882 to 1907, said that in 1891 he found one of the largest settlements with “houses broken…and patched, windows were stuffed with rags, yards were covered with litter, outhouses and fences were neglected, crops were poorly cultivated and weeds were growing abundantly everywhere.”

Merrill’s conclusion was that “Palestine is not ready for the Jews. The Jews are not ready for Palestine.” He reported that conditions were so difficult in Palestine that at times as many Jews left as arrived.

Although Merrill regarded the Jews of Palestine with coolness, his reports were not unique. Other consuls and travelers reported on the harshness of life in Palestine, the filth and poverty of the cities and the destitution of the Jewish community. Moreover, from the State Department’s view, Palestine was foreign territory over which America had no control and in which there was already an indigenous population far surpassing in number and longevity of residence the Jews. Why create more problems with the Ottoman Empire than necessary?

Among all of its challenges around the globe, the State Department had little reason to devote much attention to Zionism or, when it did, to support Zionist goals. The aloof tone of the State Department’s attitude was illustrated in 1912 when the Zionist Literary Society sought a public endorsement from President William Howard Taft. Secretary of State Philander C. Knox turned it down by replying that “problems of Zionism involve certain matters primarily related to the interests of countries other than our own…and might lead to misconstructions.”

Paradoxically, that same year Zionism received its greatest boost in its short history in America, an event that was to become pivotal in the founding of Jewish state in Palestine. Louis Dembitz Brandeis, son of middle class immigrants from Prague, a brilliant attorney who had graduated at the top of his law class at Harvard, converted to Zionism. The date was August 1912. Brandeis was 56 years of age, a wealthy Bostonian, a political progressive, a tireless reformer and one of the most famous lawyers in the country, known as the People’s Attorney because of his successful litigation against the major financiers and industrialists. He was disliked heartily by the business establishment, including the wealthy Jewish communities of New York and Boston.

What made Brandeis’ conversion so surprising was that he was a nonobservant Jew who believed firmly in America’s melting pot and had grown up “free from Jewish contacts or traditions,” as he put it. It was not until he was in his fifties that Brandeis began paying attention to the Jewish experience. Rising anti-Semitism in America, exposure to Zionists and the new immigrants, and estrangement from the Brahmin society of Boston because of his espousal of populist causes all combined to sharpen his sense of ethnic kinship. Then in August 1912 Brandeis met Jacob de Haas, editor of the Boston Jewish Advocate and, a decade earlier, an aide to Zionism’s founder Theodore Herzl. Intrigued by de Haas’ tales of Herzl and the beginnings of Zionism, Brandeis hired de Haas to instruct him in Zionism over the 1912-13 winter.

Within two years, on 30 August 1914, Brandeis became head of the Provisional Executive for General Zionist Affairs, making him the leader of the Zionist Central Office, which had been moved from Berlin to neutral America just before the outbreak of World War I. At the time, Zionism in America was described by a historian of the movement as still “small and weak, in great financial distress, and low in morale. “To invigorate Zionism, the great man, as Brandeis was considered by many, especially among young law students, attracted to the movement a brilliant group of professionals, especially from the Harvard Law School.

With his conversion came changes in Brandeis’ idea about the American melting pot. He now embraced the “salad bowl,” a belief in cultural pluralism in which ethnic groups maintained their unique identity. Brandeis explained:

America…has always declared herself for equality of nationalities as well as for equality of individuals. America has believed that each race had something of peculiar value which it can contribute….America has always believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress.

As for the nagging question of dual loyalty, a central concern of many Jews and the gentiles’ supreme suspicion about Zionism, Brandeis insisted there was no conflict between being an American and a Zionist:

Let no American imagine that Zionism is inconsistent with patriotism. Multiple loyalties are objectionable only if they are inconsistent…. Every American who aids in advancing the Jewish settlement in Palestine, though he feels that neither he nor his descendants will ever live there, will likewise be a better man and a better American for doing so….There is no inconsistency between loyalty to America and loyalty to Jewry. The Jewish spirit, the product of our religion and experiences, is essentially modern and essentially American.

He linked Zionism with the early New England Puritans, declaring that “Zionism is the Pilgrim inspiration and impulse over again. The descendants of the Pilgrim fathers should not find it hard to understand and sympathize with it.” To Jewish audiences he said: “To be good Americans, we must be better Jews, and to be better Jews, we must become Zionists.”

Brandeis’ Zionism, clearly, was different from the passionate and messianic Zionism of Europe, driven as it was by pessimism about the enduring anti Semitism of the world against Jews. His was an ethnic philanthropic vision, a desire to help needy Jews set down in a kind of New England town in the Middle East-but with no intention of going to Palestine to live among them. This concept remained a central tenet of American Zionism and helps explain why through the years so few Jewish Americans have emigrated to Israel.

To European Zionists, it was a pale and anemic version of their life’s passion, “Zionism without Zion,” they grumbled. However, Brandeis would achieve what probably no other Zionist could have-exerting major influence in gaining the support of the United States for a Jewish state in Palestine. Brandeis accomplished this feat by using his friendship with President Woodrow Wilson to advocate the Zionist cause, and by serving as a conduit between British Zionists and the president. Wilson was a ready listener. He was the son of a Presbyterian minister and a daily reader of the Bible. Although not particularly interested in the political ramifications of Zionism, he shared the vague sentiment of a number of Christians at the time that there would be a certain biblical justice to have the Jews return to Palestine.

Wilson thought so highly of Brandeis that he appointed him to the Supreme Court on 28 January 1916, thereby enormously increasing Brandeis prestige and his influence in the White House. In turn, Brandeis resigned from all the numerous public and private clubs and organizations he belonged to, including, reluctantly, his leadership of American Zionism.

His resignation, however, did not mean Brandeis had deserted Zionism. Behind the scenes he continued to play an active role. At his Supreme Court chambers in Washington he received daily reports on Zionist activities from the New York headquarters and issued orders to his loyal lieutenants now heading American Zionism. When the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) was newly reorganized in 1918, Brandeis was listed as its “honorary president.” Through his lieutenants, he remained the power behind the throne.

In the same year as Brandeis ascended to the high court, David Lloyd George became prime minister of Great Britain and Arthur James Balfour foreign secretary. It was a change as advantageous for the Zionists in Britain as Brandeis’ appointment was in the United States. Both Lloyd George and Balfour favored Zionism though neither of them was Jewish. Balfour once had confided to Brandeis that “I am a Zionist,” while Welshman Lloyd George was a firm believer in the Old Testament’s claim to the right of the Jews to Palestine.

Both men shared a common concern for gaining U.S. entry into the war and support of Britain’s post-war goals in dividing up the Ottoman Empire, including the ambition of taking over Palestine as part of Britain’s security zone for protecting the Suez Canal, the lifeline to its colony in India. In this, they were advised by the British embassy in Washington that Britain could be helped in achieving U.S. backing by finding favor with Jewish Americans: “They are far better if organized than the Irish and far more formidable. We should be in a position to get into their good graces.”

Although that advice failed to reflect the rifts and competing power centers within the Jewish community, it was not as misleading as it might seem. There was emerging a growing consensus among Jews and other Americans in support of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, if not for Zionism as such, and thus a British declaration favoring such a homeland was certain to be popular among a sizable number of Americans. For instance, the Presbyterian General Assembly passed a resolution in 1916 favoring a Jewish homeland in Palestine and the American Federation of Labor endorsed the idea. These supporters in turn could be expected to add their influence for closer relations between London and Washington.

But there was a major problem. The State Department and its secretary, Robert Lansing, remained distinctly cool toward Zionism but not to the plight of Jews in general. Although the department was scrupulous in expending efforts to protect the rights of Jews in Palestine who were American citizens, it avoided all association with Zionists. Moreover, in the spring and summer of 1917, Lansing and his department were focused on trying to arrange a separate peace with Turkey. The thorny question of the post-war status of the empire’s various minorities was not high on their priority list.

Lansing was a proud, upright attorney from New York who had become an expert on international law before being appointed secretary of state by Wilson in June 1915. He had neither a close relationship with Wilson nor shared the confidence the president placed in Edward M. House, a reserve colonel from Texas who had no title or staff but wielded considerable influence as Wilson’s closest adviser.

At this point, the behind-the-scene actions of a Russian-born Jewish chemist living in Britain became pivotal. He was Chaim Weizmann, a persistent and persuasive leader of Zionism in Britain who later would become Israel’s first president. He was a tireless toiler for Zionism and enjoyed easy access to both Lloyd George and Balfour. Aware of their desire for U.S. support, Weizmann sought a backdoor past the State Department to the White House via Brandeis. On 8 April 1917, Weizmann cabled Brandeis, advising that “an expression of opinion coming from yourself and perhaps other gentlemen connected with the Government in favor of a Jewish Palestine under a British protectorate would greatly strengthen our hands.”

A month later, following America’s entry into World War I, Brandeis had a forty-five minute meeting with Wilson on the president’s views of Palestine. Afterwards, Brandeis was convinced that Wilson was “entirely sympathetic to the aims of the Zionist Movement” and favored a British protectorate in Palestine. However, he concluded Wilson did not want to make a public declaration because of the international complications such a statement would cause, not least of them the futile hope that Turkey still could be persuaded to quit the war.

Another attempt in mid-September by London to gain from Wilson support of a declaration backing the Zionist movement, this time of a specific draft statement endorsing a Jewish homeland in Palestine, similarly was rebuffed. Wilson ordered Colonel House to tell the British that “the time was not opportune for any definite statement further, perhaps, than one of sympathy, provided it can be made without conveying any real commitment.”

In desperation, Weizmann cabled Brandeis that it “would greatly help if President Wilson and yourself would support the text. Matter most urgent. Please telegraph.” 36 Brandeis was able to use his access to the White House to meet with Colonel House and together they assured Weizmann that from talks I have had with President and from expressions of opinion given to closest advisers I feel I can answer you in that he is [in] entire sympathy with declaration quoted in yours of nineteenth as approved by the foreign office and the Prime Minister. I of course heartily agree.

Weizmann felt more was needed to counteract anti-Zionist sentiment in Britain, where there was strong opposition to Zionism, particularly from the only Jew in the Lloyd George Cabinet, Edwin Montagu, the secretary of state for India. Montagu had weighed in with a strong anti-Zionist assessment by one of the greatest Arabists of the time, Gertrude Bell, a colleague of T.E. Lawrence and currently involved in British intelligence in Cairo. She wrote that

two considerations rule out the conception of an independent Jewish Palestine from practical politics. The first is that the province as we know it is not Jewish, and that neither Mohammedan nor Arab would accept Jewish authority; the second that the capital, Jerusalem, is equally sacred to three faiths, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, and should never, if it can be avoided, be put under the exclusive control of any one location, no matter how carefully the rights of the other two may be safe guardedly.

To appease the anti-Zionists, the British Cabinet drafted a revised declaration. It specifically addressed Montagu’s concerti about non-Zionist Jews living outside of Palestine by adding a final clause that said the establishment of a Jewish national home would not prejudice the “rights and political status enjoyed in any other country by such Jews who are fully contented with their existing national.

Once again, Weizmann turned to Brandeis to help get Wilson’s endorsement of the new text. In a long letter on 7 October, Weizmann wrote that “I have no doubt that the amended text of the declaration will be again submitted to the President and it would be most invaluable if the President would accept it without reservation and would recommend the granting of the declaration now.[Italics in original.]

When the British Foreign Office sent the draft to Wilson at about the same time, he turned it over to Brandeis for his comments. The Justice and his aides redrafted it in slightly stronger and cleaner language, substituting “the Jewish people “for the Jewish race”-thereby muting the vexing question of who’s a-Jew-and making the final clause read that there would be no prejudice to the “rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country,” thus assuaging the concern of assimilated Jews about dual loyalty.

Colonel House sent the revision onto Wilson, but, in the midst of world war, he felt no urgency about the matter. It was not until 13 October that he sent a memo to House saying: I find in my pocket the memorandum you gave me about the Zionist Movement. I am afraid I did not say to you that I concurred in the formula suggested by the other side [Britain]. I do, and would be obliged if you would let them know it.

Thus, in the most off-handed way possible, Wilson lent the enormous weight of the United States to supporting the Zionist dream of a Jewish state in Palestine. He did this without informing Lansing or seeking the advice of the State Department, a snub they were not soon to forget. Although Wilson declined at the time actually to make a public endorsement, his private agreement provided Lloyd George the backing in the cabinet that he needed to issue a declaration. Wilson’s seemingly casual action was to have a profound effect on Middle East history and on the daily lives of Palestinians.

Its immediate result came on 2 November 1917, when Britain issued the fateful statement that was to become known as the Balfour Declaration. It came in the form of a personal letter from Foreign Secretary Balfour to a prominent British Jew, Lionel Walter, the second Lord of Rothschild:

Foreign Office, November 2nd, 1917 Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet: “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.


Arthur James Balfour

Arabs and anti-Zionists could not help noting the totally pro-Zionist content of the declaration. It failed to mention Christians or Muslims, Arabs or Palestinians, even though they remained by far the majority population in Palestine. At the time, there were about 55,000 Jews and nearly 600,000 Palestinians in Palestine. Yet, the Balfour Declaration spoke of a Jewish homeland, which was widely understood to mean a Jewish state, although many Zionists continued to deny that was their goal. Also, it pledged actively to help Jews while merely promising to protect the rights of “the non-Jewish communities.”

Lansing and the State Department had been humiliated by being bypassed. Insult was added when Wilson waited until 14 December to inform his secretary of state of his support of the Balfour Declaration. The occasion was prompted by a letter Lansing had sent the day before to Wilson reporting that there was mounting pressure from Zionists for the United States to issue its own declaration supporting a Jewish homeland. Lansing included a detailed analysis of the issue:

My judgment is that we should go very slowly in announcing a policy for three reasons. First, we are not at war with Turkey and therefore should avoid any appearance of favoring taking territory from that Empire by force. Second, the Jews are by no means a unit in the desire to reestablish their race as an independent people; to favor one or the other faction would seem to be unwise. Third, many Christian sects and individuals would undoubtedly resent turning the Holy Land over to the absolute control of the race credited with the death of Christ.

For practical purposes, I do not think that we need go further than the first reason given since that is ample ground for declining to announce a policy in regard to the final disposition of Palestine.

The next day Wilson handed back to Lansing his letter. Lansing filed it with a note: “The President returned me this letter at Cabinet Meeting. December 14, 1917, saying that very unwillingly he was forced to agree with me, but said that he had an impression that we had assented to the British declaration regarding returning Palestine to the Jews.”

Nonetheless, Wilson continued to refuse to make a public endorsement of the Balfour Declaration, with the result that Lansing continued to act as though the president’s private support had no weight. On 28 February 1918, Lansing wrote to Wilson opposing a request by the Zionists to be issued passports to take part in a Zionist commission sponsored by Britain to tour Palestine. In his letter, Lansing wrote that the United States never had accepted the Balfour Declaration and should not sponsor an organization with distinctly political goals. Wilson agreed with his secretary of state.

By this time Wilson was being hailed among Jews around the world as a lover of Zion on the basis of leaks about his private support of the Balfour Declaration. But, in fact, pro-Zionism was not official U.S. policy nor had Wilson yet uttered a single public word of support. It was only after a personal meeting with crusading Zionist Rabbi Stephen S. Wise in August 1918 that Wilson finally took the plunge, albeit in a very circumspect way. It was in the form of a Jewish New Year’s greeting to the Jews praising the work of a Zionist commission currently investigating conditions in Palestine.

I have watched with deep and sincere interest the reconstructive work which the Weizmann Commission has done in Palestine at the instance of the British Government, and I welcome an opportunity to express the satisfaction I have felt in the progress of the Zionist Movement in the United States and in the Allied countries since the declaration by Mr. Balfour on behalf of the British Government, of Great Britain’s approval of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and his promise that the British Government would use its best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of that object, with the understanding that nothing would be done to prejudice the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish people in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in other countries.

While Zionists exultantly hailed this letter as America’s commitment to the Balfour Declaration, the State Department denied that it expressed official policy. The department had not taken part in its drafting and therefore in its view the letter was little more than an expression of Wilson’s personal sentiments. As diplomatic historian Frank E. Manual observed: “[Such presidential letters] have a peculiar status in American foreign policy. They are expressions of [presidential] attitude, and the degree to which they may be formal commitments of any sort, especially when they do not pass through the State Department, remains dubious.”

As late as 26 May 1922, the head of the Near East Division, Allan W. Dulles, later to become one of America’s spymasters, wrote: “Ex-President Wilson is understood to have favored the Balfour Declaration, but I do not know that he ever committed himself to it in an official and public way.”

Such divisions and confusion between the State Department and the White House and Congress as well were to remain a distinct feature of U.S. policy toward Palestine. While the politicians over the decades were quick to issue vague letters and declarations of support for various Zionist enterprises, the experts of the State Department resisted change and clung to a strict interpretation of policy. The resulting confusion more often then not left all sides in doubt about what U.S. policy at any one time actually was.

The final achievement of Brandeis and American Zionism in the post-war period was the passage by Congress on 11 September 1922 of a joint resolution favoring a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The words of the resolution practically echoed the Balfour Declaration.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of tile United States of America in Congress assembled That the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the Holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected.

The Zionists loudly trumpeted the resolution as another Balfour Declaration, evidence that their quest had official support. After all, it had been sponsored by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and Representative Hamilton Fish and signed by President Warren G. Harding. However, during the debate leading up to passage of the resolution, a number of speakers had emphasized that it was merely an expression of sympathy by the Congress and that the resolution in no way would involve the United States in foreign entanglements. This was the interpretation adopted by the State Department. Like Wilson’s 1918 letter endorsing Balfour, the department simply ignored it. When an Italian diplomat directly asked a State Department officer whether the resolution represented the official policy of the United States Government, the diplomat merely smiled.

Passage of the congressional resolution was the height of Brandeis’ brand of American Zionism, and also the end of its heroic period. Under Brandeis the Zionist membership had burgeoned tenfold, reaching around 200,000 after the heralded victory of the Balfour Declaration. The momentum of that historic event carried over into the halls of Congress and resulted in the joint resolution. But a year before the resolution became a reality, Brandeis himself was swept from power in Zionist councils in a showdown with Weizmann. Brandeis’ tepid form of Zionism was simply too emotionless and sterile for the crusader from Pinsk. the Russian town Weizmann called his birthplace. In a final confrontation in the spring of 1921, Weizmann declared: “There is no bridge between Washington and Pinsk.”

Under Weizmann’s assault, Brandeis’s leadership was repudiated by the American Zionist Organization at its 24th convention in Cleveland in June 1921. Brandeis quit the movement, taking with him some of his most brilliant lieutenants, among them his protégé Felix Frankfurter, who was to become a justice on the Supreme Court. Brandeis’ participation in the internecine politics of Zionism was at an end, although not his avid interest in the goals of Zionism. He remained committed to a Jewish home in Palestine until his death at age 84 in 1941.

The blow to American Zionism caused by Brandeis’ ouster was devastating. By 1929, there were no more than 18,000 members left in the ZOA. It was not until the rise of Hitler and then the horrific stories of his “final solution,” which began leaking out of occupied Europe in the early 1940s, that American Zionism again became a potent force, this time far stronger and more influential than Brandeis-much less the experts at the State Department-ever could have envisioned.


Zionists were quick to impute anti-Semitism to explain the enduring opposition to Zionism by the State Department and succeeding secretaries of state, both Democratic and Republican, during the first half of the twentieth century. While no doubt some American diplomats reflected a distrust of Jews prevalent among the genteel society of the time and some few even might have harbored anti-Semitic emotions, the department’s attitude was grounded in rational geopolitical reasons beyond racism.

Foremost, the State Department believed it had no business supporting the narrow political platform of a small sect that sought foreign territory. In effect, the Zionists were pursuing their own foreign policy. To take two major examples: It was not in U.S. interests to anger Constantinople during the war years when Washington was seeking a separate peace with Turkey. Nor, as the economic importance of oil grew, was it in Washington’s interests to anger the Arabs. Yet, the Zionists not only pressed ahead with their program to establish a Jewish state in Palestine but they repeatedly sought to pressure through flattery or threat the president, the Congress and the State Department to support them.

There was also the question of Americans sending money overseas to aid a foreign project. As State Department lawyers observed: “It requires little discussion” that the proper function of government does not include “encouraging its nationals to deplete the national wealth by contributions of funds or investment funds in foreign countries.” Implicit in this observation was the troubling question of dual loyalty.

Clustered with the issue of dual loyalty was the romance of the American melting pot. As the Civil War brutally had proved, the majority of Americans believed their nation was indivisible and should share a common cultural milieu. Religious diversity was a right, but ethnic exclusivism was widely perceived as a threat to the common fabric holding together a nation of immigrants. The Zionists’ desertion of the melting pot for a salad bowl of ethnic groups was an affront to many Americans, including the traditionalists who guided the State Department.

Finally, there were the troubling facts about Palestine. The Arabs were the majority community, and had been for well over a millennium. Palestinians were a recognizable separate people with their own institutions, traditions and cultural uniqueness. Yet, Zionists were proposing not only to deny Arabs their Wilsonian right of self-determination-a cherished U.S. ideal-but to displace them as the major ethnic group. It was clear to nearly all observers that this could happen only by force, yet it was equally obvious that war and instability in the region were not in America’s interests.

It was from these analyses that the State Department’s coolness to Zionism derived. Policymakers were not necessarily anti-Semites, as Zionists charged, just because they believed support of Zionism was not in U.S. interests. Nonetheless, the Zionists were not mistaken in feeling a resentment and even hostility against them in the State Department.

Simply in terms of human relations, shorn of all questions of anti-Semitism, the department had ample reason to distrust the Zionists. The success of Brandeis and the Zionists in gaining the ear of the president and the Congress for projects opposed by the department was at best irritating. The diplomats did not consider it gentlemanly or fair for the Zionists to go behind their back and manipulate vote conscious political leaders. As in the case of Wilson’s support of the Balfour Declaration, this often occurred without the department even knowing what was going on until after it had already happened. Such tactics raised the ire of the proud diplomats, who perceived the Zionists as meddling in their elitist preserve, which of course it was.

Probably no tactic employed by the Zionists caused greater resentment than their efforts directly to intimidate the State Department and its staff. One such effort serves to demonstrate the Zionist technique. It was a highly effective tactic, and continues to be, and it goes far in explaining why the professionals at the State Department and successive secretaries of state harbored various degrees of animosity towards the Zionists.

The case involved an urbane and highly successful diplomat, Hugh Gibson. At the age of 36 in 1919 he was the newly installed ambassador to Poland, or to use the grandiose title of the day, the envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary. Post-war Poland was home to one of the largest and least assimilated Jewish communities in Europe and their troubles were trumpeted by the Zionists as an example of ruthless anti-Semitism. In fact, anti-Semitic incidents were common, but not as common in Gibson’s view as claimed by American Zionists. To his mother he wrote: “These yarns are exclusively of foreign manufacture for anti-Polish purposes.”

Gibson’s skeptical reports to the State Department about the troubles of Polish Jews came to the attention of Brandeis. On 24 June 1919, Gibson was called by Colonel House to a meeting with the fabled justice and his protégé, Felix Frankfurter. Gibson not only was at a disadvantage because of Brandeis exalted status but also because his appointment as ambassador to Poland had yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

In Gibson’s words, the two Zionists opened what the young diplomat later called the “prosecution” by saying that

I had done more mischief to the Jewish race than anyone who had lived in the last century. They said…that my reports on the Jewish question had gone around the world and had undone their work….They finally said that I had stated that the stories of excesses against the Jews were exaggerated, to which I replied that they certainly were and I should think any Jew would be glad to know it.

Frankfurter claimed that Gibson “had no right to make reports to the department in regard to Jewish matters and should have ‘refused’ on the ground that I could not possibly learn enough about them to make even general observations.” Frankfurter then hinted that if Gibson continued his reports that Zionists would block his confirmation as ambassador to Poland by the Senate.

Gibson was so furious by the confrontation that he wrote a twenty-one page letter about it to his friends in the State Department, including Frankfurter’s claim that Gibson should not report on Jews. Nothing is more disconcerting or insulting to a diplomat than to have his reporting questioned, much less to be advised that he had no “right” to report on certain matters. Reporting is the secret heart of the diplomat’s art, a talent especially valued in Washington where officials in those pre-television days depended on it as their window to the world beyond.

Frankfurter could hardly have raised a more sensitive question or one more certain to raise the hackles of diplomats. Gibson went further in his letter than just describe his encounter. He also shared his suspicions of what the Zionists were trying to accomplish-a conscienceless and cold-blooded plan to make the condition of the Jews in Poland so bad that they must turn to Zionism for relief.” The State Department in those days was a far more closed and clubby establishment of upper class scions than after 1945. This attack on one of its own was highly resented. A rising star of the foreign service had been humiliated and threatened by a justice of the Supreme Court acting as a spokesperson for a narrow Jewish group not even accepted by most Jews. Rancor was particularly strong in the Warsaw embassy, where it lingered for years. In 1923, Vice Consul Monroe H. Kline reported: “It is common knowledge that this race of people [Jews] are continually and constantly spreading propaganda, through their agencies over the entire world, of political and religious persecution.” He added: “The Jew in business oppresses the Pole to a far greater extent than does the Pole oppress the Jew in a political way.”

One of the consequences of the Gibson case, and similar if less dramatic ones over the years, was that Zionism would have few good friends, high in the State Department until Henry A. Kissinger became Secretary of State in 1973. As for Gibson, he went on to serve honorably as an ambassador in various posts until his retirement on the eve of World War II. Despite his early promise, however, he never became one of the department’s principal officers.


American Zionism awakened from its long slumber in 1935 with Stephen S. Wise’s assumption of the leadership of the Zionist Organization of America. An immigrant from a notable family in Budapest, Wise was a tireless reformer, a crusading liberal and a rabbi well respected among Christians. In his youth he had met Theodore Herzl and been inspired by his vision. But when Brandeis left the Zionist organization in 1921 Wise was one of the brainy members who went with him. Wise’s return to organized Zionism marked a period where American Zionism again began regaining respect and influence, although most of America’s four million Jews still rejected the political creed. Wise was very much in the Brandeis mode in terms of quietly promoting the cause with influential political leaders. In this he was highly successful because he enjoyed the friendship President Franklin D. Roosevelt and, like Brandeis before him, had easy entree into the White House.

The State Department in the pre-war years remained opposed to Zionism, although Roosevelt himself was a supporter for most of his presidency until his ideas changed toward the end. Roosevelt actively encouraged the British to remain committed to the Balfour Declaration and not to cut back on Jewish immigration into Palestine. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, he even considered a plan to place all of Palestine under Jewish control and move the entire Palestinian population to Iraq. In a February 1940 meeting with Weizmann, Roosevelt reportedly said to the world leader of Zionism: “What about the Arabs? Can’t that be settled with a little baksheesh?” Weizmann took his meaning to be that the Palestinians should be paid off as an incentive to leave the land.

At about the same time, a voice harsher than Wise’s began to be heard in American Zionism. It was Abba Hillel Silver, a former protégé of Wise, who began speaking out in uncompromising words demanding Jewish rights. In 1940 he declared a “maximalist” Zionist position: “We’ll force the President to swallow our demands! The gentle, patient and personal diplomatic approach of yesterday is not entirely adequate for our days.” He also advised: “Put not your faith in princes.” It was a tone usually missing from the rhetoric of American Zionists and it soon caught attention, propelling Silver into the national realm of Zionist politics.

Silver was an aggressive and pugnacious native of Lithuania who arrived in America at age nine, son of a rabbi and a future rabbi himself in the prestigious Congregation Tifereth Israel in Cleveland. He was a fierce foe of assimilation and, in fact, preached the opposite creed-to be “more” Jewish rather than less: “We are going to respond to every attack upon our people, to every libel and every slander, by more Jewishness, by more schools and synagogues and by more intensive and loyal work in Palestine.”

While Silver’s stirring oratory and defiant ways brought Zionism great victories, it left him largely unloved even among his followers. Roosevelt did not like him and Truman despised him so much that he barred him and all Zionists from the White House. As Nahum Goldmann, one of world Zionism’s leaders, said: “He was an Old Testament Jew who never forgave or forgot….He could be extremely ruthless in a fight, and there was something of the terrorist in his manner and bearing.” Silver’s belligerent, in-your-face Jewishness strongly contributed to the emergence of Zionism’s “loud diplomacy” that has since marked the ugly.

The cheering delegates gave Silver a standing ovation, broke into the Zionist anthem of atikvah and endorsed the Biltmore Declaration by a vote of 480 to 4 with others abstaining Silver emerged the hero of the meeting and a power in American Zionism challenging the dominance that only Wise had enjoyed in recent years. When Wise encountered Silver in a corridor, he pleaded: “Rabbi Silver, I am an old man, and have had my moment in the sun. You are a young man, and will have your proper share of fame. It is not necessary for you to attack me.” Silver walked away without a word.

While Silver was not loved and “rarely recognized peers,” in the words of one of his employees, he was considerate of his staff and a superb organizer, as the emerging Jewish lobby proved. Silver’s spurt in prominence brought him to the co-chairmanship with Wise of the American Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs (AECZA), an umbrella group representing the Zionist Organization of America, Hadassah and two smaller groups representing religious and labor Zionists. Silver immediately became the dominating force, changed AECZA to AZEC, the American Zionist Emergency Council, and energetically embarked on what his public relations aide Si Kenen called without exaggeration “a political and public relations offensive to capture the support of congressmen, clergy, editors, professor, business and labor.”

In the process he created the modern Israeli lobby, the most pervasive and powerful special interest group in foreign affairs in the United States. AZEC’s budget soared from $100,000 to $500,000 and activists were instructed that “the first task is to make direct contact with your local Congressman or Senator.” Others were targeted too: union members, wives and parents of servicemen, Jewish war veterans. Form letters were provided so local activists could commend, or condemn, newspaper articles and editorials. Schedules of anti-Zionist lecture tours were provided so the events could be picketed or otherwise opposed.

Zionist action groups were organized at the grassroots with more than 400 local committees under seventy-six state and regional branches. These volunteers carried out the local campaigns and even funded groups to visit Washington where they met with Congressmen. When called on, they flooded with letters the White House and State Department. Millions of leaflets and pamphlets poured out of the Zionist offices. Books, articles and academic studies, often by non-Jews, were funded by the AZEC, including Walter Clay Lowdermilk’s Palestine, Land of Promise, which became a bestseller in 1944. Massive petition and letter-writing campaigns were undertaken. One such petition, supporting the Baltimore Declaration, was signed by more than 150 college presidents and deans and 1,800 faculty members from 250 colleges and universities in forty-five states.

Christian support was actively enlisted. The American Palestine Committee, an elitist Protestant group, was revived with secret Zionist funds, eventually reaching $150,000 in 1946. “In every community an American Christian Palestine Committee must be immediately organized,” ordered Silver’s headquarters. Another group, the Christian Council on Palestine, was formed among clergymen. It grew to 3,000 members by the end of the war. The aim of both groups was to “crystallize the sympathy of Christian America for our cause,” in the words of an internal AZEC memo. How completely they were controlled by the Zionists became clear when the Christians felt it necessary to complain that AZEC was making statements in their names without prior consultation.

The support of American labor also was enlisted through the founding of the American Jewish Trade Union Committee for Palestine. Its honorary chairmen were the heads of the CIO and AFL and the vice chairmen numbered nearly every important labor leader in America. The chairman was Max Zaritsky, president of the Hatters Union, who later would testify before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: “American organized labor-twelve million strong-unreservedly and unequivocally supports the aspiration of the Jewish people for the establishment of their homeland in Palestine.”

Newspaper ads were taken out to support the cause, massive demonstrations held-including at New York’s Madison Square Garden-and even pageants produced. Playwright Ben Hecht, a radical Zionist who thought Silver too moderate, wrote a 1943 hit called We Will Never Die. He enlisted Billy Rose to produce, Moss Hart to direct and Kurt Weill to do the music and such stars as Edward Robinson and Paul Muni to act in it as well as a young upcoming actor, Marion Brando. The play toured the country, drawing in big crowds; in Washington Eleanor Roosevelt and most of the Supreme Court justices attended. Such activity was not exclusively the work of Silver and his AZEC group but all of it was motivated by the broad spectrum of American Jewry supporting a homeland. Membership in major Zionist groups soared, more than doubling to 400,000 by 1945. The results of their efforts were impressive. By 1944 more than 3,000 non-Jewish organizations ranging from the Elks to the Grange passed pro-Zionist petitions and backed them up with petitions and letters to Washington. Such distinguished Protestant theologians as Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr actively supported the Zionists. Statements of support came from 411 of the 535 members of the Senate and House.

In 1944, for the first time, both political parties had planks endorsing a commonwealth in Palestine. The Republicans called for unlimited Jewish immigration and the establishment of “a free and democratic commonwealth” while the Democrats were more specific and mentioned a “Jewish commonwealth.”

Zionism, fueled by the horrors of the holocaust against European Jews, had come of age in American domestic politics. Yet this development appears to have had little impact on President Roosevelt’s ideas about Palestine and the Jews. It was the broader strategic realities that captured his attention. As the war years went by and the support of the Arabs, particularly Saudi Arabia and its oil, became more important, Roosevelt’s concern about the negative geopolitical implications of Zionism grew. By 1943 he appears to have deserted the Zionist platform in favor of a scheme by which the holy land would be controlled jointly by Arabs, Christians and Jews. A report to the State Department from Colonel Harold B. Hoskins, a presidential agent who served as Roosevelt’s private adviser and intelligence gatherer on the Middle East, said Roosevelt told him:

This concept to be successful would, he realized, have to be presented as a solution larger and more inclusive than the establishment of an Arab state or of a Jewish state. He realized that this idea, of course, required further thought and needed to be worked out in greater detail, but at least that was the line along which his mind was running.

That same year Roosevelt privately assured Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations that the United States would not act on Palestine’s future without consulting with both Arabs and Jews. These assurances were not leaked by any of the Arab countries or Washington. It was not until after Roosevelt’s meeting with Saudi King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud on 14 February 1945 in the middle of the Suez Canal aboard a U.S. warship, the cruiser Quincy, that he repeated his promise of prior consultation. He officially put it in writing in a letter to his “great and good friend” the king on 5 April 1945:

Your majesty will recall that on previous occasions I communicated to you the attitude of the American Government toward Palestine and made clear our desire that no decision be taken with respect to the basic situation in that country without full consultation with both Arabs and Jews. Your Majesty will also doubtless recall that during our recent conversation I assured you that I would take no action, in my capacity as Chief of the Executive Branch of this Government, which might prove hostile to the Arab people.

The letter was made public six months later by the State Department at the urging of Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately for anyone trying to make sense of U.S. policy on Palestine, only the month before, on 16 March, Roosevelt had bowed to Zionist complaints about his meeting with Ibn Saud and authorized Rabbi Wise to issue a public statement that the president continued to believe in both unlimited Jewish immigration and establishment of a Jewish state. Now, with Roosevelt’s pledge to Ibn Saud, the State Department was left trying to reconcile Roosevelt’s contradictory pledges. An internal State Department memorandum written on 6 April, the day after Roosevelt’s letter to Ibn Saud, laid out the problem:

We secured the President’s approval to a message to our Near Eastern posts explaining that while the President did authorize Rabbi Wise to make this statement, it referred only to possible action at some future date and that the President of course had in mind his pledges to the Arabs that they as well as the Jew would be consulted. This reply will probably not satisfy the Arabs, but it seemed to be the only constructive course of action open to us. In our opinion the situation is so serious. and the adverse effect upon our long-term position in the Near East so likely, that we should reconsider the entire position, adopt a definite policy on Palestine, and obtain the President’s concurrence, with the hope of averting any future misunderstandings as to what our policy actually is…Of course, if we were actually to implement the policy which the Zionists desire, the results would be disastrous.

The memorandum reflected a pattern of conciliation by an anxious bureaucracy trying to wed presidential political statements to statecraft and American interests. For the diplomats this was an essentially hopeless effort, because the reality was that presidents did not understand the true dimensions of the Palestinian question and, moreover, were blinded to it by the lures of domestic politics. They treated the Zionist dream at best as a ticket to election and in some cases overladen, as with Wilson, with a Christian sympathy for the Jewish association with the holy land. They failed to understand the enormous complexities of Zionism’s international ramifications, and certainly none of them understood or sympathized with the unique predicament of the Palestinians.

Despite his sophistication, Roosevelt, like the presidents before and after him, suffered this myopia. For Roosevelt, his eyes were opened to Arab concerns during his meeting with Ibn Saud. It was the first meeting between a U.S. president and an Arab leader, and it shed a new light onto the issue.

Roosevelt came away from the session deeply impressed by the profound hostility of the Arabs to Zionism and the certain belief that a Jewish state could not be founded without force. On the way home, Roosevelt confided to Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius that he “must have a conference with Congressional leaders and re-examine our entire policy in Palestine.” In an address to Congress, he said that “I learned more about that whole problem, the Muslim problem, the Jewish problem, by talking with Ibn Saud for five minutes than I could have learned in the exchange of two or three dozen letters.” He summoned Judge Joseph Proskauer of the American Jewish Committee and told him to try to dampen Jewish hopes for a homeland because such an effort would certainly lead to war or a pogrom. In the circumstances, he added, a Jewish homeland was absolutely impossible at the present time.

On the last day of his life, l2 April 1945, Roosevelt sent telegrams to both Iraq and Syria repeating his pledge about consultation. A similar message was sent by the secretary of state to Lebanon. Three hours after his last telegram was cabled, Roosevelt was dead at age 63.

Now the vice president, Harry S. Truman, not only would inherit the presidency but also the attention of a Zionist lobby determined to marshal all of its vast resources and energies to secure a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

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The Professor

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

His propaganda methods too had a personal touch.

Franz Schmitt was his name. The terror of all relaxation-seeking people of the area, summer guests, and strollers.

He carried a bundle of newspapers, the “Völkischer Beobachter” and the “Stürmer,” in his coat pocket. He’d sit on the promenade. He’d grab hold of friends and strangers and accompany them for hours with stubborn determination. He didn’t let his victims escape without admitting that the Jew was our misfortune. Attempts to escape? Fruitless. He’d run ahead and get in the way of those who didn’t know him, or grab them by the collar.

He followed suspected Hitler supporters into the café. Over a cup of Hag [a brand of German decaffeinated coffee] — his heart couldn’t take any more, and his pension was very, very small — he would argue every objection into the ground with an angel’s patience.

He was stubborn in representing this idea, and impatient with all enemies of the movement, faithful and true to the Führer — one in a hundred thousand.

Those who still march will never forget you, Professor!

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European right wing turns Zionist

Friday, March 30th, 2012

This Saturday, in the Danish city of Aarhus, a Europe-wide rally organised by the far-right English Defence League will try to set up a European anti-Muslim movement. For Europe’s far-right parties, the rally, coming so soon after the murders in southwest France by a self-professed al-Qaeda-following Muslim, marks a moment rich with political capital.

Yet it is also a delicate one, especially for Marine Le Pen. Well before the killings, Le Pen was assiduously courting Jews, even while her father and founder of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was last month convicted of contesting crimes against humanity for saying that the Nazi occupation of France “wasn’t particularly inhumane”.

Marine must disassociate herself from such sentiments without repudiating her father personally, or alienating his supporters. To do so, she has laced her often expressed Islamophobia (parts of France, she has said, are suffering a kind of Muslim “occupation”) with a newfound “philozionism” (love of Zionism), which has extended even to hobnobbing with Israel’s United Nations ambassador.

Almost all European far-right parties have come up with the same toxic cocktail. The Dutch MP Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigrant Party for Freedom, has compared the Qur’an to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. In Tel Aviv in 2010, he declared that “Islam threatens not only Israel, Islam threatens the whole world. If Jerusalem falls today, Athens and Rome, Amsterdam and Paris will fall tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Filip Dewinter, the leader of Belgium’s Vlaams Belang party, which grew out of the Vlaams Blok nationalist party, many of whose members collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, has proposed a quota on the number of Belgian-born Muslims allowed in public swimming pools. Dewinter calls Judaism “a pillar of European society”, yet associates with antiSemites while claiming that “multiculture … like Aids weakens the resistance of the European body” and “Islamophobia is a duty”.

But the most rabidly Islamophobic European philozionist is Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the Austrian Freedom party, who has compared foreigners with harmful insects and consorts with neo-Nazis. And yet, where do we find Strache in December 2010? In Jerusalem, alongside Dewinter, supporting Israel’s right to defend itself.

In Scandinavia the anti­immigrant Danish People’s party is a vocal supporter of Israel. And Siv Jensen, the leader of the Norwegian Progress party and a staunch supporter of Israel, has warned of the stealthy Islamicisation of Norway.

In Britain, English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, in his first public speech, sported a Star of David. At anti-immigrant rallies, his party’s banners read: “There is no place for Fascist Islamic Jew Haters in England”.

So has the Jew, that fabled rootless cosmopolitan, now suddenly become the embodiment of European culture, the “us” against which the Muslim can be cast as “them”? It is not so simple. For a start, “traditional” anti-Semitism has not exactly evaporated. Look at Hungary, where the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party denies the Holocaust unapologetically, or Lithuania, where revisionist MPs claim that the Jews were as responsible as the Nazis for World War II.

What is more, the “philosemite”, who professes to love Jews and attributes superior intelligence and culture to them, is often, though not always, another incarnation of the anti-Semite, who projects negative qualities on to them: both see “the Jew” as a unified racial category.

Beneath the admiring surface, philozionism is not really an appreciation of Jewish culture, but rather the opportunistic endorsement of Israeli nationalism and power.

Indeed, you can blithely sign up to both antisemitism and philozionism.

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik described himself as “pro-Zionist” while claiming that Europe has a “considerable Jewish problem”. He saw himself as simultaneously anti-Nazi and pro-monoculturalism. The far-right British National Party’s Nick Griffin once called the Holocaust the “Holohoax”, subsequently supported Israel in its war “against the terrorists” but, the day after the Oslo murders, tweeted disparagingly that Breivik was a “Zionist”.

Most Jews, apart from the Israeli right wing, are not fooled. They see the whole iconography of Nazism — vermin and foreign bodies, infectious diseases and alien values — pressed into service once again, but this time directed at Muslims. They understand that “my enemy’s enemy” can easily mutate into “with friends like these …”

The philozionism of European nationalist parties has been scrutinised most closely by Adar Primor, foreign editor of Haaretz newspaper, who insists that “they have not genuinely cast off their spiritual DNA and … aren’t looking for anything except for Jewish absolution that will bring them closer to power”. Similarly, Dave Rich, spokesperson for the Community Service Trust that monitors anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, told me that far-right philosemites “must think we’re pretty stupid if they think we’ll get taken in by that. The moment their perceived political gain disappears, they revert to type. We completely reject their idea that they hate Muslims, so they like Jews. What targets one community at one time can very easily move on to target another community if the climate changes.”

Rich’s words, spoken before the murder of Jews in Toulouse, now sound chillingly prescient. The president of the French Jewish community, Richard Pasquier, judges Marine Le Pen as more dangerous than her father.

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Adolf Hitler featured in Turkish shampoo ad

Monday, March 26th, 2012

A Turkish shampoo ad for men featuring Adolf Hitler has been slammed by Jewish groups, but the agency has not yanked it.

The commercial features black-and-white footage of the Nazi leader delivering a speech with a voiceover that says: “If you don’t wear women’s clothes then don’t use a women’s shampoo. Now there’s a 100% men’s shampoo, Biomen. If you’re a man you use Biomen.”

Jewish organizations in Turkey and the Anti-Defamation League have asked the agency to pull the 12-second commercial, which has been airing for a week.

The ADL has called on Turkey’s government to “make clear the offensive nature of this advertisement.”

“The use of images of the violently anti-Semitic dictator who was responsible for the mass murder of 6 million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust to sell shampoo is a disgusting and deplorable marketing ploy,” ADL national director Abraham Foxman said in a statement Friday.

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March with Us!

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Over nearly fifteen years of effort, the Stürmer has given National Socialism an army of millions of convinced fighters. They are fighters who know what the battle is about. They are people who are fanatic about their convictions. People who are ready to make any sacrifice. These men and women see that the world today is on fire. They see how the Jew is arming for the final battle. They work with wonderful devotion for the great cause. Each educates others, each works to ensure that the German people sees the great danger to the world. Each works to see that all Germans, regardless of social class, occupation, or religious confession, work together to form a common front against the great enemy.

German racial comrade! You may not stand aside from this front. You must march and fight alongside us. Our people and our fatherland are at stake. Everything holy and precious to you is at stake. We do not want to do without your help, we cannot do without your help. You should read the Stürmer. You should be educated and pass on what you have learned. If you do that, you join with us in a great and holy battle. You will help to rescue your people, yes, to rescue all non-Jewish humanity. You will then help to solve the greatest problem in world history, the solution of the Jewish Question. German racial comrade, march with us, thereby fulfilling what Julius Streicher wrote in his Stürmer:

Germany will live eternally if it solves the Jewish Question.”

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The Newspaper of the People

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

The love and complete trust that the German people place in the Stürmer is moving. The loyalty of the NSDAP’s old fighters to the Stürmer is especially moving. The following two letters are powerful proof of that love and loyalty.

Alfred Pattin, Steindamm 49, Magdeburg-Prester, 27 August 1936

To the Stürmer, Nuremberg

My dear Stürmer,

I have been reading you since 1927, and can only say that each issue is eagerly awaited by my wife and me. That is as true today as it was during the years of struggle. Now, each issue regularly appears in our Stürmer display case on Sunday. Those neighbors who cannot subscribe should at least be able to read it. You are the primary reason for the knowledge of the Jewish Question among the people. As an earlier employee in the leather trade, I had a lot to do with Jews, and though that became familiar with you here in Central Germany, since you put the Jewish Question in language that was popular and understandable to everyone. To be honest, you led me to join the movement in 1927, which now makes me a bearer of the Golden Honor Badge of the movement. I thank you for that, and assure you that over the years I have won over many readers for you. Through that, I believe, I have given you at least a small token of my appreciation.

Heil Hitler, Alfred Pattin

[The second letter reproduced is a handwritten letter from a 16-year-old.]

These loyal and enthusiastic Stürmer readers all become fellow workers. They all became propagandists for the Stürmer. They said: “The broad public must know what the Stürmer says. It must be told to the face of everyone.” They gathered their spare pennies and built Stürmer display cases. They hung the Stürmer in them. They did so because a fire burned within them that the Stürmer had lit. They did it because they could not do otherwise. At first, there were only a few Stürmer display cases. Today there are tens of thousands. There is hardly a village or a factory in Germany without a Stürmer display case. Today one can say with pride: The Stürmer has become the people’s newspaper.

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