BETHLEHEM – The Israeli who shot and killed a pregnant Palestinian woman and her teenage brother at the notorious Qalandiya checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday was a private security contractor, not a member of the police forces, Israeli media revealed on Sunday.
The Israeli Justice Ministry released a report on Sunday, which revealed that Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, 23, and her brother Ibrahim, 16, had been shot and killed by a privately contracted security guard, and not a police officer as had previously been thought, Israeli Channel 10 reported, noting that the police officer only fired warning shots into the air.
As a result, newspaper Haaretz wrote, the Justice Ministry’s police investigation unit won’t be opening a probe into the killings.
It remains unclear if and by whom a further probe will be conducted.
The revelation comes as serious questions have arisen over Israeli forces’ version of the events that led to the death of Abu Ismail and her younger brother earlier this week.
The contractor shot and killed the siblings after Israeli forces said that Abu Ismail, who was five months pregnant, threw a knife in the direction of Israeli forces at the Qalandiya military checkpoint.
However, witnesses at the scene said the two siblings posed no threat at the time the Israeli officer killed them, as they mistakenly entered the wrong part of the checkpoint and did not understand Israeli soldiers speaking to them in Hebrew.
Israeli police has so far refused to release security camera footage of the Qalandiya shooting, despite having done so in past cases under investigation.
An Israeli police spokesperson was not available for comment on Sunday.
Maram and Ibrahim Abu Ismail are among more than 200 Palestinians to be killed by Israeli forces or settlers since October, the majority during alleged or attempted small-scale attacks that have left nearly 30 Israelis dead.
UN investigations have shown that, in a number of instances since the unrest began, Israeli forces have implemented a policy of extrajudicial execution, shooting dead Palestinians who did not present imminent threat at the time of their death.
NAZARETH – The Israeli occupation police refused to release a video documenting the murder of a young Palestinian lady and her brother who posed no threat to the occupation troops, Hebrew press said on Sunday.
According to the Israeli police version, 23-year-old Maram Saleh Abu Ismail and her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim refused their order to stop and posed a threat to officers.
The Israeli police further claimed that Maram wielded a knife before she was shot along with her brother, who was walking behind her, by the Israeli police.
Eyewitness accounts, however, contradict such Israeli claims, saying the two casualties posed no threat and were at a distance from the occupation troops, who talked to them in a Hebrew language which they did not understand.
Haaretz newspaper quoted Israeli police sources as stating that videos documenting live scenes cannot be released during the investigation phase.
According to the newspaper, similar recordings legitimizing police use of force were released in the past. Israeli police claimed, after searching the casualties’ bodies, that Ibrahim was holding a knife, which was discredited by eyewitness accounts.
The newspaper said a snapshot picked up at the scene shows the two martyrs lying on the ground 15 meters away from the checkpoint and in a place where no Israeli police officers were deployed.
MK Dov Khenin (Joint Arab List) demanded that “Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan launch an immediate probe into the scene and release the video.”
Khenin said no recordings were released despite the fact that the checkpoint was equipped with several cameras.
Maram, who was shot dead by the occupation troops, is a mother of two children and was expecting another baby. She was killed on her way to al-Maqasid hospital in Occupied Jerusalem.
Yesterday, I noted the special relish the Guardian and Haaretz, erstwhile liberal publications, are taking in savaging the UK Labor Party’s left, in the person of one-time London mayor, Ken Livingstone. Given the hundreds of thousands of words and gallons of ink spilled in the vain effort to turn the Labor left into anti-Semites, the current atmosphere in England strikes me as the Night of the Long Knives, when the SS took its revenge on its enemies within the Nazi movement and solidified its hold on the Party.
Now, the Guardian’s Israel correspondent, Peter Beaumont, has gotten into the act. He’s written an odd article that continues the attack on Livingstone, calling his argument “dubious history.” But it does so from a strange angle. Beaumont reviews one of the major pieces of historical evidence raised by Livingstone in his fateful interview, in which the latter said that “Hitler supported Zionism.” I refer to the Haavara Agreement, by which the Yishuv negotiated the ransom of German Jews in return for the Reich confiscating their property and using it to fuel Germany’s pre-World War II military buildup. Beaumont’s purpose seems to be to both acknowledge the validity of the argument that the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis, while at the same time undercutting it. He calls Livingstone’s invocation of it a “twisted kernel of historical truth.”
In the process, the Guardian reporter engages in petulant schoolmarm tactics like criticizing Livingstone for saying the Agreement was negotiated in 1932, when it was negotiated in 1933; and criticizing Livingstone for saying the Agreement was negotiated between Nazi Germany and “Israel,” when the Yishuv didn’t become Israel until 1948 (it was the Palestinian Mandate before then). These are facts that an expert on Zionist history or a PhD student should know. But given the fact-free zone through which MK anti-Semite Inquisitors like John Mann are floating, I think we can safely cut Livingstone a bit of slack.
Beaumont tries to downgrade the significance of Haavara by saying that it was “deeply controversial,” as if this controversy lets the Yishuv off the moral hook for negotiating it in the first place. Of course it would be justified if Beaumont could show that the Zionist leadership renounced the Agreement or whether key leaders protested against it publicly. But nothing of the sort happened.
There are rumors that one of the key negotiators of Haavara, Chaim Arlosoroff, was assassinated (he was murdered shortly after he returned from a negotiation session with the Nazis) because of his role. But this has never been proven. And even if it had been, the murder was likely committed by rightists Lehi, which itself sought to collaborate with the Nazis.
Beaumont also obscures the historical record by saying Haavara was neogiated ” between Germany and German Zionists.” No, it was an agreement negotiated between the Yishuv and the Nazis. Since I’m not a historian of the period it’s entirely possible German Jews were involved. But eliding Yishuv participation is distorting history in an attempt to lessen its culpability.
Beaumont comes up short historically in this passage as well:
The Haavara agreement was designed to encourage the emigration of Jews from Germany in line with National Socialist policies, but it did not have in mind the foundation of a Jewish state in Palestine, a key tenet of Zionism.
That is something like saying I eat ice cream to provide nourishment to my body, but not for the pleasure of eating it. Of course, eating ice cream provides nourishment. But one important reason for doing so is the pleasure of the eating. So in the case of the Nazis, arguing that the reason they agreed to Haavara had nothing to do with Palestine is simply wrong.
Beaumont continues this false argument with the following: “Hitler wanted neither Jews in Germany nor in their own state.”
The Nazis knew the German Jews who emigrated would go to Palestine. Had they really objected to this, they could have done so as part of the negotiations. They could have forced the Yishuv to permit the Jews to emigrate to other countries in addition to Palestine. But they didn’t. The Nazis knew where these Jews were headed and accepted this. Thus the Nazis did provide support for the “Jewish state in Palestine.”
This certainly wasn’t their primary purpose in doing the deal. But it was a clear and known result of the deal.
None other than SS chief, Reinhard Heydrich wrote this in 1935 (thanks to Shraga Elam for forwarding this historical gem):
“‘National Socialism has no intention of attacking the Jewish people in any way. On the contrary, the recognition of Jewry as a racial community based on blood, and not as a religious one, leads the German government to guarantee the racial separateness of this community without any limitations. The government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry itself, the so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry throughout the world and the rejection of all assimilationist ideas. On this basis, Germany undertakes measures that will surely play a significant role in the future in the handling of the Jewish problem around the world.’
Göring’s January 24, 1939, note to the Interior Ministry gave Heydrich the authority to determine which parts of the world were the most suitable destinations for Jewish emigrants. The SS had consistently favored Jewish emigration to Palestine and would continue to do so with its enhanced authority in emigration policy.”
This passage is from Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1985. For further historical evidence on this issue, see Shraga’s terrific culling of sources here.
Let’s introduce another inconvenient piece of historical evidence that rebuts Beaumont’s claims. Writing in 1932, the Palestine Post (predecessor of the Jerusalem Post ) published this piece from the Jewish Forward via the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in which thugs clad in Nazi uniforms assaulted Jews in the Berlin Underground shouting: “Jews to Palestine!” If the Nazis rejected the legitimacy of Palestine, they could’ve shouted simply: “Jews Out!” or “Jews to America.” But they associated German Jewish emigration with the Jewish homeland, Palestine. So one wonders why it’s so important for Beaumont to argue that the Nazis didn’t recognize the legitimacy of Palestine as a destination for German Jewry.
To buttress his argument, Beaumont introduces the claim that Hitler opposed a state for the Jews:
Indeed, by late 1937 an anti-Nazi German official involved in administering the agreement suggested that fear in Nazi circles that it might lead to a Jewish state, to which Hitler was implacably opposed, was leading to suggestions “it should be terminated.”
I have no doubt that this “anti-Nazi” official exists, but Beaumont neither tells us who he is nor does he offer a source for this claim. So it’s hard to judge anything about it. But here is the unvarnished historical truth: the Nazis pursued a policy of partnership with the Zionist leadership almost until 1939. Eichmann himself visited Palestine on a fact-finding mission studying the success in implementing the Haavara Agreement.
Further, whether or not someone feared Haavara might be terminated, it wasn’t. So the claim that Hitler opposed the creation of a Jewish state is irrelevant. If he did, he never let this opposition prevent him from agreeing to collaborate with that future state’s leadership.
In short, the Yishuv’s position in agreeing to Haavara sacrificed any moral high-ground to the cold, hard calculation of saving Jews who would populate Palestine and aid the leadership in their struggle with the Palestinian Arabs to dominate the demographic landscape there. Haavara was collaboration pure and simple. Of course, there are legitimate reasons the Zionists agreed to it. But in doing so they sacrificed morality and also strengthened the Nazi war machine for its coming battles.
Beaumont also omits another key piece of historical evidence of Zionist collusion with the Nazis. The far-right Irgun, the leading political Opposition to the Yishuv leadership, went even farther than the Yishuv in collaborating with the Nazis. They actually drew up an official plan to fight alongside the Nazis in the War. The Irgun was willing to help the Nazis win the War. It read:
“The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East.
Proceeding from these considerations, the NMO [Irgun] in Palestine, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli freedom movement are recognized on the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany’s side.”
In effect, Lehi was suing for peace even before the War concluded. It did so in hope of securing Nazi support for the Yishuv and in an attempt to guarantee its survival.
While it is true that Lehi was in the political opposition and not a dominant player in the Yishuv, it still maintained a critical role in Palestinian society. Future prime ministers like Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin were its senior leaders. The descendants of Lehi have been ruling Israel virtually since 1977. So it’s important not to dismiss what it did before World War II as an anomaly or historically insignificant.
Early in 1935, a passenger ship bound for Haifa in Palestine left the German port of Bremerhaven. Its stern bore the Hebrew letters for its name, “Tel Aviv,” while a swastika banner fluttered from the mast. And although the ship was Zionist-owned, its captain was a National Socialist Party member. Many years later a traveler aboard the ship recalled this symbolic combination as a “metaphysical absurdity.”/1 Absurd or not, this is but one vignette from a little-known chapter of history: The wide-ranging collaboration between Zionism and Hitler’s Third Reich.
Over the years, people in many different countries have wrestled with the “Jewish question”: that is, what is the proper role of Jews in non-Jewish society? During the 1930s, Jewish Zionists and German National Socialists shared similar views on how to deal with this perplexing issue. They agreed that Jews and Germans were distinctly different nationalities, and that Jews did not belong in Germany. Jews living in the Reich were therefore to be regarded not as “Germans of the Jewish faith,” but rather as members of a separate national community. Zionism (Jewish nationalism) also implied an obligation by Zionist Jews to resettle in Palestine, the “Jewish homeland.” They could hardly regard themselves as sincere Zionists and simultaneously claim equal rights in Germany or any other “foreign” country.
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the founder of modern Zionism, maintained that anti-Semitism is not an aberration, but a natural and completely understandable response by non-Jews to alien Jewish behavior and attitudes. The only solution, he argued, is for Jews to recognize reality and live in a separate state of their own. “The Jewish question exists wherever Jews live in noticeable numbers,” he wrote in his most influential work, The Jewish State. “Where it does not exist, it is brought in by arriving Jews … I believe I understand anti-Semitism, which is a very complex phenomenon. I consider this development as a Jew, without hate or fear.” The Jewish question, he maintained, is not social or religious. “It is a national question. To solve it we must, above all, make it an international political issue …” Regardless of their citizenship, Herzl insisted, Jews constitute not merely a religious community, but a nationality, a people, a Volk. /2 Zionism, wrote Herzl, offered the world a welcome “final solution of the Jewish question.”/3
Six months after Hitler came to power, the Zionist Federation of Germany (by far the largest Zionist group in the country) submitted a detailed memorandum to the new government that reviewed German-Jewish relations and formally offered Zionist support in “solving” the vexing “Jewish question.” The first step, it suggested, had to be a frank recognition of fundamental national differences: /4
Zionism has no illusions about the difficulty of the Jewish condition, which consists above all in an abnormal occupational pattern and in the fault of an intellectual and moral posture not rooted in one’s own tradition. Zionism recognized decades ago that as a result of the assimilationist trend, symptoms of deterioration were bound to appear …
Zionism believes that the rebirth of the national life of a people, which is now occurring in Germany through the emphasis on its Christian and national character, must also come about in the Jewish national group. For the Jewish people, too, national origin, religion, common destiny and a sense of its uniqueness must be of decisive importance in the shaping of its existence. This means that the egotistical individualism of the liberal era must be overcome and replaced with a sense of community and collective responsibility …
We believe it is precisely the new [National Socialist] Germany that can, through bold resoluteness in the handling of the Jewish question, take a decisive step toward overcoming a problem which, in truth, will have to be dealt with by most European peoples …
Our acknowledgment of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we do not wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group and reject any trespasses in the cultural domain, we — having been brought up in the German language and German culture — can show an interest in the works and values of German culture with admiration and internal sympathy …
For its practical aims, Zionism hopes to be able to win the collaboration of even a government fundamentally hostile to Jews, because in dealing with the Jewish question not sentimentalities are involved but a real problem whose solution interests all peoples and at the present moment especially the German people …
Boycott propaganda — such as is currently being carried on against Germany in many ways — is in essence un-Zionist, because Zionism wants not to do battle but to convince and to build …
We are not blind to the fact that a Jewish question exists and will continue to exist. From the abnormal situation of the Jews severe disadvantages result for them, but also scarcely tolerable conditions for other peoples.
The Federation’s paper, the Jüdische Rundschau (“Jewish Review”), proclaimed the same message: “Zionism recognizes the existence of a Jewish problem and desires a far-reaching and constructive solution. For this purpose Zionism wishes to obtain the assistance of all peoples, whether pro- or anti-Jewish, because, in its view, we are dealing here with a concrete rather than a sentimental problem, the solution of which all peoples are interested.”/5 A young Berlin rabbi, Joachim Prinz, who later settled in the United States and became head of the American Jewish Congress, wrote in his 1934 book, Wir Juden (“We Jews”), that the National Socialist revolution in Germany meant “Jewry for the Jews.” He explained: “No subterfuge can save us now. In place of assimilation we desire a new concept: recognition of the Jewish nation and Jewish race.” /6
On this basis of their similar ideologies about ethnicity and nationhood, National Socialists and Zionists worked together for what each group believed was in its own national interest. As a result, the Hitler government vigorously supported Zionism and Jewish emigration to Palestine from 1933 until 1940-1941, when the Second World War prevented extensive collaboration.
Even as the Third Reich became more entrenched, many German Jews, probably a majority, continued to regard themselves, often with considerable pride, as Germans first. Few were enthusiastic about pulling up roots to begin a new life in far-away Palestine. Nevertheless, more and more German Jews turned to Zionism during this period. Until late 1938, the Zionist movement flourished in Germany under Hitler. The circulation of the Zionist Federation’s bi-weekly Jüdische Rundschau grew enormously. Numerous Zionist books were published. “Zionist work was in full swing” in Germany during those years, the Encyclopaedia Judaica notes. A Zionist convention held in Berlin in 1936 reflected “in its composition the vigorous party life of German Zionists.”/7
The SS was particularly enthusiastic in its support for Zionism. An internal June 1934 SS position paper urged active and wide-ranging support for Zionism by the government and the Party as the best way to encourage emigration of Germany’s Jews to Palestine. This would require increased Jewish self-awareness. Jewish schools, Jewish sports leagues, Jewish cultural organizations — in short, everything that would encourage this new consciousness and self-awareness – should be promoted, the paper recommended. /8
SS officer Leopold von Mildenstein and Zionist Federation official Kurt Tuchler toured Palestine together for six months to assess Zionist development there. Based on his firsthand observations, von Mildenstein wrote a series of twelve illustrated articles for the important Berlin daily Der Angriff that appeared in late 1934 under the heading “A Nazi Travels to Palestine.” The series expressed great admiration for the pioneering spirit and achievements of the Jewish settlers. Zionist self-development, von Mildenstein wrote, had produced a new kind of Jew. He praised Zionism as a great benefit for both the Jewish people and the entire world. A Jewish homeland in Palestine, he wrote in his concluding article, “pointed the way to curing a centuries-long wound on the body of the world: the Jewish question.” Der Angriff issued a special medal, with a Swastika on one side and a Star of David on the other, to commemorate the joint SS-Zionist visit. A few months after the articles appeared, von Mildenstein was promoted to head the Jewish affairs department of the SS security service in order to support Zionist migration and development more effectively. /9
The official SS newspaper, Das Schwarze Korps, proclaimed its support for Zionism in a May 1935 front-page editorial: “The time may not be too far off when Palestine will again be able to receive its sons who have been lost to it for more than a thousand years. Our good wishes, together with official goodwill, go with them.”/10 Four months later, a similar article appeared in the SS paper: /11
The recognition of Jewry as a racial community based on blood and not on religion leads the German government to guarantee without reservation the racial separateness of this community. The government finds itself in complete agreement with the great spiritual movement within Jewry, the so-called Zionism, with its recognition of the solidarity of Jewry around the world and its rejection of all assimilationist notions. On this basis, Germany undertakes measures that will surely play a significant role in the future in the handling of the Jewish problem around the world.
A leading German shipping line began direct passenger liner service from Hamburg to Haifa, Palestine, in October 1933 providing “strictly kosher food on its ships, under the supervision of the Hamburg rabbinate.” /12
With official backing, Zionists worked tirelessly to “reeducate” Germany’s Jews. As American historian Francis Nicosia put it in his 1985 survey, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question: “Zionists were encouraged to take their message to the Jewish community, to collect money, to show films on Palestine and generally to educate German Jews about Palestine. There was considerable pressure to teach Jews in Germany to cease identifying themselves as Germans and to awaken a new Jewish national identity in them.” /13
In an interview after the war, the former head of the Zionist Federation of Germany, Dr. Hans Friedenthal, summed up the situation: “The Gestapo did everything in those days to promote emigration, particularly to Palestine. We often received their help when we required anything from other authorities regarding preparations for emigration.” /14
At the September 1935 National Socialist Party Congress, the Reichstag adopted the so-called “Nuremberg laws” that prohibited marriages and sexual relations between Jews and Germans and, in effect, proclaimed the Jews an alien minority nationality. A few days later the Zionist Jüdische Rundschau editorially welcomed the new measures: /15
Germany … is meeting the demands of the World Zionist Congress when it declares the Jews now living in Germany to be a national minority. Once the Jews have been stamped a national minority it is again possible to establish normal relations between the German nation and Jewry. The new laws give the Jewish minority in Germany its own cultural life, its own national life. In future it will be able to shape its own schools, its own theatre, and its own sports associations. In short, it can create its own future in all aspects of national life …
Germany has given the Jewish minority the opportunity to live for itself, and is offering state protection for this separate life of the Jewish minority: Jewry’s process of growth into a nation will thereby be encouraged and a contribution will be made to the establishment of more tolerable relations between the two nations.
Georg Kareski, the head of both the “Revisionist” Zionist State Organization and the Jewish Cultural League, and former head of the Berlin Jewish Community, declared in an interview with the Berlin daily Der Angriff at the end of 1935: /16
For many years I have regarded a complete separation of the cultural affairs of the two peoples [Jews and Germans] as a pre-condition for living together without conflict… I have long supported such a separation, provided it is founded on respect for the alien nationality. The Nuremberg Laws … seem to me, apart from their legal provisions, to conform entirely with this desire for a separate life based on mutual respect… This interruption of the process of dissolution in many Jewish communities, which had been promoted through mixed marriages, is therefore, from a Jewish point of view, entirely welcome.
Zionist leaders in other countries echoed these views. Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress, told a New York rally in June 1938: “I am not an American citizen of the Jewish faith, I am a Jew… Hitler was right in one thing. He calls the Jewish people a race and we are a race.” /17
The Interior Ministry’s Jewish affairs specialist, Dr. Bernhard Lösener, expressed support for Zionism in an article that appeared in a November 1935 issue of the official Reichsverwaltungsblatt : /18
If the Jews already had their own state in which the majority of them were settled, then the Jewish question could be regarded as completely resolved today, also for the Jews themselves. The least amount of opposition to the ideas underlying the Nuremberg Laws have been shown by the Zionists, because they realize at once that these laws represent the only correct solution for the Jewish people as well. For each nation must have its own state as the outward expression of its particular nationhood.
In cooperation with the German authorities, Zionist groups organized a network of some forty camps and agricultural centers throughout Germany where prospective settlers were trained for their new lives in Palestine. Although the Nuremberg Laws forbid Jews from displaying the German flag, Jews were specifically guaranteed the right to display the blue and white Jewish national banner. The flag that would one day be adopted by Israel was flown at the Zionist camps and centers in Hitler’s Germany. /19
Himmler’s security service cooperated with the Haganah, the Zionist underground military organization in Palestine. The SS agency paid Haganah official Feivel Polkes for information about the situation in Palestine and for help in directing Jewish emigration to that country. Meanwhile, the Haganah was kept well informed about German plans by a spy it managed to plant in the Berlin headquarters of the SS. /20 Haganah-SS collaboration even included secret deliveries of German weapons to Jewish settlers for use in clashes with Palestinian Arabs. /21
In the aftermath of the November 1938 “Kristallnacht” outburst of violence and destruction, the SS quickly helped the Zionist organization to get back on its feet and continue its work in Germany, although now under more restricted supervision. /22
German support for Zionism was not unlimited. Government and Party officials were very mindful of the continuing campaign by powerful Jewish communities in the United States, Britain and other countries to mobilize “their” governments and fellow citizens against Germany. As long as world Jewry remained implacably hostile toward National Socialist Germany, and as long as the great majority of Jews around the world showed little eagerness to resettle in the Zionist “promised land,” a sovereign Jewish state in Palestine would not really “solve” the international Jewish question. Instead, German officials reasoned, it would immeasurably strengthen this dangerous anti-German campaign. German backing for Zionism was therefore limited to support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine under British control, not a sovereign Jewish state. /23
A Jewish state in Palestine, the Foreign Minister informed diplomats in June 1937, would not be in Germany’s interest because it would not be able to absorb all Jews around the world, but would only serve as an additional power base for international Jewry, in much the same way as Moscow served as a base for international Communism. /24 Reflecting something of a shift in official policy, the German press expressed much greater sympathy in 1937 for Palestinian Arab resistance to Zionist ambitions, at a time when tension and conflict between Jews and Arabs in Palestine was sharply increasing. /25
A Foreign Office circular bulletin of June 22, 1937, cautioned that in spite of support for Jewish settlement in Palestine, “it would nevertheless be a mistake to assume that Germany supports the formation of a state structure in Palestine under some form of Jewish control. In view of the anti-German agitation of international Jewry, Germany cannot agree that the formation of a Palestine Jewish state would help the peaceful development of the nations of the world.”/26 “The proclamation of a Jewish state or a Jewish-administrated Palestine,” warned an internal memorandum by the Jewish affairs section of the SS, “would create for Germany a new enemy, one that would have a deep influence on developments in the Near East.” Another SS agency predicted that a Jewish state “would work to bring special minority protection to Jews in every country, therefore giving legal protection to the exploitation activity of world Jewry.”/27 In January 1939, Hitler’s new Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, likewise warned in another circular bulletin that “Germany must regard the formation of a Jewish state as dangerous” because it “would bring an international increase in power to world Jewry.” /28
Hitler himself personally reviewed this entire issue in early 1938 and, in spite of his long-standing skepticism of Zionist ambitions and misgivings that his policies might contribute to the formation of a Jewish state, decided to support Jewish migration to Palestine even more vigorously. The prospect of ridding Germany of its Jews, he concluded, outweighed the possible dangers. /29
Meanwhile, the British government imposed ever more drastic restrictions on Jewish immigration into Palestine in 1937, 1938 and 1939. In response, the SS security service concluded a secret alliance with the clandestine Zionist agency Mossad le-Aliya Bet to smuggle Jews illegally into Palestine. As a result of this intensive collaboration, several convoys of ships succeeded in reaching Palestine past British gunboats. Jewish migration, both legal and illegal, from Germany (including Austria) to Palestine increased dramatically in 1938 and 1939. Another 10,000 Jews were scheduled to depart in October 1939, but the outbreak of war in September brought the effort to an end. All the same, German authorities continued to promote indirect Jewish emigration to Palestine during 1940 and 1941. /30 Even as late as March 1942, at least one officially authorized Zionist “kibbutz” training camp for potential emigrants continued to operate in Hitler’s Germany. /31
The Transfer Agreement
The centerpiece of German-Zionist cooperation during the Hitler era was the Transfer Agreement, a pact that enabled tens of thousands of German Jews to migrate to Palestine with their wealth. The Agreement, also known as the Haavara (Hebrew for “transfer”), was concluded in August 1933 following talks between German officials and Chaim Arlosoroff, Political Secretary of the Jewish Agency, the Palestine center of the World Zionist Organization. /32
Through this unusual arrangement, each Jew bound for Palestine deposited money in a special account in Germany. The money was used to purchase German-made agricultural tools, building materials, pumps, fertilizer, and so forth, which were exported to Palestine and sold there by the Jewish-owned Haavara company in Tel-Aviv. Money from the sales was given to the Jewish emigrant upon his arrival in Palestine in an amount corresponding to his deposit in Germany. German goods poured into Palestine through the Haavara, which was supplemented a short time later with a barter agreement by which Palestine oranges were exchanged for German timber, automobiles, agricultural machinery, and other goods. The Agreement thus served the Zionist aim of bringing Jewish settlers and development capital to Palestine, while simultaneously serving the German goal of freeing the country of an unwanted alien group.
Delegates at the 1933 Zionist Congress in Prague vigorously debated the merits of the Agreement. Some feared that the pact would undermine the international Jewish economic boycott against Germany. But Zionist officials reassured the Congress. Sam Cohen, a key figure behind the Haavara arrangement, stressed that the Agreement was not economically advantageous to Germany. Arthur Ruppin, a Zionist Organization emigration specialist who had helped negotiate the pact, pointed out that “the Transfer Agreement in no way interfered with the boycott movement, since no new currency will flow into Germany as a result of the agreement…” /33 The 1935 Zionist Congress, meeting in Switzerland, overwhelmingly endorsed the pact. In 1936, the Jewish Agency (the Zionist “shadow government” in Palestine) took over direct control of the Ha’avara, which remained in effect until the Second World War forced its abandonment.
Some German officials opposed the arrangement. Germany’s Consul General in Jerusalem, Hans Döhle, for example, sharply criticized the Agreement on several occasions during 1937. He pointed out that it cost Germany the foreign exchange that the products exported to Palestine through the pact would bring if sold elsewhere. The Haavara monopoly sale of German goods to Palestine through a Jewish agency naturally angered German businessmen and Arabs there. Official German support for Zionism could lead to a loss of German markets throughout the Arab world. The British government also resented the arrangement. /34 A June 1937 German Foreign Office internal bulletin referred to the “foreign exchange sacrifices” that resulted from the Haavara. 3/5
A December 1937 internal memorandum by the German Interior Ministry reviewed the impact of the Transfer Agreement: “There is no doubt that the Haavara arrangement has contributed most significantly to the very rapid development of Palestine since 1933. The Agreement provided not only the largest source of money (from Germany!), but also the most intelligent group of immigrants, and finally it brought to the country the machines and industrial products essential for development.” The main advantage of the pact, the memo reported, was the emigration of large numbers of Jews to Palestine, the most desirable target country as far as Germany was concerned. But the paper also noted the important drawbacks pointed out by Consul Döhle and others. The Interior Minister, it went on, had concluded that the disadvantages of the agreement now outweighed the advantages and that, therefore, it should be terminated. /36
Only one man could resolve the controversy. Hitler personally reviewed the policy in July and September 1937, and again in January 1938, and each time decided to maintain the Haavara arrangement. The goal of removing Jews from Germany, he concluded, justified the drawbacks. /37
The Reich Economics Ministry helped to organize another transfer company, the International Trade and Investment Agency, or Intria, through which Jews in foreign countries could help German Jews emigrate to Palestine. Almost $900,000 was eventually channeled through the Intria to German Jews in Palestine. /38 Other European countries eager to encourage Jewish emigration concluded agreements with the Zionists modeled after the Ha’avara. In 1937 Poland authorized the Halifin (Hebrew for “exchange”) transfer company. By late summer 1939, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary and Italy had signed similar arrangements. The outbreak of war in September 1939, however, prevented large-scale implementation of these agreements. /39
Achievements of Haavara
Between 1933 and 1941, some 60,000 German Jews emigrated to Palestine through the Ha’avara and other German-Zionist arrangements, or about ten percent of Germany’s 1933 Jewish population. (These German Jews made up about 15 percent of Palestine’s 1939 Jewish population.) Some Ha’avara emigrants transferred considerable personal wealth from Germany to Palestine. As Jewish historian Edwin Black has noted: “Many of these people, especially in the late 1930s, were allowed to transfer actual replicas of their homes and factories — indeed rough replicas of their very existence.”/40
The total amount transferred from Germany to Palestine through the Ha’avara between August 1933 and the end of 1939 was 8.1 million pounds or 139.57 million German marks (then equivalent to more than $40 million). This amount included 33.9 million German marks ($13.8 million) provided by the Reichsbank in connection with the Agreement. /41
Historian Black has estimated that an additional $70 million may have flowed into Palestine through corollary German commercial agreements and special international banking transactions. The German funds had a major impact on a country as underdeveloped as Palestine was in the 1930s, he pointed out. Several major industrial enterprises were built with the capital from Germany, including the Mekoroth waterworks and the Lodzia textile firm. The influx of Ha’avara goods and capital, concluded Black, “produced an economic explosion in Jewish Palestine” and was “an indispensable factor in the creation of the State of Israel.”/42
The Ha’avara agreement greatly contributed to Jewish development in Palestine and thus, indirectly, to the foundation of the Israeli state. A January 1939 German Foreign Office circular bulletin reported, with some misgiving, that “the transfer of Jewish property out of Germany [through the Ha’avara agreement] contributed to no small extent to the building of a Jewish state in Palestine.”/43
Former officials of the Ha’avara company in Palestine confirmed this view in a detailed study of the Transfer Agreement published in 1972: “The economic activity made possible by the influx German capital and the Haavara transfers to the private and public sectors were of greatest importance for the country’s development. Many new industries and commercial enterprises were established in Jewish Palestine, and numerous companies that are enormously important even today in the economy of the State of Israel owe their existence to the Haavara.”/44 Dr. Ludwig Pinner, a Ha’avara company official in Tel Aviv during the 1930s, later commented that the exceptionally competent Ha’avara immigrants “decisively contributed” to the economic, social, cultural and educational development of Palestine’s Jewish community. /45
The Transfer Agreement was the most far-reaching example of cooperation between Hitler’s Germany and international Zionism. Through this pact, Hitler’s Third Reich did more than any other government during the 1930s to support Jewish development in Palestine.
Zionists Offer a Military Alliance With Hitler
In early January 1941 a small but important Zionist organization submitted a formal proposal to German diplomats in Beirut for a military-political alliance with wartime Germany. The offer was made by the radical underground “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel,” better known as the Lehi or Stern Gang. Its leader, Avraham Stern, had recently broken with the radical nationalist “National Military Organization” (Irgun Zvai Leumi) over the group’s attitude toward Britain, which had effectively banned further Jewish settlement of Palestine. Stern regarded Britain as the main enemy of Zionism.
This remarkable Zionist proposal “for the solution of the Jewish question in Europe and the active participation of the NMO [Lehi] in the war on the side of Germany” is worth quoting at some length: /46
In their speeches and statements, the leading statesmen of National Socialist Germany have often emphasized that a New Order in Europe requires as a prerequisite a radical solution of the Jewish question by evacuation. (“Jew-free Europe”)
The evacuation of the Jewish masses from Europe is a precondition for solving the Jewish question. However, the only way this can be totally achieved is through settlement of these masses in the homeland of the Jewish people, Palestine, and by the establishment of a Jewish state in its historical boundaries.
The goal of the political activity and the years of struggle by the Israel Freedom Movement, the National Military Organization in Palestine (Irgun Zvai Leumi), is to solve the Jewish problem in this way and thus completely liberate the Jewish people forever.
The NMO, which is very familiar with the good will of the German Reich government and its officials towards Zionist activities within Germany and the Zionist emigration program, takes that view that:
1. Common interests can exist between a European New Order based on the German concept and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as embodied by the NMO.
2. Cooperation is possible between the New Germany and a renewed, folkish-national Jewry [Hebräertum].
3. The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of maintaining and strengthening the future German position of power in the Near East.
On the basis of these considerations, and upon the condition that the German Reich government recognize the national aspirations of the Israel Freedom Movement mentioned above, the NMO in Palestine offers to actively take part in the war on the side of Germany.
This offer by the NMO could include military, political and informational activity within Palestine and, after certain organizational measures, outside as well. Along with this the Jewish men of Europe would be militarily trained and organized in military units under the leadership and command of the NMO. They would take part in combat operations for the purpose of conquering Palestine, should such a front by formed.
The indirect participation of the Israel Freedom Movement in the New Order of Europe, already in the preparatory stage, combined with a positive-radical solution of the European Jewish problem on the basis of the national aspirations of the Jewish people mentioned above, would greatly strengthen the moral foundation of the New Order in the eyes of all humanity.
The cooperation of the Israel Freedom Movement would also be consistent with a recent speech by the German Reich Chancellor, in which Hitler stressed that he would utilize any combination and coalition in order to isolate and defeat England.
There is no record of any German response. Acceptance was very unlikely anyway because by this time German policy was decisively pro-Arab. /47 Remarkably, Stern’s group sought to conclude a pact with the Third Reich at a time when stories that Hitler was bent on exterminating Jews were already in wide circulation. Stern apparently either did not believe the stories or he was willing to collaborate with the mortal enemy of his people to help bring about a Jewish state. /48
An important Lehi member at the time the group made this offer was Yitzhak Shamir, who later served as Israel’s Foreign Minister and then, during much of the 1980s and until June 1992, as Prime Minister. As Lehi operations chief following Stern’s death in 1942, Shamir organized numerous acts of terror, including the November 1944 assassination of British Middle East Minister Lord Moyne and the September 1948 slaying of Swedish United Nations mediator Count Bernadotte. Years later, when Shamir was asked about the 1941 offer, he confirmed that he was aware of his organization’s proposed alliance with wartime Germany. /49
In spite of the basic hostility between the Hitler regime and international Jewry, for several years Jewish Zionist and German National Socialist interests coincided. In collaborating with the Zionists for a mutually desirable and humane solution to a complex problem, the Third Reich was willing to make foreign exchange sacrifices, impair relations with Britain and anger the Arabs. Indeed, during the 1930s no nation did more to substantively further Jewish-Zionist goals than Hitler’s Germany.
1. W. Martini, “Hebräisch unterm Hakenkreuz,” Die Welt (Hamburg), Jan. 10, 1975. Cited in: Klaus Polken, “The Secret Contacts: Zionism and Nazi Germany, 1933-1941,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring-Summer 1976, p. 65.
2. Quoted in: Ingrid Weckert, Feuerzeichen: Die “Reichskristallnacht” (Tübingen: Grabert, 1981), p. 212. See also: Th. Herzl, The Jewish State (New York: Herzl Press, 1970), pp. 33, 35, 36, and, Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement (New York: Macmillan, 1984), p. 73.
3. Th. Herzl, “Der Kongress,” Welt, June 4, 1897. Reprinted in: Theodor Herzls zionistische Schriften (Leon Kellner, ed.), erster Teil, Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag, 1920, p. 190 (and p. 139).
4. Memo of June 21, 1933, in: L. Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader (New York: Behrman, 1976), pp. 150-155, and (in part) in: Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (Austin: Univ. of Texas, 1985), p. 42.; On Zionism in Germany before Hitler’s assumption of power, see: Donald L. Niewyk, The Jews in Weimar Germany (Baton Rouge: 1980), pp. 94-95, 126-131, 140-143.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich (Austin: 1985), pp. 1-15.
5. Jüdische Rundschau (Berlin), June 13, 1933. Quoted in: Heinz Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head (New York: Ballantine, pb., 1971, 1984), pp. 376-377.
6. Heinz Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head (Ballantine, 1971, 1984), p. 376.
7. “Berlin,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (New York and Jerusalem: 1971), Vol. 5, p. 648. For a look at one aspect of this “vigorous life,” see: J.-C. Horak, “Zionist Film Propaganda in Nazi Germany,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1984, pp. 49-58.
8. Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), pp. 54-55.; Karl A. Schleunes, The Twisted Road to Auschwitz (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois, 1970, 1990), pp. 178-181.
9. Jacob Boas, “A Nazi Travels to Palestine,” History Today (London), January 1980, pp. 33-38.
10. Facsimile reprint of front page of Das Schwarze Korps, May 15, 1935, in: Janusz Piekalkiewicz, Israels Langer Arm (Frankfurt: Goverts, 1975), pp. 66-67. Also quoted in: Heinz Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head (Ballantine, 1971, 1984), p. 377. See also: Erich Kern, ed., Verheimlichte Dokumente (Munich: FZ-Verlag, 1988), p. 184.
11. as Schwarze Korps, Sept. 26, 1935. Quoted in: F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), pp. 56-57.
12. Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), p. 83.
13. F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), p. 60. See also: F. Nicosia, “The Yishuv and the Holocaust,” The Journal of Modern History (Chicago), Vol. 64, No. 3, Sept. 1992, pp. 533-540.
14. F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (1985), p. 57.
15. Jüdische Rundschau, Sept. 17, 1935. Quoted in: Yitzhak Arad, with Y. Gutman and A. Margaliot, eds., Documents on the Holocaust (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1981), pp. 82-83.
16. Der Angriff, Dec. 23, 1935, in: E. Kern, ed., Verheimlichte Dokumente (Munich: 1988), p. 148.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 56.; L. Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), p. 138.; A. Margaliot, “The Reaction…,” ad Vashem Studies (Jerusalem), vol. 12, 1977, pp. 90-91.; On Kareski’s remarkable career, see: H. Levine, “A Jewish Collaborator in Nazi Germany,” Central European History (Atlanta), Sept. 1975, pp. 251-281.
17. “Dr. Wise Urges Jews to Declare Selves as Such,” New York Herald Tribune, June 13, 1938, p. 12.
18. F. Nicosia, The Third Reich (1985), p. 53.
19. Lucy Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945 (New York: Bantam, pb., 1976), pp. 253-254.; Max Nussbaum, “Zionism Under Hitler,” Congress Weekly (New York: American Jewish Congress), Sept. 11, 1942.; F. Nicosia, The Third Reich (1985), pp. 58-60, 217.; Edwin Black, The Transfer Agreement (1984), p. 175.
20. H. Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head (Ballantine, pb., 1984), pp. 380-382.; K. Schleunes, Twisted Road (1970, 1990), p. 226.; Secret internal SS intelligence report about F. Polkes, June 17, 1937, in: John Mendelsohn, ed., The Holocaust (New York: Garland, 1982), vol. 5, pp. 62-64.
21. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 63-64, 105, 219-220.
22. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 160.
23. This distinction is also implicit in the “Balfour Declaration” of November 1917, in which the British government expressed support for “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, while carefully avoiding any mention of a Jewish state. Referring to the majority Arab population there, the Declaration went on to caution, “…it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The complete text of the Declaration is reproduced in facsimile in: Robert John, Behind the Balfour Declaration (IHR, 1988), p. 32.
24. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 121.
25. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), p. 124.
26. David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics 1889-1945 (Bar-Ilan University, Israel, 1974), p. 300.; Also in: Documents on German Foreign Policy, Series D, Vol. 5. Doc. No. 564 or 567.
27. K. Schleunes, The Twisted Road (1970, 1990), p. 209.
28. Circular of January 25, 1939. Nuremberg document 3358-PS. International Military Tribunal, Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg: 1947-1949), vol. 32, pp. 242-243. Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (Washington, DC: 1946-1948), vol. 6, pp. 92-93.
29. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 141-144.; On Hitler’s critical view of Zionism in Mein Kampf, see esp. Vol. 1, Chap. 11. Quoted in: Robert Wistrich, Hitler’s Apocalypse (London: 1985), p. 155.; See also: F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 26-28.; Hitler told his army adjutant in 1939 and again in 1941 that he had asked the British in 1937 about transferring all of Germany’s Jews to Palestine or Egypt. The British rejected the proposal, he said, because it would cause further disorder. See: H. v. Kotze, ed., Heeresadjutant bei Hitler (Stuttgart: 1974), pp. 65, 95.
30. F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 156, 160-164, 166-167.; H. Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head (Ballantine, pb., 1984), pp. 392-394.; Jon and David Kimche, The Secret Roads (London: Secker and Warburg, 1955), pp. 39-43. See also: David Yisraeli, “The Third Reich and Palestine,” Middle Eastern Studies, October 1971, p. 347.; Bernard Wasserstein, Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 (1979), pp. 43, 49, 52, 60.; T. Kelly, “Man who fooled Nazis,” Washington Times, April 28, 1987, pp. 1B, 4B. Based on interview with Willy Perl, author of The Holocaust Conspiracy.
31. Y. Arad, et al., eds., Documents On the Holocaust (1981), p. 155. (The training kibbutz was at Neuendorf, and may have functioned even after March 1942.)
32. On the Agreement in general, see: Werner Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1972).; David Yisraeli, “The Third Reich and the Transfer Agreement,” Journal of Contemporary History (London), No. 2, 1971, pp. 129-148.; “Haavara,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971), vol. 7, pp. 1012-1013.; F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (Austin: 1985), pp. 44-49.; Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985), pp. 140-141.; The Transfer Agreement, by Edwin Black, is detailed and useful. However, it contains numerous inaccuracies and wildly erroneous conclusions. See, for example, the review by Richard S. Levy in Commentary, Sept. 1984, pp. 68-71.
33. E. Black, The Transfer Agreement (1984), pp. 328, 337.
34. On opposition to the Haavara in official German circles, see: W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina (1972), pp. 31-33.; D. Yisraeli, “The Third Reich,” Journal of Contemporary History, 1971, pp. 136-139.; F. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, pp. 126-139.; I. Weckert, Feuerzeichen (1981), pp. 226-227.; Rolf Vogel, Ein Stempel hat gefehlt (Munich: Droemer Knaur, 1977), pp. 110 ff.
35. W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer (1972), p. 31. Entire text in: David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics 1889-1945 (Israel: 1974), pp. 298-300.
36. Interior Ministry internal memo (signed by State Secretary W. Stuckart), Dec. 17, 1937, in: Helmut Eschwege, ed., Kennzeichen J (Berlin: 1966), pp. 132-136.
37. W. Feilchenfeld, et al, Haavara-Transfer (1972), p. 32.
38. E. Black, Transfer Agreement, pp. 376-377.
39. E. Black, Transfer Agreement (1984), pp. 376, 378.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich (1985), pp. 238-239 (n. 91).
40. E. Black, Transfer Agreement, p. 379.; F. Nicosia, Third Reich, pp. 212, 255 (n. 66).
41. W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer, p. 75.; “Haavara,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, (1971), Vol. 7, p. 1013.
42. E. Black, Transfer Agreement, pp. 379, 373, 382.
43. Circular of January 25, 1939. Nuremberg document 3358-PS. International Military Tribunal, Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg: 1947-1949), Vol. 32, pp. 242-243.
44. Werner Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1972). Quoted in: Ingrid Weckert, Feuerzeichen (Tübingen: Grabert, 1981), pp. 222-223.
45. W. Feilchenfeld, et al., Haavara-Transfer nach Palaestina(1972). Quoted in: I. Weckert, euerzeichen (1981), p. 224.
46. Original document in German Auswärtiges Amt Archiv, Bestand 47-59, E 224152 and E 234155-58. (Photocopy in author’s possession).; Complete original German text published in: David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics 1889-1945 (Israel: 1974), pp. 315-317. See also: Klaus Polkhen, “The Secret Contacts,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Spring-Summer 1976, pp. 78-80.; (At the time this offer was made, Stern’s Lehi group still regarded itself as the true Irgun/NMO.)
47. Arab nationalists opposed Britain, which then dominated much of the Arab world, including Egypt, Iraq and Palestine. Because Britain and Germany were at war, Germany cultivated Arab support. The leader of Palestine’s Arabs, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, worked closely with Germany during the war years. After escaping from Palestine, he spoke to the Arab world over German radio and helped raise Muslim recruits in Bosnia for the Waffen SS.
48. Israel Shahak, “Yitzhak Shamir, Then and Now,” Middle East Policy (Washington, DC), Vol. 1, No. 1, (Whole No. 39), 1992, pp. 27-38.; Yehoshafat Harkabi, Israel’s Fateful Hour (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), pp. 213-214. Quoted in: Andrew J. Hurley, Israel and the New World Order (Santa Barbara, Calif.: 1991), pp. 93, 208-209.; Avishai Margalit, “The Violent Life of Yitzhak Shamir,” New York Review of Books, May 14, 1992, pp. 18-24.; Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), pp. 266-269.; L. Brenner, Jews in America Today (1986), pp. 175-177.; L. Brenner, “Yitzhak Shamir: On Hitler’s Side,” Arab Perspectives (League of Arab States), March 1984, pp. 11-13.
49. Avishai Margalit, “The Violent Life of Yitzhak Shamir,” New York Review of Books, May 14, 1992, pp. 18-24.; Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (1983), pp. 266-269.; L. Brenner, Jews in America Today (1986), pp. 175-177.; L. Brenner, “Skeletons in Shamir’s Cupboard,” Middle East International, Sept. 30, 1983, pp. 15-16.; Sol Stern, L. Rapoport, “Israel’s Man of the Shadows,” Village Voice (New York), July 3, 1984, pp. 13 ff.
From The Journal of Historical Review, July-August 1993 (Vol. 13, No. 4), pages 29-37.
Mark Weber studied history at the University of Illinois (Chicago), the University of Munich, Portland State University and Indiana University (M.A., 1977). In March 1988 he testified for five days in Toronto District Court as a recognized expert witness on Germany’s wartime Jewish policy and the Holocaust issue.
‘Israel is a vicious racist construct… that claims tribal superiority over the entire rest of the world’
My Anti-Racist Comments on Israel
I was accused on Sky News of making comments attacking the Jewish tribe. Ripped from its context, the remark appeared so offensive I could not conceive I had ever made it. I find now that in fact I did say it, but in the context of a specific remark by an Israeli minister making a claim that the Israeli Prime Minister leads all Jews worldwide. My remark was part of a post attacking all racism. They could equally well have taken the quote “I wish nothing but good to all people, including all Jewish people” out of the post.
To be absolutely open, I repeat the post here:
Israeli economics minister Naftali Bennett has claimed of Binyamin Netanyahu that “The prime minister is not a private person but the leader of the Jewish state and the whole Jewish world.” Really? Netanyahu is the leader of all the Jews in London, or California, or Ethiopia, who may never have set foot in his state?
This extraordinary remark by Bennett lays bare the fundamental flaw in the very concept of Israel. It is not a modern state, defined as a territory and comprising all the various citizens of whatever descent who live within it. It is rather a vicious racist construct, defined absolutely by race, refusing territorial limits, and with an aggressive theocratic overlay that claims tribal superiority over the entire rest of the world.
Here is a picture of the New Zealand cricket team. In the last twelve months, New Zealand cricket teams have fielded payers including Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton, Colin Munro, Dean Brownlie, Ross Taylor, Rob Nicol, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne and Mark Craig, not to mention the McCullum brothers. But if I told you that Alex Salmond was the leader of all Scots around the world, including the Black Caps, you would quite rightly call me a nutter.
We would not tolerate the level of racism in any other country that we tolerate from Israel. There was a huge outcry against Labour MP Paul Flynn who dared question whether it was sensible to send a strongly professed Zionist Jew as British ambassador to Israel, but when the Israeli government itself proclaim the political leadership of all Jews all over the world, it is a logical impossibility not to ask the question.
I wish nothing but good to all people, including all Jewish people, but by their increasingly hardline racialist approach, their unceasing encroachment on Palestinian land and their rigorous adoption of all the racist mechanisms of an apartheid state internally, I fear that the window of opportunity for a peaceful future for those Jewish people living in what is currently Israel is closing fast.
It must be universally proclaimed: there is not a single racial group in the whole world from whom worldwide racial claims of political allegiance, or an internal racially based legislative order, are acceptable. Bennett’s remarks are beyond the limit of civilised political discourse.
I have accepted an offer from Sky News tomorrow to discuss anti-Semitism in the UK, where I shall argue that opponents of Israeli policy are being tarred with anti-Semitism in an witch-hunt.
I do this with some trepidation, because the media hype has become so hysterical that I am certain to face accusations of anti-Semitism myself for daring to question the narrative that has gripped the corporate media and political elite. But witch-hunts succeed because not enough decent people have the courage to stand against them; I imagine Sky contacted an awful lot of people who refused to do it before they worked all the way down to me.
Nor am I expecting to get a level playing field from the Murdoch media on which to argue my point. As I doubt I shall get a chance to put my case without interruption, this is what I am going to be trying to say.
Real anti-Semitism does exist and is to be deplored without reservation. Thankfully it is much rarer in the UK than in many other European countries.
There is a deliberate ploy by Israel to brand Palestinian sympathisers and critics of the Israeli state as anti-Semitic, in order to delegitimise criticism of Israel, as the settlements programme makes any two state solution completely non-viable.
Support for Israel is a clear dividing issue between Corbynites and Blairites. The Blairites are hopeless and defeated, so are seizing on the meme that critic of Israel equals anti-semite as a means to undermine Corbyn and create a leadership crisis
They have the tool to amplify this as the corporate media, like the political “elite”, are massively more pro-Israel in their sympathies than the great bulk of the population.
I think the chances of my getting to say much of that on air are pretty limited!
RAMALLAH – A student bloc of the Hamas movement on Wednesday came out on top in the closely-followed elections at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
Following debates between factions vying for the student vote, the pro-Hamas al-Wafaa Islamic bloc claimed victory after gaining 25 seats, with the Yasser Arafat bloc of the Fatah movement trailing behind with 21 seats.
The bloc representing Leftist movement Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine for its part came out with five seats, while other leftist parties including the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian People’s Party did not receive enough votes to garner a seat.
Voter turnout was reported as 76 percent of the student body.
The Islamic bloc last year won elections for the first time since 2007 at the historically staunchly pro-Fatah campus, taking observers by surprise.
As this year marked ten years since the last national elections, university elections are seen as important indicators of public opinion by political commentators in Palestine and Birzeit is considered to be the most important campus in the yearly political contests.
The Hamas movement congratulated the Islamic bloc for its win at Birzeit and said the victory was an indicator that the movement still had strong sway among the Palestinian public.
The Gaza-based movement said the win came despite efforts by both the Israeli authorities and Palestinian Authority to suppress the Hamas vote, citing the detention of Student Council President Saif al-Islam Daghlas and other students.
Human Rights Watch last year slammed the PA for detaining Palestinian university students across the West Bank after elections “for no apparent reason other than their connection to Hamas or their opinions.”
Hamas’ victory over Fatah comes as the rival factions have shown continued failure to follow through on with attempts to form a unity government since April 2014, after being on cold terms since 2006 when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.
In the following year, violent clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the occupied West Bank.
Factional disputes between Palestinian factions have been on the rise since a wave of unrest erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory in October.
Hamas and PFLP in particular have lambasted the PA’s ongoing security coordination with Israel as an alleged attempt to quash resistance against the Israeli occupation, while Hamas last summer accused the PA of attempting to eradicate the movement from the West Bank.
Elections haven’t been held in the occupied Palestinian territory for ten years and the public has grown increasingly disillusioned with Palestinian political parties.
Frustration has grown among the youth in particular, with growing numbers showing preference for participating in demonstrations or resistance that are not affiliated with any political party.
Palestinian medical sources confirmed that the Palestinian woman, who was killed by Israeli army fire, on Wednesday, did not carry an explosive belt as the army claimed, but was instead five months pregnant, and “her only fault was walking the wrong route and not understanding Hebrew.”
The Israeli police and army tried to come up with various allegations, including the usual claim of “carrying a knife,” and then tried to claim that she “was wearing an explosive belt,” while the only thing she “carried” was her fetus.
The slain woman has been identified as Maram Saleh Abu Ismael, 24, a mother of two children; Sarah, 6, and Remas, 4. Her brother, Ibrahim Taha, only sixteen years of age, was also killed as he was walking with her, heading to Jerusalem, after she obtained for the first time, a permit to enter the city.
Contrary to the Israeli allegation that Maram “carried a knife,” and the second allegation of “carrying an explosive,” eyewitnesses said the two victims walked the wrong route while heading to the Qalandia terminal, as they took the route that is only used for vehicles, instead of the pedestrian path.
The soldiers then started shouting in Hebrew, a language neither Maram nor her brother understood, and the woman just froze from fear before the soldiers started firing at her, and when her brother rushed to rescue her, the soldiers shot him too, and both were left to bleed to death.
The two were tens of meters away from the soldiers, and contrary to military allegations, did not attempt to attack any soldier or officer.
Ahmad Taha, an eyewitness from Jerusalem said that after the soldiers shot the pregnant woman and her brother, they retreated a few meters back, and fired several additional live rounds on them, “confirming the kill.”
“There was no stabbing attempt, and no reason for the army to shoot, the soldiers shot them from a distance, and later fired more rounds to confirm the kill,” Ahmad said, “The soldiers then placed two knives next to the lifeless body of the pregnant woman, and shortly after that, the police published pictures showing three knives!”
Mohammad Ahmad, a bus driver who witnessed the shooting, said an Israeli soldier who was standing behind a large concrete block, shot the woman from a distance of more than twenty meters.
“Neither the woman, nor her brother, posed any threat to the lives of the soldiers,” Ahmad stated, “They were far away from the nearest soldier, and did not pose any threat to them – they just walked the wrong route.”
The slain brother and his sister are from Qotna village, northwest of occupied Jerusalem; Maram is Married and living with her husband and children in Beit Surik nearby village.
It is worth mentioning that a Palestinian ambulance rushed to the scene, but the soldiers closed the entire area, and prevented them from approaching the two Palestinians, who eventually bled to death.
More than an hour after the shooting, Israeli military medics placed the corpses of the two Palestinians in black bags, and took them away.
One day before this fatal shooting, a Palestinian man in his sixties nearly faced the same deadly fate when he walked this same wrong route, but when the soldiers started shouting at him he understood them because he speaks and understand Hebrew very well.
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – During this week’s ‘Pessach’ celebrations from 22nd to 29th April, Israeli settlers and Israeli forces throughout occupied al-Khalil (Hebron) have been taking over Palestinians houses, rooftops, streets and entire areas while denying passage for Palestinians.
Last Friday night, with the start of the ‘holiday’, large groups of settlers were going from the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement on the outskirts of al-Khalil, towards the Ibrahimi mosque, 60% of which has been taken over by the settlers that installed a ‘synagogue’ following the 1994 Ibrahimi mosque massacre; while Palestinians were stopped, frisked and delayed.
On Monday and Tuesday, Palestinians’ movement was entirely restricted and H2 was completely void of any Palestinian presence in order to facilitate the settler’s freedom of movement and to enable a space for the main ‘Pessach celebrations’. During these two days the checkpoint at the Ibrahimi mosque has remained closed, thus closing off the main entrance for Palestinians heading to the mosque. Palestinians were entirely barred from entering the mosque during these two days, while settlers used the additional 40% of the mosque that has so far remained for Palestinians – with the ‘usual’ entry restrictions and harassment by Israeli forces.
While bus loads of settlers from all over Palestine are arriving in the Old City of al-Khalil, new barricades, entry and movement restrictions for Palestinians are springing up throughout the city. Al-Faiha’a girls school, right opposite the parking lot used for the settler only buses, has been forced to finish early in order to at least attempt to provide a safe way home for the girls, despite the heavy army and settler presence. During Monday and Tuesday, a sharp decrease in the number of girls attending school was noted by both the teachers and international human rights defenders offering protective presence. Israeli forces have also taken control of two shops right next to the school building and turned it into a military base.
On Monday, Israeli forces escorted endless groups of settlers on a ‘tour’ through the main Palestinian market in the Old City during the busy noon hours – blocking the narrow alleyways while giving a Zionist version of the history of the city. Palestinians were stopped and forced to wait for the tours to pass. One Palestinian man was arrested while another one was seriously injured when settlers threw a rock into the Palestinian market hitting him right on the head.
Despite the area behind Shuhada checkpoint being H1 and thus supposedly under full Palestinian control, Israeli forces on Tuesday brought large groups of settlers, after ‘clearing’ the area for bombs, in a sheer show of their power and in total disregard of any (international) agreement. Shuhada checkpoint has during the ‘holiday’ season seen repeated and arbitrary delays, causing Palestinians to wait for, at times, hours to be allowed to go to their homes located in the ‘closed military zone’ while settlers were freely roaming the streets and could be seen from the checkpoint chit-chatting with the soldiers.
An Israeli journalist has called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exploit the readiness of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi to concede Egyptian land in return for money to solve the conflict with the Palestinians, Arabi21 reported yesterday.
Haggai Segal, the editor of the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, wrote: “Al-Sisi’s concession of Tiran and Sanafir islands shows that Arabs do not revere the land. Al-Sisi conceded the two islands for money.”
The journalist, who is very close to Netanyahu, added: “Two years ago, Al-Sisi showed his willingness to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in Sinai. This makes us expect reaching an agreement with Al-Sisi and the Palestinian Authority (PA) regarding this in return for a respectable sum of money.”
“We have to measure the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in Sinai based on the equation: land for shekels.”
Segal was a member of a terrorist Jewish organisation that planned to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque in the 1980s. He also carried out a number of explosions that killed and wounded scores of Palestinians, including heads of West Bank municipalities.
Two years ago, Israeli Army Radio revealed that Al-Sisi suggested the creation of a Palestinian state in Sinai in return for Palestinian concession of the West Bank.
Both Egypt and the Palestinian Authority denied the report, however many Israeli officials, including the Education Minister Naftali Bennett, confirmed the proposal had been put forward.
Meanwhile, former Israeli ambassador to Cairo Zvi Mazel said Al-Sisi recognises the size of the economic crisis his regime is currently facing and is therefore “ready to concede Egypt’s respect and dignity and ignore the constitution for financial support.”
Although Israel is geographically located in Asia, the self-described “Jewish state” has emphasized its Europeanness whenever it has suited it to do so. It has been allowed to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest since 1973, as the Israeli Broadcasting Authority has been a member of the European Broadcasting Union since 1957. Israeli soccer clubs began playing in European competitions in 1991 and Israel became a member of UEFA in 1994. Even more importantly, in the political sphere, Tel Aviv’s recent major political step towards realizing its apparent desire of becoming a fully-fledged European state has passed under the radar of the media.
In March, a delegation from the Likud visited Strasbourg at the invitation of the European Conservatives and Reformists faction in the European Parliament. According to the Jerusalem Post, the delegation explained the Likud’s policies to a group of 15 ECR members of Parliament. The Likud reached an agreement with the ECR that enables it to become one of the ECR’s “regional members,” which allows Likud representatives to attend ECR faction meetings and influence its policies.
Within a year, the Likud will become a regional party ally of the European Conservatives and Reformists faction in the European Parliament. The move is likely to boost relations between Israel’s ruling party and Europe. The ECR decided the Likud could already become observers in the faction and that a delegation of ECR members would be hosted by the Likud in Israel in October.
Eli Hazan, the Likud’s deputy director-general for public and foreign relations, said he would take the parliament members to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, the Likud’s Tel Aviv headquarters, and “communities in Samaria,” using the Israeli term for part of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
“This is a significant step, because at a time of boycotts of Israel, the Likud will be added to a group in Europe that has power,” Hazan said.
“When anti-Israel motions are debated in the European Parliament, we will now be able to send Likud MKs to defend Israel to members of the parliament in an official capacity,” Hazan added.
Hazan led the delegation, which included mayors, city council members and advisers to Likud leaders. MKs weren’t part of the group, because in a 61-member coalition, they were all needed in the 120-seat Knesset.
Founded by members of the British Conservative Party, the ECR has 75 MEPs from 17 EU countries, making it the third-largest group in the European Parliament.
It has alliances with the ruling Turkish AKP, with the U.S. Republican Party and parties in Australia, Canada, Morocco and New Zealand.
The most recent alliance emerged from Hazan’s efforts to build relations between the Likud and Center-Right parties across Europe.
The meeting with the ECR arose out of Hazan’s success in reaching out to party officials on a recent trip to London.
It is hardly a coincidence that the rapprochement began in the British capital. According to the 2009 television program “Dispatches: Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby,” up to 80 percent of the Conservative Party are members of the Conservative Friends of Israel. “The pro-Israeli lobby in this country is the most powerful lobby; there’s nothing to touch them,” one British politician told the investigative television program.
Before last year’s election, Ha’aretz published an article that posed the question “Is David Cameron the Most pro-Israel British PM Ever?” As the Israeli daily observed, “The United Kingdom may no longer be a major player on the world stage, but its prime minister has still been able to work quietly in support of the Jewish State.”
During a visit to Israel the previous year, Cameron told the Knesset in a speech about his great-great-grandfather, a Jewish banker who emigrated from Germany.
The link gave Mr. Cameron “some sense of connection” to the Israeli people, he said, as he hailed their “extraordinary journey” and history of persecution.
In the address he vowed to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with what he described as a “vulnerable” state against terrorism, despite the fact that Israel is the region’s preeminent military power and its sole possessor of nuclear weapons. “We are with you,” the prime minister then said in Hebrew.
“My Jewish ancestry is relatively limited but I do feel just some sense of connection. From the lexicon of my great, great grandfather Emile Levita, a Jewish man who came from Germany to Britain 150 years ago to the story of my forefather Elijah Levita who wrote what is thought to have been the first ever Yiddish novel,” he said.
While the British Prime Minister’s Jewish ancestry may be “relatively limited,” his party’s behind-the-scenes service to the Zionist state may yet have a significant impact on its mixed relations with the European Union. Notwithstanding the newsworthiness of this development, the only media to date to report this story has been The Jerusalem Post. Given the media’s apparent lack of interest in Likud becoming a regional member of the European Parliament, Israel remains free to counter the increasingly unlikely threat of a EU boycott.
Maidhc Ó Cathail is an author, analyst and political commentator. His forthcoming book is “Agents, Assets and Sayanim: Israel’s ‘People in Between’ You and the Facts.”
Hebron, Occupied Palestine – At around 11.30am on Tuesday 26 April, heavily armed Israeli occupation soldiers and border police started appearing in large numbers through Shuhada checkpoint (also called checkpoint 56). This area is H1 area, supposedly controlled by the Palestinian Authority, where Israelis have no legal authority. In blatant disregard of this fact they proceeded to walk down Bir Saba Street, stopping at each shop demanding all cars on the street were removed, but did not make the shops close as they usually do. At the same time the soldiers closed Shuhada checkpoint for registered resident Palestinians, who could neither leave or enter to reach their homes.
The soldiers moved up and down the street, ensuring their demands were met and the cars removed. Where they could not find the owners, they broke into cars to search for explosives. While this was ongoing, more soldiers and border police arrived blocking off the road at the other end from the checkpoint. A sniffer dog was led up and down the street by the soldiers to also search for non existent explosives. The army rummaged around rubbish piles along the road, or made local shop keepers move rubbish for them to inspect, leaving a mess for the Palestinians to clean up.
Occupation soldiers searching for explosives outside local shops. Photo credit: ISM
Several hours later, having also made locals move off the road and sit on the pavement, the reason for this elaborate exercise was clear when a group of approximately 40 settlers, escorted by the same number of border police and soldiers, moved from the illegal settlement inside Shuhada checkpoint into Palestinian territory down the road to a clearly revered tomb, where they spent ten minutes or so. They were then escorted back into the illegal settlement, and followed by five subsequent groups of illegal settlers, again escorted by police and army.
Illegal settlers escorted by occupation soldiers and border police to the tomb in H1. Photo credit: ISM
Local and international activists were present at several points along the road to monitor and photograph events, and any incidents. When the settlers walked past several of them took photos and/or filmed the activists along the road, for unknown reasons. One settler asked where the internationals were from, and welcomed them to Israel. Not only was this factually inaccurate and a disregard of the Oslo agreement, but a highly insensitive and conflictual comment, made on Palestinian territory.
At three o’clock the “tours” were finished and all the settlers escorted back through the checkpoint into H2 area, where large groups of Palestinians live under Israeli military control. A day of trading was lost for the local shops keepers; not to mention that an Israeli incursion into a Palestinian area is illegal and unacceptable.