Since September 2015, the Zionist establishment and their imperialist patrons have launched a veritable campaign against what they claim is a phenomenal rise in anti-semitism. This campaign has been joined by the Blairite wing of the Labour Party who are out to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn, the moderately left-wing social democratic leader of the Labour Party. Judging by the screaming headlines in the imperialist print media, and the air time given on radio and television to this question, one could be forgiven for thinking that we were back in fascist Germany of 1935 and the Jews were at risk of losing their lives and possessions.
The Labour Party, the supporters of Corbyn in particular, according to the leading lights of this campaign, are guilty of being soft on anti-semitism. Here is a random bouquet of the headlines on this question:
- Labour’s ‘Mayor’ savages Corbyn: Party star Khan damns leader over anti-semitism (Daily Mail, 20 September 2015).
- Jeremy Corbyn – impotent as he fails to halt Labour’s anti-semitism (The Telegraph, 16 March 2016).
- ‘Most Jews can’t trust Labour’: Jeremy Corbyn under fire from senior Jewish figure (Evening Standard, 17 March 2016).
- Labour and the left have an anti-semitic problem (Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, 18 March 2016).
- Lord Levy ‘may quit’ Labour over party failure to condemn anti-semitism (The Express, 20 March 2016).
Naz Shah, a female Muslim Member of Parliament representing the Bradford West constituency, has been savaged for posting a tongue-in-cheek map of Israel superimposed on a map of the United States with the caption ‘problem solved’. This was three years ago and she had merely re-posted it from the website of Norman Finkelstein, renowned anti-Zionist Jewish author. The cowardly Labour leadership’s response was to suspend Ms Shah from her Party, while she was obliged to offer profuse and humiliating apologies.
Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, was viciously attacked for suggesting that Hitler was a Zionist. While the loose use of language by Livingstone leaves a lot to be desired, there is no question that the substance of the argument was on his side, namely, the ideological affinity between Nazism and Zionism – it being the common premise of both these ideologies that Jews were a separate people who did not belong to Germany (in this case). Blairite John Mann MP having arranged with journalists to witness his histrionics, shouted ‘Holocaust denier’ and ‘disgusting anti-semite’ at Livingstone. Even the allegedly left-wing shadow chancellor, McDonnell, demanded that Livingstone apologise. Be it said to Livingstone’s credit that he stood his ground, refusing to buckle under the barrage of accusations hurled at him. Livingstone, too, was suspended from the Labour Party.
Lenni Brenner, the famous Jewish author of Zionism in the age of dictators (Croom Helm, London, 1983), has established beyond doubt in his book the ideological affinity between Nazism and Zionism, an ideological affinity which was to be the basis of the perfidious Zionist-Nazi collaboration. At the time of its appearance, The Times published a review of Brenner’s book in which Edward Mortimer, the reviewer, described the book as “crisp and carefully documented”. Now, however, The Times is leading the charge against Livingstone and Corbyn and anyone else who dares to offend, even if ever so mildly, the Zionist fraternity and its patrons.
The charge about a rise in anti-semitism, especially among the left, is spurious and baseless. It is used by careerists to promote themselves and to pre-empt any criticism of the truly fascistic state of Israel, created through the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and their continued slaughter, oppression and expropriation ever since.
After announcing his intention to contest the London Mayoral election, Labour’s Sadiq Khan launched a frontal attack on Corbyn for his supposed links to “terrorist groups” and his support for “extremist” Palestinian groups which, he argued, could inspire attacks on Jews in Britain. He repeated subsequent accusations of anti-semitism against the Oxford University Labour Club for no greater sin than that of giving support to the Israeli Apartheid week.
Norman Finkelstein, in an interview at the height of this latest controversy, made this perceptive observation: “These campaigns occur at regular intervals, correlating with Israel’s periodic massacres and consequent isolation …” (‘Five Prominent Intellectuals Question the “Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitic” Argument’, Telesur Global Research, 11 May 2016).
Following the last major Zionist war on Gaza, which killed over 2,000 Palestinians, a quarter of them children, and in which tens of thousands of residential properties were destroyed and whole families wiped out, the Zionists received a bad press. Even the imperialist propaganda organs were obliged to give a modicum of coverage to the victims of the Zionists’ fascist Blitzkrieg. Since then, the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Campaign has gathered traction; people are more aware of Zionist atrocities and Palestinian suffering; no longer do the Zionists enjoy favourable opinion among ordinary people even in the imperialist countries.
In the circumstances, various “dull-witted creeps”, to use the apt words of Finkelstein, personified by Jonathan Freedland, a “Blairite hack who regularly plays the anti-semitic card”, initiate campaigns for the sole purpose of diverting attention away from the real suffering of the Palestinian people, which, inter alia, have the effect of poisoning relations between Jews and Muslims. Such campaigns, be it said in passing, have the effect of besmirching the victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
The fact is that, according to reliable opinion polls, while a mere 7% of the British public are prejudiced against Jews, a whopping 60% are also prejudiced against Muslims, and a similar proportion against the Roma. Everywhere, remarks Finkelstein correctly, Jews are prospering as never before – proof enough of them not being victims of an allegedly monumental anti-semitic campaign:
“It is long past time that these anti-semitism mongers crawled back into their sewers – but not before apologising to Naz Shah, and begging her forgiveness” (Finkelstein in an interview with Jamie Stern-Weiner, 3 May 2016, in Blog, Featured, News).
It is unlikely that the Zionists and their supporters will take Finkelstein’s sane advice. In fact, the more isolated they become, the more truculent their behaviour, and the more extreme their demands. The President of the Board of Jewish Deputies in Britain, Jonathan Arkush, absurdly asserts that “there is a problem of anti-semitism on the far left, which now eclipses anti-semitism that we have always seen coming from the far right”. This was in the middle of March 2016. A few days later, he demanded that “Israel should be included in the definition of anti-Semitism by Europe” and that any hatred of Israel should be characterised as a manifestation of anti-semitism.
The anti-semitism mongers not only invent anti-semitism in places where it has little presence, they completely overlook the barely-disguised fascism of the Zionist rulers of Israel. On 8 March, the then Israeli foreign minister (he has since been given the defence portfolio), talking about the “disloyalty” of Palestinian citizens of Israel, said: “Whoever is with us should get everything. Those who are against us, there’s nothing to be done – we need to pick up an axe and cut off his head. Otherwise we won’t survive”. The imperialist propaganda machine failed even to notice, let alone condemn, Liebermann’s blood-curdling, inflammatory and downright fascistic utterance, as did certified creeps such as Freedland.
The only course open to anti-Zionists is to expose Zionism for what it really is, namely, a racist and anti-semitic (yes, anti-semitic) ideology and a reactionary tool in the hands of imperialism.
It is in furtherance of this course that LALKAR has resolved to publish two or three articles by way of this exposure. The first of these articles, printed in this issue, concentrates on the racism of this ideology and its affinity to Nazism on the Jewish question.
Informed readers are, in all likelihood, only too well aware of this fact, but there are others who know next to nothing about it. It is to be hoped that our articles will get a wide circulation and thus further the cause of fighting against this pernicious ideology, which is as harmful to the masses of Jews people as it is to the masses of Palestinian people and humanity at large.
Zionism not co-extensive with Judaism
Zionism is not now, nor was it ever, co-extensive with either Judaism or the Jewish people. The vast majority of Hitler’s Jewish victims were not Zionists.
The majority of Polish Jews repudiated Zionism on the eve of the Holocaust and in September 1939 abhorred the politics of Menachem Begin, one of the leaders of the self-styled ‘Zionist Revisionist’ movement in Warsaw.
There cannot be the slightest confusion between the struggle against Zionism and hostility to either Jews or Judaism.
In 1895 Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, published Jewish State. This book laid the basis for the Zionist movement.
Believing anti-semitism to be unbeatable and natural, Zionism never fought it. Instead it sought accommodation with it – and pragmatic utilisation of it for the purpose of obtaining a Jewish state.
Overcome by his own pessimism, Herzl completely misunderstood the Dreyfus case in which a French military officer of Jewish origin, Alfred Dreyfus, was wrongly charged with treason. The secrecy of his trial and Dreyfus’s courageous insistence on his innocence, made a lot of people believe that injustice had been done. As a result, there was a deluge of Gentile support for him. The French intelligentsia rallied to his side, as did the working-class movement. Eventually Dreyfus was vindicated, the right-wing of French society and the Church were discredited, and the army top brass besmirched. Anti-semitism in France was driven into irrelevance until the conquest of France by Hitler’s army.
And yet Herzl, a prominent Viennese journalist, could see the Dreyfus affair only as a defeat, and never as a rallying cry in the fight against anti-semitism. He was incapable of understanding the significance of the wave of Gentile sympathy for the Jewish victim. He did not see fit to organise a single demonstration in defence of Dreyfus. Following the victory of the struggle in defence of Dreyfus, French Jewry quite rightly saw Zionism as irrelevant. For this, Herzl savaged them in his diary, revealing in the course of doing so his diehard anti-socialist, reactionary views”
“They [the Jews] seek protection from the socialists and the destroyers of the present civil order … Truly they are not Jews any more. To be sure, they are not Frenchmen either. They will probably become leaders of European anarchism” (Raphael Pattar, Ed., The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl, Vol II, pp.672-673).
The views expressed by Herzl in his Der Judenstaat (‘The Jewish state’) had in fact already been expressed by two Russian Jews, Perez Smolenskin (in 1873) and Leo Pinsker (1882). Herzl’s particular contribution was the building of an organisation, the World Zionist Organisation, which held its first Congress in 1897 in Basle, Switzerland, to negotiate with imperialism for the creation of a Jewish national state. He negotiated for it unsuccessfully with the ultra-reactionary Sultan Abdul Hamid II of Turkey, with Wilhelm II, the German Kaiser, with the Tsarist regime through Count Sergei Witte (Finance Minister) and the Minister of the Interior, Vyachaslav Von Plevhe, responsible for organising pogroms in Russia.
Herzl’s proposals were always tailored to please the ears of the particular autocrat or representative of a particular imperialism with whom he happened to be having an audience. In every case “…he presented his project in a manner best calculated to appeal to his listener: to the Sultan he promised Jewish capital; to the Kaiser he undertook that the Jewish territory would be an outpost of Berlin; to Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary, he held out the prospect of the Jewish territory becoming a colony of the British Empire” (Avi Shlaim, ‘The Iron Wall).
The Zionist leadership, beginning with Herzl, was clear about two things. First, that their project could only succeed with the backing of a dominant great power; second, that its goal could only be achieved by bypassing the Palestinians, not through any understanding with them. As the dominant great power in the Middle East changed several times during the 20th century, Zionism suitably shifted its allegiance in pursuit of its reactionary aim of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Zionism held great attraction for the imperialist, reactionary and anti-semitic regimes. Being a reactionary nationalist movement, it held out the prospect of weaning Jewish workers away from democratic and revolutionary movements, while promising to help them get rid of their Jewish population through emigration. Zionism saw revolutionary Marxism as an assimilationist enemy which obliged them to make an alliance against it with their fellow separatists of the anti-semitic right-wing nationalist movements in Eastern Europe. The essentials of Zionist doctrine on anti-semitism were clearly set down well in advance of the Holocaust: anti-semitism was inevitable and could not be fought; the solution was the emigration of unwanted Jews to a Jewish state still to be created.
In view of the above, it is not surprising that British imperialism, perceiving the reactionary essence of Zionism and the prospect it held for acting as a tool of British policy in the Middle East should it manage to entrench itself in Palestine. And who should be history’s chosen instrument for providing substance to what at the time was a hare-brained Zionist dream? None other than the anti-semitic Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary! Hence the 1917 infamous Balfour Declaration favouring “…the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” and the promise by the British government to use its “best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object”.
The Balfour Declaration was a boon for the Zionists – not for Jewry. The Declaration was a price London was prepared to pay to get the American Jewry to use its influence to bring the US into the war, and to keep Russian Jewry loyal to the allies. In addition, a future Jewish state was to act as the outpost for British imperialism against the rising tide of the national liberation movement of the Arab people.
The World Zionist Organisation’s leaders understood that the British government’s priority was the crushing of the Bolsheviks, and that they had to be on their best behaviour in their activities in the turbulent east European arena.
Churchill saw the struggle unfolding “between the Zionist and Bolshevik Jews as little less that a struggle for the soul of the Jewish people” (‘Zionism versus Bolshevism’, Illustrated Sunday Herald, 8 February 1920).
Zionism was willing to cooperate with Britain in spite of British involvement with the White Russian pogromists.
Herzl’s successor, Chaim Weizmann appeared at the Versailles Conference on 23 February 1919, where he pronounced the traditional line on Jewry shared by both anti-semites and Zionists. It was not the Jews who really had problems, it was the Jews who were the problem.
Zionism offered itself to the assembled capitalist powers as an anti-revolutionary movement. Zionism, he declared, would “transform Jewish energy into a constructive force instead of being dissipated in destructive tendencies” (Leonard Stein, The Balfour Declaration, Simon and Shuster, 1961, p.348).
Weizmann completely shared the anti-communist mindset of his British patrons. He never changed his opinion. Even in Trial and Error, his autobiography, he still sounded like a high Tory, writing of a “time when the horrors of the Bolshevik revolution were fresh in everyone’s mind” (emphasis added, quoted by Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the age of the dictators, Croom Helm, London, 1983), p.12).
Only on the basis of an alliance with the working class and socialists could Jewish rights be obtained and safeguarded. This is precisely what the Zionists were fiercely opposed to.
The Bolsheviks gave the Jews complete equality and even set up schools and, eventually, courts in Yiddish, but they were absolutely opposed to Zionism, as indeed to all nationalism.
Bolshevism opposed Zionism as pro-British and as fundamentally anti-Arab. So the Zionists turned to the local nationalists. In Ukraine, they turned to Simon Petliura’s Rada (Council) which, like the Zionists, recruited on strictly ethnic lines – no Russians, no Poles, no Jews. The Zionists made every effort to rally Jewish support everywhere for the anti-Bolshevik Rada.
Churchill lost his gamble as, following anti-Jewish pogroms after the first Ukrainian defeat at the hands of the Red Army in January 1919, the Jewish masses deserted the Zionists.
The ideological affinity between Zionism and anti-semitism, the Zionist hostility to assimilation and Marxism, could not but incline it towards an alliance with anti-semitic nationalists and imperialism. It was not for nothing that Balfour facilitated Zionism’s entrenchment in Palestine. But for the support of the British during the early years of the Mandate, the Palestinians would have had not the slightest difficulty pushing Zionism out.
World Zionist Organisation’s policies were continued under Weizmann during the Hitler years.
Blut and Boden
Herzl was not devout. He had no special concern for Palestine – the Kenyan Highlands would do just as well for a Jewish state. He had no interest in Hebrew. With Weizmann, however, cosmopolitan Zionism died an early death. The German university graduates who took over the Zionist movement after Herzl’s death developed the racist ideology of Jewish separatism. They agreed with the German anti-semites: the Jews were not part of the German Volk. Jews and Germans should not mix sexually for the sake of their own unique Blut and, not being of the Teutonic Blut, they perforce had to have their own Boden: Palestine.
Even Einstein subscribed to the Zionist race conceptions and thus reinforced racism, lending it the prestige of his reputation. Though sounding profound, his contri-butions to the discussion are based on the same nonsense:
“Nations with a racial difference appear to have instincts which work against their fusion. The assimilation of the Jews to the European nations … could not eradicate the feeling of lack of kinship between them and those among whom they lived. In the last resort, the instinctive feeling of kinship is referable to the law of conservation of energy. For this reason it cannot be eradicated by any amount of well meant pressure” (cited by Lenni Brenner, op.cit., p.21).
Zionists believed that because they lacked their own Boden, the Jews were Untermenschen and, therefore, for their ‘hosts’, little more than leeches – the world pest.
If one believes in the validity of racial exclusiveness, it is difficult to object to anyone else’s racism; if it is impossible for any people to be healthy except in their own homeland, then one cannot object to anyone else excluding ‘aliens’ from their territory.
Zionist Blud und Boden provided an excellent rationale for not fighting anti-semitism on its home ground; it was no fault of the anti-semites, it was because of the Jews’ own misfortune of being in exile.
By this logic, the loss of Palestine was the root cause of anti-semitism; therefore in the regaining of Palestine lay the only solution to the Jewish question. In view of this, is it is difficult to understand the gullible reader of a Nazi newspaper who concluded that what was said by the Nazis, and agreed to by the Zionists – had to be right?
“Any Jewish movement that prattled about the naturalness of anti-semitism”, observed Lenni Brenner, “would, just as ‘naturally’ seek to come to terms with the Nazis when they came to power” (ibid.).
German Zionism, through the Zionist Federation of Germany (ZVfD), turned away from the society in which Jews lived. There were only two Zionist tasks: (i) instilling nationalist consciousness in as many Jews as would listen, and (ii) training youths for occupations useful in the economic development of Palestine. Everything else was useless.
In 1925, the most fervent expounder of complete abstentionism, Jacob Klatzin, co-editor of Encyclopedia Judaica, vividly expressed the ramifications of the Zionist approach to anti-semitism thus:
“If we do not admit the rightfulness of antisemitism, we deny the rightfulness of our own nationalism. If our people is deserving and willing to live its own national life, then it is an alien body thrust into the nations among whom it lives, an alien body that insists on its own distinctive identity, reducing the domain of their life. It is right, therefore, that they should fight against us for their national integrity … Instead of establishing societies for defense against the anti-Semites, who want to reduce our rights, we should establish societies for the defense against our friends who desire to defend our rights” (Jacob Agus, The meaning of Jewish History, Ram’s Horn Books, Abelard-Schuman, 1963).
Instead of uniting with the anti-Nazi working class on a programme of militant resistance, the Zionist Federation of Germany leadership in 1932, when Hitler was gaining strength by the day, chose to organise anti-communist meetings to warn Jewish youth against ‘red assimilation”.
On 18 March 1912, Weizmann brazenly told a Berlin audience that “each country can absorb only a limited number of Jews, if she doesn’t want disorders in her stomach. Germany already had too many Jews” (quoted by Benyamin Matuvo, ‘The Zionist wish and the Nazi deed’, Issues, Winter 1966/7).
With views like these, he and his fellow Zionists could hardly be expected to mobilise world Jewry against anti-semitism and the Nazis. Not one demonstration against Hitler was organised in America by the Zionists before Hitler came to power. Nahum Goldmann was unwilling to work with the assimilationists.
The German Zionists agreed with two fundamental elements in Nazi ideology – that Jews would never be part of the German Volk and, therefore, did not belong on German soil. Further ideological affinity between them was based on (i) anti-communism; (ii) Common Volkist racism; and (iii) mutual conviction that Germany could never be the homeland of its Jews. Because of this ideological affinity between Zionism and Nazism, the Zionist Federation of Germany, believing that it could induce the Nazis to support them, solicited the patronage of Hitler repeatedly after 1933.
In early March 1933, Julius Streicher, the editor of Der Steurmer, declared that as of 1 April, all Jewish stores and professionals would be boycotted. In response, Rabbi Stephen Wise had planned a counter-demonstration to be held in New York on 27 March if the Nazis went ahead with their boycott. This worried Hitler’s capitalist backers as Jews were prominent throughout the retail trade in America and Europe; any retaliation by them against German companies would prove very hurtful. So they urged Hitler to call of the anti-Jewish boycott. As the Nazis could not do that without losing face, they resorted to using the Zionists to head off Rabbi Wise. Thus, Herman Goering called in the Zionist leaders. He told them that the foreign press was lying about atrocities against Jews; unless the lies stopped he could not guarantee the safety of German Jewry. Above all, the New York rally had to be cancelled. Following this meeting, a delegation of three arrived in London on 27 March to make contact with the world Jewry, where it met 40 Jewish leaders at a meeting chaired by Nahum Sokolov who was at the time president of the World Zionist Organisation. The delegation saw two tasks before it: (1) to promote Palestine as “the logical place of refuge” for Jews and (2) to head off all anti-Nazi actions abroad. The Zionist leadership saw to it that no anti-Nazi action took place in New York or anywhere else.
On 21 June 1933, the Zionist Federation of Germany sent a memorandum to the Nazi Party which was nothing short of treason to the Jews of Germany. In it the German Zionists “offered calculated collaboration between Zionism and Nazism, hallowed by the goal of a Jewish state: we shall wage no battle against thee, only against those who would resist thee” (Brenner, op.cit., p.49).
All this was taking place in complete secrecy behind the backs of the Jewish people, who knew nothing about the disgraceful machinations of the Zionist leaders acting allegedly in the name of the Jewish masses. But, kept in ignorance as they were, the Jewish masses could not miss what was appearing in the Rundschau (the organ of the Zionist Union of Germany) in which assimilationist Jewry was attacked with gay abandon.
Its editor, Robert Weltsch, took the occasion of the 1 April boycott to lay into the Jews of Germany in an editorial: “Wear the yellow badge with pride”. It blamed the Jews for their misfortunes, saying, inter alia: “..Because the Jews do not display their Jewishness with pride, because they wanted to shirk the Jewish question, they must share the blame for the degradation of the Jewry” (Davydowicz L, A Holocaust reader, Behrman House, New Jersey, p. 148).
Just at the time when the Nazis were busy throwing communists, socialists and trade unionists into concentration camps, Weltsch attacked left-wing Jewish journalists as “Jewish buffoons” (Ibid. p.149).
Be it said in passing that, although the left-wing press had been under attack from day one of the Nazis assuming power, the Zionist press was still legal.
With the ascent of the Nazis to power, racism was triumphant in Germany and the Zionist Federation of Germany ran with the winner. Rundschau of 4 August 1933 literally went mad, urging that “Jews should not merely accept silently the dictates of their new masters; they, too, had to realise that race separation was wholly to the good” (quoted in Brenner, p. 51).
Continuing it said: “Race is undoubtedly a very important, yes, decisive momentum. Out of ‘blood and soil’ really is determined the meaning of a people and their achievements”. Jews would have to make good for “the lost generations when Jewish racial consciousness was largely neglected”.
To prove that the “Jewish renaissance movement” had always been racist, the Rundschau reprinted two pre-1914 articles under the title ‘Voices of Blood’, which asserted with delirious joy how “the modern Jew … recognises his Jewishness through an inner experience which teachers him the special language of his blood in a mystical manner” (quoted in Brenner, pp.52-52).
The charitable interpretation of such kind of nonsense is that it allowed the gentry peddling it to “reconcile themselves to the existence of anti-semitism in Germany without fighting it” (ibid. p.52).
The most fervent propagandist of the Zionist Federation of Germany’s racism was Joachim Prinz who had been a social-democratic voter before 1933. He became rabidly Volkist in the first years of the Third Reich. The violent hostility towards Jews sprinkling the pages of his book Wir Juden could have been easily inserted into the Nazi propaganda. To him the Jew was made up of “misplacement, of queerness, of exhibitionism, inferiority, arrogance, self-deceit, sophisticated love of truth, hate, sickly, patriotism and rootless cosmopolitanism, a psychological arsenal of rare abundance” (cited by Kopel Pinson, ‘The Jewish spirit in Nazi Germany’, Menorah Journal, Autumn 1936).
Prinz firmly, not to say foolishly, believed that an accommodation between Nazis and Jews was possible on the basis of a Zionist-Nazi accord: “A state which is constructed on the principle of the purity of nation and race can only have respect for those Jews who see themselves in the same way” (Benyamin Matuvo, ‘The Zionist wish and the Nazi Deed’, Issues, Winter 1966-67, p.12).
After Prinz went to the US, he gave up his bizarre notions, for they made no sense in the prevailing conditions in America.
Even the Nuremberg laws of 15 September 1935 failed to shift the German Zionist belief in an ultimate modus vivendi with the Nazis.
The Rundschau published a statement by the head of the Nazis’ press association, A I Brandt, which informed, to the surprise of the world at large, that the laws were “both beneficial and regenerative for Judaism as well. By giving the Jewish minority an opportunity to lead its own life and assuring governmental support for this independent existence, Germany is helping Judaism to strengthen its national character and is making a contribution towards improving relations between the two peoples” (Abraham Margaliot, ‘The reaction of the Jewish public in Germany to the Nuremberg laws’, Yad Vashen Studies, Vol XII, p.86).
The Zionist Federation of Germany was obsessed with trying to unite the segregated Jewish institutions to inculcate a Jewish national spirit. The harder the Nazis pressed on the Jews, the greater became the Zionist conviction that a deal with the Nazis was possible. Their reasoning was that the greater the exclusion of Jews from every aspect of German life, the greater the need of the Nazis for Zionism with the aid of which to get rid of the Jews.
Although Zionist hopes for an agreement with the Nazis vanished in the face of ever-augmenting intimidation and terror, yet there was no attempt at anti-Nazi resistance on the part of the leaders of the Zionist Federation of Germany. Throughout the entire pre-war years there was only the tiniest of Zionist involvement in the anti-Nazi underground. Instead, the Zionist leaders vociferously attacked the underground KPD (Communist Party of Germany) which was the leadership of the anti-Nazi resistance
Ideological jackals of Nazism
The World Zionist leaders gave their approval to the general line of their German affiliate. Before the Nazis came to power, German Zionism was no more than an isolated bourgeois cult. Then, all of a sudden, this small group saw itself as destined by history to negotiate secretly with the Nazi regime in opposition to the vast mass of humanity and the vast mass of Jewry alike who wanted to organise resistance to the Hitlerites – all in the hope of gaining support of the deadly enemy of the Jews and general humanity alike, for the building of their state in Palestine. Mere cowardice on the part of the Zionist leadership of the Zionist Federation of Germany does not go far enough to explain the pro-Hitler evolution of Zionist racism, nor does it explain the World Zionist Organisation’s endorsement of their stance. The Zionists did not fight Hitler’s rise to power, “not out of any … cowardice, but out of their deepest conviction, which they had inherited from Herzl, that anti-semitism could not be fought. Given their failure to resist during Weimar, and given their race theories, it was inevitable that they would end up as the ideological ‘jackals of Nazism’ (Lenni Brenner, op.cit., p.55).
The World Zionist Organisation saw Hitler’s victory in the same light as the Zionist Federation of Germany – not as a defeat for all Jews, but as positive proof of the bankruptcy of assimilationism. Their own hour was at hand … Hitler’s victory was a flail to drive stiff-necked Jews back to their own kind and their own land.
Emil Ludwig, the world-famous author and then a recent convert to Zionism, in an interview given to a fellow Zionist on his [Ludwig’s] visit to America, expressed the general attitude of the Zionist movement: “Hitler will be forgotten in a few years, but he will have a beautiful monument in Palestine,” adding that the “coming of the Nazis was rather a welcome thing. So many of our German Jews were hovering between two coasts; so many of them were riding the treacherous current between the Scylla of assimilation and the Charybdis of a nodding acquaintance with Jewish things. Thousands who seemed to be completely lost to Judaism were brought back to the fold by Hitler, and for that I am personally very grateful to him” (Quoted by Meyer Steinglas in ‘Emil Ludwig before the judge’, American Jewish Times, April 1936, p.35).
Ludwig’s views were exactly the same as those of such veterans as the much-acclaimed Chaim Nachman Bialik, at the time considered as the Poet Laureate of Zionism. Because of his reputation, his statements enjoyed wide circulation, among the Zionists as well as their left-wing enemies. Hitlerism, he held, had saved German Jews from annihilation through assimilation. Like many of the Zionists, Bialik thought of the Jews as something of a superior race: “I, too, like Hitler, believe in the power of the blood idea” (Chaim Bialik, ‘The present hour’, Young Zionist, London, May 1934).
By 1934 Zionism claimed a worldwide membership of over a million.
In early May, 1935, Chaim Arlosoroff, the political secretary of the Jewish Agency, reached a preliminary understanding with the Nazi authorities to allow Zionist émigrés to transfer some of their wealth out of Germany into Palestine in the form of farm machinery. On the Nazi side, the motivation was to weaken and defeat, through dissension within world Jewry, any resolution boycotting German goods at the then-impending Jewish Conference in London and, into the bargain, push a few thousand Jews out of Germany. This coincided with the Zionists’ aims of getting German Jews, especially the young and sturdy, to Palestine and to acquire funds for the project of building a Jewish state in Palestine.
Arlosoroff visited Berlin again in June, returning to Tel Aviv on 14 June, where, two nights later, he was assassinated for his dealings with the Nazis. That, however, did nothing to retard the World Zionist Organisation’s accommodation with the vile Nazi regime, which announced the conclusion of the Zionist-Nazi Pact on 18 June – just in time for the 18th Zionist Congress in Prague.
In view of the Jewish hostility to this notorious Pact, known as the ‘Ha’avara’ or Transfer Agreement, the World Zionist Organisation leadership tried to protect itself by resort to outright lying to the effect that the executive of the World Zionist Organisation had played no part in the negotiations leading to this agreement with the Nazi government. Literally nobody believed this barefaced lie.
The controversy over this agreement continued until 1935 among recriminations. All the same, the Ha’avara grew to become a sizeable banking and trading house with 137 specialists in the Jerusalem office at the peak of its activities. It was used by the Nazis as an instrument for weakening the boycott movement through damaging the considerable political and economic strength of the Jewish community by using dissension within its ranks – a notorious scheme with which the Zionist leadership went along willingly – even enthusiastically.
Moshe Beilenson, who in 1922 had been a member of a delegation that pledged Italian Zionism’s loyalty to Mussolini, presented a spirited theoretical defence of the Zionist Nazi Pact, saying that “…verily, the Eighteenth Congress [of the World Zionist Organisation] had the courage to destroy the assimilationist tradition and appeals to others .. For generations we have fought by means of protests. Now we have another weapon in our hand, a strong, trusty and sure weapon: the visa to Palestine” (Moshe Beilenson, ‘The new Jewish statesmanship’, Labour Palestine, February 1934, pp.8-10).
Thus it is clear that to the Zionists the land of Israel had assumed greater significance than the urgent needs for survival of the Jewish people. To them, emigration to Palestine had become the sole means for the survival of the Jewish people. The millions of Jews around the world, the real Jewish people, were reduced to no more than a pool out of which they would pluck out some young Jews to build their state. Jews elsewhere, in their perverse thinking, would either be driven out, as in Germany, or assimilated, as in France. It is hardly to be surprised at that with such a warped perspective on the question of survival of the Jewish people, the Zionists were increasingly driven to seek cooperation with the Nazis in an effort to bring about the realisation of their vision.
Writing on 3 July 1935 to Arthur Ruppin, director of the Colonisation Department in Palestine, in the context of the then-impending Lucerne Congress of the World Zionist Organisation, Chaim Weizmann advised that the German question be not discussed at it, for such a discussion would prove “…dangerous to the only positive thing we have in Germany, the intensified Zionist movement … We, being a Zionist organisation, should concern ourselves with the constructive solution to the German question through the transfer of the Jewish youth from Germany to Palestine, rather than the question of equal rights of Jews in Germany” (Chaim Weizmann ‘To Arthur Ruppin’, 3 July 1935, in Barnett Litvinoff, Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann Letters Vol XVI, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, 1982, p.464).
Lewis Namier, an erstwhile political secretary of the World Zionist Organisation, and a major historian of the British aristocracy, had prefaced Ruppin’s book. Knowledgeable Zionists, including Nahum Goldman, quite correctly saw him as an intense Jewish anti-semite. Such was his devotion to the gentry that he despised Jews as the epitome of capitalism, of vulgar trade: “Not everyone”, he wrote, “who feels uncomfortable with regard to us must be called an anti-semite, nor is there anything necessarily and inherently wicked in anti-semitism” (Introduction to Arthur Ruppin’s book, Jews in the modern world, Macmillan, New York, 1934, p.xiii).
Doubtless the most glaring example of the World Zionist Organisation leadership’s unwillingness to offer resistance to the Nazis was the following statement by Weizmann: “The only dignified and really effective reply to all that is being inflicted upon the Jews of Germany is the edifice erected by our great and beautiful work in the Land of Israel … Something is being created that will transform the woe we all suffer into songs and legends for our grandchildren” (Barnett Litvinoff, Weizmann – the last of the patriarchs, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1976, p.82).
The presidium of the Lucerne Congress successfully manoeuvred to keep all serious discussion of resistance to the Nazi regime off the floor of the Congress. Even the leading American Zionists, such as Rabbi Stephen Wise and Abba Hillel Silver, who had talked a lot about boycotting German goods but done nothing in practice to organise it, capitulated to Weizmann and endorsed the Ha’avara. As a result, after the Lucerne Congress there no longer were any differences between them and the leadership of the World Zionist Organisation.
Large sections of world Jewry were incensed at the decisions taken in Lucerne. London’s World Jewry, the best Zionist magazine in the English language at that time, fiercely condemned their own World Congress thus: “Dr Weizmann went as far as to state that the only dignified reply the Jews could give was a renewed effort for the upbuilding of Palestine. How terrifying the proclamation of the Congress President must have sounded in the ears of Herren Hitler, Streicher and Goebbels!” (‘Kiddush Hashem’, World Jewry, 6 September 1935, p.1).
Going further, the Zionist leadership had secretly organised the extension of the Ha’avara system to other countries: through the creation of the International Trade and Investment Agency (INTRIA) Bank In London, it proposed to organise the sale of German goods directly to Britain. The Nazi regime had the satisfaction of this further demoralisation of the forces advocating the boycott, for it was the chief beneficiary of the Ha’avara. Not only did it help the Nazis to get rid of some Jews but, more importantly, it was of tremendous value, providing as it did the perfect rationale for all those who wanted the trade with Nazi Germany to continue. In Britain, Sir Oswald Mosely’s newspaper, the Blackshirt, could barely contain its delirious joy:
“Can you beat that! We are cutting off our nose to spite our face and refuse to trade with Germany in order to defend the poor Jews. The Jews themselves, in their own country, are to continue making profitable dealings with Germany themselves. Fascists can’t better counter the malicious propaganda to destroy friendly relations with Germany than by using this fact” (‘Blackshirts peeved at Reich-Zion trade’, Jewish Daily Bulletin, 6 February 1935, p.5).
Basis for Zionist-Nazi collaboration
While the World Zionist Organisation’s bourgeois leadership was busy making deals with the Nazis, thousands of Germans, many Jews among them, were heroically fighting in Spain against Hitler’s Condor Legion and Franco’s fascist army. All that the Ha’avara did was to demoralise the Jews and non-Jews alike and undermine the forces willing and ready to resist the Nazis. It effectively removed the million-strong Zionist movement from the front line of the anti-Nazi resistance, for the World Zionist Organisation, instead of resisting the Hitlerite fascists, sought to collaborate with them.
After the war and the Holocaust, a contrite Nahum Goldmann, tortured by his own shameful role during the Hitler years, wrote of a dramatic meeting with the Czech foreign minister, Edward Benes, in 1935. Goldmann’s graphic account of Benes’ waring to the Jews says everything that needs to be said on the Ha’avara and the totally shameful failure, or rather the unwillingness, of the World Zionist Organisation to offer and organise resistance to the Nazis:
“’Don’t you understand’, he shouted, ‘that by reacting with nothing but half-hearted gestures, by failing to arouse world public opinion, and take vigorous action against the Germans, the Jews are endangering their future and their human rights all over the world:’ I knew Benes was right … in this context success was irrelevant. What matters in a situation of this sort is a people’s moral stance, its readiness to fight back instead of helplessly allowing itself to be massacred” (Autobiography, Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1969, p.148).
The dominant ideologist on the Jewish question was the Baltic German refugee, Alfred Rosenberg, who had developed his theories while still in his native Latvia. He, correctly, was of the opinion that Zionist ideology served wonderfully as a justification for depriving Germany’s Jews of their rights and that, perhaps, there was the possibility of future use of the movement for the promotion of Jewish emigration. Hitler began to touch on these themes in his speeches: on 6 July 1920 he stated that Palestine was the proper place for the Jews where alone they could hope to get their rights.
For Hitler the validity of Zionism only lay in its confirmation that Jews could never be Germans. No better proof could be adduced of “Zionism’s classic role as an outrider to anti-semitism” than Hitler’s own statements on the subject is his Mein Kampf.
By 1939 the SS had become the most pro-Zionist element in the Nazi Party. To commemorate Baron Von Mildenstein’s expedition to Palestine, Goebbels had a medal struck: on one side the swastika, on the other the Zionist star.
Even the Nuremberg laws of September 1935, the finishing touches of Germany’s pre-2nd World War anti-Jewish legislation, which the Nazis defended as an expression of their pro-Zionism, had the tacit approval of the wiser heads amongst the Jews themselves. All the speakers at the World Zionist Congress in Lucerne had reiterated that the Jewry of the world were to be correctly seen as a separate people unto themselves regardless of where they lived. Well then, wrote Alfred Berndt in a commentary in the Rundschau of the new restrictions: all Hitler had done was to meet “the demands of the International Jewish Congress by making the Jews who live in Germany a national minority”.
Under the Nuremberg laws, only two flags were permitted in the Third Reich – the swastika and the blue and white Zionist banner. This greatly excited the Zionist Federation of Germany which hoped that this was a sign that Hitler was moving closer to an accommodation with them. In fact it was nothing short of a burning humiliation for the Jewish people.
Heinrich Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS – in 1934 his staff presented him with a ‘Situation report – Jewish question’ which stated that the overwhelming majority of the Jews regarded themselves as Germans and were determined to remain in the country. Since at the time, for fear of international repercussions, in order to overcome that resistance, force could not be employed, the Nazis, in order to overcome their resistance, resorted to the device of installing a distinctive Jewish identity among them by systematically promoting Jewish schools, Hebrew, Jewish art and music, etc., the hope being that it would induce the mass of Jews to abandon their homeland. Since this formula was far from being effective, the Nazi policy was to give added support to the Zionists with a view to persuading the Jews to join the Zionist movement as a means of averting worse troubles. All Jews, Zionists included, were to be persecuted as Jews; however, within that set up it was possible to relax the pressure. Thus, on 28 January 1935, the Bavarian Gestapo sent a circular to the regular police that from then on “members of the Zionist organisations are, in view of their activities directed towards emigration to Palestine, not to be treated with the same strictness which is necessary towards the members of the German-Jewish organisation’s [assimila-tionists]” (Kurt Grossman, ‘Zionists and non-Zionists under Nazi rule in the 1930s’, Herzl Yearbook, Vol VI, Herzl Press, New York, 1966, p.340).
The pro-Zionist Nazi policy did not bring about the desired outcome, for the World Zionist Organisation had little interest in the vast majority of German Jews, as these were not Zionists, spoke no Hebrew, were not young enough and were not possessed of the right ‘trades’.
In November 1938 the Nazis finally closed down the Zionist Federation of Germany’s headquarters after Kristalnacht. For their dreadful conduct the Zionists could not even assert that they had been deceived by Hitler, for his race theories and views had been there in plain German since 1926. The Zionists ignored the elephant in the room, namely, that Hitler and his party hated all Jews. The Zionists chose to ignore this fact, for they “…were simply reactionaries who … chose to emphasise the points of similarity between themselves and Hitler. They convinced themselves that because they, too, were racists, against mixed marriage, and believed that Jews were aliens in Germany; because they, too, were opposed to the left, that these similarities would be enough to make Adolf Hitler see them as the only ‘honest partners’ for a diplomatic détente” (Brenner, op.cit., p.89).
Instead of accusing everyone at the slightest opportunity of being anti-semitic, the Zionists should look into their own ideology and the entire course of the development of the Zionist movement.
We shall be returning to other aspects of Zionism in future articles.