I’m American, but my first book, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (now finally back in print), was published in Britain. American houses wouldn’t risk selling an expose of Zionist collaboration with Hitler. Then I found pro and anti-Zionist books published by Croom Helm Ltd. I went to them. They gave me an ultimatum: “You are about to write the most controversial book imaginable…. So there can be no mistakes. You must send us a photocopy of every document you quote.” It was published in 1983.
While British leftists organized a lecture tour for me, I went to Israel. By luck, that visit ultimately generated international attention to the book.
When Menachem Begin retired and Yitzhak Shamir became Israel’s 2nd Likud Prime Minister, I had a Palestinian English-language weekly publish a translation of his 1940-41 outfit’s offer to go to war on Hitler’s side. An Israeli newspaper questioned him about it. I went on to London and there, in the 21 October Times, was the PM’s lie:
“Shamir… denied that he had any part in the efforts by Mr. Abraham Stern… to establish contact with the Nazis and Italian Fascists.
‘There was a plan to turn to Italy for help and to make contact with Germany on the assumption that these could bring about a massive Jewish immigration to Palestine. I opposed this… but I did join Lehi after the idea of contacts with the Axis countries was dropped.’”
The “Proposal of the National Military Organization (Irgun Zvai Leumi) Concerning the Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe and the Participation of the NMO in the War on the side of Germany” was found post-war in Germany’s Turkish embassy. The Sternists declared that
“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 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.”
I went to The Times with the German original, the translation and a letter. “You sure didn’t make this up in German!” My letter appeared on 4 November:
“Away from my files, I cannot be certain exactly when in 1940 Shamir joined the group. But in any case, isn’t he confessing that he knowingly joined an organization of traitors which had offered to ally itself to the archenemy of the Jews? Nor can there be any doubt that he joined up with Stern before December 1941, when the Sternists tried to send Nathan Yallin-Mor to Turkey to contact the German ambassador there with the same proposal.” I relocated evidence that Shamir was a ‘Stern Gang’ founder and presented it to The Times. He organized their 1944 assassination of Britain’s Middle East High Commissioner in Cairo. In 1963, Gerold Frank published The Deed about it.
Stern split off from David Raziel’s Irgun in September 1940. Frank wrote up a meeting where “Yizernitsky” (Shamir’s born-name)….“spoke tersely, summing up the reason, behind Stern’s decision decision to walk out of the Irgun.” One of the assassins “could not forget Yizernitsky’s ‘fire and powder’ remark in the days immediately following the Raziel-Stern split.”
This led to Edward Mortimer reviewing the book in the 11 February 1984 Times:
“Who told a Berlin audience in March 1912 that “each country can absorb only a limited number of Jews, if she doesn’t want disorders in her stomach. Germany already has too many Jews”?
No, not Adolf Hitler but Chaim Weizmann, later president of the World Zionist Organization and later still the first president of the state of Israel….
Zionism itself encouraged and exploited self-hatred in the Diaspora. It started from the assumption that anti-Semitism was inevitable and even in a sense justified so long as Jews were outside the land of Israel.
It is true that only an extreme lunatic fringe of Zionism went so far as to offer to join the war on Germany’s side in 1941, in the hope of establishing “the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich.” Unfortunately this was the group which the present Prime Minister of Israel chose to join….
Mr Brenner is able to cite numerous cases where Zionists collaborated with anti-Semitic regimes, including Hitler’s; he is careful also to put on record the opposition to such policies within the Zionist movement.
In retrospect these activities have been defended as a distasteful but necessary expedient to save Jewish lives. But Brenner shows that most of the time this aim was secondary. The Zionist leaders wanted to help young, skilled and able-bodied Jews to emigrate to Palestine. They were never in the forefront of the struggle against fascism in Europe.”
Indeed the Stern Gang weren’t the only Zionist collaborators. On June 21, 1933 the Zionistische Vereinigung fur Deutschland, the German Zionist Federation, appealed to the Nazis:
“May we therefore be permitted to present our views, which, in our opinion, make possible a solution in keeping with the principles of the new German State of National Awakening…. because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group….
For its practical aims, Zionism hopes to be able to win the collaboration even of a government fundamentally hostile to Jews…. 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.”
The WZO made the Ha’ Avara (Transfer) agreement in 1933. The Nazis ‘taxed’ money leaving Germany, but the rate was lowest for German Zionists buying Nazi goods which the WZO sold in Palestine and the Middle East. In 1935 Weizmann explained that the WZO “should concern ourselves with the constructive solution of the German question through the transfer of the Jewish youth from Germany to Palestine, rather than with the question of equal rights of Jews in Germany.”
The WZO opposed anti-Nazi boycott movements. Fritz Reichart, the Gestapo’s Palestine agent, wrote to his headquarters:
“The London Boycott Conference was torpedoed from Tel Aviv be- cause the head of the Transfer in Palestine, in close contact with the consulate in Jerusalem, sent cables to London. Our main function here is to prevent, from Palestine, the unification of world Jewry on a basis hostile to Germany.”
The ZVfD asked Baron von Mildenstein of the Nazi SS elite corp to write pro-Zionist articles in the Nazi press. He visited Palestine for six months as the ZVfD’s guest and wrote 12 articles forDer Angriff (The Assault), the leading Nazi propaganda organ, about how Jewish soil under a Jew’s feet “reformed him and his kind in a decade. This new Jew will be a new people.”
To commemorate the Baron’s expedition, Propaganda Minister Goebbels had a medal struck: the Zionist star and EIN NAZI FÄHRT NACH PALÄSTINA — A Nazi Travels to Palestine — on one side, the swastika UND ERZÄHLT DAVON IM Angriff – And tells about it in Angriff – on the other.
The WZO tried to extend its relationship with Nazism. On February 26, 1937, Feival Polkes of the Haganah Labor Zionist militia, met with Adolf Eichmann in Berlin. The report on their negotiations was in SS files found after the war:
“Polkes…. noted that the Haganah’s goal is to reach, as soon as possible, a Jewish majority in Palestine…. he declared himself willing to work for Germany in the form of providing intelligence as long as this does not oppose his own political goals. Among other things he would support German foreign policy in the Near East. He would try to find oil sources for the German Reich without affecting British spheres of interest if the German monetary regulations were eased for Jewish emigrants to Palestine.”
Eichmann and another SS man went to Palestine on October 2nd. Polkes took them to a kibbutz, a Labor Zionist co-op farm. Two days later the British realized that the visitors also contacted Reichart, known to be a Gestapo agent, and they expelled them to Egypt. Polkes met them in Cairo. He passed on two pieces of “intelligence”:
“The Pan-Islamic World Congress convening in Berlin is in direct contact with two pro-Soviet Arab leaders: Emir Shekib Arslan and Emir Adil Arslan….The illegal Communist broadcasting station whose transmission to Germany is particularly strong, is, according to Polkes’ statement, assembled on a lorry that drives along the German-Luxembourg border when transmission is on the air.”
Later, Eichmann, hiding in Argentina, taped a look-back at his career. The holocaust’s prime organizer waxed nostalgic about Palestine:
“I did see enough to be very impressed by the way the Jewish colonists were building up their land. I admired their desperate will to live, the more so since I was myself an idealist. In the years that followed I often said to Jews with whom I had dealings that, had I been a Jew, I would have been a fanatical Zionist. I could not imagine being anything else. In fact, I would have been the most ardent Zionist imaginable.”
MUSSOLINI: “YOUR FASCIST, JABOTINSKY”
Most American pro-Zionists, Jew or gentile, know little Zionist history. Most can’t identify Vladimir Jabotinsky (1880 – 1940) even though he was the founder of the Zionist-Revisionist movement, the precursor of the Likud Party, and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s father was his secretary.
In 1917 Jabotinsky organized a Jewish Legion to help the British take Palestine from Ottoman Turkey. When Britain declared it the “Jewish national home,” Palestine included today’s Jordan. But in 1921 London separated it from Palestine and gave it to the son of Britain’s puppet Sharif of Mecca. As no Zionists lived there, WZO leaders accepted the loss. But Jabotinsky insisted that the WZO had to “revise” its policy. Britain giving part of Palestine to an Arab would inspire Palestinians to struggle on until London completely abandoned Zionism. “One side of the Jordan is ours – and so is the other.” So goes Shtei Gadot, a song identified with Revisionism from 1923, when Jabotinsky founded the Betar youth movement, until well after the 1948 creation of Israel.
In 1923 he wrote Revisionism’s Bible, an article, “The Iron Wall (We and the Arabs)”:
“Every native population in the world resists colonists as long as it has the slightest hope of being able to rid itself of the danger of being colonized. That is what the Arabs in Palestine are doing, and what they will persist in doing as long as there remains a solitary spark of hope that they will be able to prevent the transformation of “Palestine” into the “Land of Israel.”…. Zionist colonization must either stop, or else proceed regardless of the native population. This means that it can proceed and develop only under the protection of a power that is independent of the native population –- behind an iron wall, which the native population cannot breach.”
Jabotinsky looked for a new imperial protector committed to a ruthless policy towards Arabs. Italy was appealing with its bloodthirsty Libyan colonialism. But he had been a student in Italy and couldn’t see anything wrong with the liberal and aristocratic traditions that Mussolini repudiated. In 1926 he sneered at Fascism:
“There is today a country where ‘programs’ have been replaced by the word of one man…Italy; the system is called Fascism: to give their prophet a title, they had to coin a new term—‘Duce’—which is a translation of that most absurd of all English words—‘leader’. Buffaloes follow a leader. Civilized men have no leaders.”
But for Ex-Labour Zionists turned Revisionist, ex-socialist Mussolini was a hero. At the 1932 Revisionist World Conference, Abba Achimeir and Wolfgang von Weisl proposed Jabotinsky as their Duce. He refused but, without abandoning liberal rhetoric, he incorporated Mussolini’s concepts into his ideology.
Jabotinsky proposed quitting the WZO, but their World Union Executive saw no gain in splitting. He took personal control of the movement and let the ranks choose between him and the Executive in a plebiscite. He wrote a letter: “The time has apparently come when there must be a single, principal controller in the movement, a ‘leader’, though I still hate the word. All right, if there must be one, there will be one.”
Jabotinsky set up the New Zionist Organization. Achimeir, its Palestine leader (Britain barred Jabotinsky from Palestine) ran his Yomen shel Fascisti (Diary of a Fascist) in their paper. Von Weisl, NZO’s Financial Director, told a newspaper that “He personally was a supporter of Fascism, and he rejoiced at the victory of Fascist Italy in Abyssinia as a triumph of the White races against the Black.”
In 1934 Mussolini authorized a Betar squadron at his maritime academy. In 1935 he met a rabbi and hailed “your fascist, Jabotinsky.” Mussolini reviewed the squadron in 1936.
The orientation towards Italy ended in a debacle. The Spanish civil war persuaded Mussolini to unite with Hitler to ward off worker revolutions. It was impossible to be Hitler’s ally and have Jews in his own party. He expelled Jews from the party and geared up for war. The Revisionists declared that they were wrong for the right reasons:
“For years we have warned the Jews not to insult the fascist regime in Italy. Let us be frank before we accuse others of the recent anti-Jewish laws in Italy; why not first accuse our own radical groups who are responsible for what happened.”
Stern and Shamir’s “historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis” evolved from this fanaticism.
“THERE IS NOT THE REMOTEST CHANCE OF WAR”
Shmuel Merlin, NZO’s Secretary-General, later explained that in January 1933 Jabotinsky “thought that Hitler would either reform or yield to the pressure of the Junkers and Big Business.” But by March he called for an anti-Nazi boycott. On June 16 Revisionists assassinated Labor Zionist Chaim Arlosoroff who negotiated the Ha’Avara pact with Berlin.
Two days later the British police brought Revisionists Avraham Stavsky and Zvi Rosenblatt in for an identity parade. Arlosoroff’s widow recognized Stavsky. Rosenblatt was cleared on a legal technicality but Stavsky was sentenced to hang. Later the Palestine Court of Appeal acquitted him on technicalities but the Chief Justice was displeased: “in England…the conviction would have to stand.” In 1944 a ballistics expert discovered the gun that killed Arlosoroff was used in the Cairo assassination by the Stern Gang splitters from Jabotinsky’s organization.
There’s no evidence that Jabotinsky ordered Arlosoroff killed but he insisted that Revisionists didn’t commit the crime. Many in the WZO opposed Ha’Avara, but they wouldn’t unite with Arlosoroff’s murderers in anti-Nazi actions. Alone they accomplished nothing and inevitably Revisionist policies re Germany became surreal.
Even as they demonstrated against Hitler throughout Europe, their Staatzionistische Organisation and its leader, George Kareski, were Hitler’s favorite Zionists. On April 13, 1935, the Gestapo declared that State Zionism would receive “permission to let its members… wear uniforms indoors…because the State Zionists have proven to be the organization which had tried in any way, even illegally, to bring its members to Palestine, and… meets half-way the intention of the Reich Government to remove the Jews from Germany.”
The scandalized NZO ranks compelled a resolution that, under the circumstances, there was no German Revisionist movement and Jabotinsky called on him to deny any Nazi connection. However in 1936 Kareski was his go-between with the German publishing house holding the copyright to one of his books, and the Fascists around von Weisl remained in contact with him.
In 1937 Kareski went to Palestine. German Jews discovered him and chased him through the streets until police rescued him. I’d like to report that he died alone and hated, but in 1947 he was appointed chairman of a Revisionist health fund.
In 1939, a week before Hitler invaded Poland, Jabotinsky insisted that “There is not the remotest chance of war.” He planned to invade Palestine, landing a boatload of Betarim on Tel Aviv’s beach while the Irgun seized Government House in Jerusalem, and a provisional Jewish government was proclaimed abroad. After his capture or death, it would operate as a government-in-exile.
His model was the 1916 rising in Ireland. Its leaders were executed, but their martyrdom inspired a revolutionary movement. However it is impossible to see how an invasion could have convinced Jews in Palestine, mostly his WZO enemies, to rise up after his defeat. The plan’s fantasy was revealed on the night of August 31-September 1. The British arrested the Irgun command as they debated whether to take part in the scheme and, within hours, Hitler started the war Jabotinsky insisted wouldn’t happen.
The December 4, 1948 New York Times ran a letter by Albert Einstein and other Jews re Menachem Begin’s visit to the US, exposing his Herut Party which evolved into today’s Likud. Given that Achimeir and von Weisl wrote for Herut’s newspaper, Einstein’s evaluation of Begin’s Revisionist commitment bears quotation:
“Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the ‘Freedom Party’ (Tnuat HaHerut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties….They have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism and racial superiority… it is imperative that the truth about Mr Begin and his movement be made known in this country.”