At a time when the Israeli state, backed by the US and UK, likes to project itself as being part of the War on Terror, a book, State of terror – how terrorism created modern Israel, has recently been published. This book, written by Thomas Suarez, is reviewed by here Tony Greenstein.
HOW TERRORISM CREATED MODERN ISRAEL
The state of Israel prides itself on being at the forefront of the ‘war against terror’ and the war on Islam and it is this which makes Israel the darling of Europe’s far right. But this book documents how the Israeli state was born in a wave of terror that makes Palestinian guerrilla groups seem like children at play.
Terror was remorselessly directed at the indigenous Palestinians by the three main Zionist militias – the Labour Zionist Haganah and its Palmach shock-troops; the revisionist Irgun, a split-off from Haganah in 1931 (Haganah Bet); and Lehi or the Stern Gang, a breakaway from Irgun in August 1940. The Irgun was commanded by Menachem Begin, who in 1977 was elected prime minister of Israel. Lehi, which parted from Irgun on the question of continuing the war against the British, was initially commanded by Avraham Stern and later a triumvirate, which included future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir (1983-84, 1986-92). Lehi distinguished itself by making two proposals in 1940 for a military pact with Nazi Germany against the British!
Suarez’s book is based on copious research from the Public Record Office at Kew. A clue to this book’s importance is the fierce campaign waged by the Zionist movement against it and its author. In Cambridge the Zionists managed to get a meeting relating to it cancelled (1). Jonathon Hoffman In Portsmouth the Zionists enlisted the aid of the Council’s Prevent officer, Charlie Pericleous, in order to put pressure on venues to cancel such talks. Presumably opposing Zionism makes you an ‘extremist’ and therefore a potential terrorist – a good example of how anti-terror laws are used to attack free speech. A talk at the School of Oriental and African Studies was disrupted by a group of Zionists led by Jonathan Hoffman, a well known activist, former Zionist Federation official and someone who has no problem with working with fascist and anti-Semitic groups, such as the English Defence League.
A talk held at the House of Lords on December 15 2016, hosted by Baroness Tonge, was subject to the same bogus complaints of anti-Semitism (on March 15 2017 an ethics committee of the House of Lords dismissed the allegations as baseless). The Daily Mail, the paper which waged a campaign against Jewish immigration from Nazi Germany and tsarist Russia, became worked up about ‘anti-Semitism’ in its perennial quest to suppress free speech. It described the Israeli embassy’s “fury after anti-Semitic hate speaker gives talk at a top London university” (2), and linked the “‘cult’ of Zionism to Nazis”. I have no idea whether Suarez did in fact say this (and I note that Wikipedia has banned sourcing anything reported in the Mail because it is so unreliable (3). But if Suarez did say that Israel was a racist endeavour then, right or wrong, that is not anti-Semitic.
Likewise comparisons of Zionism to Nazism. Clearly Zionism, as an ideology of racial supremacy, had a close relationship to Nazism, especially but not exclusively before 1941. However, facts and the Daily Mail make strange bedfellows. But what of Suarez’s book itself? The fact that the Zionist movement campaigns against a particular book does not necessarily mean we should be uncritical. However, there is no doubt that it is extremely well documented and sourced. It covers a particular gap in the historical record and it is because the Zionists are unable to attack the message that they are forced to attack the messenger.
Suarez correctly defines Zionism as a settler project, which couched its aims in the language of messianism (p.24). This fusion by Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, of the settler project with the Old Testament gave a powerful religious-nationalist rationale to Zionist colonisation and expansion. It is not accidental that Israel, uniquely, does not define its borders. The biblical ‘Land of Israel’, which can extend as far as the Euphrates and the Nile, does not allow for a political decision to confine Israel within the borders of Britain’s Palestine mandate. There is, theoretically, no limit to the Zionist state’s expansionary aims. As we see with Syria, Israel reserves the right to intervene anywhere in the Middle East.
Zionist messianism began with Christian Zionism, which saw a Zionist settler state as the way to safeguard British imperial interests. Not for nothing were the first Zionists Christian evangelical imperialists, such as Lords Palmerston and Shaftesbury and the author, George Elliot. In 1841 Lord Shaftesbury issued a Memorandum to Protestant monarchs of Europe for the restoration of the Jews to Palestine, which was published in the Colonial Times in 1841 (4). Although an ardent Zionist, Shaftesbury was opposed to Jewish emancipation in Britain.
Suarez shows how the Zionist project was, from the start, an apartheid endeavour. He quotes from the Hope-Simpson report of 1930, set up after the 1929 riots, which described the Zionist practice of purchasing land from absentee landlords as “extra-territorialising”. The peasants were expelled and no Arab was able to set foot on that land again, once it was purchased (p.30). Contrary to the myths of the ‘socialist’ Zionists, Asher Ginzburg (Ahad Ha’am) described the reality of Zionist colonisation in its earliest phase after a visit to Palestine between February and May 1891. He described the settlers thus: they “behave towards the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, trespass unjustly upon their boundaries, beat them shamefully without reason and even brag about it” (5). The Zionist settlers, despite their labourist piety and their propaganda about making the desert bloom, were quite explicit in opposing any self-government for Palestine, whilst the settlers were in a minority. They operated quite consciously as an arm of British imperialism. As Chaim Weizmann, president of the Zionist Organisation observed, “[The democratic principle] does not take into account the fact that there is a fundamental, qualitative difference between Jew and Arab” (p.35).
Ernest Bevin, Labour’s rightwing foreign minister, commented after the war: “If [the Zionists] could be brought to see that the principle of ‘one man, one vote’ applied in Palestine to Arabs and Jews alike as much as anywhere else, our difficulties might be solved” (p.257). Bevin was called an anti-Semite for suggesting that American enthusiasm for sending Jewish survivors to Palestine had something to do with their opposition to admitting them to the USA.
Suarez shows how, as early as 1919, before the mandate had even taken effect, the Zionists were discussing how the ethnic cleansing of their ‘Jewish home’ might be effected. The American King-Crane report (1919), set up by president Woodrow Wilson, recorded how “The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission’s conference with Jewish representatives that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine” (p.44).
We should bear this in mind in the centenary year of the Balfour Declaration (November 2 1917), which took the form of a letter from the British foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, to Lord Walter Rothschild. The declaration stated that “… nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
The Balfour Declaration promised not a Jewish state, but a “national home” for the Jews in Palestine. The British vehemently denied that this meant a Jewish state, as did the Zionists, but this was yet another instance of perfidious Albion. Only two years later, Balfour wrote a memorandum to his successor as foreign secretary, Lord Curzon, in which he made clear the depths of British treachery and deceit:
“In Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country …. The four great powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land …. In short, so far as Palestine is concerned, the powers have made no statement of fact which is not admittedly wrong, and no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter, they have not always intended to violate” (6).
On September 9 1941, the transcript of a meeting of 20 people in London quoted Weizmann and Ben Gurion to the effect that Arabs would have equal rights, but Jews would have special privileges. Weizmann wanted the transfer of most Arabs from Palestine, apart from “a certain percentage of Arabs and other elements” who were needed as a pool of cheap labour (p.72).
After the UN agreed to partition Palestine in November 1947, the ethnic cleansing began in earnest. Yerachmiel Kahanovitch, a machine-gunner in Palmach described how “We cleared one village after another and expelled them – they led to the Sea of Galilee … Yes, you march up to a village, you expel it, you gather round to have a bite to eat and go on to the next village” (p.254).
Just like the Marranos, the Spanish Jews who pretended to be Christians, there were cases of Arabs posing as Jews. When one non-Jewish doctor was caught out, he was castrated and then murdered. The Zionist ‘left’ called this “purity of arms” (7). Rape too was used as a systematic means of instilling terror (p.255).
The State of terror documents, sometimes in tedious detail, the bloody terrorist beginnings of the Israeli state. By ‘terrorist’ I do not mean the attacks made by the Zionist groups against the British army, but the attacks on Arab civilians. The Irgun made the planting of bombs in market places, the shooting of Arab workers and other acts of terror a routine occurrence from 1937 onwards. Bombings of Palestinian cafes began in April 1937 in Haifa and bombings of Palestinian buses in September 1937 (p.52).
From 1939 onwards Irgun and Lehi waged a ceaseless war against individual Arabs. Particular attention was paid to “uncooperative Jews”, such as four Jewish soldiers murdered as “traitors to the Jewish cause”. One of the first targets for assassination by Haganah was the Dutch Jew, Dr Israel de Hahn, who was responsible for organising the ultra-orthodox anti-Zionist group, Agudat Israel. This was part of a pattern of targeting anti-Zionist Jews.
Intolerance to anti-Zionist or indeed non-Zionist Jews included those who did not speak Yiddish. Orient, a German-language weekly, was suppressed by the Zionists and on May 31 1942 a meeting of the German Jewish Anti-Fascist League in Tel Aviv was violently broken up by Zionist thugs with the blessing of the Jewish Agency. Their crime, amongst others, was speaking the German language. Tom Segev in The seventh million describes in more depth the tribulations of the German Jewish immigrants, or Yekkes.
Suarez notes that the description of the situation in Palestine as a “conflict” between Israel and the Palestinians is wrong. Talk of a conflict implies that Israel’s actions in, for example, Gaza, is part of a war of equals rather than the application of overwhelming force by a militarised state against a defenceless civilian population. Zionism meant the establishment of a Jewish settler colonial state, under the protection of British bayonets. Zionism aimed either to subjugate or drive out the Palestinians. The narrative that sees the Zionist settlers as the victim of Palestinian violence pertains to this day. The actions of the settlers is always defensive – a reaction to Palestinian violence. Israeli violence is always described as “retaliation” by the BBC, whereas Palestinian violence is always without cause or reason. It is violence for its own sake.
Suarez observes (p.8) that Israel is unique, in that it is actually resealing archives it has previously opened. Under the pretext of digitalisation Israel is reclassifying as secret previously released documents in order that its history accords with Zionist mythology (8). This is why Suarez’s research in the British archives, which are beyond the reach of the Israeli censor, is so important and why the Zionist lobby has focussed on Suarez’s book. Following the opening of the Haganah archives in the early 1980s, Zionist historians – in particular Benny Morris – began documenting the actual history of what happened in 1947-48 (9), not in order to rethink the Zionist project so much as to justify what had happened. As Morris explained,
A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on (10).
Forced to Israel
Suarez’s research is particularly interesting in respect of the ‘displaced persons camps’, which were set up in Europe after the war. Tens of thousands of Jewish refugees lived in these camps. Although some displaced persons (DPs) made their way back to their homes, for most of them there were no homes to go to. They had been confiscated and reallocated to their non-Jewish neighbours: reclaiming them would have been physically and legally impossible.
Suarez documents the Zionist campaign to force the Jewish survivors of the holocaust to go to Palestine and become cannon fodder in the expected war of expansion. Ben Gurion spoke of the “danger” that Jewish survivors would not want to go to Palestine. In Australia the Zionists campaigned against an offer from the Australian government to open its doors to Jewish holocaust survivors (pp.153-54). In the United States a bill in April 1947 was introduced to allow 400,000 DPs into America. It was championed by the non-Zionist American Council for Judaism. The Zionist organisations were furious and opposed it (p.192).
The Zionist movement embarked on a three-pronged strategy to ‘capture’ Europe’s Jews: the forceful isolation and coercion of the survivors themselves, the sabotage of international safe havens and the kidnapping of Jewish orphans (pp.120-25). The New York Times described how the Jewish survivors had been made “helpless hostages, for whom [Israeli] statehood has been made the only ransom” (11).
Jewish children who had throughout Europe survived because they had been taken in by non-Jewish families and whose parents had died, were kidnapped in a ruthless campaign led by chief rabbi Yitzhak Herzog of Israel. In Herzog’s and Zionism’s racist eyes, being raised as a Christian was “much worse than physical murder”. At the same time they opposed in Britain the opening of Jewish adoptive homes because they were not in Palestine. A scheme to admit 1,000 Jewish children to Britain was agreed, but after 300 were admitted the Zionist leaders stopped it, forcing the children to remain in Europe until they could be forcibly transferred to Palestine. Throughout Europe the Zionist leaders and Herzog attempted to ‘rescue’ Jewish children, often from Jewish communities. Everywhere, as in the Netherlands, they met resistance from the existing Jewish communities.
It was the desire of most Jews – Suarez quotes 85% – to go to Britain or America. This desire would be repeated 30 years later, when the Zionists did their best to close off all avenues of escape, bar Israel, for the Russian Jews. Menachem Begin even went personally to the United States to lobby president Ronald Reagan about raising immigration barriers. Foreign minister David Levy did likewise when he lobbied the German government. Indeed, when the German government did introduce restrictions on the immigration of Soviet Jews, the Israeli authorities rushed to welcome the proposals, with Michael Jankelowitz of the Jewish Agency for Israel describing them as “positive”! (12).
The Zionist movement, which had done nothing to save Jews from the holocaust, left no stone unturned in its determination to exploit the survivors for their colonial project in Palestine. For most of the war the Jewish Agency (the Zionist government-in-waiting in Palestine) denied that there was a holocaust. Davar, the paper of the Labour Zionist Histadrut, stated in August 1942, when the Zionist movement received definite confirmation of the holocaust from its agent, Gerhard Riegner, in Geneva, that “it may be that the Nazi denial has a leg to stand on” (13).
Suarez describes how Ben Gurion told the Jewish Agency leaders on October 4 1942 that, although Hitler’s persecution of the Jews had made them suffer, at least he had revived “in assimilated Jews the feeling of Jewish nationalism … [which] we have exploited … in favour of Zionism” – whereas in the democratic countries Jewish nationalism was “slowly disappearing … because the democracies, in contrast to the dictator states, recognise the Jews as people having full rights of citizenship …” (p.77). That was why, in contrast to all other sections of the Jewish community, the Zionist reaction in 1933 had been to welcome the rise of the Nazis.
Up to November 1942 and the Battle of El Alamein, despite the threat to Jewish Palestine from the Nazis, the Jewish Agency was opposed to Jews joining the British army. As the war ended, the British agreed, in July 1944, to the formation of a separate Jewish Brigade. The New York Times criticised its establishment as a ploy to claim statehood. After the war, sections of the brigade worked in conjunction with Haganah in Europe to ensure that opposition to going to Palestine in the DP camps was repressed – they did not hesitate to use terror against those holocaust survivors who were opposed to the Zionists.
At the same time the Zionist movement in the United States – via its political accomplices, such as Congressman Sol Bloom (who had tried to delay the setting up of Roosevelt’s War Refugee Board in January 1944, which is credited with saving 200,000 Jews) – fought bitterly against any attempt to lower US immigration barriers. In a 1943 New York Times ad, the Irgun accepted that, although five million Jews were condemned to die, “America is not asked to open her doors to the uprooted Jewish millions”. That was the purpose of Palestine alone. The US intelligence report, ‘Latest aspects of the Palestine Zionist-Arab problem’, concluded on June 4 1943 that more Jews would have been rescued from Nazi-occupied Europe, “had they not complicated the question by always dragging Palestine into the picture” (p83). It also described “Zionism in Palestine” as “a type of nationalism which in any other country would be stigmatised as retrograde Nazism”.
The Zionist definition of anti-Semitism today includes “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” (14). Such a comparison is deemed “offensive”. However, this did not stop the Zionists repeatedly comparing the British occupation of Palestine to that of the Nazis (p.12).
One of the myths the book covers is the belief that when Israel declared its independence on May 15 1948, six Arab armies attacked at once. As Suarez shows, not only were these attacks ill-coordinated, but they were a direct response to the expulsion, by that time, of nearly 400,000 Palestinian refugees and the fact that the Zionists had ignored the UN partition lines and occupied much of the area of the proposed Palestinian state. Another Zionist myth that Suarez demolishes is the belief that the Zionists accepted partition, unlike the Arabs. Their ‘acceptance’ was but a tactic. As Ben Gurion wrote to his son, the only question was:Does the establishment of a Jewish state [in part of Palestine] advance or retard the conversion of this country into a Jewish country? My assumption … is that a Jewish state on only part of the land is not the end, but the beginning …’ (p.237).
And so it proved.
Perhaps more contentious is Suarez’s statement that in Israel the master race of settler colonials are distinguished by “blood descent, … not religion, cultural background or birthplace”. I would disagree in respect of the first of these categories: Israel does use religion to distinguish between the oppressed and oppressor. However, the definition of religion is itself based on blood descent: ie, being born of a Jewish mother. For the purposes of the Law of Return, which was amended in 1970 to allow for the influx of Soviet Jews, this definition has widened to include a Jewish grandparent. Even the spouse of a Jew is allowed to immigrate as a Jew, although they will not be recognised as Jewish by the rabbinate that controls all personal matters. In the event of divorce, both spouse and children can and do lose their protection.
Suarez cites Ben Gurion as saying that a Jewish state would be based not on the Jewish religion, but on being a “Jew”: ie, a racial definition. In fact race and religion have metamorphosed into each other, as it is the religious Zionists who form the bulk of the most racist settlers and nationalists (p.73). The Jewish religious authorities provide the legitimation for the Jewish state in a way similar to how the Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia help legitimise the rule of the House of Saud.
There are those – eg, the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty – who see the Zionist terror groups’ war against the British colonialists as some form of anti-imperialism. This is completely wrong. The war of the Zionist militias was no different from that of the Afrikaners against the British in the Boer War. Their differences with the British was that they wanted control of the state in order to better wage their war against the Palestinians. The British had outlived their usefulness and were now an obstacle to the Zionist plans for the transfer of the Arabs. In what way is that an anti-imperialist struggle?
The primary reason why the Zionist militias were able to wage a successful war against the British was because the British had armed and trained them in the first place. In order to destroy the Arab rebellion and general strike of 1936-39, the British allowed the Zionists to form the British Settlement Police. They turned a blind eye to Zionist stocks of weaponry and allowed committed Zionists to join the British police. The Zionist terror groups were Britain’s Frankenstein monster. When the British agreed to get out, the Zionists’ attention was turned to the Palestinians. Suarez suggests, citing Eisenhower, that the commonly agreed number of Palestinian refugees expelled – three quarters of a million – is an underestimate and that the figure is nearer 900,000 (p278).
Suarez describes what has been well documented by many other historians: namely how Israel was not content with ethnically cleansing the Palestinians, but also sought to do the same to the Jews of the Arab countries. In Iraq Zionist agents threw bombs into Jewish cafes and a synagogue. Zionism was not and never has been a movement of Jewish self-determination. In the case of the Arab Jews, Israel formed an alliance with the corrupt pro-British rulers of these countries such as Nuri e Said of Iraq. They reached an agreement that these rulers could keep the wealth of the Jews in exchange for the Jews themselves. When the Arab Jews came to Israel, they were humiliated and treated with contempt. In Iraq the oldest Jewish community in the world – a highly educated and rich community – was reduced to poverty and a bare existence in tent camps. Arab Jews were treated as little better than non-Jewish Arabs. They had an orientalist outlook and the state had to effectively reprogramme them. As soon as they got off the planes, they were sprayed with the pesticide DDT (pp, 284-85). Their children and babies were kidnapped for the benefit of white western Ashkenazi Jews and they were placed in development towns on the borders (15).
After becoming independent Israel waged a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing of Bedouin and Arab tribes from the Negev. Ben Gurion referred in 1950 to an Israel Defence Force battalion that was prone to raping and murdering Arab girls. Suarez mentions one particular incident, where a young Bedouin girl – estimated at between 10 and 15 – was captured. The man with her was gunned down and for the next three days she was systematically raped by three different squadrons of Israeli soldiers before a shallow grave was dug and she was executed (16).
In the 1950s Israel waged a war against “infiltrators”: Palestinian refugees who tried to return to their lands. Suarez describes in depth what can only be called death marches. One such forced march was that of Wadi Araba, when in June 1950 87 half-dead, naked men and boys turned up on the frontier of southern Jordan. They were the survivors of about 120 Arabs who had been pushed into the desert. They were the lucky ones. What Israel had done after its establishment under its labour Zionist rulers was carry out a systematic ethnic cleansing. Philip Toynbee, a supporter of Israel, published an article about this in The Observer at the time (17).
In May 1948 a concentration camp was established in Katra, near Rehovot, which was “run on Nazi lines”, as Alexander Kirkbride, Britain’s ambassador to Jordan, described it (p.292). A chance witness, a woman from a kibbutz, remarked: “Does this not remind us exactly of the Nazi acts towards the Jews?” Death marches and concentration camps. Zionism had learnt well.
Zionism was always a ruthless nationalist movement which sought exactly the same as the anti-Semites – the removal of Jews from the lands they lived. In the wake of the murder of four Jewish people in a kosher supermarket in 2015 prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu came to France in order to advocate the very thing that French anti-Semites dream about – the exodus of France’s Jews to Israel (18).
Suarez has documented, in extremely copious detail, the war of terror that the Zionists waged, both against the Arabs and British from the late 1930s up to the Suez War. How it used and exploited Jews in the diaspora as so much human material. It is not at all surprising that the Zionists have gone to such efforts to suppress this book.
5. Truth from Eretz Yisrael, Hamelitz (St Petersburg) June 19-30 1891 (Hebrew).
6. D. Ingram, Palestine papers 1917-1922, London, 1972, p.73.
7. See Purity of arms: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purity_of_arms.
8. See http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/rewriting-history-first-holocaust-now.html.
9. B Morris, The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem, 1947-1949 Cambridge 1988; and The birth of the Palestinian refugee problem revisited, Cambridge, 2004.
11. New York Times, October 27 1946.
13. N. Giladi, Ben Gurion’s scandals, New York, 2006, p.56.
14. International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition: http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/IHRA-definition.pdf.
15. See, for example, Time for Israel to admit: the Yemenite children were systematically kidnapped, Ha’aretz, July 31 2016: www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-.734537.
17. A tragic change of role, The Observer, June 11 1950.
This review first appeared at:- http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1166/what-zionists-want-suppressed/
For other articles by Tony Greenstein see:-
See 2, Redefining Anti-Semitism on:- http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/10/29/2-responses-to-the-home-affairs-committee-report-on-anti-semitism/
See 4. Don’t Apologise – Attack on:- http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/05/05/10350/