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Monday, 19 October 2009

Abbas, Oslo and the Ha'avarah Transfer Agreement between Nazi Germany and the Zionist Organisation

I know that most Palestinians are horrified by the behaviour of Abbas and his cronies in withdrawing a critical motion of support for the Goldstone Report from the UN’s Human Rights Committee. However Palestinians should not think there is anything exceptional in Abbas’s behaviour. Indeed he is merely following in the footsteps of his Zionist friends.

In 1933, when Hitler came to power the reaction from Jews and non-Jews worldwide was instantaneous. It was to boycott Nazi Germany in all its manifestations. When Hitler and Goebbels planned the Boycott of Jewish shops on April 1st 1933, they had intended it to be a permanent boycott. It lasted less than a day. Why? Because of the world-wide anti-Nazi boycott.

In the United States, which was the centre of the Boycott, it is estimated that in the fur industry alone, Germany lost $100 million worth of trade in 1933. [61] Even the Roman Catholic Bishop of Liverpool, hardly a radical figure, called on fellow Catholics to join the Boycott. But as one prominent Jewish leader admitted to the trade union daily, The Daily Herald: ‘The [Jewish] leaders are hanging back,’ but the Jewish people are ‘forcing its leaders on’.

Already the boycott had damaged ‘hundreds of thousand of pounds’ worth of German trade.’ [34] Trade unionists lined up to support the Boycott, knowing full well that their fellow trade unionists in Germany were at that very minute being arrested and thrown into Dachau.

The Nazis were furious. German Jewish leaders were summoned on March 25 to a meeting with Goering and told in no uncertain terms to go to London and New York to campaign against Boycott and to have a mammoth meeting at Madison Square Gardens on March 27th 1933 cancelled. The Boycott was seriously worrying to a Germany dependent on the export trade to provide it with the hard currency necessary to re-arm and re-equip.

But the Mahmoud Abbases of the day, who went by the name of the Zionist Organisation and Mapai [Israeli Labour Party], had other ideas. They saw the main problem as being not the danger to German Jews from the Nazis, but the assets of the German Jewish community:

‘The attitude of Histadrut officials was typical of Mapai leadership and
their allies, who saw the wealth of German Jews as the most precious hostage
held by the Third Reich.’
[258]
Whereas the vast majority of Jews supported a Boycott of Nazi Germany wholeheartedly, the Zionists saw Boycott as an opportunity to get rich quickly. So the Zionists came up with Ha'avarah, the Transfer agreement, which allowed them to get their hands on over $100m of the wealth of German Jewry.

Jews couldn’t take their wealth out of Germany, not least because Germany was desperately short of foreign exchange. Instead the assets of prospective emigrants were liquidated and deposited in a clearing house, Paltreu, in Germany, controlled by the Zionist Federation of Germany (ZVfD). These frozen assets were known as Sperrmarks. In Palestine the Anglo-Palestine Bank (now Bank Leumi), wholly controlled by the Zionist Organisation, set up another clearing house, Haavarah Ltd.

The mechanism was simple. Emigrants would be given the equivalent of £1,000 in foreign exchange, allowing them to emigrate without restrictions to Palestine. Once there Haavarah Ltd. would order machinery, tools etc. from Germany, thus enlarging Germany’s exports, and the German industrialists would be paid in Sperrmarks from the frozen account. In Palestine payment for the machinery etc. would go to Havarah Ltd., and the emigrants would receive a portion, (about 15%) after various 'deductions' to the emigrant.

Thus, at the very time when there was an economic boycott of Germany, whose aim was to prevent attacks on German Jews and hopefully oust the Hitler regime, Palestine was swamped with German goods!! Unsurprisingly this dealt a death blow to the Boycott. As Hannah Arendt noted:

‘The result of which was that when American. Jewry took great pains to organise
a boycott of German..
merchandise, Palestine of all places was swamped with all
kinds of goods 'Made in Germany'.
[Eichmann in Jerusalem, p.60]
It is estimated that 60% of capital investment in the Yishuv, Jewish Palestine, between 1933 and 1939 came from Nazi Germany.

But to Zionism what mattered was the Jewish state not the Jewish people. As David Senator, an Executive Member of the Jewish Agency explained Zionists ‘could at least "help Germany… avoid the almost certain rupture of commercial relations.’ [254] Whole new industries – Publishing, Brewing, Steel – were established in Palestine through the transfer en bloc of German machinery. [257]

An equally appalling example of collaboration – literally Jews for Goods to echo the infamous Himmler ‘offer’ of Blood for Trucks in April 1944 – was the barter deal with Nazi Germany whereby Germany took 10m RM of Jaffa oranges and the Zionist economy in Palestine took 20m RM of German goods in exchange. As Edwin Black wrote:

Boycotters were trying to make Germany starve that winter. They could not believe that Palestine would stymie this effort so near success with a food barter for a cashless Reich.’ [319]
Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, a militant Zionist and later President of the American Zionist Federation (who later changed his tune) told the Jewish Telegraph Agency that ‘If the reports of those two deals are correct… then every Jew who goes to Palestine becomes an importer of German goods into Palestine, and this at a time when we deny Jewry… of the world the right to trade with Germany.’

Silver went on:

‘Why, the very idea of Palestinian Jewry negotiating with Hitler about business instead of demanding justice for the persecuted Jews of Germany is unthinkable. One might think that the whole affair was a bankruptchy sale and that the Jews of Palestine were endeavouring to salvage a few bargains for themselves…’ [321]

[All quotes are from Edwin Black’s ‘The Transfer Agreement – The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich & Jewish Palestine.’ Brookline Books, 1999; unless otherwise stated]. Black is himself a fervent Zionist it should be noted.

So what Abbas has done is not unremarkable. On the contrary, he has faithfully followed the lead that the Zionists have given him. He too places commercial ties and business links before the needs of his own people.
The real question, for Palestine solidarity activists in Britain is, will Palestine Solidarity Campaign now be prepared to openly criticise the quisling regime in Ramallah, whose very existence depends on the support of Israel and the United States?
 
Below is an excellent article by Ramzy Baroud on Abbas’s ‘mistake’ in withdrawing the Palestinian Authority’s motion on Goldstone. He shows quite clearly, as we have, that this was no mistake but the product of PA support for Israel’s invasion. When the whole world was condemning Israel, the PA was condemning Hamas. At no time have the PA called on Egypt to lift its own blockade of Gaza, without which the Israeli blockade would be useless.

Tony Greenstein
 
Abbas and the Goldstone Report: Our Shame is Complete
October 16, 2009, by Ramzy Baroud

As Israeli bombs fell on the Gaza Strip during its one-sided war between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009, millions around the world took to the streets in complete and uncompromising outrage. The level of barbarity in that war, especially as it was conducted against a poor, defenseless and physically trapped nation, united people of every color, race and religion. But among those who seemed utterly unmoved, unreservedly cold were some Palestinian officials in the West Bank.

Mahmoud Habbash, the PA Minister of Social Affairs is but one of those individuals. His appearances on Aljazeera, during those fateful days were many. On one half of the screen would be screaming, disfigured children, mutilated women, and search parties digging in the dark for dead bodies, at times entire families. On the other, was Habbash, spewing political insults at his Hamas rivals in Gaza, repeating the same message so tirelessly parroted by his Israeli colleagues. Every time his face appeared on the screen, I cringed. Every unruly shriek of his, reinforced my sense of shame. Shame, perhaps, but never confusion. Those who understand how the Oslo agreement of September 1993 morphed into a culture that destroyed the very fabric of Palestinian society can fully appreciate the behavior of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank during the Gaza war, before it and today.

But especially today.

Those who hoped that the Israeli atrocities in Gaza would rekindled a sense of remorse among the egotistical elites in Ramallah, were surely disappointed when the PA withdrew its draft resolution supporting recommendations made by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. The Goldstone report is the most comprehensive, and transparent investigation as of yet into what happened in Gaza during the 23-day war. It decried Israeli terror, and chastised Palestinians as well. But the focus on Israel undoubtedly and deservingly occupied much of the nearly 600-page report. The next step was for the Human Rights Council to send the report for consideration to the United Nations Security Council, which was to study the findings for a possible referral of the case to the International Criminal Court e in the Hague. Such a move would have been historic. Knowing the full implications of such a possibility, Hamas accepted the report's recommendations in full. Israel, backed by its traditional US ally, rejected it, leveling all sorts of accusations and insults on the world-renowned Jewish judge.

The draft resolution - condemning Israel and calling for the transfer of the report to the UNSC - was due for a vote at the Council on October 2. Alas, it was withdrawn at the behest of the Palestinian Authority and its president Mahmoud Abbas himself. Palestinian friends and allies at UNHRC were shocked, but obliged. They were equally disappointed when they watched PA envoys discussing the matter, not with the Asian, African or other traditional allies at the Council, but with US and European diplomats, who seemed to have a greater sway over Palestinian political action than those who have for decades supported Palestinian rights at every turn.

Something went horribly wrong. How could a leader of an occupied and suffering nation commit such a 'mistake', deferring an urgent vote and discussion on a report pertaining to the death of over 1,400 people, the maiming and wounding of thousands more, to a later date, six months from today?

Theories flared. Israeli and other media argued that US pressure on PA president Mahmoud Abbas was the main reason behind the supposedly unanticipated move. A positive vote on the resolution would jeopardize the 'peace process', therefore any action must be stifled for the sake of giving the 'peace process' a chance, was the rationale.

Amira Hass of Haaretz opined, "The chronic submissiveness is always explained by a desire to 'make progress.' But for the PLO and Fatah, progress is the very continued existence of the Palestinian Authority, which is now functioning more than ever before as a subcontractor for the IDF, the Shin Bet security service and the Civil Administration."

Jonathan Cook, however, offered another view: "Israel warned it would renege on a commitment to allot radio frequencies to allow Wataniya, a mobile phone provider, to begin operations this month in the West Bank. The telecommunications industry is the bedrock of the Palestinian economy, with the current monopoly company, PalTel, accounting for half the worth of the Palestinian stock exchange."

"No blood for mobile phones," should perhaps be the new chant in Palestine. But it's that sad fact that held the Palestinian will hostage for too many years. However, it's not just mobile companies whose interests triumph over Gaza's agony. Indeed, the post-Oslo culture has espoused a class of contractors. These are businessmen who are either high-ranking officials in the PA and the Fatah party, or both, or closely affiliated with them. Much of the billions of dollars of international aid that poured into Palestine following the signing of Oslo found its way into private bank accounts. Wealth generated more wealth and "export and import" companies sprung up like poison ivy amidst the poor dwelling of refugees throughout the occupied territories. The class of businessmen, still posing as revolutionaries, encroached over every aspect of Palestinian society, used it, controlled it, and eventually suffocated it. It espoused untold corruption, and, naturally, found an ally in Israel, whose reign in the occupied territories never ceased.

The PA became submissive not out of fear of Israeli wrath per se, but out of fear that such wrath would disrupt business, the flow of aid thus contracts. And since corruption is not confined by geographical borders, PA officials abroad took Palestinian shame to international levels. Millions marched in the US, in Europe, in Asia, South America and the rest of the world, chanting for Gaza and its victims, while some PA ambassadors failed to even turn out to participate. When some of these diplomats made it to public forums, it was for the very purpose of brazenly attacking fellow Palestinians in Hamas, not to garner international solidarity with their own people.

Readily blaming 'American pressure' to explain Abbas' decision at the UNHRC no longer suffices. Even the call on the 74-year-old Palestinian leader to quit is equally hollow. Abbas represents a culture, and that culture is self-seeking, self-serving and utterly corrupt. If Abbas exits, and considering his age, he soon will, Mohammed Dahlan could be the next leader, or even Mahmoud Habbash, who called on Gaza to rebel against Hamas as Israel was blowing up Palestinian homes and schools left and right.

Palestinians who are now calling for change following the UN episode, must consider the Oslo culture in its entirety, its 'revolutionary' millionaires, its elites and contractors. A practical alternative to those corrupt must be quickly devised. The Israeli wall is encroaching on Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank, and a new war might be awaiting besieged Gaza. Time is running out, and our collective shame is nearly complete.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, "The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle" (Pluto Press, London), and his forthcoming book is, "My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story" (Pluto Press, London), now available for pre-orders on Amazon.com.

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