Friday, 1 August 2014

Hard Talk Interviews Ilan Pappe

Stephen Sachur's Zionist Cliches Cut No Ice

Stephen Sachur throws every cliché (‘Israel the only democracy in the Middle East') at Israel’s foremost historian of the 1948 expulsion of the Palestinians, Ilan Pappe. Sachur’s argument that Pappe’s family, which obtained refuge in Palestine after fleeing Nazi Germany demonstrates the necessity of Zionism, was not only cheap but historically illiterate.

The Zionist movement, personified by Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, vehemently opposed ‘refugeeism’ i.e. the rescue of Jews to any place but Palestine. In Palestine, the British, who had favoured the Zionist movement without question up to and including the Arab revolt of 1936-9, realised that with war against Germany looming they could not continue to allow the uncontrolled immigration of Zionist settlers. Instead they set an annual limit of 15,000 for 1939 and the next 5 years.  

The Zionist policy on ‘refugeeism’ meant that in all of the Western countries, the Zionist movement opposed the entry of Jewish refugees and opposed the lowering of the immigration barriers. It was summed up in a shocking quote by Ben-Gurion when he stated that:
‘If I knew that it was possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children – but also the history of People of Israel.’
This quote is to be found in numerous books, not least the authorised biography of Ben-Gurion by Shabtai Teveth (‘The Burning Ground: 1886-1948, p.855). Teveth who is more a hagiographer than a biographer was visibly shocked by the evidence of Ben-Gurion’s indifference to the holocaust. An attitude reflected in the entire Jewish Agency Executive. 

In a chapter on Ben-Gurion and the holocaust, headed ‘Disaster Means Strength’ i.e. the European catastrophe of extermination of European Jewry  meant the increase in strength of the Zionist movement, Teveth wrote that:
If there was a line in Ben-Gurion’s mind between the beneficial disaster and an all-destroying catastrophe, it must have been a very fine one.’  
Not only did the Zionist movement oppose ‘refugeeism’ but they tried to persuade the Gestapo, which was responsible for implementing the anti-Semitic policies of the Nazi regime, to ensure that German refugees only went to Palestine. So well did the Zionists and the Nazis get on that Heydrich, head of the Nazi and State Police (RSHA) [the ‘“real engineer of the final solution” according to Gerald Reitlinger in his magnificent opus The Final Solution] who was assassinated by the Czech partisans in 1942, gave orders for the suppression of the activities of the non-Zionists (the vast majority of German Jews) and to give assistance to the Zionists. According to Francis Nicosia, an academic apologist for Zionist-Nazi collaboration, The Gestapo “did everything in those days to promote emigration, particularly to Palestine.” The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, p.57.
It is not an area where Ilan Pappe is a specialist and there is no reason  why he should know, but the record of the Zionist movement’s collaboration with the Nazis was partly detailed in the 1953-8 Kasztner trial in Israel when survivors of the holocaust accused the leadership of Hungarian Zionism of having betrayed them. The verdict that Kasztner, a senior official in Mapai (Labour) had collaborated with the Nazis led to the fall of Israel’s second Prime Minister, Moshe Sharrett.
But judge for yourself!

Tony Greenstein

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