The Anti-Semitism of Zionism's Leaders: They Even Opposed Rescuing Jews During the Holocaust

by John Spritzler
February 6, 2005


First, let's see what Zionist leaders did to help Russian Jews who feared anti-Semitism in the early 1990's. The Israeli reporter, Bo'az Evron, writing in the April 4, 1991 Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, actually described Israel's policy toward Soviet Jews as, in his own words, "anti-Semitic":

"The new Jewish immigrants are, in fact, refugees fleeing a country fast falling apart ... Israeli and Zionist emissaries have left no stone unturned in prodding the nations of the world to deny entry to Jewish refugees, so as to force them to settle in Israel...But this means that the nations of the world, at Israel's prodding, have consciously embarked upon a policy of discrimination against the Jewish refugees. Incontestably, it is an anti-Semitic policy which in a different context could not fail to provoke outrage. Only because the gates have been locked, and [the Soviet Jews] have nowhere else to go, can we celebrate the 'immigration miracle.'

"If they were guided by the best interests of these Jews, the [Israeli] government and the Jewish Agency would seek to open all the doors in the world to everyone wishing to leave the USSR... But who cares about the best interests of these Jews? They concern Shamir and Sharon only insofar as they can populate the settlements, or serve as a pretext for grabbing more land in the West Bank, or become soldiers in future wars ...

"Here the great secret of Zionism in the past few generations stands revealed. Long ago, Zionism ceased its concern for what is good for the Jews. Quite the contrary, Zionism is interested in seeing to it that the Jews suffer, so that they will leave their homes and come to Israel. This is why each glimmer of anti-Semitism fills the hearts of Zionists with relief. Zionism needs Jews in order to boost the Jewish population and military strength of Israel, not for their own sake ... As human beings, they are of no concern to either the State of Israel or the Zionist Movement." [14]

Now let's step back to the period just after World War II when many Jews were in Displaced Persons [DP] camps in Europe trying to make a new life for themselves somewhere where they could be safe. Conditions in the camps were so bad that survival itself was in question. Malnutrition and disease were severe, while shelter and heating in the winter were extremely inadequate. Making matters even worse for Jews was the fact that anti-Semitic German police raided the camps more and more frequently as local government was transferred by the Allies to Germans.

As late as 1948 there were "between 100,000 and 114,000 displaced Jews in the American Zone of Germany. From among that group, more than 55,000 applications for emigration to the United States had been filed by the fall of 1947; and a majority of these people specified a preference of going anywhere but Palestine." About this time, Rabbi Klausner, a U.S. Army rabbi, gave a report about the Jews in the DP camps to "the Zionist-controlled American Jewish Conference" in which he stated:

"I am convinced that the people must be forced to go to Palestine...By 'force' I suggest a program...The first step in such a program...is the adoption of the principle that it is the conviction of the world Jewish community that these people must go to Palestine...Those who are not interested are no longer to be wards of the Jewish community to be maintained in camps, fed and clothed without their having to make any contribution to their own subsistence. To effect this program, it becomes necessary for the Jewish community at large to reverse its policy and instead of creating comforts for the Displaced Persons to make them as uncomfortable as possible." [15]

In 1948 the Zionist military force, the Haganah, tried to recruit Jewish DPs to go to Palestine and fight Arabs. At first they tried a voluntary recruitment drive, which was a failure, in part because "[T]he elevated tensions in the Arab-Jewish conflict increased doubts about 'aliyah [immigration to Palestine], and as a result, more camp dwellers distanced themselves from the Zionist movement, and became reluctant to be drafted or immigrate to Palestine." Yehuda Ben-David, the Haganah deputy commander in Germany, reported back to his superiors that "the Jews of the camps" were, themselves, the problem:  "Their acquaintance with Zionist values is limited and superficial." In Austria, the Zionist Gordonia-Young Maccabean youth movement was charged with recruiting  for the Haganah and they reported, "the mobilization operation among camp Jews is unsuccessful...There are some volunteers among the Romanian refugees...but for Polish Jews there is hardly any hope. The corruption of these Jews is so great that they are totally uninterested in the people's campaign [in Palestine]. Recently, the JDC [American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee] began registering people who would like to go to America, and hundreds of camp Jews have registered." [16]

Next, the Haganah switched to a compulsory draft, which they were able to do because they had the backing of the Americans running the camps. In an operation that was "approved by Ben-Gurion" each camp's governing body  (known by their Yiddish name as the Zentral Komitet ) "used all the power it had: Employees were fired, residents were evicted from their apartments, others were fined or denied the supplementary food rations that the JDC was distributing to all camp Jews; others were simply beaten up...Violent incidents were numerous. The archives are replete with hundreds of official documents describing brutal methods and actions carried out in an identical manner in a large number of camps in Germany and Austria, taking place mostly between March and August 1948...The archives also contain testimony about 'waves of Zionist harassment' in the camps..." The compulsory conscription was a success, because in the conflict between the Zionists and "thousands of Displaced Persons who make immigration plans to target countries other than Palestine" there "could only be one winner -- the side capable of using institutional violence."  [17]

The Yiddish Bulletin on May 19, 1950 wrote:

"By pressing for an exodus of Jews from Europe; by insisting that Jewish D.P.s do not wish to go to any country outside of Israel; by not participating in the negotiations on behalf of the D.P.'s; and by refraining from a campaign of their own -- by all this they [the Zionists] certainly did not help to open the gates of America for Jews. In fact, they sacrificed the interests of living people -- their brothers and sisters who went through a world of pain -- to the politics of their own movement." [18]


Zionist Leaders Opposed Rescuing European Jews During the Holocaust

Lastly, let us see what the Zionist leadership did to rescue Jews during the actual years of the Holocaust.

On December 11, 1943, the Jewish Forward, largest Yiddish newspaper in the world, criticized the Zionist leaders, writing,

"The Jewish Conference [a Zionist organization] is alive only when there is something in the air which has to do with a Commonwealth in Palestine, and it is asleep when it concerns rescue work for the Jews in the Diaspora." [19]

Baruch Kimmerling, in his review of Yosef Grodzinsky's In the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Struggle Between Jews and Zionists in the Aftermath of World War II, writes:

"Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders vetoed the immigration of 1,000 orphans, who were in physical and emotional danger as a result of the harsh winter of 1945, from the camps in Germany to England, where the Jewish community had managed to secure them permits. Another group of roughly 500 children of camp inhabitants was barred, after Zionist intervention, from reaching France, whose rabbinical institutions had offered them safe haven." [20]

The head of the World Zionist Organization's Zionist Rescue Committee in Budapest during the war, Rudolf Kastner, later a prominent member of Israel's government under Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, collaborated with the Nazis. In the years 1944-45, Kastner was made a V.I.P. by the Nazis and not required to wear a yellow Star of David because, in exchange for being allowed to hand pick 1600 prominent Jews, including his own relatives and friends, to emigrate to Palestine, he helped Adolf Eichmann lure a half million Hungarian and Transylvanian Jews to their death without a fight by arranging for phony postcards "from other Jews" to convince them that the trains to the death camps were merely taking them to be "resettled." The betrayal was especially horrible because Eichmann only had "150 men and only a few thousand Hungarian soldiers at his disposal" and the Jews, had they known the truth, could have easily carried out a mass escape to territory that the Nazis did not occupy. These facts came out in a famous 1954 Israeli libel trial in which Kastner initially thought he could silence his accuser but, as the trial developed and witness after witness came forward to confirm the accusations, he began to shift his defense to the claim that he had only done what all top Zionist leaders of the time advocated. At this point Kastner was "conveniently" assassinated by persons unknown. [21]

Zionist sabotage of rescue efforts was an established policy as early as 1942. In a letter to the Times (of London), June 6, 1961, Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld, Chairman of the wartime Rescue Committee established by the Chief Rabbi of Britain, describes how the Zionist leadership in Great Britain opposed efforts to rescue European Jews from the Holocaust. He writes that, contrary to the claims that the British government was "largely indifferent to and unwilling to take action in defense of the European Jews who were being massacred daily by the Nazis in spite of efforts by Zionist leaders to persuade the British Foreign Office to rouse itself into action on behalf of the victims...My experience in 1942-43 was wholly in favour of British readiness to help, openly, constructively and totally, and that this readiness met with opposition from Zionist leaders who insisted on rescue to Palestine as the only acceptable form of help." Rabbi Schonfeld goes on to describe how, in December, 1942, he and others formed a Council for Rescue from the Nazi Terror which initiated a Parliamentary Rescue Committee supported by leading members of both Houses, and how they submitted a motion to Parliament calling for the government "to declare its readiness to find temporary refuge in its own territories or in territories under its control for endangered persons who are able to leave those countries; to appeal to the governments of countries bordering on enemy and enemy-occupied countries to allow temporary asylum and transit facilities for such persons; to offer to those governments, so far as practicable, such help as may be needed to facilitate their cooperation; and to invite the other Allied governments to consider similar action." But this is what happened, according to the rabbi's letter:

"As a result of widespread concern and the persistence of a few, this motion achieved within two weeks a total of 277 Parliamentary signatures of all parties. This purely humanitarian proposal met with sympathy from government circles, and I should add that H.M.Government did, in fact, issue some hundreds of Mauritius and other immigration permits -- indeed, in favour of any threatened Jewish family whom we could name. Already while the Parliamentary motion was gathering momentum, voices of dissent were heard from Zionist quarters: 'Why not Palestine?' The obvious answers that the most urgent concern was humanitarian and not political, that the Mufti-Nazi alliance ruled out Palestine for the immediate saving of lives and that Britain could not then add to her Middle East problems, were of no avail.

"At the Parliamentary meeting held on January 27, 1943, when the next steps were being energetically pursued by over 100 M.P.s and Lords, a spokesman for the Zionists announced that the Jews would oppose the motion on the grounds of its omitting to refer to Palestine. Some voices were raised in support of the Zionist view, there was considerable debate, and thereafter the motion was dead. Even the promoters exclaimed in desperation: If the Jews cannot agree among themselves, how can we help? It was useless to argue with a then current Zionist argument: 'Every nation has had its dead in the fight for its homeland -- the sufferers under Hitler are our dead in our fight'."

Why did  Zionist leaders sabotage rescue efforts? The answer is spelled out very clearly in a dramatic letter. In the autumn of 1942 Nathan Schwalb (Dror) was representative of the Zionist He-Halutz (The Pioneer) organization in Geneva. At this time a Jewish rescue Working Group in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, was sending desperate appeals to He-Halutz for money to bribe senior Nazi officials to delay or prevent the transport of Czechoslovakian Jewry to Auschwitz and other death camps. Schwalb replied, in his letter to the rescue group, as follows:

"Since we have the opportunity of this courier, we are writing to the group that they must always remember that matter which is the most important, which is the main issue that must always be before our eyes. After all, the allies will be victorious. After the victory, they will once again divide up the world between the nations as they did at the end of first war. Then they opened the way for us for the first step [the British Balfour Declaration of 1917 supporting a Jewish homeland in Palestine -- JS] and now, as the war ends, we must do everything so that Eretz Yisroel [the Land of Israel -- JS] should become a Jewish state. Important steps have already been taken in this matter. As to the cry that comes from your country, we must be aware that all the nations of the Allies are spilling much blood and if we do not bring sacrifices, with what will we achieve the right to sit at the table when they make the distribution of nations and territories after the war? And so it would be foolish and impertinent on our side to ask the nations whose blood is being spilled for permission to send money into the land of their enemies in order to protect our own blood. Because 'rak b'dam tihyu lanu haaretz' ('only through blood will the land be ours'). As to yourselves -- members of the group -- 'atem taylu' ('you will get out'), and for this purpose we are providing you with funds by this courier." [22]

One might dismiss this cruel letter from Nathan Schwalb as an aberration, unrepresentative of the Zionist leadership at higher levels. But it turns out that Schwalb was acting in accordance with the views of his superiors in the Zionist movement. In his book, In Days of Holocaust and Destruction, Yitzchak Greenbaum, Chairman of the (Zionist) Jewish Agency's Rescue Committee in Jerusalem, wrote, "when they asked me, couldn't you give money out of the United Jewish Appeal funds for the rescue of Jews in Europe, I said, 'NO!' and I say again, 'NO!'...one should resist this wave which pushes the Zionist activities to secondary importance." In February, 1943, Greenbaum gave a speech in Tel Aviv on the subject, "The Diaspora and the Redemption" in which he said:

"When they come to us with two plans -- the rescue of the masses of Jews in Europe or the redemption of the land [settling Jews in Palestine -- JS] -- I vote, without a second thought, for the redemption of the land...If there would be a possibility today of buying packages of food with the money of the Keren Hayesod (United Jewish Appeal) to send it through Lisbon, would we do such a thing? No! and once again No!" [23]

Zionism's hostility to Jews trying to survive anywhere other than Palestine goes back at least to 1938 when, at a meeting of Labor Zionists in Great Britain, David Ben-Gurion, argued: "If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Israel, then I opt for the second alternative. For we must take into account not only the lives of these children but also the history of the people of Israel." [26] These are the words of a fanatic, obsessed with the dream of becoming a ruler of a "state of his own" no matter how many innocent Jewish lives must be sacrificed for that end. One might dismiss Ben-Gurion's words about Jewish children as merely rhetoric unconnected to real-life decisions, but as we have seen, it turns out that Zionist leaders during the Holocaust did indeed act in accordance with Ben-Gurion's insistence that Jewish lives -- hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives -- are less important than achieving a Jewish state.  Zionist leaders sabotaged efforts to rescue Jews in Europe during the Holocaust because they felt that the rescue of Jews threatened their goal of becoming masters of a "state of their own."

Every ethnic/racial group contains individuals who aspire to be part of an elite ruling class, enjoying great privileges and power over "their own people." The Zionist movement enabled people like David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meier, Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, among others, to rise in the world and become elite rulers of a state which now possesses nuclear weapons and one of the most powerful armies in the world. To achieve this end, Zionist leaders have sacrificed the welfare of ordinary Jews at every opportunity. They point to anti-Semitism (or what they speciously label as anti-Semitism) in order to justify a Zionist project which has nothing to do with helping ordinary Jews achieve a safe and secure and happy life free from real anti-Semitic attacks.

For some people, the motives for backing the Zionist project are purely dishonorable and elitist ones.

Consider what happened in Israel in 1997. From December 3rd through 7th, 700,000 Israeli workers mounted a general strike against the government. The country was paralyzed, with airports, seaports, banks, government offices, state-owned industries and the national stock exchange effectively shut down. After the first day of the strike, the nation's teachers joined in the walk-out and the national journalists' association declared their support for the strike. The strike was a response to indications that the Treasury was attempting to violate wage and pension agreements signed in 1995 and 1996. Israeli workers were also protesting government privatization plans which would entail large-scale lay-offs. Opposed to the strike were not only the Manufacturers Association, the Israeli Merchants Association, the Banks Association and the national religious party, but also high-ranking Israeli government officials, like Finance Minister Yaakov Neeman, who called the workers "exploding bombs," alluding to Arab suicide bombers, and compared them to "enemies from outside." From the point of view of people like the Zionist Finance Minister, it is hard enough to control ordinary Jews when they look to the Israeli government to protect them from Arabs viewed as an anti-Semitic enemy; it would be nearly impossible to control them if they looked upon fellow working class Arabs as their equals and friends in a struggle against the likes of Finance Minister Yaakov Neeman! For the Israeli Zionist elite, the virtue of the Zionist framework is that it makes Israeli Jews easier to control. Whether or not it is, properly speaking, "anti-Semitism" to want to control and exploit Jews, the fact remains that it is a despicable motive no better than anti-Semitism.

By the same token, elite Arab rulers and want-to-be rulers -- be they dictators, kings, President's-for-Life or ayatollahs  -- can control "their own" people more easily if fear and hatred of Jews deflects anger away from the Arab elites directly responsible for harsh inequality and exploitation of working class Arabs. No doubt this tacit awareness, by Arab as well as Jewish leaders, of the benefits of Zionism and its "chief export, anti-Semitism" (as one Israeli critic of the government put it), goes a long way towards explaining why these leaders "fail" to negotiate a just resolution of the Israel/Palestine conflict despite "trying" to do so for going on five decades now. Furthermore, the fact that only very anti-democratic Arab regimes can be relied upon by the United States to keep oil wealth out of the hands of the Arab masses, and the fact that these regimes can control their people more easily if Israel provokes Arab anger, goes a long way towards explaining why the U.S. government gives virtually unconditional support to Israel, no matter how outrageously Israel provokes Arab hatred.

To the extent that anti-Semitism and any other kind of bigotry is a reality in the world, the solution is to defeat its proponents by strengthening those forces in the world who are trying to shape society with the opposite values -- equality, commitment to one another regardless of race or ethnicity, and democracy. For real anti-Semites, a Jewish state based on denying non-Jews their human rights is nothing short of a gift.


14. cited by Israel Shahak, Washington Report, August/September 1991, Page 23

15. Lilienthal, p. 148 [Alfred M. Lilienthal, What Price Israel?, 50th Anniversary edition, 2003]

16. Grodzinsky,  pp. 193-4 [Yosef Grodzinsky, In the Shadow of the Holocaust The Struggle Between Jews and Zionists in the Aftermath of World War II, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine, 2004]

17. Grodzinsky, pp. 199-200

18. cited by Lilienthal, p. 29

19. cited by Lilienthal,  p. 148

20. The Nation, January 10/17, 2005

21. Baruch Kimmerling, review of In the Shadow of the Holocaust: The Struggle Between Jews and Zionists in the Aftermath of World War II, by Yosef Grodzinsky, in The Nation, January 10/17, 2005. and Ben Hecht, Perfidy, Milah Press (Jerusalem, New London); ISBN: 0964688638; (April 1997)

22. http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/onlinebooks/Holocaust_Victims_Accuse.pdf pp. 26-8 and also Uri Davis, Apartheid Israel, Zed Books, New York, 2003, pp. 14-15

23. http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/onlinebooks/Holocaust_Victims_Accuse.pdf  pp. 26



Other articles  by John Spritzler

John Spritzler is the author of The People As Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda In World War II, and a Research Scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health.


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