ZIONIST BETRAYAL OF JEWS
From Herzl to Netanyahu
By Stanley Heller
Available through the Middle East Crisis Committee, $10.
Jewish Palestine solidarity activist Stanley Heller’s dynamite short book documents Zionism’s betrayal of Jewish morality exposing as it does initial shameful deals with Nazi Germany up to current relations with anti-Semites and neofascists in Trump’s America.
“Zionist Betrayal of Jews: From Herzl to Netanyahu” is especially timely coming out as it did on the eve of Netanyahu’s indictment for fraud and corruption. As Heller shows convincingly, despite its self-promotion, Israel is not the moral legatee of the victims of the Holocaust, much less of the prophets of the Hebrew people. The history of Zionism is a sordid one. By stripping it of its moral authority it will help all of us fighting for the human rights of Palestinians against Zionism‘s ongoing genocide.
Israel is the product of a colonial settler ideology that has its roots in the racist imperialist practices of the European powers in the 19th century. Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, was a great admirer of Cecil Rhodes, the British colonizer of Africa. After the horrific 1903 Kishinev pogrom Herzl had the gall to meet with its instigator, Russian Interior Minister Vyacheslav von Plehve. They came to an understanding. Von Plehve wanted to get rid of Jews and Herzl wanted the Jews to go to Palestine. This set a pattern and practice valid to this very day.
The book points out that many western Jews including the banker Jacob Schiff were seeking to sanction and punish Czarist Russia for its treatment of Jews.
The Czar never relented and the outrages against Jews continued, but Schiff never backed down. He started the American Jewish Committee and, even though more and more Russian Jews were killed, Schiff didn’t call off the boycott. As [author Edwin] Black puts it “the Committee held that the anti-Semitic outrages of one regime could spread infectiously if not quarantined.”
Heller writes about members of the Zionist movement who undercut Jewish resistance to the Nazis as early as 1933. At the time there were large mobilizations against Nazism in the United States. The World Zionist Organization sabotaged world Jewry’s promising and nearly successful attempt to boycott and severely damage the Nazi economy. These Zionists made a deal with the Nazi regime whereby the Zionists purchased goods from Germany and sold them in Palestine in return for Germany allowing their Jews to meet capital requirements to enter British Palestine. Heller quotes pro-Zionist writer Edwin Black as writing the effect was to “pierce a stake through the heart of the Jewish-led anti-Nazi boycott.”
He writes about Israeli historian Tom Segev’s conclusion that the Zionist leadership in Palestine was “less than compassionate” in its attempts to assist Jews in Europe during the Holocaust and of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s broken-hearted feelings upon learning about this. Heller includes some quotes from David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, that are truly shocking. For instance, Ben-Gurion told a meeting of “left“ Zionists in 1938 in England: “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 would opt for the second alternative.”
At the same time, Heller is emphatic that the claims that Zionists aided Nazi extermination efforts are antisemitic:
There is an idiotic and Jewish-hating claim that goes round in modern neo-Nazi circles that the Zionists or “the Jews” actively participated in the Holocaust, actually killing Jews so that the world would be manipulated into creating Israel. This moronic nonsense is utterly false. Even the most stupid Zionists (the Stern Gang) took no part in any such “plot”.
In the 1980’s the American Jewish Commission on the Holocaust, made up of the leaders of the Jewish community, rejected the draft of an analysis written by its staff, because they thought it was too critical of the Jewish leadership. The New York Times reported in January 1983 that “In retrospect, one incontrovertible fact stands out above all others: in the face of Hitler’s total war against the Jews of Europe, The Jewish leadership in America at no stage decided to proclaim total mobilization for rescue.“ It said that the Zionist “exclusive concentration on Palestine as a solution” made them unable to work for any other alternative.
After the war and the establishment of Israel in 1948 its leaders developed good relations with rightist governments across the globe, even selling arms to the dictatorships in Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina, which had a particularly vicious anti-Semitic dictatorship in the 1970s.
In 2019 Israel’s relation to right wing nationalist racist dictators has not changed. Netanyahu is particularly close with the Hungarian president Victor Orban, who calls himself an “illiberal“. Orban glorifies Admiral Miklos Horthy, the Hungarian head of state in the 1940s, who was responsible for thousands of Jewish deaths. Trump has opened the door to all kinds of hatred. He hired Steve Bannon as his campaign manager and subsequent presidential adviser. Bannon had transformed the Breitbart network into a platform for racism and was “masterful at publishing articles filled with coded anti-Semitism.“ Trump also hired Sebastian Gorka as his counterterrorism advisor. Gorka wore a pro- Nazi medal to Trump’s inauguration. Weeks later the Zionist Organization of America honored Bannon at its annual gala.
Heller shows that Trump and some rightwing Israelis fostered the antisemitic portrayal of George Soros as a controlling mastermind.
The Soros-monster theme soon spread to Italy, Poland, to the Trump campaign (his closing ad in his 2016 presidential race featured Soros and other Jewish enemies) and worldwide. Netanyahu hates Soros for being a liberal, but Orban knew how to make the hate more effective. He used dog whistles to remind Hungarians that Soros was a Jew. In [a] Buzzfield article Hannes Grassegger… writes, “If you search today for Soros, you will immediately find images of his head with octopus tentacles, another classic anti-Semitic motif. Even Netanyahu’s son Yair posted an anti-Semitic meme in 2017 showing Soros and reptilians controlling the world.
This hasn’t bothered Netanyahu one bit.
Netanyahu also has done little to deplore the growth of white nationalist antisemitism in the United States, or Trump’s encouragement of it:
Netanyahu was mostly silent about Charlottesville and Trump’s statements. Netanyahu didn’t make a speech about the incident. He issued one tweet, “Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred.” He said nothing about Trump’s “very fine people” statement. His caution was noted by the Israeli press and the New York Times.
In 2018 when Trump moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as Netanyahu and his right wing Likud party wanted, the benediction at the dedication was given by Reverend John Hagee, a “Christian Zionist.” Hagee believes that when the “End Times” comes the Jews will all be gathered in Israel and Jesus will return to the earth. The Jews would then either convert to Christianity or go to hell. Heller observed that “ Whatever consequence Christian Zionists and their alliance with the Republican Party may have for American Jews is evidently not Netanyahu’s problem.” Netanyahu defends Trump, sacrificing larger Jewish interests to the Israeli government.
But things are changing in America. In the last 10 years the Jewish community has begun to realize this saying that the Zionists don’t speak for us.
Stanley Heller concludes with this thought: “Zionism has been a modern False Messiah. It has betrayed world Jewry again and again. It created a gilded ghetto that says that salvation is joining an alliance with imperial overlords and brutish anti-Semitic forces all over the world. In fighting anti-Semitism, the alternative to Zionism is to join anti-racist groups that embrace the world’s best and most universal values. For Jews a place to start is with Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, The International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and other proud Jewish anti-racist organizations.”
We are grateful to Stanley Heller for this well argued well documented book. The citations alone are a treasure. Get it and use it.