Zionist Collaboration With the Nazis
By Lennie Brenner
Barricade Books, Fort Lee, New Jersey, 2002, 342 pp.
By Barry Sheppard
This book is important reading now in the context of the Israel-U.S. genocidal war in Gaza, part of a drive to expel Palestinians from the land Israel rules from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and from Egypt to Lebanon and Syria.
It was first published in 2002, but received little notice or reviews by mainstream or even left publications, but current events warrant that be corrected.
The book is a collection of documents from the different wings of Zionism, from Nazi and other sources, that Brenner has found and collected. Translations into English were made when necessary. Brenner gives short introductions to each document, but lets the documents speak for themselves. In an introduction, Brenner says, “This book presents 51 historic documents to indict Zionism for repeated attempts to collaborate with Adolph Hitler. The evidence, not I, will convince you of the truth of the issue.”
Theodore Herzl was the founding leader of the Zionist Organization (which became the World Zionist Organization) in 1897, in a conference of European Zionist groups held in Basel, Switzerland. Herzl held that the cause of anti-Semitism was the presence of Jews in Christian Europe, and that the governments of Europe “will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain the sovereignty we want” by aiding Jews to emigrate to Palestine and establish a new Jewish state on the land of ancient Israel.
He said that “the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”
A document that appears early in Brenner’s collection is by Russian Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky, written in 1923, that explains that the Arabs in Palestine will never submit to the Zionist settle-colonialist project, and that the Zionists would need the support of an “outside Power” to subdue them.
Another one is by arch defender of the British Empire Winston Churchill from 1920, titled “Zionism Versus Bolshevism. A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People,” which he explains is a conflict between “Good and Bad” Jews, the nationalist Jews and the internationalist Jews.
In the first main section of Brenner’s book, on the “World Zionist Organization and Nazism before the Holocaust”, there is a June 1933 proposal from the German Zionist Federation(GZF) to “the New German state,” i.e. the Nazi regime that took power in January 1933.
In it the GZF proposes to collaborate with the “German State of National Awakening”, and states “Zionism believes that a rebirth of national life, such as is occurring in German life through adhesion to Christian and national values, must also take place in the Jewish national group.”
The GZF proposal also says that Zionism would be hurt by “resentment abroad against the German development. Boycott propaganda — such as is carried on against Germany in many ways — is in essence unZionist…”
The concrete agreement that emerged as a result was to transfer German Jewish money and goods to German Jewish immigrants in Palestine, the Ha Avara pact.
The World Zionist Organization (WZO) ratified the position of the GZF.
The WZO raised an argument that was repeated in other documents in the book, that the “traditional” Jewish tactics of protest etc. for their rights came from the “Ghetto” way of thinking and had to be replaced by the “real” solution of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine.
Brenner includes a number of documents along these lines. Of course these hopes of accommodation between German Jews and the Nazis were dashed in the 1938 programs across Germany known as “Crystal Night” and later the Holocaust.
There was another development in world Zionism which is referred to in 14 of the documents in Brenner’s book. That was the split in the movement with the formation of the Zionist Revisionists led by Vladimir Jabotinsky, while the official group would eventually become the Labor Zionists, with socialist trappings.
The Revisionists were openly fascist.
In 1934, a Nazi, Baron Mildenstein, visited Zionist settlers in Palestine. To commemorate the expedition, Propaganda Minister Goebbels had a medal struck, on one side was the swastika, on the other the Zionist star. The Baron wrote a 12-part series on his trip in Goebbels’ Nazi party organ, Der Angriff (“The Attack”). His first article, reprinted in Brenner’s book, demonstrates that everyone, Nazis, Italian Fascists, leftists and other Zionists recognized the Revisionists as fascist.
In June 1933, the head of the Jewish Agency in Palestine who negotiated the Ha Avara pact was assassinated by a Revisionist, who was captured by the police, but was acquitted on a technicality because the law system remained the Turkish system, even though Britain was granted a “mandate” by the League of Nations over Palestine when the Turkish Ottoman Empire was defeated in WWI.
One Revisionist, Georg Kareski, accepted office under the Nazi government as Reich Commissioner for Jewish Cultural Affairs. A 1936 article in the London-based Jewish Chronicle comments on an interview with Kareski in Goebbel’s Der Angriff.
The Revisionists were especially enamored with the Italian Fascist government. They were able to enroll Revisionist youth in Mussolini’s maritime academy for the training of navel officers. Revisionist members of the Blackshirts University Fascist Youth became part of the founding cadre of the future Israel navy.
The Revisionists in Palestine had an armed wing, the National Military Organization (Irgun Zvai Leumi). In 1940 it split, with one side led by Avraham Stern claiming to be the “real” Irgun. Later that year, Stern made a proposal in the name of the NMO to Nazi Germany.
The proposal said in part, “The NMO, which is well acquainted with the goodwill of the the German Reich government and its authorities towards Zionist activity inside Germany and toward Zionist emigration plans, is of the opinion that:
“1. Common interests could exist between the establishment of a new order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO.
“2. Cooperation between the new Germany and a renewed folkish-national Hebraium would be possible and,
“3. The establishment of the historic Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East.
“Under these considerations, the NMO in Palestine, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli freedom movement are recognized on the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany’s side.”
This proposal never reached Germany. The Stern group changed its name, but became known as the “Stern Gang”. The other fascist wing kept the name of the Irgun, and Menachem Begin became its leader.
One document in Brenner’s book is a December 4, 1948, letter to the editor of the New York Times warning of a visit to the U.S. by Begin. The letter was signed by over two dozen Jewish leaders. Three names that I recognized were Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, and Sydney Hook.
The letter said in part, “Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the ‘Freedom Party’ … a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing chauvinist organization in Palestine.”
The letter named Menachem Begin as the party’s leader and warned not to be taken in by his current claims of being for democracy, etc., but to look at their record. “A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin” [some months before the letter] on April 9, 1948, during the war with Arab countries, when the Irgun and the Stern Gang “attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants — 240 men, women and children — and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem.”
The letter says, “Within the Jewish community, they have preached an admixture of ultra-nationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead that have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.”
The letter also said, “During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and widespread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and extracted a heavy tribute.”
The first governments of Israel were formed by the Labor Zionists. However, former Revisionists were brought into the new regime. Begin’s party absorbed former Stern people, and he was elected to the first Knesset (parliament), and went on to form the Likud rightist party, currently led by Netanyahu, and was elected Israeli Prime Minister in 1977. The same year, Israel issued a commemorative postage stamp honoring Stern.
Labor Zionism has all but disappeared, and the current Israeli government, leading the genocidal war against the people of Gaza, is the most right-wing in Israel’s history.
Lenni Brenner was raised in an orthodox Jewish family. In the 1960s, he was active in the civil rights and antiwar movements and was a revolutionary socialist.
Brenner’s book can be ordered from Amazon, either as a paperback or Kindle. Other of his books on this issue are also available there.
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