Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Greenstein pre-empted on Edelman

Here is Tony Greenstein's post dated October 7, 2009 on Marek Edelman

...Today Zionism praises the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but in the 1930’s and 1940’s it treated and made deals with the Nazis..... Of course there were many Zionists who, despite their Zionism, fought against the Nazis.

Below is a comment to Harry's Place dated October 3, 2009 - I think the point is made:

Michael Ezra
3 October 2009, 8:54 pm

Marek Edelman should certainly be remembered.

One thing that can be mentioned is that are some anti-Zionists who would like to believe, and this was a theme of the anti-Zionist playPerdition, that the Zionists were not interesting in fighting Hitler. The argument runs along the lines that maybe some Zionists did fight Hitler but this was in spite of their Zionism not because of it. As far as this warped section of the anti-Zionist community are concerned, the Zionists collaborated with Nazism and did not fight against it.

This is of course nonsense and it has been highlighted in this thread with the mention of names such as Mordecai Anielewicz, an activist in Hashomer Hatzair who bravely fought in the Warsaw Ghetto. But it was not just the socialist Zionists amongst the Zionists in the Warsaw Ghetto that fought. As Moshe Arens points out (Israel Affairs, Vol.14, No.1, January 2008):

ZZW (Zydowski Zwiazek, Wojskowy), was led by Pawel Frenkel, a member of the Revisionist Youth Movement, Betar; Leon Rodal, a member of the Revisionist movement, and David Apfelbaum, a former officer in the Polish Army who was an adherent of Ze’ev Jabotinsky. It was built around a core of fighters who were members of Jabotinsky’s Zionist-Revisionist movement and its youth movement, Betar….

The heaviest battles of the uprising took place at Muranowski Square, where ZZW fighters withstood the repeated onslaught of German forces. The ZZW fighters there were better trained and equipped than the other fighters in the ghetto, had prepared defensive positions in anticipation of the impending battle and had dug a tunnel under the ghetto wall that allowed for the bringing in of supplies and the evacuation of the wounded. Muranowski Square was the main battleground of the uprising.

Even in the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine) they were delighted to hear of the resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto. An editorial in Davur in October 1942 headlined “The Zionist Underground” mentioned “There is also quiet bravery…the defense of honour….There is dedication to the people fighting.” In April 1943 an editorial in one paper commented on the Jewish resistance “An eternal symbol of a people which refuses to be destroyed by the Gentile – the symbol of life. The honour and the glory of this heroism, enacted on the front line of the war against Nazism, has perhaps no parallel.” A further note of pride of the Warsaw ghetto uprising was expressed in Hapoel Hatzair in an article entitled “Defence Filled With Glory.” As far as the editor, who wrote the article, was concerned it proved “Jews are not always led like sheep to the slaughter.”

I have taken the above examples of press reports from the following essays

Yechiam Weitz, “The Yishuv’s Response to the Destruction of European Jewry, 1942-1943″ Studies in Zionism, Vol. 8, No. 2 Autumn 1987 and
Yoav Gelber, “Zionist Policy and the Fate of European Jewry, 1943-1944,” Studies in Zionism, Issue 7. Spring 1983.

None of this takes away from the Bundists who were very active in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The vast majority of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were wiped out. Edelman was one of the few who managed to survive and as a result we have his published account,The Ghetto Fights, a memoir that is well worth reading for anyone interested in this terrible period of history.


Anonymous said...

That's total rubbish. Sure there were Zionists who fought against the Nazis. But there is plenty of evidence of Zionist collaboration with Nazis, too.

Nor does any thing you say negate the fact that Zionism is a fascist ideology, and a fascist movement.

Now go on, erase that like I know you will - for you this is jihad. Lying and cheating(and kiling, but I'll assume you've not got that far) is fine as long as it's for Israel.



Mikey said...

stevieb says

"there is plenty of evidence of Zionist collaboration with Nazis."

It would be useful if stevieb were to attempt to present some of that evidence.

Stevie B argues

"Zionism is a fascist ideology, and a fascist movement."

This demonstrates that stevieB simply does not understand either Zionism or fascism and probably both,

Stevieb concludes:

"Now go on, erase that like I know you will - for you this is jihad. Lying and cheating(and kiling, but I'll assume you've not got that far) is fine as long as it's for Israel.


All I can say is - wrong on all counts.

Eli said...

Both of you are making the same mistake. You for and him against. You're confusing the actions of zionists under the occupation, with the zionist organization in the free world.
One of the early zionist slogans was "nikach goraleinu beyadeinu" let us take our fate into our own hands. And in accordance with that, zionists under the occupation fought, even in situations where their fighting may have condemned people who otherwise may have lived to death. Many people believed this to be the case in the warsaw ghetto. That had nothing to do with the official zionist position, that antisemitism, and the holocaust, were good and served zionist aspirations. (See Rabbi Weissmandls min hameitzar, Perfidy). Or with their position that Palestine was not ready to absorb any large percent of European Jewry. Or with their position that money collected by the UJA, JNF, etc. should not be used for rescue operations.

Mikey said...

Dear Eli,

Thank you for your comment. I do not believe you have been overly fair. Zionists did not believe that antisemitism was "good" and they certainly never thought that of the Holocaust. What they did believe was that antisemitism was inevitable, that throughout history Jews had been persecuted and that the best defence against that was a Jewish state where Jews could be free from antisemitism - and have their own army etc. What I do accept, and there is no denying, that the rise in antisemitism, assisted support for the Zionist movement - that is because with rise of Nazi Germany that Jews began to accept the need for a Jewish state. But to argue that the Zionists thought that antisemitism or the Holocaust is good would be like arguing that the police force in America or the UK think that criminals are good - because a rise in crime means more money for the police force. In fact, the thesis that you prsent can be refuted by one of Ben-Gurion's speeches in 1943:

"There has never yet been a time like today when we have all been threatened with destruction... the destruction of the Jews of Europe is ruinous for Zionism for there will be no-one left to build the state of Israel."

(quoted in Dina Porat, The Blue and the Yellow Stars of David [Harvard University Press, 1990], P. 259)

Regarding your comment about Palestine not being ready to absorb large amounts of Jews, again the socialist Zionists did early on feel that there should be a planned stages in building the country - and that Jews should not illegally immigrate to the country over the quotas that were set by the British who controlled Palestine. But Ben-Gurion changing his stance in November 1938, in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, from being opposed to the idea of illegal immigration to being in favour of mass illegal immigration via a plan known as “the immigration revolt” that he proposed. (See, Yechiam Weitz, "Jewish Refugees and Zionist Policy during the Holocaust," Middle Eastern Studies Vol. 30, No. 2 April 1994 pp 351-68.)

On money from Zionist organisations, I assume you are referring to the quote used by Ben Hecht in Perfidy (p.50)where Itzhak Gruenbaum, chief of the Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency, said in Tel Aviv in 1943:

"When they asked me, couldn’t you give money out of the United Jewish Appeal funds for the rescue of the Jews of Europe, I said, ‘No!’ And I say again ‘No!’ In my opinion one should resist this wave which pushes the Zionist activities to secondary importance."

This quote is torn out of context. Hecht fails to quote other passages from that speech which would put that sentence in the proper light. In fact, Gruenbaum stressed:

"we must continue with all our rescue operations and not leave a stone unturned to stop the massacre…. I want to emphasize again, in conclusion, that we must do all in our power to help people and to save lives, to the extent that lives may still be saved."

(See, "Ben Hecht’s Perfidy: An Analysis of His Rewriting of History," [The American Section of the Executive of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, New York, 1962] which was published in later editions of Perfidy and available on line at

Gruenbaum was arguing that the war should not interrupt the Zionist project for Jewish settlement in Palestine. He wanted rescue funds to come from other sources. Despite this, when Gruenbaum finished that speech, there was uproar. Leaders insisted that the primary goal of the Zionist movement was saving the Jews of Europe. They argued even rescue plans that seemed fantastic should be approved. The resolution that was passed at that meeting was that the newly formed Rescue Committee look into ways of funding the exploration of rescue possibilities.

(See Dina Porat, The Blue and the Yellow Stars of David, op.cit. p.76).

Eli said...

I'm not trying to be fair, however I do try to be accurate.
Here are some quotes from an admittedly biased source, but they source their quotes and you should be able to check up on them yourself.
and another link I just found by googling

Zionists before world war 2 were a minority of European Jewry.
The official position of both the Reform and Orthodox was against zionism.And I believe that the Bund, socialists, and communists, without counting those religious jews at all, comprised more people than the various zionist groups. Instead of saying that after the war jews recognized the need for a state, it would be more accurate to say that more of their opponents were killed than they were.
Granting that they may have changed their stance on illegal immigration after kristalnacht, are you aware that zionist officials torpedoed any rescue efforts which involved bringing large numbers of jews to anywhere but Palestine?

Mikey said...

Part 1

Dear Eli,

Thank you for your latest post. I could spend half of today on a response to your latest post as I am familiar with the quotes that you highlight. I do not really see the point and I would rather say something generally. Ripping individual sentences out of whole speeches without knowing the content of the full speech to try and prove a point is hardly rigorous. In some cases the quotations can be fictitious but widely believed. Consider the following post on an Orthodox Jewish site about Rabbi Weissmandel that appeared recently:

I made the following accurate comment to the comments box, but the moderator has not allowed it and as such those that read the site will still believe in the false statement:

"I do not want to get too involved in this discussion, but I do wish to make one point. It is stated in the main post that Yitzhak Gruenbaum said the following, 'One cow in Palestine is worth more than all the Jews in Europe.' While I am aware of the allegation that he made such a comment, from what I understand no one has ever been able to find a reference as to where or when he said these words. This allegation against Gruenbaum has been often repeated but it does not stand the scrutiny of historians who have dismissed it as a fabrication."

You are of course correct that Zionism was a minority position prior to WWII and that the ultra-Orthodox were then (and I can add still today) opposed to Zionism. For them, as I am sure you are aware, this opposition is on theological grounds, they still wish for all Jews to ultimately end up in the Land of Israel - but this should be when the Messiah comes and the one should not breach the Three Oaths and create a state in advance.

You state that you wish to be accurate but you are not trying to be fair. The following sentence of yours is a good example of this:

"Instead of saying that after the war jews recognized the need for a state, it would be more accurate to say that more of their opponents were killed than they were."

When the Nazis ghettoised Jews and subsequently them to their deaths, they did not create separate areas - Zionists on one side and anti-Zionists on the other and only kill the anti-Zionists. Jews were just killed qua Jews en masse. You have already acknowledged that Zionism was a minority position during the War and as such it should be obvious that more non-Zionists and anti-Zionists were killed than Zionists.

You ask whether I am "aware that zionist officials torpedoed any rescue efforts which involved bringing large numbers of jews to anywhere but Palestine?" In response I have in front of me (as I obtained it as part of a previous debate I have been involved with) a copy of Zionist Review (Vol Vi. No. 38. January 19, 1939). This states quite clearly on the front page:

"Zionists are anxious to find any place under the sun which will afford Jewish refugees the prospect of escape."

This is from an official Zionist journal. It is however true that the Zionists felt that no other country would realistically admit large amount of Jews - maybe some would admit a small amount but quota systems meant that it was not likely that another country would open their doors and welcome Jews in. The Zionists therefore concentrated on Palestine as being a realistic solution where Jews could escape to.

If you are genuinely interested in the actions of the Zionist leadership in War War II and in the face of the Nazi threat I will suggest some books:

1. Dina Porat The Blue and Yellow Star of David: The Zionist Leadership in Palestine and the Holocaust, 1939-1945, (Harvard University Press, 1990)

2. Tuvia Frilling, Arrows in the Dark: David Ben-Gurion, the Yishuv Leadership, and Rescue Attempts During the Holocaust (2 Volumes) (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003)

3. Francis R. Nicosia, Zionism and Anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Mikey said...

Part 2

I could mention others but realistically Frilling's two volume work is quite comprehensive. If you read these books, published by reputable university press publishing houses, you would note that the leadership of the Jewish Agency Executive in Palestine were not perfect during this period. For example, it was not until November 1942 that they were prepared to publicly admit that Jews were being murdered systematically in Europe as opposed to say localised pogroms. This was despite the fact that they had decent evidence earlier than this that this is what was indeed occurring. Other flaws can also be mentioned but they were not all bad. If you accept that the ultimate aim of the Zionist leadership was establishing a Jewish State in the area of British Mandate Palestine, then you should surely accept that they wanted Jews alive to go and live there. Rescue of the Jews of Europe was very important to them.

Of course, you may not be interested in any of these books for the simple reason that you may not be interested in the subject - all you may be interested in is attacking Zionism and as such you will be satisfied regurgitating out of context quotations and possibly fabricated quotations to do so. I sincerely hope that this is not the case. The tragedy of the Jews in the Second World War is, in my opinion, far too important to be used as a political football in an ideological game.

I hope this assists.

Eli said...

Unfortunately, I don't have the time to read entire books of apologetica. Not to mention that if I was in the mood for that style, there is a wealth of apologetica on so many more interesting topics. Can't you post some sources that are shorter than an entire book?
I looked around for the source of that quote. one cow etc. Apparently, Rabbi Weissmandl himself published the claim in a book while Gruenbaum was alive, and wasn't sued for libel. he had more brains than kastner).
I am aware that the nazis killed jews indiscrimately. Since you apparently concede that the zionists were a minority before world war 2 it would follow that if they were killed in proportion they would have remained a minority afterward. You prefer to believe that suddenly, large numbers of jews "saw the light". In fact, most other political organizations were East European based, where the large majority of jews lived, and were either destroyed or had no political cohesion at the end of the war. Whereas the zionists had a large number of members who sat out the war in Palestine, and a viable political apparatus.
You quote a zionist journal from 1939. I say that was political propaganda and action speaks louder than words.
What do you have to say to the claims made here
and here
specifically the ones made about Henry Montor, and the one made by Rabbi Shonfeld in the Times of London?
I certainly agree that "The tragedy of the Jews in the Second World War is, in my opinion, far too important to be used as a political football in an ideological game." In fact, if it wasn't being used in exactly this way by zionists, to justify zionism, I would be more than happy to ignore the whole subject.

Mikey said...

Dear Eli,

Somehow it does not surprise me that you are not inclined to read a reliable book or two on the subject. I could mention a number of journal articles, but you would have to go to a decent university library to access them and you will no doubt tell me that you do not have time for such activities, so I shall not waste my own time.

Regarding, the "One cow in Palestine" quote, I am very aware Weissmandel alleged that Gruenbaum said those words. You will not see on that site that you linked to nor anywhere else, a place or time where Gruenbaum is alleged to have to made that statement. The reason is simple, Gruenbaum did not utter such rubbish.

What occurred after the Nazis came to power was that Zionism became increasingly popular. This is evident even before the Holocaust or the Second World War started. One can look at how the Zionist movement in Germany grew from very small beginnings in 1932 to a substantial growth in popularity by the time of the commencement of the war. The fact that Zionism became dominant is not to do with the fact that anti-Zionists were murdered but because the actions of the Nazis convinced many Jews that Zionism may be a sensible solution.

A good example might be the UK where the Nazis did not invade. The Board of Deputies of British Jews was majority non-Zionist/Anti-Zionist until about 1938 when the Zionists became a majority. No one was murdering anti-Zionist/non-Zionist Jews there.

I am familiar with Rabbi Moshe Shonfeld's book, "The Holocaust Victims Accuse" to which you link, much of which is based on Weissmandel's account as retold. I can tell you that the book is not reliable. It can be noted that the book was published posthumously and it is entirely possible that information in it was changed by Weissmandel's fanatical followers.

I am also very familiar with the letter in The Times by Rabbi Schonfeld on June 6 1961. In my next post I shall publish a letter that appeared in the same newspaper two days later.

I do suggest that before you continue using a search engine to try and locate information that you do go out and read a reliable book.

Mikey said...

Letter to The Times June 8, 1961:

Sir,- Dr. Solomon Schonfeld is wrong when he says in his letter today that Zionist leaders insisted on rescue to Palestine as the only acceptable form of help for European Jewry.
A programme suggesting practical measures for saving the Jews from Nazi massacres was drawn up in 1943 by an Emergency Consultative Council, representing the Jewish Agency, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the World Jewish Congress and Agudat Israel; it was unanimously endorsed by over 200 delegates from Jewish institutions in Great Britain. The proposals adopted included the following suggestions:-
(1) A request for an announcement by allied governments that they will afford asylum to refugees who can escape or can be removed from the territories where they are threatened with extermination;
(2) the provision of visas for use at the discretion of the consulates of respective governments in neutral countries,
(3) the establishment of refugee camps in territories under allied control;
(4) the assurance to neutral countries regarding the earliest practical arrangements for the transfer and settlement of the refugees elsewhere;
(5) to explore the possibilities of the exchange of refugees against Axis nationals in the Allied countries;
(6) an approach to be made to the British Dominions and Latin American countries for their assistance in the foregoing measures.
It is true that the Consultative Committee urged “that the utmost use be made of the specially favourable opportunities for refuge in Palestine”….
These are the facts. It is up to everyone of us to draw his own conclusions.
I am, Sir. yours, &c.,

Eli said...

Zionist apologetica is around as reliable as anti zionist rhetoric, possibly less so. It comes down to allegation and counter allegation, he said, she said.
Personally, if I have a question of believing Dina Porat or Rabbi Weissmandl I come down on the side of the Rabbi, but that's absolutely subjective.
It's not a question of being inclined to read a book or two. The question is if I find it worth my time to drive down and read a book in a University library just to prove a point in an argument online. And if I do get the time to read them, will I have read them in time to be of any use to me in that argument.
The letter you posted in reply is interesting, although it doesn't answer the allegations made. The allegation was that there was a motion made in British parliament, which was tabled because of zionist activity against it. The reply by S Levenberg, refers to resolutions made by some "Emergency consultative council". It should be fairly simple to check whether there was such a motion made or tabled. If that checks out, I would tend to believe that the rest of the allegation i.e why it was tabled, is also true. And if that's so, then the resolution he claims was made was just a piece of political propaganda for outside consumption. Actions speak louder than words.
I will certainly grant you that the holocaust influenced some non zionist/anti zionist jews to change their stance. On the other hand, I believe I have documented from Hertzl and other zionist leaders, the idea that anti semetism does serve the zionist ideology. It's ludicrous to believe that the zionists weren't politically astute enough to realize that the holocaust served both to advance their ideology, and to increase their political influence, while minimzing the influence of their political opponents (bund, socialists, etc.)In other words, antisemetism, which zionist thinkers advocated, caused a human and jewish tragedy which served zionist political purposes. Their actions at the time seem to be in accord with the way someone who realizes that fact and utilizes it to their advantage would act, and you claim that is not so. Just as a hypothetical, if you wanted to posit the best way for a zionist to callously use the holocaust, what would you recommend? The way I see it, their best bet would be to blow a lot of hot air about rescue, especially when it helped raise funds, and then do pretty much nothing. Isn't that what they did?

Mikey said...


Thank you for your comment.

Regarding Rabbi Weissmandel, firstly he was not a liar. Given his nature, by all accounts a very honest man, he probably was simply unable to lie. He was also someone who worked tirelessly at Holocaust rescue. (Whether his Europa Plan could have come to anything or would not have done is a matter of debate, but most of the major Holocaust scholars think that it was simply not possible and another Nazi scam.) Despite the fact that he was an honest man, it does not mean to say that everything he wrote is accurate. Consider the Gruenbaum "One cow" quote. We know where Weissmandel was himself during these terrible years: Slovakia. He was not in Palestine and therefore did not hear Gruenbaum say these words himself. No doubt someone told Weissmandel that Gruenbaum said these words and Weissmandel repeated it as fact that Gruenbaum did say them. Despite the fact that I have said I believe Weissmandel to be honest, we do not know who his source was and it is likely that that person was dishonest or was himself basing his belief on what Gruenbaum said on someone else who was dishonest etc etc. Weissmadel has many admirers to this day in the ultra-Orthodox communities. Not one of these admirers have ever been able to say when or where Gruenbaum made such a statement. Numerous scholars have accessed the archives and no-one has been able to find anything to suggest Gruenbaum did say or write these words. This is why Holocaust scholars do not believe he said them. (And that is away from the fact that it is a ludicrous statement for any Jew to make - irrespective of whether or not they were Zionist.)

Regarding your time, I am not saying you go to a library just to argue with me, I am suggesting you read some of these books for your own interest. Away from the books I have previously mentioned, you may have interest in the following:

Abraham Fuchs, The Unheeded Cry: The gripping story of Rabbi Weissmadel the valiant Holocaust leader who battled both Allied indifference and Nazi Hatred, (Mesorah Publications: The ArtScroll History Series, 1984).

I can assure you that Fuchs was an admirer of Weissmandel. This book is not specifically about the Zionists in the Holocaust but it is about Weissmandel and I found it an interesting book.

Should you read any of these books - and you come back in a month or even six months or a year with any comments on them (please include page reference and source as I have all the books I mentioned to check) I would be happy to continue the discussion at that point in time. The blog, and so will I (barach Hashem,) still be here.

Regarding the specifcs of Solomon Schonfeld's letter and the tabled motion, I have not looked into it. It is fair to say that S. Levenberg, in his published response has not disputed this claim. I have also checked The Times archive for any subsequent letters disputing the claim and they did not appear. One can make of this what they will, including a view that it was accurate.

Regarding your claims that any any words spoken by Zionists such as the motion that S. Levenberg refers to or the article in Zionist Review that I have referred to is political propaganda, I believe puts you in the category of a conspiracy theorist. It must be remembered that Zionists in Palestine, or the free countries such as the UK or the USA did not have much influence. Winston Churchill thought the best way to help the Jews was to defeat Nazi Germany. Bombing the railway tracks to Auschwitz was not something that he felt that important to his war aims that he had to risk the lives of British RAF officers to do.

Mikey said...

I can add while you are criticising Zionists, one can look critically at some of the ultra-Orthodox in the Holocaust who did not do not do anything against the Nazis and fully believed that G-d would rescue them.

I am not set in my ways and unable to look at things critically. You will see if you look through old posts on this blog that I spent a lot of time defending Rudolph Kasztner against his opponents. After a substantial amount of research,I have changed my view and I now side myself along with some of the leading academic opponents of Kasztner.

To conclude I will say the following. Too often Jews look for other Jews to blame for disasters. One should not forget the tragedy of the Holocaust was the fault of Nazi Germany whose evil ideology and wicked and murderous ways carried it out. It is they who should be blamed.

It is true that with the benefit of hindsight, we can find areas where Jewish leaders including those who were Zionist, non Zionist and anti-Zionist could have done things differently, things that may be have been better, but we should not lose site of who was really to blame for the Holocaust.

I hope this helps.


Eli said...

Recognizing that any political party "spins" what it says for external consumption, and especially on controversial themes, what it publishes may not be exactly in accord with it's true beliefs, is far from going into conspiracy theories. Every political party since politics has been around has done it to some extent or other. I don't know if you vote democrat or republican, but I'm sure you'll agree that what the republican party publishes on abortion, or the democrats on gays in the militaary, are not the same words or the same tone that you'll hear them use when discussing it with party faithful. And that's a pretty mild example. In my opinion, the zionist parties rhetoric circa 1940's would be more analogous to communist publications of that time.
I'm sure you'll agree that mainstream Jewry at the time put rescue as a higher priority than zionist political aspirations. Given that, it's reasonable to assume that if there were any zionist politicians with a different order of priorities, their publications for public consumption would take public sentiment into account, if for no better reason that to do otherwise would be counterproductive.
Judging them by their actions, which were more hinderance than help, and reading their writings in that light, seems to me to be at least as reasonable as taking everything they said at face value, adn then trying to explain away all the things they did differently.

Eli said...

A follow up.
Considering that the zionists in the early years were not particularly concerned with freedom of speech, both censoring and banning books, I don't find it all that surprising that some comments went undocumented. Accurate analysis of israeli and zionist actions started with the post zionists there, in the eighties at the earliest, I believe. Most of what was published before that can charitably be called apologetica, not history.
There was a fairly large jewish community in London at the time this letter was published, and not a small number of them were zionists. It seems surprising that they would all ignore such a slander if they believed it untrue.
Gruenbaums son was a rabidly anti orthodox kapo in Auschwitz (written about by K.Tzetnik who called him Fruchtenbaum) and many people believed he got his views from his father.
There's really no point in blaming anyone for something that is over and done with 60 years ago. But since zionists use the holocaust to justify their ideology, it is helpful to point out their role in it.
As you said, "The tragedy of the Jews in the Second World War is, in my opinion, far too important to be used as a political football in an ideological game."

Mikey said...


Thank you again for your comment. I did not make the conspiracy theory accusation lightly. I am actually a UK citizen and not a US citizen, but I understand your general point. What you are ignoring in your analysis of politicians not telling the truth is that in democracies such as the USA, the UK and Israel, public archives are ultimately opened and we can see what did occur in those secret meetings. So for example, Rabbi Wise, the major Jewish leader in the USA, we know from American archives about his contacts with Roosevelt. We know from British archives about Chaim Weizmann's meetings with those in the British government and we know from Israeli archives what went on and what was discussed in secret Jewish Agency Executive meetings. For your general suggestion to be accurate, it would involve a cover up of Zionist activities on a vast scale covering numerous countries and organisations, where people agreed in those meetings in advance to minute something that was different from what they were actually planning. The same would apply to people's diaries that have been made public for example Moshe Shertok who was a member of the JAE and later prime minister of Israel (with a name change to Moshe Sharett) would have had to think about this in his personal diary. Simply too many people are involved for this to have been the case.

What is very clear is that David Ben Gurion (who was, I am sure you aware, one of the most important, if not most important Zionist leaders at the time) put a high priority on rescue but he saw that Palestine was the only realistic solution for the Jews. He, and other Zionist leaders, wanted the British to abolish the quota system for immigration and wanted the Jews of Europe to have a safe haven in Palestine. Consequently, it is not really accurate to say that the Zionists prioritised Zionism over rescue or rescue over Zionism, they saw the two tied together.

What is also true is that Zionists were not monolithic in their views. You have earlier in this thread mentioned Ben Hecht's book Perfidy which is notionally about the Kasztner trial but contains a substantial attack on the socialist Zionist leaders during the Holocaust. Ben Hecht was influenced by Peter Bergson and his colleagues who were right wing revisionist Zionists politically aligned with Menachem Begin's Herut party (The Israeli political party from which Likud stems from). They detested and disagreed with the Socialist Zionists such as Ben Gurion.

This was also evident in the USA where Ben Hecht and what was known as the Bergson Group had major differences with Rabbi Wise and the more recognised Jewish American leadership. A good book written from the angle more sympathetic to the views of the Bergson Group is the following:

David S. Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941 - 1945 (The New Press, 2007)

Alternatively, the famous Holocaust historian Lucy Dawidowicz, in her writings, (see for example her article, "Indicting American Jews" published in Commentary in June 1983) is more favourable to Rabbi Wise and disagrees with the claim of the Bergsonites that the American War Refugee Board was created as a result of their actions.

Eli said...

Rereading your responses, I see that you quote a public speech by ben gurion "there has never been a time etc"
gruenbaums speech to a rescue commitee,
zionist review, which I've never heard of but is apparently a zionist publication intended for the public, and S Levenbergs letter of a resolution passed by a rescue commmitee which included both zionist and other groups.
All of those seem to be public with the possible exception of Gruenbaums speech, and regarding both his speech and Levenbergs letter, one would assume that any speech or resolution made to a rescue commitee would involve at least a pro forma genuflection to rescue, if only to justify their inclusion on the commitee. It's possible that you meant to include other documentation from private meetings or minutes, but from what you posted here, I see nothing that necessitates a conspiracy. Regarding Wise, I haven't seen his personal diaries, but here are some claims orthodox jews make against him
Ben Hecht discusses both Weizman and ben gurion and is pretty unflattering to both of them.
Why would you call Palestine "the only realistic solution"? Or better, realistic from what perspective? From the perspective of saving himan lives, Africa, India, or South America would have been just as good. And when it comes to that, the quota was only imposed because of zionist political aspirations. If not for that, there would have been no problem going to Palestine in the first place. And while I'm aware that zionism was not monolitic, the large majority were socialist, practically communist.

Mikey said...

Eli, (response to your post at 23:20).

Can you tell me which books the Zionists banned as I am not familiar with that accusation? It is a new one to me!

It is certainly true that in the 1980s as the archives were made available to researchers, there was a better insight, but you will note the books I have selected, including Porat, Friling and Nicosia were all written post the 1980s. I am not relying upon a Leon Uris style sugary picture of the history of the founding of the State of Israel.

As I said, I have not disputed Shonfeld's letter any more than with the information S.Levenberg published. I am not saying that the actions of the Zionists in the Holocaust was perfect. What I am trying to explain to you is that the Zionists wanted the Jews rescued. A substantial amount of the Jews living in Palestine with European origins, had family or friends living under Nazi occupation. It seems bizarre to suggest that that these Palestinian Jews did not care about the Jews in Nazi occupied Europe and would have preferred death for these Jews as opposed to rescue to some other country away from Palestine.

It is true that Gruenbaum's son was a Kapo but it is not true, as Rabbi Moshe Schonfeld, formerly of Agudat Israel Youth, falsely alleges (The Holocaust Victims Accuse – Documents and testimony of Jewish war criminals Part 1 [Bnei Yeshivos, 1977] P.22) that Gruenbaum’s motto was “Death to Orthodoxy.” As Porat points out ("‘Amalek’s Accomplacies’ Blaming Zionism for the Holocaust: Anti-Zionist Ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel during the 1980’s," Journal of Contemporary History Vol. 27 No. 4 October 1992. pp. 696-729) not only had Gruenbaum never said such a thing, he instead “received a warm personal letter of letter of appreciation from the leaders of Agudat Israel in Eretz Israel during the Holocaust.”

The role of the Zionists in dealing with the Nazi menace in the period from 1932 through 1945 is important and that is why a number of people have written books on the subject, many of which I have suggested but you do not seem interested enough to read. If you were so interested, perhaps you would read them.

Mikey said...

Dear Eli, (Response to post at 01:21)

I stated in my response to you at 09:02 yesterday that I could spend half a day on my response to your previous post and that is true again with your latest post. Yet again, the answers to your questions are available in reputable books, none of which you have bothered to read.

If you had done so you would know, as Dina Porat points out, (The Blue and Yellow Stars of David op. cit., p.112) that "Moshe Shertok approached the U.S. and British governments for help in convincing Spain, Portugal and Switzerland to accept more Jewish refugees." You would also know that Dobkin and Weissman of the JAE "reached an agreement with the Spanish government to accept 3,000 more children from Hungary, to grant 1,600 more transit visas for adults from Hungary and to extend Spanish protection to 900 more Jews of Spanish origin. Dobkin also reached an agreement with the Portuguese government to grant visas to any Jews who claimed that their ancestors had once lived in Portugal." (Ibid. p. 115) The list goes on and I can quote further, but as I have repeatedly suggested you should read the book. If you did so you would realise that it is not a one sided book, you could read a whole chapter on the Joint Rescue Committee which was quite ineffective, you would note admissions from Zionist leaders that they could have done more.

Regarding Rabbi Wise, I have already provided sources (Wyman and Dawidowicz) that present the issues faced. Part of the problem was that various internal Jewish organisations (Rabbi Wise's more mainstream followers versus the more high profile right-wing Zionist actions of the Bergson-Group) and these internal quarrels did not help. The book you link to,The Holocaust Victims Accuse is not a reliable one.

Mikey said...

It is certainly true Ben Hecht was opposed critical of Weizmann and Ben-Gurion and I mentioned that in my previous post, I have not ignored it. What you have ignored is the response to that published by The American Section of the Executive of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency,
in New York in 1962 and reproduced on line at
This is another document that I have referred you to earlier but you have chosen either not to read or not to comment upon.

It is certainly true that from the perspective of saving human lives that any country outside those controlled by the Nazis would have done but these countries were not admitting Jews on a large scale. One can look at the Evian conference in 1938 and as Martin Gilbert (The Holocaust: the Jewish Tragedy pp.64-5) comments, at this conference, for example, the Australian delegate told the conference, “that as we have no racial problem, we are not desirous of importing one.” Despite the fact that the conference agreed to set up an intergovernmental agency to see what could be done, the restrictions against immigration of Jews grew. Britain, Palestine, and the United States tightened their rules of admission. Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Mexico severely restricted the number of Jews that could enter; in the case of Mexico to one hundred a year. In this context on August 13th 1938, fifty-three Austrian Jews who had reached Finland by sea were refused permission to disembark and the boat was ordered to return to Germany. Three of the rejected refugees were so desperate that they threw themselves overboard and were drowned.

Of course it was possible that some countries would accept a small amount of Jews but Ben-Gurion and the Zionist leadership saw that the only chance of any country accepting a mass of Jews was Palestine. Other countries did not seem to have interest as I highlight above. And that is why Ben-Gurion viewed Palestine as the only realistic solution.

Your counterfactual that had there been no Zionist political project, that there would have been no quota system does not seem to me to have any merit. Palestine was under British control and other countries that were still part of the decaying end of the British Empire and also under British control, where the Zionists had no political aims were not allowing in a mass of Jews either. It is nonsense to think that the British would have made Palestine an exception.

Finally, I find your comment on this particular blog, "the large majority [of Zionists] were socialist, practically communist" amusing. The reason for this is that the main post on this thread was designed to attack Tony Greenstein, an anti-Zionist Communist. He contends that the idea that any Zionist can be socialist is a myth.

Eli said...

You invited me to read the books you referenced, and continue the argument any time up to six months from now. I hope to read them when I have time, in the meantime, I would like to set aside those arguments which can't be continued without my reading your references and either agreeing or disagreeing, and seeing how far we can get without it.
As you can see, Rabbi Shonfeld claims that the British goverment was willing to accept large numbers of refugees in India, possibly also in other colonies. I believe there was also some talk about African countries. There's no reason to believe that the British goverment wouldn't have considered a backwater country in the middle east just as well as India, were it not for the political problems.
As a capitalist, I prefer to see zionists as socialists, I don't mind if a socialist prefers to see them as capitalist, it's still the same basic idea. :-)

Mikey said...


I wish to correct an error I made earlier. I stated:

"I have also checked The Times archive for any subsequent letters [in response to Schonfeld's letter]disputing the claim and they did not appear. One can make of this what they will, including a view that it was accurate."

This is incorrect. There was one further response and that was in The Times on July 3, 1961, where a letter appeared from Bert Locker who was the only surviving member of the Jewish Agency Political Committee in London during World War II where he "very emphatically [took] exception to the letter of Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld." It is quite a long letter raising many points and I do not have the time to copy it all, but I will highlight a passage:

"Rabbi Schonfeld seems to be unaware of the fact that ever since Mr. Eden's declaration made in the House of Commons on December 17, 1942, on the Nazi holocaust hardly a day elapsed without some member of Parliament putting a question to the Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, or the Colonial Secretary with regard to the admission of Jews and other refugees to Britain and her Colonial Empire, including Palestine, but certainly not insisting on it alone, and on tyhe unsatisfactory answers received by them. At the same time, fugitives who succeeded in reaching the shores of Palestine without prior permits were not, to say the least, received in a very hospitable way by the authorities....

"Rabbi Schonfeld also forgets the establishment in Britain in March, 1943, of the 'National Committee for Rescue from Nazi Terror'.... The N.C.R.N.T., ... put forward to the Government a 12-point programme for immediate rescue measures which contained, among others, the following suggestions: revision of regulations relating to visas to the United Kingdom, encouragement of neutral states to admit more refugees, increased transport facilities for evacuating refugees, the concentration of full authority in the question of rescue in the hands of one or more persons of high calibre within the Government, the appointment on behalf of the United Nations of a High Commissioner or other emissary who could negotiate with neutral and allied countries about rescue measures, &c.

"Point 12, the last, reads: Adoption of the principle that whatever other nations may do or leave undone, the British contribution to the work of rescue should be the speediest and most generous possible, without delaying victory.

"The frequent debates in both Houses of Parliament bear witness to the fact that numerous dignitaries of the Church and many others were not satisfied that the Government of Britain did act in the spirit of that appeal."

I hope this is of some use, and I am glad that you hope to read some reliable books. There is plenty in Porat's Blue and Yellow Stars of David that do not show the Zionists in the good light if that is all you want to do. You are welcome to come back - and I can extend the 6 months to a year if necessary. Just save this page and respond when you have a chance. All I ask is that you do not take something out of context.

sanalika hileleri said...

ı agre Eli have a nice day

Mikey said...

sanalika hileleri,

It is a shame that Eli did not read the books I suggested and come back. If he is still reading this post, and I know that it more than a year since our discussion, I would still welcome him back.

Rob said...

Greenstein is a flakey manipulator and falsifier of history and cannot be trusted except to spout his agenda

Is he worth talking about?