Saturday, May 26, 2012

Was Israel Born of the Holocaust?

I was reminded of this question by the following lines of Sharmine Narwani in yesterday's post:

"The cold-blooded program of ethnically cleansing Europe of its Jewish population has been so callously and opportunistically utilized to justify the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Arab nation, that it leaves me utterly unmoved. I have even caught myself - shock - rolling my eyes when I hear Holocaust and Israel in the same sentence."

Two Australian examples of this kind of linkage came to mind.

Speaking on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day last month, Julia Gillard had this to say:

"The Jewish people survived the loss of 6 million souls, and rebuilt a homeland in Israel to ensure their future. Today, on Yom Hashoah, we stand with the people of Israel in solemn memory, and we renew our commitment to Israel and its security." (PM's thoughts on the Shoah, The Australian Jewish News, 20/4/12)

Gillard's predecessor, Kevin Rudd, speaking in federal parliament on March 12, 2009, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Israel's creation, was even more categorical:

"The story of the establishment of the state of Israel begins with the unimaginable tragedy of the Holocaust." (See my 14/3/09 post The Israeli Occupation of Federal Parliament 3.)

Needless to say, both  Gillard and Rudd are wrong. The creation of Israel did not begin with the Holocaust.

Those with even the slightest grasp of history will know that Israel, in brief, resulted from the work of three single-minded Zionist ideologues: Theodor Herzl, who proclaimed the need for a Jewish State in his 1896 book of the same name; Chaim Weizmann, chief architect of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which enabled the Zionist colonization of Palestine in earnest; and David Ben-Gurion, who presided over the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist forces in 1948-49 and went on to become Israel's first prime minister.

As the Zionist movement's key man-on-the-ground in Palestine during the thirties and forties, you might well assume that the fate of German Jewry under the Nazis and the need to mount some kind of rescue mission was a central concern of Ben-Gurion's. Not so.

Here is Ben-Gurion speaking to a Zionist audience in 1938*:

"If I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children of Germany by their transferring to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael, I would choose the latter - because we are faced not only with the accounting of these [Jewish] children but also with the historical accounting of the Jewish People." (Righteous Victims: A history of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 181-2001, Benny Morris, 1999, p162)

And here he is again, after the Holocaust:

"Some ten months later [1/11/47] Ben-Gurion lectured to the youth of the farming movement that 'if they [the survivors] arrive and perceive us as the prosecuted and they the prosecutors, we will have to bear it, to get used to it, to understand their soul, to treat them with love, even if it arouses anger and revulsion within us. If we do not gird ourselves with love, we shall not be able to work with them'. This remarkable passage, never repeated, reveals not only Ben-Gurion's deep emotions, but also belated (if unconscious and unacknowledged) guilt feelings and recognition of his failure, and that of the Zionist community in Palestine, to mobilize to the utmost for the rescue of and aid to the dying Diaspora during the war years'." (From Catastrophe to Power: Holocaust Survivors & the Emergence of Israel, Idith Zertal, 1998, p 220)

No, the Holocaust was never Israel's raison d'etre, but that hasn't stopped Zionist ideologues and propagandists, who care as little for real Jewish suffering as they do for Palestinian, from exploiting it to the hilt to maintain and extend their grip on Palestine.

[* See especially my 7/12/09 post Zionism's Bedside Manner.]

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