Ralph Schoenman


The Hidden History of Zionism


Chapter 6
Zionism and the Jews

5. Seizure of the Land   |   7. Myth of Security


If the colonization of Palestine has been characterized by a series of depredations, we should take a moment to examine the attitude of the Zionist movement not only toward its Palestinian victims (to which we shall return), but toward the Jews themselves.

Herzl himself wrote of the Jews in the following fashion: “I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to ’combat’ anti-Semitism." [76] The youth organization of the Zionists, Hashomer Hatzair (young Guard) published the following: "A Jew is a caricature of a normal, natural human being, both physically and spiritually. As an individual in society he revolts and throws off the harness of social obligations, knows no order nor discipline." [77] "The Jewish people," wrote Jabotinsky in the same vein, "is a very bad people; its neighbors hate it and rightly so ... its only salvation lies in a general immigration to the land of Israel." [78] The founders of Zionism despaired of combatting anti-Semitism and, paradoxically, regarded the anti-Semites themselves as allies, because of a shared desire to remove the Jews from the countries in which they lived. Step by step, they assimilated the values of Jew-hatred and anti-Semitism, as the Zionist movement came to regard the anti-Semites themselves as their most reliable sponsors and protectors.

Theodor Herzl approached none other than Count Von Plehve, the author of the worst pogroms in Russia - the pogroms of Kishinev with the following proposition: "Help me to reach the land [Palestine] sooner and the revolt [against Czarist rule] will end." [79] Von Plehve agreed, and he undertook to finance the Zionist movement. He was later to complain to Herzl: “The Jews have been joining the revolutionary parties. We were sympathetic to your Zionist movement as long as it worked toward emigration. You don’t have to justify the movement to me. You are preaching to a convert." [80] Herzl and Weizmann offered to help guarantee Czarist interests in Palestine and to rid Eastern Europe and Russia of those "noxious and subversive Anarcho-Bolshevik Jews".

As we have noted, the same appeal was made by the Zionists to the Sultan of Turkey, the Kaiser in Germany, to French imperialism and to the British Raj.


Zionism and Fascism

The history of Zionism - largely suppressed - is sordid.

Mussolini set up squadrons of the Revisionist Zionist youth movement, Betar, in black shirts in emulation of his own Fascist bands.

When Menachem Begin became chief of Betar, he preferred the brown shirts of the Hitler gangs, a uniform Begin and Betar members wore to all meetings and rallies - at which they greeted each other and opened and closed meetings with the fascist salute.

Simon Petilura was a Ukrainian fascist who personally directed pogroms which killed 28,000 Jews in 897 separate pogroms. Jabotinsky negotiated an alliance with Petilura, proposing a Jewish police force to accompany Petilura’s forces in their counter-revolutionary fight against the Red Army and the Bolshevik Revolution - a process involving the murder of peasant, worker and intellectual supporters of the revolution.


Collaborating with the Nazis

This strategy of enlisting Europe’s virulent Jew-haters, and of aligning with the most vicious movements and regimes as financial and military patrons of a Zionist colony in Palestine, did not exclude the Nazis.

The Zionist Federation of Germany sent a memorandum of support to the Nazi Party on June 21, 1933. In it the Federation noted:

... a rebirth of national life such as is occurring in German life ... must also take place in the Jewish national group.

On the foundation of the new [Nazi] state which has established the principle of race, we wish so to fit our community into the total structure so that for us, too, in the sphere assigned to us, fruitful activity for the Fatherland is possible ... [81]

Far from repudiating this policy, the World Zionist Organization Congress in 1933 defeated a resolution calling for action against Hitler by a vote of 240 to 43.

During this very Congress, Hitler announced a trade agreement with the WZO’s Anglo-Palestine Bank, breaking, thereby, the Jewish boycott of the Nazi regime at a time when the German economy was extremely vulnerable. It was the height of the Depression and people were wheeling barrels full of worthless German Marks. The World Zionist Organization broke the Jewish boycott and became the principal distributor of Nazi goods throughout the Middle East and Northern Europe. They established the Ha’avara, which was a bank in Palestine designed to receive monies from the German-Jewish bourgeoisie, with which sums Nazi goods were purchased in very substantial quantity.


Embracing the S.S.

Consequently, the Zionists brought Baron Von Mildenstein of the S.S. Security Service to Palestine for a six-month visit in support of Zionism. This visit led to a twelve-part report by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, in Der Angriff (The Assault) in 1934 praising Zionism. Goebbels ordered a medallion struck with the Swastika on one side, and on the other, the Zionist Star of David. In May 1935, Reinhardt Heydrich, the chief of the S.S. Security Service, wrote an article in which he separated Jews into "two categories." The Jews he favored were the Zionists: "Our good wishes together with our official good will go with them."[82] In 1937, the Labor "socialist" Zionist militia, the Haganah (founded by Jabotinsky) sent an agent (Feivel Polkes) to Berlin offering to spy for the S.S. Security Service in exchange for the release of Jewish wealth for Zionist colonization. Adolf Eichmann was invited to Palestine as the guest of the Haganah.

Feivel Polkes informed Eichmann:

Jewish nationalist circles were very pleased with the radical German policy, since the strength of the Jewish population in Palestine would be so far increased thereby that in the foreseeable future the Jews could reckon upon numerical superiority over the Arabs. [83]

The list of acts of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis goes on and on. What can account for this incredible willingness of Zionist leaders to betray the Jews of Europe? The entire rationale for the state of Israel offered by its apologists has been that it was intended to be the refuge of Jews facing persecution.

The Zionists, to the contrary, saw any effort to rescue Europe’s Jews not as the fulfilment of their political purpose but as a threat to their entire movement. If Europe’s Jews were saved, they would wish to go elsewhere and the rescue operation would have nothing to do with the Zionist project of conquering Palestine.


Sacrificing Europe’s Jews

The correlative to the acts of collaboration with the Nazis throughout the 1930’s was that when attempts to change the immigration laws of the United States and Western Europe were contemplated in order to provide token refuge for persecuted Jews of Europe, it was the Zionists who actively organized to stop these efforts.

Ben Gurion informed a meeting of Labor Zionists in Great Britain in 1938: "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." [84] This obsession with colonizing Palestine and overwhelming the Arabs led the Zionist movement to oppose any rescue of the Jews facing extermination, because the ability to deflect select manpower to Palestine would be impeded. From 1933 to 1935, the WZO turned down two-thirds of all the German Jews who applied for immigration certificates.

Berel Katznelson, editor of the Labor Zionist Davar, described the "cruel criteria of Zionism": German Jews were too old to bear children in Palestine, lacked trades for building a Zionist colony, didn’t speak Hebrew and weren’t Zionists. In place of these Jews facing extermination the WZO brought to Palestine 6,000 trained young Zionists from the United States, Britain and other safe countries. Worse than this, the WZO not merely failed to seek any alternative for the Jews facing the Holocaust, the Zionist leadership opposed belligerently all efforts to find refuge for fleeing Jews.

As late as 1943, while the Jews of Europe were being exterminated in their millions, the U.S. Congress proposed to set up a commission to "study" the problem. Rabbi Stephen Wise, who was the principal American spokesperson for Zionism, came to Washington to testify against the rescue bill because it would divert attention from the colonization of Palestine.

This is the same Rabbi Wise who, in 1938, in his capacity as leader of the American Jewish Congress, wrote a letter in which he opposed any change in U.S. immigration laws which would enable Jews to find refuge. He stated:

It may interest you to know that some weeks ago the representatives of all the leading Jewish organizations met in conference ... It was decided that no Jewish organization would, at this time, sponsor a bill which would in any way alter the immigration laws. [85]


Fighting Asylum

The entire Zionist establishment made its position unmistakable in its response to a motion by 227 British members of Parliament calling on the government to provide asylum in British territories for persecuted Jews. The meager undertaking which was prepared was as follows:

His Majesty’s Government issued some hundreds of Mauritius and other immigration permits in favor of threatened Jewish families.[86]

But even this token measure was opposed by the Zionist leaders. At a Parliamentary meeting on January 27, 1943, when the next steps were being pursued by over one hundred members of Parliament, a spokesperson for the Zionists announced that they opposed this motion because it did not contain preparations for the colonization of Palestine. This was a consistent stance.

Chaim Weizmann, the Zionist leader who had arranged the Balfour Declaration and was to become the first president of Israel, made this Zionist policy very explicit:

The hopes of Europe’s six million Jews are centered on emigration. I was asked: “Can you bring six million Jews to Palestine?” I replied, “No.” ... From the depths of the tragedy I want to save ... young people [for Palestine]. The old ones will pass. They will bear their fate or they will not. They are dust, economic and moral dust in a cruel world ... Only the branch of the young shall survive. They have to accept it. [87]

Yitzhak Gruenbaum, the chairperson of the committee set up by the Zionists, nominally to investigate the condition of European Jews, said:

When they come to us with two plans - the rescue of the masses of Jews in Europe or the redemption of the land - I vote, without a second thought, for the redemption of the land. The more said about the slaughter of our people, the greater the minimization of our efforts to strengthen and promote the Hebraisation of the land. If there would be a possibility today of buying packages of food with the money of the Karen Hayesod [United Jewish Appeal] to send it through Lisbon, would we do such a thing? No. And once again no! [88]


Betraying the Resistance

In July 1944, the Slovakian Jewish leader Rabbi Dov Michael Weissmandel in a letter to Zionist officials charged with these "rescue organizations," proposed a series of measures to save the Jews scheduled for liquidation at Auschwitz. He offered exact mappings of the railways and urged the bombing of the tracks on which the Hungarian Jews were being transported to the crematoria.

He appealed for the bombing of the furnaces at Auschwitz, for the parachuting of ammunition to 80,000 prisoners, for the parachuting of saboteurs to blow up all the means of annihilation and thus end the cremation of 13,000 Jews every day.

Should the Allies refuse the organized and public demand by the "rescue organizations", Weissmandel proposed that the Zionists, who had funds and organization, obtain airplanes, recruit Jewish volunteers and carry out the sabotage.

Weissmandel was not alone. Throughout the late thirties and forties, Jewish spokespersons in Europe cried out for help, for public campaigns, for organized resistance, for demonstrations to force the hand of allied Govemments - only to be met not merely by Zionist silence but by active Zionist sabotage of the meager efforts which were proposed or prepared in Great Britain and the United States.

Here is the cri-de-coeur of Rabbi Weissmandel. Writing to the Zionists in July 1944 he asked incredulously.

Why have you done nothing until now? Who is guilty of this frightful negligence? Are you not guilty, our Jewish brothers: you who have the greatest good fortune in the world - liberty?

We send you – Rabbi Weissmandel wrote again – this special message: to inform you that yesterday the Germans began the deportation of Jews from Hungary ... The deported ones go to Auschwitz to be put to death by cyanide gas. This is the schedule, of Auschwitz from yesterday to the end:

Twelve thousand Jews - men, women and children, old men, infants, healthy and sick ones, are to be suffocated daily.

And you, our brothers in Palestine, in all the countries of freedom, and you ministers of all the Kingdoms, how do you keep silent in the face of this great murder?

Silent while thousands upon thousands, reaching now to six million Jews, are murdered? And silent now, while tens of thousands are still being murdered and waiting to be murdered? Their destroyed hearts cry out to you for help as they bewail your cruelty.

Brutal, you are and murderers, too, you are, because of the coldbloodedness of the silence in which you watch, because you sit with folded arms and do nothing, although you could stop or delay the murder of Jews at this very hour.

You, our brothers, sons of Israel, are you insane? Don’t you know the hell around us? For whom are you saving your money? Murderers! Madmen! Who is it that gives charity: you who toss a few pennies from your safe homes, or we who give our blood in the depths of hell? [90]

No Zionist leader supported his request, nor did the Western capitalist regimes bomb a single concentration camp.


A Pact Against Hungary’s Jews

The culmination of Zionist betrayal was the sacrifice of Hungary’s Jews in a series of agreements between the Zionist movement and Nazi Germany which first became known in 1953. Dr. Rudolph Kastner of the Jewish Agency Rescue Committee in Budapest signed a secret pact with Adolf Eichmann to "settle the Jewish question" in Hungary. This took place in 1944. The pact sealed the fate of 800,000 Jews.

It was to be revealed later that Kastner was under the direction of the Zionist leaders abroad when he made his agreement with Eichmann. The agreement entailed the saving of six hundred prominent Jews on the condition that silence was maintained about the fate of Hungarian Jewry.

When a survivor, Malchiel Greenwald, exposed the pact and denounced Kastner as a Nazi collaborator whose "deeds in Budapest cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews", [91] Greenwald was sued by the Israeli government, whose leaders had drawn up the terms of the Kastner pact.

The Israeli Court came to the following conclusion:

The sacrifice of the majority of the Jews, in order to rescue the prominents was the basic element in the agreement between Kastner and the Nazis. This agreement fixed the division of the nation into two unequal camps, a small fragment of prominents, whom the Nazis promised Kastner to save, on the one hand, and the great majority of Hungarian Jews whom the Nazis designated for death, on the other hand. [92]

The court declared that the imperative condition of this pact was that neither Kastner nor the Zionist leaders would interfere in the action of the Nazis against the Jews. These leaders undertook not only to eschew interference, but they agreed they would not, in the words of the Israeli court, "hamper them in the extermination."

Collaboration between the Jewish Agency Rescue Committee and the exterminators of the Jews was solidified in Budapest and Vienna. Kastner’s duties were part and parcel of the S.S. In addition to its Extermination Department and Looting Department, the Nazi S.S. opened a Rescue Department headed by Kastner. [93]


Saving Nazis, Not Jews

It is not surprising that it was to be revealed that Kastner intervened to save S.S. General Kurt Becher from being tried for war crimes. Becher was one of the leading negotiators of the deal with the Zionists in 1944. He was also an S.S. Major in Poland, a member of the Death Corps "that worked around the clock killing Jews." "Becher distinguished himself as a Jew slaughterer in Poland and Russia." [94] He was appointed Commissar of all Nazi concentration camps by Heinrich Himmler.

What happened to him? He became president of many corporations and headed up the sale of wheat to Israel. His corporation, the Cologne-Handel Gesellschaft, did extensive business with the Israeli government.


A Military Pact with Nazism

On January 11, 1941, Avraham Stern proposed a formal military pact between the National Military Organization (NMO), of which Yitzhak Shamir, the current Prime Minister of Israel, was a prominent leader, and the Nazi Third Reich. This proposal became known as the Ankara document, having been discovered after the war in the files of the German Embassy in Turkey. It states the following:

The evacuation of the Jewish masses from Europe is a precondition for solving the Jewish question; but this can only be made possible and complete through the settlement of these masses in the home of the Jewish people, Palestine, and through the establishment of a Jewish state in its historical boundaries ...

The NMO, which is well-acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government and its authorities towards Zionist activity inside Germany and towards 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 renewed folkish-national Hebraium would be possible and
  3. The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and 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.

Proceeding from these considerations, the NMO in Palestine, under the condition that 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. [95]


Zionism’s Perfidy

Zionism’s perfidy - the betrayal of the victims of the Holocaust - was the culmination of their attempt to identify the interests of the Jews with those of the established order. Today, the Zionists join their state to the enforcement arm of U.S. imperialism - from the death squads of Latin America to the covert operations of the C.I.A. on four continents.

This sordid history is rooted in the demoralization of the founders of Zionism, who rejected the possibility of overcoming anti-Semitism through popular struggle and social revolution. Moses Hess, Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann chose the wrong side of the barricades - that of state power, class domination and exploitative rule. They propounded a putative disjunction between emancipation from persecution and the necessity of social change. They fully understood that the cultivation of anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jews were the work of the very ruling class from whom they curried favor.

In seeking the sponsorship of the anti-Semites themselves, they revealed several motives: the worship of power with which they associated strength; a desire to end Jewish "weakness" and vulnerability, ceasing to be perpetual outsiders.

This sensibility was a short step to assimilating the values and ideas of the Jew-haters themselves. The Jews, the Zionists wrote, were indeed an undisciplined, subversive, dissident people, worthy of the scorn they had earned. The Zionists catered shamelessly to racist Jew-hatred. Worshipping power, they appealed to the anti-Semitic desire of the von Plehves and the Himmlers to be rid of a victim people long radicalized by persecution, a people who filled the ranks of revolutionary movements and whose suffering drew their best minds to intellectual ferment offensive to established values.

The dirty secret of Zionist history is that Zionism was threatened by the Jews themselves. Defending the Jewish people from persecution meant organizing resistance to the regimes which menaced them. But these regimes embodied the imperial order which comprised the only social force willing or able to impose a settler colony on the Palestinian people. Hence, the Zionists needed the persecution of the Jews to persuade Jews to become colonizers afar, and they needed the persecutors to sponsor the enterprise.

But European Jewry had never manifested any interest in colonizing Palestine. Zionism remained a fringe movement among the Jews, who aspired to live in the countries of their birth free of discrimination or to escape persecution by emigrating to bourgeois democracies perceived as more tolerant.

Zionism, therefore, could never answer the needs or aspirations of the Jews. The moment of truth came when persecution gave way to physical extermination. Put to the ultimate and sole test of their real relationship to Jewish survival, the Zionists did not merely fail to lead resistance or defend the Jews, they actively sabotaged Jewish efforts to boycott the Nazi economy. They sought, even then, the sponsorship of the mass murderers themselves, not merely because the Third Reich appeared powerful enough to impose a Zionist colony, but because the Nazi practices were consonant with Zionist assumptions.

There was a common ground between the Nazis and the Zionists, expressed not merely in the proposal of Shamir’s National Military Organization to form a state in Palestine on a "national totalitarian basis." Vladimir Jabotinsky, in his last work, The Jewish War Front, (l940) wrote of his plans for the Palestinian people:

Since we have this great moral authority for calmly envisaging the exodus of Arabs, we need not regard the possible departure of 900,000 with dismay. Herr Hitler has recently been enhancing the popularity of population transfer. [96]

Jabotinsky’s remarkable declaration in The Jewish War Front synthesizes Zionist thought and its moral bankruptcy. The slaughter of the Jews gave Zionism "great moral authority". - For what? "For calmly envisaging the exodus of Arabs.” The lesson of Nazi destruction of the Jews was that it was permissible now for Zionists to visit the same fate upon the entire Palestinian population.

Seven years later, the Zionists emulated the Nazis, whose backing they sought and even at times achieved, and they covered bleeding Palestine in multiple Lidices [97], driving 800,000 people into exile.

The Zionists approached the Nazis in the same spirit they had Von Plehve, acting on the perverse notion that Jew-hatred was useful. Their purpose was not rescue, but forced conscription of the select few - the rest to be consigned to their agonizing fate.

Zionism sought bodies with which to colonize Palestine and preferred Jewish corpses in their millions to any rescue that might settle Jews elsewhere.

If ever a people could be expected to grasp the meaning of persecution, the pain of being perpetual refugees and the humiliation of slander, it ought to have been the Jews.

In place of compassion, the Zionists celebrated the persecution of others, even as they first betrayed the Jews and then degraded them. They selected a victim people of their own on whom to inflict a conquering design. They aligned the surviving Jews with a new genocide against the Palestinian people, cloaking themselves, with savage irony, in the collective shroud of the Holocaust.



76. Marvin Lowenthal, ed., The Diaries of Theodor Herzl, p.6. Cited in Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (Westport, Conn.: Lawrence Hill, 1983) p.6.

77. From Our Shomer “Weltanschauung”, Hashomer Hatzair, December 1936. Originally published in 1917, Brenner, Zionism, p.22.

78. Brenner, The Iron Wall.

79. lbid., p.14.

80. Ibid.

81. Brenner, Zionism, p.48.

82. Ibid., p.85.

83. Ibid., p.99.

84. Ibid., p.149.

85. Ibid.

86. Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld, Britain’s chief Rabbi during World War II. Faris Yahya, Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany (Beirut, Lebanon: Palestine Research Center, January 1978), p.53.

87. Chaim Weizmann reporting to the Zionist Congress in 1937 on his testimony before the Peel Commission in London, July 1937. Cited in Yahya, p. 55.

88. Yitzhak Gruenbaum was chairperson of the Jewish Agency’s Rescue Committee. Excerpted from a speech made in 1943. Ibid., p.56.

89. Ibid., p.53.

90. Ibid., pp.59-60.

91. Ibid., p.58.

92. Judgment given on June 22, 1955, Protocol of Criminal Case 124/53 in District Court, Jerusalem. Ibid., p.58.

93. Ibid., p.59.

94. Ben Hecht, Perfidy (New York: 1961), pp.58-59. Ibid., p.60.

95. Proposal of the National Military Organization - Irgun Zvai Leumi - Concerning the Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe and the Participation of the N.M.O. in the War on the side of Germany. Original text found in David Yisraeli, The Palestine Problem in German Politics. 1889-1945. (Ramat Gan, Israel: Bar Ilan University, 1974), pp.315-317, Brenner. Zionism, p.267.

96. Brenner, The Iron Wall, p.107.

97. Lidice was a Czech village razed to the ground by the S.S. It became a symbol of Nazi brutality and was singled out as a war crime during the Nuremberg Trials.


Last updated on 4.8.2001