Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, by Alison Weir
I continue with this final installment in my review of this book.
Zionist cadres infiltrated displaced person’s camps that had been set up to house refugees displaced during WWII. These infiltrators tried secretly to funnel people to Palestine. When it turned out that most didn’t want to go to Palestine, they worked to convince them – sometimes by force.
This “force” took interesting forms: “confiscations of food rations, dismissal from work, expulsion from the camps, taking away legal protection and visa rights…”
The story of the ship that had later become known as Exodus is interesting. In July 1947 it set sail with 4,500 survivors from German camps for Palestine; British officials in Palestine refused this illegal entry. As documented by Baruch Kimmerling, an Israeli professor and author of nine books on the founding of Zionism:
While many people have heard that British authorities refused to allow their illegal immigration into Palestine and forced the boat to be returned to Germany, few know that the French government had agreed to host the refugees.
Baruch Kimmerling offers a reason for a slight detour:
Baruch Kimmerling (16 October 1939 – 20 May 2007) was an Israeli scholar and professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Upon his death in 2007, The Times described him as "the first academic to use scholarship to reexamine the founding tenets of Zionism and the Israeli State". Though a sociologist by training, Kimmerling was associated with the New Historians, a group of Israeli scholars who question the official narrative of Israel's creation.
And the “New Historians”:
The New Historians are a loosely defined group of Israeli historians who have challenged traditional versions of Israeli history, including Israel's role in the Palestinian Exodus in 1948 and Arab willingness to discuss peace.
Their scholarship is based on Israeli government papers made public thirty years after the founding.
Avi Shlaim described the New Historians' differences from what he termed the "official history" in the following terms. According to Shlaim:
· The official version said that Britain tried to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state; the New Historians claimed that it tried to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state
· The official version said that the Palestinians fled their homes of their own free will; the New Historians said that the refugees were chased out or expelled
· The official version said that the balance of power was in favour of the Arabs; the New Historians said that Israel had the advantage both in manpower and in arms
· The official version said that the Arabs had a coordinated plan to destroy Israel; the New Historians said that the Arabs were divided
· The official version said that Arab intransigence prevented peace; the New Historians said that Israel is primarily to blame for the "dead end".
They take criticism from all sides: traditional Israeli historians who say that they fabricate Zionist misdeeds and Arab or Arab-friendly historians who say they whitewash Zionist crimes. In other words, these guys might be on to something.
Returning to Weir: David Ben-Gurion wanted drama such as that of the passengers of Exodus – this would aid in gaining sympathy for the Zionist cause. He rejected this solution offered by the French; the refugees spent seven months more on the ship.
For the coming war with the native Palestinians, forced conscription of incoming Jewish refugees (many of whom came involuntarily in the first place) was necessary as only 0.3% of this population voluntarily joined the military. Consider: a non-nation-state forced compulsory military service on a population that had never even lived on the land for which they were required to fight!
Israel’s so-called “War of Independence” created 750,000 Palestinian refugees. As a show of goodwill, if you can call it this, Israel donated 500 cases of oranges to the relief effort – this in exchange for property (stolen, confiscated, whatever) valued at the time at $480 million – or over $5 billion today.
Numerous convents, hospices, seminaries, and churches were either destroyed or emptied of their Christian owners. Citing Anders Strindberg:
In one of the most spectacular attacks on a Christian target, on May 17, 1948, the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate was shelled with about 100 mortar rounds – launched by Zionist forces from the already occupied monastery of the Benedictine Fathers on Mount Zion.
Truman, whose caving in to Zionist pressure was instrumental in creating this disaster, now tried to convince Israel to allow the refugees to return. Israel refused this request. The State Department threatened to withhold $49 million of Export-Import Bank funds if Israel did not allow at least 200,000 refugees to return. The Israeli Ambassador contacted the White House – and Truman disassociated himself from this request.
This ends my review of the book, but not my review of the subject. I will follow-up shortly with a perspective on this history by looking through the lens of property rights, immigration and homesteading.