Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, by Alison Weir
The United States has a moral prestige in the Near and Middle East unequaled by that of any other great power. We would lose that prestige and would be likely for many years to be considered as a betrayer of the high principles which we ourselves have enunciated….
- Loy Henderson, US State Department, 1945
Having recently completed a series on Hugh Wilford’s book, America's Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, I have decided to go further into this backstory with this complimentary examination offered by Weir.
Weir’s book is not long – sixteen chapters at just over 90 pages. There are, however, about 110 pages of endnotes and almost 25 pages of “Works Cited.” It seems safe to say that what this book lacks in wordiness is more than made up for in foundation.
In this review and given the relatively short length of each chapter, I will briefly summarize each chapter; the section titles are my own – not chapter titles in the book, but reflective of the title / content. I will likely cover the book in about three posts.
The Birth of the Special Relationship
The reality is that for decades U.S. foreign policy and defense experts opposed supporting the creation of Israel.
And then things changed. The result has been never ending wars, funding, and a destruction of freedom for America and Americans. It has given birth to bigotry toward an entire population, religion and culture – a population with which America had previously held prestige.
In the Beginning…
…was “political Zionism,”
…an international movement that began in the late 1800s with the goal of creating a Jewish state somewhere in the world.
The First Zionist Congress was held in 1897, in Basel, Switzerland and led by Theodor Herzl. The Congress established the World Zionist Organization – initially with 117 groups worldwide, by the next year about 900.
Several locations were considered for this Jewish state – apparently including Texas! They settled on Palestine as the objective. There was a small problem:
…Palestine was already inhabited by a population that was 93 – 96 percent non-Jewish.
The Palestinians would be pushed out – financially if possible, violently if necessary.
American Zionists played a prominent role in this endeavor:
By 1918 there were 200,000 Zionists in the U.S, and by 1948 this number had grown to almost a million.
Within the US government, memo after memo made clear that Zionism was contrary to US interests.
The Perushim were disciples of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, who left Lithuania at the beginning of the 19th century to settle in the Land of Israel, which was then part of Ottoman Syria under Ottoman rule. They were from the section of the community known as mitnagdim (opponents of the Chassidic movement) in Lithuania.
This chapter has nothing to do with this group; instead…
Even more surprising to this author – and even less well-known both to the public and to academics – is Brandeis’s membership in a secret society that covertly pushed Zionism both in the U.S and internationally.
This secret society would be the Parushim, and Louis Brandeis would be perhaps the most prominent and effective American Zionist. Oh yeah, he was also a Supreme Court Justice.
Members of the Parushim would take an oath, binding them to a single cause for their entire life – a bond dearer than family, school or nation. Did I forget to mention that Brandeis was a Supreme Court Justice?
Wilson won on the slogan “He kept us out of the war.” Well, until after re-election. There are many reasons to explain this transformation; here’s one:
Diverse documentary evidence shows that Zionists pushed for the U.S. to enter the war on Britain’s side as a part of a deal to gain British support for their colonization of Palestine.
British Foreign Minister Lord Balfour issued a letter to Zionist leader Lord Rothschild. The letter is a bit wishy-washy, but it was a very useful crack in the door – a two-by-four by which the Zionists could keep pounding on Britain for support.
Britain received the mandate over Palestine. The Zionists pushed for their homeland; many American voices pushed back: “…it would be disastrous for both Arabs and Jews…”
President Wilson sent a commission to Palestine to study the matter. The creation of a Jewish state in Palestine could be accomplished only with “the gravest trespass upon the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” It didn’t help that the Zionists they spoke with looked forward to a complete dispossession of the land by its then-current occupants.
Zionists, led by Brandeis, suppressed the report until after the Peace Accords were enacted.
Jews worldwide would have a home to escape anti-Semitism. This would only work if Jews outside of Palestine actually wanted to migrate to Palestine; most did not. That would have to change. Support for this cause was offered by the Zionists in the way of exploiting and even perpetrating “anti-Semitic” incidents.
The number and magnitude of anti-Semitic events in Poland in 1919 was exaggerated; Hitler’s victory could only benefit the Zionist cause; collusion between Zionist and Nazi leaders; plans for proposed havens for Jewish refugees were scuttled by Zionists; false flags against synagogues in Iraq.
From Naeim Giladi, a Jewish Iraqi author:
“Jews from Islamic lands did not emigrate willingly to Israel.” In order “to force them to leave…Jews killed Jews.”
This seems like a good place to end part one.