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Old 11-19-2010, 07:12 PM
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Exclamation ‘Let the Jewish people know we fought’

‘Let the Jewish people know we fought’




By JOANNA PARASZCZUK
11/19/2010 12:22


Most Israelis are ignorant of the fact that 1.5 million Jews fought Hitler and Nazism during World War II.


Red Army veteran Shalom Scopas defies his 85 years as he dashes about the mini-museum of World War II memorabilia he has created in the basement of his Holon home. His bright blue eyes sparking with pride, he points out rows of medals, sepia snapshots of himself as a dashing young man in his smart Soviet uniform, and letters of gratitude from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and former president Vladimir Putin.

Scopas is one of half a million Soviet Jews who joined the Red Army to fight against the Nazis. Forty percent of these Jewish recruits died in battle, the highest percentage of all the USSR’s ethnic groups.

Soviet Jews were not the only ones to join the fight against the Nazis. One and a half million Jews from all over the world fought in World War II, including 150,000 women. A quarter million of these Jewish fighters fell in battle.

“Yet most Israelis, especially young people, don’t know that so many Jews stood up and fought Hitler and Nazism,” says Scopas. “It’s very sad.”

Scopas was born in 1925 in Panevezys, one of the largest centers of Jewish life in Lithuania. The Baltic state was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940 and a year later by the Nazis.

As the German forces approached Panevezys in June 1941, panic gripped the town. Scopas’s mother told him to flee to Russia with his older brother, Hillel.

The 16-year-old managed to hitch a ride out of Panevezys on a Red Army truck, but Hillel didn’t make it.

It was the last time Scopas was to see his family. Four days later, the Nazis entered Panevezys. Lithuanian Nazi collaborators murdered Rochel Leah and sons Hillel, Shimon and Avraham on August 28, 1941.

By 1943, Panevezys’s Jewish community had been obliterated. Scopas reached Russia and in 1942 joined the Red Army.

“I was Jewish. I wanted to fight the Nazis,” he says, switching from Hebrew to Russian as his memories take him back in time. Scopas was assigned to the razvedchiki, specially trained troops who went behind enemy lines to capture what the Russians dubbed yazyki (“tongues”) – German soldiers who were pumped for information about enemy plans.

“We were sent out on undercover missions,” Scopas relates. “One day we went to bring back ‘tongues’ from a German military hospital in the forest. We captured several Germans. One of the captive officers lit a cigarette.

I said in Yiddish: ‘Put it out, the smoke will give away our position. He refused... I killed him on the spot.

“I had to. I still have nightmares. It was terrible. War is awful, a terrible thing.”

On January 12, 1945, Scopas went behind enemy lines for what would be his last retrieval mission.

“When we went out, I carried a medal, ‘For Courage’, in my breast pocket. We attacked a line of Nazis in the forest. In the fighting, we lost three comrades. Then the enemy lobbed a grenade at me from close range. I woke up days later in hospital covered in wounds. The doctor said if it hadn’t been for that medal over my heart, I’d have been a goner for sure.

“A piece of the medal was missing where shrapnel hit it! It saved my life.”

The Red Army’s Jewish soldiers knew nothing about the death camps until the end of the war. “When we found out, it was terrible. We were in shock. Horrified. We wept and wept,” Scopas remembers.

Scopas made aliya in 1959, fleeing rampant anti- Semitism in the USSR. Despite his many decorations and the honor he has received in Russia and Israel for his wartime bravery, the traumas of war have not left him.

“I am disabled. I still feel trauma, sometimes depression,” he admits. “War is cruel and terrible.”

Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Zvi Kan-Tor, who over the past decade has pushed forward plans for a dedicated museum to commemorate Jewish fighters like Scopas, describes the extent of the global Jewish contribution to the war as “enormous.” Jews fought in the ranks of the Allied Forces, in underground movements, as partisans and in the ghettos themselves, in every single battle in Europe, North Africa and the Far East, on land, air and sea.

“THE BIGGEST army that fought against the Nazis was the Jews. No other nation on earth provided so many soldiers,” explains Kan-Tor. Yet the fact that so many Jewish soldiers enlisted to fight against Nazism, or fought as partisans has thus far been overlooked in Israeli and Jewish history.

“In Israel people are not aware of the extent of Jewish heroism in World War II,” stresses Kan-Tor. “It’s a historical injustice.”

To shed light on this neglected chapter of Jewish history, Kan-Tor and a team of other World War II experts and veterans have revealed plans for a museum dedicated to the subject, The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II.

Why is this museum being created only now, 62 years after the State of Israel was founded? “There is a deficit in our education,” believes Kan-Tor.

“In the first years of the State of Israel, the country faced tremendous difficulties. The trauma of World War II, then the War of Independence, financial troubles, international pressures. Huge waves of aliya brought Jews from all over the world. At the same time, Israel needed to build a new nation, a new country.”

To do this, Israel needed Israeli heroes, says Kan-Tor.

“We grew up on our own heroes, from the Lehi, the Hagana and the Irgun Zva’i Leumi. It’s painful to say it, but those from poor, old broken Europe were not heroes then,” he continues sadly. “At that time, even Shoah survivors were not heroes.” This sounds unthinkable to contemporary Israeli ears.

But the young Jewish state was determined to build a strong national identity that would enable it to rise from the ashes of World War II – and fight its own wars.

As the years passed, Israeli Jews were forced to come to terms with the enormity of the Shoah.

“In 1961 came a watershed: the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Everyone heard what happened in that trial, and suddenly, people started to talk,” says Kan-Tor. “We realized, we understood that Shoah survivors had so much to tell us.”

In 1953, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, was established by government decree. In the 1960s, a permanent museum to honor and remember the six million who perished was created in Jerusalem.

With the 1980s came another turning point: the fall of the Iron Curtain opened up Eastern Europe to outside visitors.

“Now we could visit Poland,” says Kan-Tor. “We saw the camps. We knew those who we thought victims were really heroes.”

THE DISINTEGRATION of the USSR in 1989 opened the gates for hundreds of thousands of Jews from former Soviet countries to make aliya. Now Israelis saw another side to the events of World War II.

“We saw Russian olim wearing medals,” remembers Kan-Tor. “They brought with them new customs like Veterans’ Days. We heard Russians talking about the Great Patriotic War. Here were Jews who fought against the Nazis.”

The Jewish soldiers had a unique role in the war, says Dr. Tamar Ketko, a World War II expert and curator of the new museum. “They had a double identity. They were recruited as Soviet, American or British soldiers but they also fought as Jews.”

As more became known about the extent of the Jewish contribution in World War II, ideas started to germinate about commemorating the Jewish fighters. Like all ideas, it started out small – a single room at the Armored Corps Memorial in Latrun.

To properly commemorate the incredible history of Jewish heroism in World War II, a 2,000-square-meter site has been earmarked for a dedicated museum at the Armored Corps Memorial.

Led by Kan-Tor, the museum project is supported by Dr. Tamar Ketko, architects Zalman Enav and Haim Dotan, and museum designers from the Orpan Group.

Separate wings are planned for each of the armies in which Jews fought, plus the partisans and ghetto fighters.

Through maps, movies, photos, displays of uniforms and medals, and most importantly via the personal stories of individual fighters, Kan-Tor hopes visitors will be able to glimpse the amazing courage of the one and a half million Jews who helped defeat Nazism.

Kan-Tor says the Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II has received government backing.

Ariel Sharon’s government initially agreed to the museum in 2002. More recently, the cause has been championed by Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Israel Beiteinu and now foreign minister, who insisted on funding for the museum being a condition of the coalition agreement he signed with former prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2006.

However, while the government has agreed to provide up to $16 million in matched funds, it has still to issue a building permit to construct the museum at Latrun, Kan-Tor says. The delay is because the land earmarked for the museum is on the border of Judea and Samaria, disputed West Bank territory. The building permit is being coordinated via the Ministry of Defense Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Israeli Civil Administration, the governing body operating in Judea and Samaria.

“The Armored Corps Memorial is currently in the process of regulating the contracts required to build the museum in conjunction with the Israeli Civil Administration,” said a COGAT spokesperson in a statement in response to a query by Metro.

“Upon completion of the contractual agreement, the conditions for issuing building permits will be negotiated in accordance with the criteria established by the Israeli Civil Administration’s planning office.”

REGARDLESS OF this delay, the museum has received widespread support from Jewish World War II veterans in Israel. Among those championing it is Dr. Yitzhak Arad, the former director-general of Yad Vashem and an internationally renowned World War II historian.

A teenager during the war, Arad joined the fight against the Nazis as a partisan in the forests of Lithuania.

Born Yitzhak Rudnicki on November 11, 1926, in Swieciany, Lithuania, Arad moved to Warsaw as a child with his family. The Rudnickis were ardent Zionists.

When World War II broke out in 1939, Arad was just 13.

“I celebrated my bar mitzva under German occupation,” he remembers. “In December 1939, my 15-yearold sister Rachel and I returned to Swieciany. Our parents did not make it. They were both killed.”

Swieciany’s 3,000 Jews comprised just over half the town’s population. During 1940, Lithuania’s Jewish population swelled to 250,000 as refugees fled Nazioccupied Poland. But the Baltic country was not the safe haven many hoped to find. In June 1941, Nazi forces occupied Lithuania and the mass murder of Jews began.

“At the end of September 1941, the Nazis rounded up Jews and forced them into a remote military barracks,” relates Arad.

The night before, continues Arad, he and a small group of Jewish teens – including his sister Rachel – escaped to Belarus. That decision saved their lives. On October 9, 1941, a total of 3,726 Jews – 1,169 men, 1,840 women, and 717 children – were murdered in the Poligon barracks near Swieciany. With shocking coldness, these numbers are precisely recorded in an official Nazi document.

“If I hadn’t escaped, that list would have read 1,170 men,” adds Arad.

Refuge in Belarus was short-lived; when the Nazis started killing Jews there too, Arad returned to Swieciany and lived in the ghetto.

“I and around 10 others were rounded up and taken out of the ghetto,” says Arad. “I thought we were going to be shot because we didn’t have [ghetto] registration papers, but they took us to a weapons store. They made us clean the weapons.

“When the German officer showing us round went outside to smoke, I shoved a rifle down my sweater. I’d had an idea of creating a partisan group and freeing the Jews. I had to work all day with that gun – I didn’t know if I would be searched and caught. But when they took us back to the ghetto that night, I managed to get through without being detected.”

The boys’ daring theft of weapons from under the noses of the Nazis continued.

“We stole many weapons,” says Arad with pride. “In 1943, we escaped from the ghetto to the forest. We were 22 boys and three or four girls.” Arad’s teenage sister Rachel also became a partisan fighter.

Partisan life in the forest was harsh. “The partisans could not have survived without the help of the local people,” Arad acknowledges. “To live, we had to take food from local villages. It was very tough. This was a war of life and death, of our survival or theirs. We eventually met up with some Soviet partisans. They weren’t Jewish, but we joined with them.”

Arad, nicknamed “Tolka” by his fellow partisans, carried out daring resistance activities from their forest hideout.

“The Germans were building a railway to reach Leningrad. We put explosives on the line to blow it up. We worked in winter when it was terribly cold. I myself blew up 16 Nazi echelons,” describes Arad.

“In the summer of 1944, we met up with troops from the Red Army and I fought with them until the end of the war.”

When the war ended, Arad decided there was only one place for him to go.

“All my life I wanted to go to Israel,” he says. “At the end of the war, I escaped and went to Poland. From there, via the Bricha [illegal Jewish immigrant movement] I reached Bratislava, then Austria and Italy. I arrived in Israel on the small boat Hanna Szenes on Christmas night, 1945. I immediately joined the Palmah against the British and fought in the War of Independence.”

Arad’s career in the IDF was stratospheric. He reached the rank of brigadier-general, and was appointed chief education officer. In 1972, he retired from the army, but his working life and contribution to the Jewish people were far from over.

“I became director-general of Yad Vashem in 1972 because I felt an obligation to dedicate the second half of my life to those murdered in the Shoah,” he says.

Since his retirement from Yad Vashem, Arad has concentrated on his academic career and published widely on the Shoah and World War II. His 2009 book The Holocaust in the Soviet Union, won the National Jewish Book Award. His latest tome, Under the Shadow of the Red Banner, is a history of the half-million Soviet Jews who fought in the Red Army.

Arad stresses the importance of the Museum of the Jewish Soldier in commemorating and teaching about the Jewish people’s role in defeating Nazism.

“When we talk about the Shoah, there has been an emphasis on the six million victims,” he explains. “I feel it is very important to teach children that the Jewish people also have a share in the victory against Nazism.”

Although it has yet to receive a government permit to build at Latrun, the association has launched a campaign to raise funds for the museum.

According to Alan Gold, who is leading fund-raising efforts on behalf of the association, the campaign’s goal is the $16 million required to construct the museum.

A fund-raising and PR expert originally from the UK, Gold is concentrating initial fund-raising and awareness- raising efforts in English-speaking countries and among Israel’s Anglo community.

“I believe people will want to donate to a museum commemorating the 1.5 million Jews who fought against Nazism,” says Gold.

“Also, we are appealing for people to give testimonies about family members and friends who fought in the war.”

The museum is not for Israel alone, adds Gold. “It’s about the unity of the Jewish people,” he believes.


Red Army veteran Shalom Scopas defies his 85 years as he dashes about the mini-museum of World War II memorabilia he has created in the basement of his Holon home. His bright blue eyes sparking with pride, he points out rows of medals, sepia snapshots of himself as a dashing young man in his smart Soviet uniform, and letters of gratitude from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and former president Vladimir Putin.

Scopas is one of half a million Soviet Jews who joined the Red Army to fight against the Nazis. Forty percent of these Jewish recruits died in battle, the highest percentage of all the USSR’s ethnic groups.

Soviet Jews were not the only ones to join the fight against the Nazis. One and a half million Jews from all over the world fought in World War II, including 150,000 women. A quarter million of these Jewish fighters fell in battle.

“Yet most Israelis, especially young people, don’t know that so many Jews stood up and fought Hitler and Nazism,” says Scopas. “It’s very sad.”

Scopas was born in 1925 in Panevezys, one of the largest centers of Jewish life in Lithuania. The Baltic state was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940 and a year later by the Nazis.

As the German forces approached Panevezys in June 1941, panic gripped the town. Scopas’s mother told him to flee to Russia with his older brother, Hillel.

The 16-year-old managed to hitch a ride out of Panevezys on a Red Army truck, but Hillel didn’t make it.

It was the last time Scopas was to see his family. Four days later, the Nazis entered Panevezys. Lithuanian Nazi collaborators murdered Rochel Leah and sons Hillel, Shimon and Avraham on August 28, 1941.

By 1943, Panevezys’s Jewish community had been obliterated. Scopas reached Russia and in 1942 joined the Red Army.

“I was Jewish. I wanted to fight the Nazis,” he says, switching from Hebrew to Russian as his memories take him back in time. Scopas was assigned to the razvedchiki, specially trained troops who went behind enemy lines to capture what the Russians dubbed yazyki (“tongues”) – German soldiers who were pumped for information about enemy plans.

“We were sent out on undercover missions,” Scopas relates. “One day we went to bring back ‘tongues’ from a German military hospital in the forest. We captured several Germans. One of the captive officers lit a cigarette.

I said in Yiddish: ‘Put it out, the smoke will give away our position. He refused... I killed him on the spot.

“I had to. I still have nightmares. It was terrible. War is awful, a terrible thing.”

On January 12, 1945, Scopas went behind enemy lines for what would be his last retrieval mission.

“When we went out, I carried a medal, ‘For Courage’, in my breast pocket. We attacked a line of Nazis in the forest. In the fighting, we lost three comrades. Then the enemy lobbed a grenade at me from close range. I woke up days later in hospital covered in wounds. The doctor said if it hadn’t been for that medal over my heart, I’d have been a goner for sure.

“A piece of the medal was missing where shrapnel hit it! It saved my life.”

The Red Army’s Jewish soldiers knew nothing about the death camps until the end of the war. “When we found out, it was terrible. We were in shock. Horrified.

We wept and wept,” Scopas remembers.

Scopas made aliya in 1959, fleeing rampant anti- Semitism in the USSR. Despite his many decorations and the honor he has received in Russia and Israel for his wartime bravery, the traumas of war have not left him.

“I am disabled. I still feel trauma, sometimes depression,” he admits. “War is cruel and terrible.”

Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Zvi Kan-Tor, who over the past decade has pushed forward plans for a dedicated museum to commemorate Jewish fighters like Scopas, describes the extent of the global Jewish contribution to the war as “enormous.” Jews fought in the ranks of the Allied Forces, in underground movements, as partisans and in the ghettos themselves, in every single battle in Europe, North Africa and the Far East, on land, air and sea.

“THE BIGGEST army that fought against the Nazis was the Jews. No other nation on earth provided so many soldiers,” explains Kan-Tor. Yet the fact that so many Jewish soldiers enlisted to fight against Nazism, or fought as partisans has thus far been overlooked in Israeli and Jewish history.

“In Israel people are not aware of the extent of Jewish heroism in World War II,” stresses Kan-Tor. “It’s a historical injustice.”

To shed light on this neglected chapter of Jewish history, Kan-Tor and a team of other World War II experts and veterans have revealed plans for a museum dedicated to the subject, The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II.

Why is this museum being created only now, 62 years after the State of Israel was founded? “There is a deficit in our education,” believes Kan-Tor.

“In the first years of the State of Israel, the country faced tremendous difficulties. The trauma of World War II, then the War of Independence, financial troubles, international pressures. Huge waves of aliya brought Jews from all over the world. At the same time, Israel needed to build a new nation, a new country.”

To do this, Israel needed Israeli heroes, says Kan-Tor.

“We grew up on our own heroes, from the Lehi, the Hagana and the Irgun Zva’i Leumi. It’s painful to say it, but those from poor, old broken Europe were not heroes then,” he continues sadly. “At that time, even Shoah survivors were not heroes.” This sounds unthinkable to contemporary Israeli ears.

But the young Jewish state was determined to build a strong national identity that would enable it to rise from the ashes of World War II – and fight its own wars.

As the years passed, Israeli Jews were forced to come to terms with the enormity of the Shoah.

“In 1961 came a watershed: the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Everyone heard what happened in that trial, and suddenly, people started to talk,” says Kan-Tor. “We realized, we understood that Shoah survivors had so much to tell us.”

In 1953, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, was established by government decree. In the 1960s, a permanent museum to honor and remember the six million who perished was created in Jerusalem.

With the 1980s came another turning point: the fall of the Iron Curtain opened up Eastern Europe to outside visitors.

“Now we could visit Poland,” says Kan-Tor. “We saw the camps. We knew those who we thought victims were really heroes.”

THE DISINTEGRATION of the USSR in 1989 opened the gates for hundreds of thousands of Jews from former Soviet countries to make aliya. Now Israelis saw another side to the events of World War II.

“We saw Russian olim wearing medals,” remembers Kan-Tor. “They brought with them new customs like Veterans’ Days. We heard Russians talking about the Great Patriotic War. Here were Jews who fought against the Nazis.”

The Jewish soldiers had a unique role in the war, says Dr. Tamar Ketko, a World War II expert and curator of the new museum. “They had a double identity. They were recruited as Soviet, American or British soldiers but they also fought as Jews.”

As more became known about the extent of the Jewish contribution in World War II, ideas started to germinate about commemorating the Jewish fighters. Like all ideas, it started out small – a single room at the Armored Corps Memorial in Latrun.

To properly commemorate the incredible history of Jewish heroism in World War II, a 2,000-square-meter site has been earmarked for a dedicated museum at the Armored Corps Memorial.

Led by Kan-Tor, the museum project is supported by Dr. Tamar Ketko, architects Zalman Enav and Haim Dotan, and museum designers from the Orpan Group.

Separate wings are planned for each of the armies in which Jews fought, plus the partisans and ghetto fighters.

Through maps, movies, photos, displays of uniforms and medals, and most importantly via the personal stories of individual fighters, Kan-Tor hopes visitors will be able to glimpse the amazing courage of the one and a half million Jews who helped defeat Nazism.

Kan-Tor says the Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II has received government backing.

Ariel Sharon’s government initially agreed to the museum in 2002. More recently, the cause has been championed by Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Israel Beiteinu and now foreign minister, who insisted on funding for the museum being a condition of the coalition agreement he signed with former prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2006.

However, while the government has agreed to provide up to $16 million in matched funds, it has still to issue a building permit to construct the museum at Latrun, Kan-Tor says. The delay is because the land earmarked for the museum is on the border of Judea and Samaria, disputed West Bank territory. The building permit is being coordinated via the Ministry of Defense Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Israeli Civil Administration, the governing body operating in Judea and Samaria.

“The Armored Corps Memorial is currently in the process of regulating the contracts required to build the museum in conjunction with the Israeli Civil Administration,” said a COGAT spokesperson in a statement in response to a query by Metro. “Upon completion of the contractual agreement, the conditions for issuing building permits will be negotiated in accordance with the criteria established by the Israeli Civil Administration’s planning office.”

REGARDLESS OF this delay, the museum has received widespread support from Jewish World War II veterans in Israel. Among those championing it is Dr. Yitzhak Arad, the former director-general of Yad Vashem and an internationally renowned World War II historian.

A teenager during the war, Arad joined the fight against the Nazis as a partisan in the forests of Lithuania.

Born Yitzhak Rudnicki on November 11, 1926, in Swieciany, Lithuania, Arad moved to Warsaw as a child with his family. The Rudnickis were ardent Zionists.

When World War II broke out in 1939, Arad was just 13.

“I celebrated my bar mitzva under German occupation,” he remembers. “In December 1939, my 15-yearold sister Rachel and I returned to Swieciany. Our parents did not make it. They were both killed.”

Swieciany’s 3,000 Jews comprised just over half the town’s population. During 1940, Lithuania’s Jewish population swelled to 250,000 as refugees fled Nazioccupied Poland. But the Baltic country was not the safe haven many hoped to find. In June 1941, Nazi forces occupied Lithuania and the mass murder of Jews began.

“At the end of September 1941, the Nazis rounded up Jews and forced them into a remote military barracks,” relates Arad.

The night before, continues Arad, he and a small group of Jewish teens – including his sister Rachel – escaped to Belarus. That decision saved their lives. On October 9, 1941, a total of 3,726 Jews – 1,169 men, 1,840 women, and 717 children – were murdered in the Poligon barracks near Swieciany. With shocking coldness, these numbers are precisely recorded in an official Nazi document.

“If I hadn’t escaped, that list would have read 1,170 men,” adds Arad.

Refuge in Belarus was short-lived; when the Nazis started killing Jews there too, Arad returned to Swieciany and lived in the ghetto.

“I and around 10 others were rounded up and taken out of the ghetto,” says Arad. “I thought we were going to be shot because we didn’t have [ghetto] registration papers, but they took us to a weapons store. They made us clean the weapons.

“When the German officer showing us round went outside to smoke, I shoved a rifle down my sweater. I’d had an idea of creating a partisan group and freeing the Jews. I had to work all day with that gun – I didn’t know if I would be searched and caught. But when they took us back to the ghetto that night, I managed to get through without being detected.”

The boys’ daring theft of weapons from under the noses of the Nazis continued.

“We stole many weapons,” says Arad with pride. “In 1943, we escaped from the ghetto to the forest. We were 22 boys and three or four girls.” Arad’s teenage sister Rachel also became a partisan fighter.

Partisan life in the forest was harsh. “The partisans could not have survived without the help of the local people,” Arad acknowledges. “To live, we had to take food from local villages. It was very tough. This was a war of life and death, of our survival or theirs. We eventually met up with some Soviet partisans. They weren’t Jewish, but we joined with them.”

Arad, nicknamed “Tolka” by his fellow partisans, carried out daring resistance activities from their forest hideout.

“The Germans were building a railway to reach Leningrad. We put explosives on the line to blow it up.

We worked in winter when it was terribly cold. I myself blew up 16 Nazi echelons,” describes Arad.

“In the summer of 1944, we met up with troops from the Red Army and I fought with them until the end of the war.”

When the war ended, Arad decided there was only one place for him to go.

“All my life I wanted to go to Israel,” he says. “At the end of the war, I escaped and went to Poland. From there, via the Bricha [illegal Jewish immigrant movement] I reached Bratislava, then Austria and Italy. I arrived in Israel on the small boat Hanna Szenes on Christmas night, 1945. I immediately joined the Palmah against the British and fought in the War of Independence.”

Arad’s career in the IDF was stratospheric. He reached the rank of brigadier-general, and was appointed chief education officer. In 1972, he retired from the army, but his working life and contribution to the Jewish people were far from over.

“I became director-general of Yad Vashem in 1972 because I felt an obligation to dedicate the second half of my life to those murdered in the Shoah,” he says.

Since his retirement from Yad Vashem, Arad has concentrated on his academic career and published widely on the Shoah and World War II. His 2009 book The Holocaust in the Soviet Union, won the National Jewish Book Award. His latest tome, Under the Shadow of the Red Banner, is a history of the half-million Soviet Jews who fought in the Red Army.

Arad stresses the importance of the Museum of the Jewish Soldier in commemorating and teaching about the Jewish people’s role in defeating Nazism.

“When we talk about the Shoah, there has been an emphasis on the six million victims,” he explains. “I feel it is very important to teach children that the Jewish people also have a share in the victory against Nazism.”

Although it has yet to receive a government permit to build at Latrun, the association has launched a campaign to raise funds for the museum.

According to Alan Gold, who is leading fund-raising efforts on behalf of the association, the campaign’s goal is the $16 million required to construct the museum.

A fund-raising and PR expert originally from the UK, Gold is concentrating initial fund-raising and awareness- raising efforts in English-speaking countries and among Israel’s Anglo community.

“I believe people will want to donate to a museum commemorating the 1.5 million Jews who fought against Nazism,” says Gold.

“Also, we are appealing for people to give testimonies about family members and friends who fought in the war.”

The museum is not for Israel alone, adds Gold. “It’s about the unity of the Jewish people,” he believes.


At home in Holon, Shalom Scopas has created a memorial for his beloved mother Rochel Leah and three brothers murdered in the Shoah. On this warm October morning, sunlight floods through the window, illuminating a photograph of this beautiful Jewish woman and devoted mother.

“I live with them here. Every day,” says Scopas quietly.

“And now I’m giving my story [to the museum] so that generations to come will know the Jewish people stood up and fought the Nazis.”

Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II, veteran@jwmww2.com If you, a relative or friend fought against Nazism in World War II, please visit www.jwmww2.org and enter the details on the museum’s database.


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O Israel
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”

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Old 06-15-2011, 11:28 AM
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thank you
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Old 12-18-2013, 12:22 AM
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In world War I was the Jewish Legion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Legion
In world War II was the Jewish Brigade http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Brigade

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Old 12-18-2013, 12:32 PM
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Great thread, thanks Paparock!
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Old 08-04-2014, 08:19 AM
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very interesting
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Old 08-07-2014, 07:58 PM
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An excellent article, Papa.
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Old 04-26-2015, 04:10 PM
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Exclamation Could Jewish Soldiers Celebrate Passover in Jerusalem in 1918?

Could Jewish Soldiers Celebrate Passover in Jerusalem in 1918?
Read Col. Paterson's words to see that there is nothing new under the sun.
By Lenny Ben-David



Jewish Brigade on Pesach

In WWI, individual Jewish soldiers served in the ranks of the armies of Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand and were involved in the 1917 battles in locations such as Be'er Sheva and Rishon LeZion. Another large group of Jews served in the British army's Jewish Legion, commanded by Col. John Henry Patterson and involved in combat after arriving in Palestine in 1918. According to Patterson's memoirs, 2,000 soldiers were under his command.

Patterson bitterly complained that his soldiers were forbidden from celebrating Passover in Jerusalem in 1918 and 1919, yet the pictures below show Jewish soldiers in Jerusalem on the holiday. How can the contradiction be explained?


Jewish soldiers from various British units celebrating Passover in Jerusalem, 1918. The various headgear suggests the
soldiers were from many army units, including ANZAC and Scottish, and not necessarily from the Jewish Legion. (Harvard Library/Central Zionist Archives)

In Patterson's own words, the new sovereign of Palestine -- the British army -- continued the Ottomans' anti-Semitic practices against the Jews. Patterson's fury could barely be contained when his Jewish soldiers suffered from vicious anti-Semitism within the army and from British commanders.


Col. John Henry Patterson

Palestine has become the theatre of an undisguised anti-Semitic policy. Elementary equality of rights is denied the Jewish inhabitants; the Holy City, where the Jews are by far the largest community, has been handed over to a militantly anti-Semitic municipality; violence against Jews is tolerated, and whole districts are closed to them by threats of such violence under the very eyes of the authorities; high officials, guilty of acts which any Court would qualify as instigation to anti-Jewish pogroms, not only go unpunished, but retain their official positions. The Hebrew language is officially disregarded and humiliated; anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is the fashionable attitude among officials who take their cue from superior authority; and honest attempts to come to an agreement with Arabs are being frustrated by such means as penalising those Arab notables who betray pro-Jewish feeling.

The Jewish soldier is treated as an outcast. The hard and honest work of our battalions is recompensed by scorn and slander, which, starting from centres of high authority, have now reached the rank and file, and envenomed the relations between Jewish and English soldiers. When there is a danger of anti-Jewish excesses, Jewish soldiers are removed from the threatened areas and employed on fatigues, and not even granted the right to defend their own flesh and blood.

Discrimination against Jews was, however, still shown in other quarters. Early in April 1918 the men were considerably upset on the receipt of orders from G.H.Q. that no Jewish soldier would be allowed to enter Jerusalem during the Passover; the order ran thus: "The walled city (of Jerusalem) is placed out of bounds to all Jewish soldiers from the 14th to the 22nd April, inclusive."


The caption reads: "Jewish Legion soldier (sic) during Passover in Jerusalem." Clearly, this is not Jerusalem. The library description of the photo also includes "Judean Hills region," a more likely setting. (Harvard Library/Central Zionist Archives)

I cannot conceive a greater act of provocation to Jewish soldiers than this, or a greater insult. The days during which they were prohibited from entering Jerusalem were the days of the Passover. Think of it! Jewish soldiers for the first time in their lives in Palestine and barred from the Temple Wall of Jerusalem during Passover! Only a Jew can really understand what it meant to these men, and the great strain it put on their discipline and loyalty.
How provocative and insulting this order was will be better understood when it is realized that the majority of the population of Jerusalem is Jewish, and, therefore, there could have been no possible reason for excluding Jewish troops belonging to a British unit, while other British troops were freely admitted, more especially as the conduct of the Jewish soldiers was, at all times, exemplary.


Jewish soldiers at Passover Seder, Jerusalem, 1919 The photo is signed by Ya'akov Ben-Dov who moved to Palestine in 1907 from Kiev. He was drafted into the Ottoman army during World War I and served as a photographer in Jerusalem. Ben-Dov filmed Allenby's entry into Jerusalem in 1917 (Harvard Library/Central Zionist Archives)

Not since the days of the Emperor Hadrian had such a humiliating decree been issued. However, to make up somewhat for the action of the authorities, I made arrangements for the Passover to be observed at Rafa with all the joy and ceremony usually attending that great Feast of the Jewish People. At considerable cost we provided unleavened bread, as well as meat and wine—all strictly "Kosher." As we were nearly 2,000 strong at this time, the catering for the feast had to be most carefully gone into, and Lieut. Jabotinsky, Lieut. Lazarus, and the Rev. L. A. Falk did yeoman service in providing for all needs. It was a wonderful sight when we all sat down together and sang the Hagadah on the edge of the Sinai desert.

Passover was selected to insult their deepest religious feelings, by barring them access to the Wailing Wall during that week. No Jewish detachment is allowed to be stationed in Jerusalem or any of the other Holy Cities of Jewry.

Jewish soldiers -- their headgear and uniforms suggests they are from from various units -- celebrating Passover at the British Jewish Soldiers Home in Jerusalem, 1919 (Harvard Library/Central Zionist Archives)

Another letter:

The Feast of the Passover was celebrated during our stay at Helmieh. Thus history was repeating itself in the Land of Bondage in a Jewish Military Camp, after a lapse of over 3,000 years from the date of the original feast.

I had considerable trouble with the authorities in the matter of providing unleavened bread. However, we surmounted all difficulties, and had an exceedingly jovial first night, helped thereto by the excellent Palestinian wine which we received from Mr. Gluskin, the head of the celebrated wine press of Richon-le-Zion, near Jaffa. The unleavened bread for the battalion, during the eight days of the Feast, cost somewhat more than the ordinary ration would have done, so I requested that the excess should be paid for out of Army Funds. This was refused by the local command in Egypt, so I went to the H.Q. Office, where I saw a Jewish Staff Officer, and told him I had come to get this matter adjusted.

He said that, as a matter of fact, he had decided against us himself. I told him that I considered his judgment unfair, because the battalion was a Jewish Battalion, and the Army Council had already promised Kosher food whenever it was possible to obtain it, and it would have been a deadly insult to have forced ordinary bread upon the men during Passover. I therefore said that I would appeal against his decision to a higher authority. He replied, "This will do you no good, for you will get the same reply from G.H.Q." He was mistaken, for I found the Gentile, on this particular occasion, more sympathetic than the Jew, and the extra amount was paid by order of the Q.M.G., Sir Walter Campbell.

It is apparent that while Jewish soldiers from other units in the British army were permitted to attend seder in Jerusalem, the formal Jewish Legion was not, perhaps because of the army's desire to restrict a distinctly Jewish, nationalistic corps in its midst. 

The Jewish Brigade!







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The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”


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Exclamation A Man That Fought for the Establishment of Eretz Israel

A Man That Fought for the Establishment of Eretz Israel
Chaim Azriel Weizmann


Chaim Weizmann
חיים עזריאל ויצמן
Хаим Вейцман

Chaim Weizmann, 26 March 1949


View their record here> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaim_Weizmann

Museums in Israel:

Chaim Weizmann Museum




Acetone–butanol–ethanol (ABE) fermentation is a process that uses bacterial fermentation to produce acetone, n-Butanol, and ethanol from carbohydrates such as starch and glucose. It was developed by the chemist Chaim Weizmann and was the primary process used to make acetone during World War I, such as to produce cordite, a substance essential for the British war industry.

The Balfour Declaration
November 2, 1917




Introduction

Origins of the Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration was issued in the form of a letter from the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur James Balfour, to Lord Rothschild. It was delivered to Chaim Weizmann, a Zionist activist, expressing British support for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine.

There are different theories about why the British agreed to issue the Balfour declaration when they issued it. Some of these "theories," such as the claim that "Jewish money interests" were being courted to help float a loan for Britain or bring the United States into the war are racist inventions. Nonetheless the exact circumstances of the declaration are unclear. One possibility is that the declaration was deliberately contrived to allow the British to renege on earlier promises to France and the Arabs regarding Palestine. Lloyd George reportedly said that British control over Palestine would prevent it from falling into the hands of the agnostic atheistic French.

British Zionism and the Balfour Declaration

However, the declaration did not fall as a bolt from the blue, but was rather the culmination of a long tradition in Britain that supported restoration (http://www.mideastweb.org/britzion.htm) of the Jews to their own land for philosophical, religious and imperialistic motives. In his introduction to Nahum Sokolow's History of Zionism, Balfour (http://www.zionism-israel.com/Balfou...to_Zionism.htm) makes it clear that he supported the project of a "national home" for the Jewish people because he believed it was just. He had previously supported the scheme of Jews settlement in Uganda.

An important factor that may have influenced the foreign office was the information supplied to Britain by the NILI underground and Aaron Aaronsohn (http://www.zionism-israel.com/bio/bi...on_aronson.htm), which was to prove useful in driving the Turks out of Palestine. Using Palestine to guard the Suez canal may have been yet another motivation.

The Zionist movement had been founded to create a national home for the Jews, secured by international law. That purpose was embodied in the resolutions of the first Zionist congress. Theodor Herzl had tried to secure a Jewish homeland in Palestine with the consent of the Ottoman Empire and the German Kaiser. He was rebuffed in both cases, and turned his efforts to securing a temporary home for the Jews in Uganda or Argentina or anywhere, a program that was controversial and eventually abandoned by the Zionist organization. The Zionists for a time developed several schools of thought. One school of "political" Zionists believed in securing a homeland through the efforts of rich and powerful leaders, who would petition potentates for a charter to create a homeland. The other school of practical Zionists believed that a Jewish national home could only be secured by settlement and creation of a Jewish community. The political recognition would only follow upon the facts. Events were to prove that both were necessary. The instrument of obtaining the long-sought charter, ironically enough, was not a political Zionist, but Haim (or Chaim) Weizmann, a self-proclaimed practical Zionist, who believed that agricultural settlement must form the basis of the new Jewish community.

Chaim Weizmann and the Balfour Declaration

Weizmann, a Russian Zionist, settled in England in 1904 to pursue his career in chemistry. In 1906 his employer introduced him to Lord Balfour, who was anxious to convince Weizmann that the Zionist movement should accept Uganda, rather than Palestine, as a national home. Instead, Weizmann began the process of convincing Balfour that Palestine ought to be the Jewish national home. The British Zionist movement began actively lobbying the British government in their cause, and during the early years of the war found a sympathetic advocate in Mark Sykes, who professed an interest to liberate the 'downtrodden people of the world' including the Armenians, Arabs and Jews. Weizmann also befriended CP Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian and a sympathizer with the cause of Jewish restoration in Palestine. In 1914, Scott introduced him to Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer and later Prime Minister during the war. Later, Scott was an active member of the British Palestine Committee in Manchester, which produced the magazine Palestine, and lobbied for the mandate and Jewish rights in Palestine.

During World War I, Weizmann's influence with the British government was increased by the fact that he lent his talents to producing the solvent acetone, needed for the war effort, by a fermentation process. Weizmann began drafting a proposal for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, under British suzerainty. In the context of British designs in the Middle East, this improbable idea, similar to ideas proposed to the Turks and Germans previously, became a possibility. It was supported by several factions in the British government. It received some support because the British envisioned Palestine as an effective post for guarding the Suez canal. It received support for sentimental reasons, because beginning in the 19th century a number of leading figures in Britain had become interested in the idea of restoring the Jews to Palestine (http://www.mideastweb.org/britzion.htm). Paradoxically, the idea of a Jewish state was also supported for anti-Semitic reasons. Several members of the foreign service were convinced that the Jews had enormous influence on world affairs, and could use that influence to help either the allies or Germany. A rumor that the the Germans were about to grant a similar document to the Jews hastened the issuance of the Balfour declaration.

British Promises

The British were busy making promises. Henry McMahon had exchanged letters with Hussein ibn Ali, Sheriff of Mecca in 1915, in which he had promised the Arabs control of the Arab lands, exclusive of the Mediterranean coast. The extent of the coastal exclusion is not clear. Hussein protested that the Arabs of Beirut would greatly oppose isolation from the Arab state or states, but did not it seems, bring up the matter of the area Jerusalem, which included a good part of Palestine. This suggests either that the area of Jerusalem and Palestine was not part of the inclusion and was promised to the Arabs, as shown in some maps (http://www.mideastweb.org/mesykespicot.htm#MAPI), and is believed by pro-Arab historians, or that Palestine was included, but that Hussein did not protest. The latter version is supported by Dr. Chaim Weizmann in his autobiographical book Trial and Error, and that interpretation was convenient to the British also, and supported explicitly by the British government in the White Paper of 1922.

In 1916, Mark Sykes had concluded a secret draft treaty with France (http://www.mideastweb.org/mesykespicot.htm) which made a contradictory division of the lands to be won from Turkey. The secret was known to Weizmann, who was astounded to learn of it from Zionist sources in Paris:

What we did not know in the early stages of our practical negotiations was that a secret tentative agreement, which was later revealed as the 'Sykes-Picot Treaty,' already existed between France and England! And the most curious part of the history is this: although Sir Mark Sykes, of the British Foreign Office, had himself negotiated this treaty with M. Georges Picot of the French Foreign Office, Sir Mark entered into negotiations with us, and gave us his fullest support, without even telling us of the existence of the tentative agreement! He was in effect, modifying his stand in our favour, seeking to revise the agreement so that our claims in Palestine might be given room. But it was not from him that we learned of the existence of the agreement, and months passed- months during which we carried on our negotiations with the British and other authorities- before we understood what it was that blocked our progress. (Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, 1949, page 238).

I learned of its [ the Sykes Picot Agreement] existence on April 16, 1917, from Mr Scott [C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian and member of the British Palestine Committee] who had obtained the information in Paris. Haim Weizmann, Trial and Error, 1949, page 241).

Thus, the existence of the Sykes Picot Agreement as a tentative draft treaty was known during the negotiations for the Balfour declaration, and the later publication of its content did not shock the ZIonist movement.

Having made promises to the Arabs and the French, the British government was now to make a third contradictory declaration to the leading Zionists of Great Britain. During the negotiations with the Zionists, Sykes gave great support to the idea of a Jewish state and never mentioned the existence of the contradictory Sykes-Picot agreement with the French. Likewise, the Zionist leaders met George Picot, and he did not raise any objections based on that agreement, which gave the French control of much of Palestine. Weizmann notes that the treaty was never mentioned.

Jewish opposition to the Balfour Declaration

As the proposal took shape and began to be known, it invited intense opposition from a small group of rich and influential assimilated Jews, who felt threatened by the possible implications of double loyalty. In particular, the idea was opposed by Edwin Montagu (http://www.zionism-israel.com/hdoc/Montagu_balfour.htm) , who made a bitter attack against the Balfour declaration (http://www.zionism-israel.com/hdoc/Montagu_balfour.htm). He claimed that the declaration would cause Jews to be expelled from every country, and that given the new found freedom of Russian Jews, there was no reason for the declaration. He attributed persecution of Jews to clannishness and biological differences. The original text of the declaration had read "Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people." After Montagu's attack, the text was changed to read "the establishment in Palestine of a Home for the Jewish people." A clause was also added protecting the rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine and more curiously, to meet Montagu's objections, a clause was added protecting the rights of Jewish communities outside Palestine.

In his memoirs, Lloyd George wrote:

The Balfour Declaration represented the convinced policy of all parties in our country and also in America, but the launching of it in 1917 was due, as I have said, to propagandist reasons. (David Lloyd George, Memoirs, page 724)

In other words, the policy was backed because of the traditional support of many Britons for Jewish restoration (http://www.mideastweb.org/britzion.htm), a support echoed by several US Presidents as well. However, there were specific reasons for issuing the declaration in 1917. That is, as noted, the British believed, without much foundation, that "the Jews" were influential in Bolshevik Russia and likewise that Jewish financiers controlled untold wealth that could be put at the disposal of the allies or the Central powers depending on which government would support a Jewish state or national home in Palestine. In his memoirs, Lloyd George continued to exaggerate the power of the Jews and the help that they rendered:

The Germans were equally alive to the fact that the Jews of Russia wielded considerable influence in Bolshevik circles. The Zionist Movement was exceptionally strong in Russia and America. The Germans were, therefore, engaged actively in courting favour with that Movement all over the world. A friendly Russia would mean not only more food and raw material for Germany and Austria, but fewer German and Austrian troops on the Eastern front and, therefore, more available for the West. These considerations were brought to our notice by the Foreign Office, and reported to the War Cabinet.

The support of the Zionists for the cause of the Entente would mean a great deal as a war measure. Quite naturally Jewish sympathies were to a great extent anti-Russian, and therefore in favour of the Central Powers. No ally of Russia, in fact, could escape sharing that immediate and inevitable penalty for the long and savage Russian persecution of the Jewish race. In addition to this, the German General Staff, with their wide outlook on possibilities, urged, early in 1916, the advantages of promising Jewish restoration to Palestine under an arrangement to be made between Zionists and Turkey, backed by a German guarantee. The practical difficulties were considerable; the subject was perhaps dangerous to German relations with Turkey; and the German Government acted cautiously. But the scheme was by no means rejected or even shelved, and at any moment the Allies might have been forestalled in offering this supreme bid. In fact in September, 1917, the German Government were making very serious efforts to capture the Zionist Movement.

Another most cogent reason for the adoption by the Allies of the policy of the declaration lay in the state of Russia herself. Russian Jews had been secretly active on behalf of the Central Powers from the first; they had become the chief agents of German pacifist propaganda in Russia; by 1917 they had done much in preparing for that general disintegration of Russian society, later recognised as the Revolution. It was believed that if Great Britain declared for the fulfilment of Zionist aspirations in Palestine under her own pledge, one effect would be to bring Russian Jewry to the cause of the Entente.

It was believed, also, that such a declaration would have a potent influence upon world Jewry outside Russia, and secure for the Entente the aid of Jewish financial interests. In America, their aid in this respect would have a special value when the Allies had almost exhausted the gold and marketable securities available for American purchases. Such were the chief considerations which, in 1917, impelled the British Government towards making a contract with Jewry. (pp 725 - 726).

In fact, the Jewish Bolsheviks were anti-Zionists, the Zionists were completely without influence in the Bolshevik movement, and the Bolsheviks cared not a fig for British war aims, as later events proved most definitely. As for money, while the majority of Jews may have supported the Zionist movement, rich and influential Jews like Henry Morgenthau in the US and Edwin Montagu in Britain were more or less opposed to the project. Lloyd George himself quoted Balfour as saying, "this movement, though opposed by a number of wealthy Jews in this country, had behind it the support of a majority of Jews, at all events in Russia and America, and possibly in other countries. " (page 734). It is probable that a majority of Jews supported Zionism, but not the richest and most influential as a rule.

Chaim Weizmann wrote:

Mrs Dugdale records further: 'as late as January, 1918, our Ambassador in Washington reported, on the authority of Mr. Justice Brandeis himself, that the Zionists were violently opposed by the great capitalists, for different reasons,' and she adds in passing 'this in itself shows how baseless was the idea, once very prevalent, that the Balfour Declaration was in part a bargain with American financiers.' (Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, 1949, page 245).

The support of the Rothschild family for the Zionist project could lend verisimilitude to the claim that the declaration was published to get the help of rich Jews. However, in fact, British and American Jews would and did help the Entente, and German Jews would and did help the Central Powers, with or without the Balfour declaration, just as non-Jews helped their own countries. Chaim Weizmann had busied himself during the war years in producing acetone for the British war effort and was embarrassed by attempts of the Zionist movement to demonstrate neutrality by moving to Copenhagen.

As for the Russian Jews, those who claimed Jewish identity had no money and less power. Bolshevik Jews repudiated nationalist sentiments as a matter principle, and British intelligence should have had no problem learning that this was so. Marx had written that the advent of socialism would do away with the Jews entirely, and nationalism was contrary to international workers solidarity. The idea that Jewish Bolsheviks like Kaganovich and Trotsky would be interested in a Jewish state in Palestine, supported by imperialist Britain, is certainly absurd. The Kerensky government did keep Russia in the war with disastrous consequences for itself, but the Bolsheviks, among whom the Jews were so supposedly so influential, promptly concluded a separate peace with the Germans. The new Soviet government began negotiations for the treaty of Brest Litovsk about a month after the Balfour declaration was issued, on December 17. The negotiations were conducted by the Bolshevik war commissar, Leon Trotsky, a Jew.

Ex-Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, who carried some weight with the Wilson administration, has been implicated by antisemites and anti-Zionists in nefarious schemes to inveigle the US into World War I in return for British support for a Jewish state. However, America joined the war before the Balfour declaration was issued. Morgenthau himself initiated a US mission, which he eventually aborted, that was to have tried to get Turkey out of the war by promising that it could keep Armenia, Palestine and other territories if it left the Central Powers alliance.

It is not clear if Lloyd George really believed in the mythological powers of "international Jewry" or whether he, like the Zionists, tended to deliberately encourage such beliefs in order to advance the cause of Jewish restoration in Palestine.

Some attention has been paid to the phrase "national home for the Jewish People" because it has been subject to various interpretations. In 1922, Churchill tried to hint broadly that a "national home" was not necessarily a state (http://www.mideastweb.org/1922wp.htm). According to Lloyd George, however, the meaning was clear:

There has been a good deal of discussion as to the meaning of the words "Jewish National Home" and whether it involved the setting up of a Jewish National State in Palestine. I have already quoted the words actually used by Mr. Balfour when he submitted the declaration to the Cabinet for its approval. They were not challenged at the time by any member present, and there could be no doubt as to what the Cabinet then had in their minds. It was not their idea that a Jewish State should be set up immediately by the Peace Treaty without reference to the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants. On the other hand, it was contemplated that when the time arrived for according representative institutions to Palestine, if the Jews had meanwhile responded to the opportunity afforded them by the idea of a National Home and had become a definite majority of the inhabitants, then Palestine would thus become a Jewish Commonwealth. The notion that Jewish immigration would have to be artificially restricted in order to ensure that the Jews should be a permanent minority never entered into the heads of anyone engaged in framing the policy. That would have been regarded as unjust and as a fraud on the people to whom we were appealing. (Memoirs, pp 736-7)

If there is any further doubt in the matter, Balfour himself told a Jewish gathering on February 7,1918:

My personal hope is that the Jews will make good in Palestine and eventually found a Jewish state. It is up to them now; we have given them their great opportunity. " (Sanders, Ronald. The High Walls of Jerusalem: A History of the Balfour Declaration and the Birth of the British Mandate for Palestine. New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983)

The final decision of the cabinet was made known in the form of a letter by Arthur James Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild. It was believed that the Arab nationalists would not oppose Jewish aims in Palestine, provided that the Jews helped the Arabs to achieve their own aims. This hope was born out to an extent, in Feisal's letters to Weizmann (http://www.mideastweb.org/feisweiz.htm) and to the American Zionist, justice Frankfurter. However, as it became apparent that the British would not honor all their commitments to the Arabs, bitterness grew that the Balfour declaration had been made over the heads of the residents of Palestine, and that the League of Nations Mandate (http://www.mideastweb.org/mandate.htm) which grew out of it, was the only mandate that ignored the right of the "native" population to self-government.

It may not make sense to speak of the original intentions of the "the British Government" in making the declaration, which reflects a great deal of what has been called "constructive ambiguity," or in other words, double talk. Very probably there were some, including Lloyd George and Balfour, who intended the declaration as the Zionist interpreted it, as an intention to create a Jewish State or British -protected Jewish entity in all or part of Palestine. Certainly, the Arabs had this view as well. Others may have had less ambitious ideas, while many in the government may have seen it as an ambiguously worded document that could be used to give Britain a claim on Palestine to use against France, and could be used to garner support of the mythical power brokers of "world Jewry."

As the document evolved, it was altered, mostly owing to the pressure of Mr Edwin Montagu, an anti-Zionist Jew who had been appointed Secretary of State for India. Montagu tried to block the declaration entirely, and when that failed, succeeded in inserting significant changes. The following wording appeared in a telegram from Weizmann to Justice Brandeis as approved by the Foreign office and Prime Minister:

1. His Majesty's Government accepts the principle that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people.

2. His Majesty's Government will use its best endeavours to secure the achievement of this object and will discuss the necessary methods with the Zionist Organization.

(Chaim Weizmann, Trial and Error, 1949, p 257)

According to Weizmann, all the opposition to the declaration came from Jews. Two major changes were made. The first one changed the declaration to call for a national home in Palestine, rather than making all Palestine a national home. The single word "in" was used subsequently to justify removing all of Transjordan from the British Mandate that resulted from the Balfour Declaration.

The second change added the following wording:

it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

This wording was at least in part, a reflection of Edwin Montagu's conviction, shared by other influential British Jews, that the very existence of a Jewish state would call into question the loyalties of Jews living in other countries and be a source of antisemitic persecution. The clause concerning the rights of existing non-Jewish communities was used in the Churchill White paper (http://www.mideastweb.org/1922wp.htm) and more particularly in the Passfield White Paper of 1930 to justify limitations on Jewish immigration, which, it was claimed, was threatening the economic rights of the Arabs by causing unemployment and dispossession. The unemployment rate among Palestinian Arabs in the depression year of 1930 was 4%. The Passfield White Paper (http://www.zionism-israel.com/Passfi...Paper_1930.htm) seemed to adopt the principle that Jewish development required equal development in Arab communities to protect the position of the existing inhabitants. The British government even considered that this clause might obligate a Jewish state to subsidize an Arab state! (see 1938: Disposition of the Peel and Woodhead reports - http://www.mideastweb.org/1938peeldecision.htm ).

However, it is likely that even if the Balfour declaration had not contained that wording, the League Mandate would had added some clause to protect the rights of existing minorities because the purpose of mandates under the League Charter (http://www.mideastweb.org/leaguemand.htm) was, after all, to prepare existing inhabitants for self determination. In any case, the protection of rights of existing inhabitants was expanded under the provisions of the Mandate (http://www.mideastweb.org/mandate.htm).

The declaration spoke of a "national home" for the Jewish people, which might be construed as a British protectorate where Jews could live, an autonomous Jewish region, or a Jewish state. Haim Weizmann jumped the gun a bit by referring to a "Jewish Commonwealth" and thereby incurred the ire of the British. It was not until 1942, in the Biltmore Program (http://www.mideastweb.org/biltmore_program.htm) that the Zionist movement clearly declared their express intention of forming a Jewish state in Palestine, with or without British agreement.

As Palestinian sources point out, the Balfour declaration was not an internationally approved document. It was not even an official promise of the British government, but only a letter expressing intent, and at most a promise that the British government

will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object

It was neither more nor less in status than the exchange of letters with Prince Feisal. On the other hand, the British used the promise of a Jewish national home to extract from the League of Nations, with Zionist help, a large territory for the Mandate (http://www.mideastweb.org/mandate.htm), creating a new territorial entity called "Palestine," that had no status except in Christian holy books before 1917. The League Mandate incorporated the provisions of the Balfour declaration and expanded upon them. It was an explicit commitment, not just just promise, and it was approved and accepted by the League of Nations, the recognized international authority.

As the declaration and the terms of the mandate became inconvenient for the British government, they altered or abrogated its terms in a series of White Papers, beginning with the Churchill White paper of 1922 (http://www.mideastweb.org/1922wp.htm).

Ami Isseroff

History of Zionism and the Creation of Israel (http://www.zionism-israel.com/zionism_history.htm)


The Balfour Declaration
Foreign Office


November 2nd, 1917


See here for original document with highlighted links> http://www.zionism-israel.com/Balfou...ation_1917.htm

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,

Arthur James Balfour

This document is part of the historical documents collection at the Zionism and Israel Information Center
More about history of Zionism: A History of Zionism and the Creation of Israel

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Please do copy these links, and tell your friends about http://www.zionism-israel.com Zionism Website

Thank you.

Sister sites http://zionism.netfirms.com Zionism Pages and Zionism and Israel On the Web

Friends and informative sites:

Zionism - Definition and Brief History - A balanced article that covers the definitions and history of Zionism as well as opposition to Zionism and criticisms by Arabs, Jewish anti-Zionists.

Labor Zionism - Early History and Critique - Contribution of Labor Zionism to the creation of the Jewish state, and problems of Labor Zionism in a changing reality.

Dvar Dea - Israel & Zionist advocacy

La Bibliothèque Proche Orientale- Le Grand Mufti Husseini

The Grand Mufti Haj Amin El Husseini

Israel-Palestina - (Dutch) Middle East Conflict, Israel, Palestine,Zionism... Israël-Palestina Informatie -gids Israël, Palestijnen en Midden-Oosten conflict... Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a European perspective - Dutch and English.

Zionisme - israelinformatie- Zionisme Israel/Jodendom Israelisch-Palestijns Conflict Anti-Semitisme Shoa - a Dutch Web site with many useful Jewish, Zionism and Israel links (in English too).









__________________
O Israel
The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.

Asymmetric Warfare It’s not just for the “Other Guys”


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