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Letter in New York Times by Jewish Intellectuals 1948

This is the original text of a letter to the editor published in the New York Times in 1948 signed by prominent Jewish intellectuals, including Albert Einstein.

Letters to The Times New York Times December 4, 1948

New Palestine Party Visit of Menachem Begin and Aims of Political Movement Discussed

TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:

Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.

Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.

The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.

Attack on Arab Village

A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants—240 men, women, and children—and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community
was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin.

The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.

Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.

During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the
terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.

The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.

Discrepancies Seen

The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a “Leader State” is the goal.

In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin’s efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.

The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.

ISIDORE ABRAMOWITZ, HANNAH ARENDT, ABRAHAM BRICK, RABBI JESSURUN CARDOZO, ALBERT EINSTEIN, HERMAN EISEN, M.D., HAYIM FINEMAN, M. GALLEN, M.D., H.H. HARRIS, ZELIG S. HARRIS, SIDNEY HOOK, FRED KARUSH, BRURIA KAUFMAN, IRMA L. LINDHEIM, NACHMAN MAISEL, SEYMOUR MELMAN, MYER D. MENDELSON, M.D., HARRY M. OSLINSKY, SAMUEL PITLICK, FRITZ ROHRLICH, LOUIS P. ROCKER, RUTH SAGIS, ITZHAK SANKOWSKY, I.J. SHOENBERG, SAMUEL SHUMAN, M. SINGER, IRMA WOLFE, STEFAN WOLFE.

New York, Dec. 2, 1948

Source notes: Laura Nader gave a copy of the microfilmed NYT to Anne Lipow in April. (Nader has been using it in her class at UC). The copy was illegible in parts and the first column was cut off; Laura’s original was the same. Anne and UC Anthropology Librarian Suzanne Calpestri then tried to retrieve an electronic version of the letter. It
appears nowhere in its entirety on the Internet, and is not in any NYT electronic archive accessible to UC Librarians (i.e., it doesn’t exist). Suzanne made another copy from a different microfilm; it solved the mystery of the missing first column but this copy was also “dirty” in other areas. Neither copy was scannable using OCR,so I typed it in by hand exactly the way it appeared in the original, and have proofed it carefully. However, the spelling of some of the signatories was unclear in the microfilmed originals, so there may be a few errors in this rendition. It would be nice if someone were to annotate the list of signatories, so that those less-familiar names could be placed in
context. At any rate, this clearly belongs IN FULL TEXT on the web for distribution to as many people as possible. Please circulate this among anyone you think may be interested; I think it especially belongs in the hands of those friends and family members who are still reluctant to criticize the Israeli government.

source info: Jenny Lipow Berkeley, CA 22 May
2002

It’s instructive to contrast the above honest appraisal and abhorrence of Zionist ideology and its atrocious acts of terrorism against the indigenous people of Palestine with this letter by Barenboim et al to the New York Review of Books, which the Angry Arab rightly identifies as ‘a piece of trash’.

This is like asking a family that has been conquered and beaten and shot at and whose house has been occupied by a merciless killer to sign a statement to foreswear force once and for all.

And then they call on me to transcend the past? How cute is that? If the realities on the ground favor one side (the killers, the conquerers, the usurpers, the colonizers) then any call for transcending the past is a mere call for legitimizing and accepting not only occupation, but all t

5000 Years of History in the Middle East

This is an excellent animation which illustrates the fallacy of Zionist claims to Israel’s current terrortory.

There’s a new book out challenging the fallacious Zionist narrative of Israel.

What if the Palestinian Arabs who have lived for decades under the heel of the modern Israeli state are in fact descended from the very same “children of Israel” described in the Old Testament?

And what if most modern Israelis aren’t descended from the ancient Israelites at all, but are actually a mix of Europeans, North Africans and others who didn’t “return” to the scrap of land we now call Israel and establish a new state following the attempt to exterminate them during World War II, but came in and forcefully displaced people whose ancestors had lived there for millennia?

What if the entire tale of the Jewish Diaspora — the story recounted at Passover tables by Jews around the world every year detailing the ancient Jews’ exile from Judea, the years spent wandering through the desert, their escape from the Pharaoh’s clutches — is all wrong?

That’s the explosive thesis of When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?, a book by Tel Aviv University scholar Shlomo Zand (or Sand) that sent shockwaves across Israeli society when it was published last year. After 19 weeks on the Israeli best-seller list, the book is being translated into a dozen languages and will be published in the United States this year by Verso.

….

Zand’s central argument is that the Romans didn’t expel whole nations from their territories. Zand estimates that perhaps 10,000 ancient Judeans were vanquished during the Roman wars, and the remaining inhabitants of ancient Judea remained, converting to Islam and assimilating with their conquerors when Arabs subjugated the area. They became the progenitors of today’s Palestinian Arabs, many of whom now live as refugees who were exiled from their homeland during the 20th century.

This narrative has huge significance in terms of Israel’s national identity. If Judaism is a religion, rather than “a people” descended from a dispersed nation, then it brings into question the central justification for the state of Israel remaining a “Jewish state.”

And that brings us to Zand’s second assertion. He argues that the story of the Jewish nation — the transformation of the Jewish people from a group with a shared cultural identity and religious faith into a vanquished “people” — was a relatively recent invention, hatched in the 19th century by Zionist scholars and advanced by the Israeli academic establishment. It was, argues Zand, an intellectual conspiracy of sorts. Segev says, “It’s all fiction and myth that served as an excuse for the establishment of the State of Israel.”

The book has very important ramifications for the development of a future one state solution.

But the idea of a single, binational state has more recently been marginalized — dismissed as an attempt to destroy Israel literally and physically, rather than as an ethnic and religious-based political entity with a population of second-class Arab citizens and the legacy of responsibility for world’s longest-standing refugee population.

A logical conclusion of Zand’s work exposing Israel’s founding mythology may be the restoration of the idea of a one-state solution to a legitimate place in the debate over this contentious region. After all, while it muddies the waters in one sense — raising ancient, biblical questions about just who the “children of Israel” really are — in another sense, it hints at the commonalities that exist between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Both groups lay claim to the same crust of earth, both have faced historic repression and displacement and both hold dear the idea that they should have a “right of return.”

And if both groups in fact share common biblical ties, then it begs the question of why the entirety of what was Palestine under the British mandate should remain a refuge for people of one religion instead of being a country in which Jews and Arabs are guaranteed equal protection — equal protection under the laws of a state whose legitimacy would never again be open to question.