History triumphs over pseudo-history–A response to Edwin Black

To a scholar, the dispassionate, honest evaluation of available evidence is all that matters. If the sum of the research leads to an inexorable conclusion, then that is the one that must be defended. To assert otherwise would be obscurantist and unscholarly.

I mention this truism because of a strangely peevish e-mail I received from author Edwin Black, whom I cited approvingly in my July 7 column “Zionists sabotage anti-fascist boycott–”again.”

Black is upset that I did not interpret his evidence the way he wanted, even though all of the information I cited supported my conclusions; to wit, that Zionist collaboration with the Third Reich sabotaged an effective Jewish boycott and ultimately became a major cause of the Nazi holocaust. The evidence I cited came directly from chapter four of his book The Transfer Agreement.

As I read it, I was impressed by Black’s depth of knowledge and easy manner of presentation, to say nothing of the courage it took for a Jew to write about this most dishonourable chapter of Jewish history. Understandably, I was chagrined and more than a bit insulted by the tone and content of Black’s assault upon me and my scholarship.

Herewith is my response. Black’s words are in italics and precede my comments in each of the following seven sections.

Point 1

Sir: Your citations to my book The Transfer Agreement and its revelations about a Zionist attempt to rescue Jews during the Third Reich are factually in error and twisted out of context. Your mistakes on dates, details and perspective is quite profound for a discussion with an academic underpinning.

First of all, the Zionists did not attempt to rescue Jews; in fact, they actively frustrated all attempts at rescue. Here are four easily accessible citations from well-known Zionists that prove this point:

Chaim Weizmann, Israel’s first president:
“The hopes of Europe’s six million Jews are centered on emigration. I was asked: ‘Can you bring six million Jews to Palestine?’ I replied, ‘No.’… From the depths of the tragedy I want to save… young people [for Palestine]. The old ones will pass. They will bear their fate or they will not. They are dust, economic and moral dust in a cruel world… Only the branch of the young shall survive. They have to accept it.” (1)

Yitzhak Gruenbaum, Zionist chairman of the committee set up ostensibly to investigate the condition of European Jews:
“When they come to us with two plans–”the rescue of the masses of Jews in Europe or the redemption of the land–”I vote, without a second thought, for the redemption of the land. The more said about the slaughter of our people, the greater the minimization of our efforts to strengthen and promote the Hebraisation of the land. If there would be a possibility today of buying packages of food with the money of the Karen Hayesod [United Jewish Appeal] to send it through Lisbon, would we do such a thing? No. And once again no!” (1)

David ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister:
“The Zionist movement…interfered with and hindered other organizations, Jewish and non-Jewish, whenever it imagined that their activity, political or humanitarian, was at variance with Zionist aims or in competition with them, even when these might be helpful to Jews, even when it was a question of life and death…Beit Zvi documents the Zionist leadership’s indifference to saving Jews from the Nazi menace except in cases in which the Jews could be brought to Palestine….(2)

“The obtuseness of the Zionist movement towards the fate of European Jewry did not prevent if, of course, from later hurling accusations against the whole world for its indifference towards the Jewish catastrophe or from pressing material, political, and moral demands on the world because of that indifference.” (2)

Then there’s the issue of the coercive pressure the Zionist lobby exerted on the U.S. government to prevent Jews from fleeing Europe. President Roosevelt was trying to find asylum for 500,000 Jews, and believed that Canada, Austalia and South America would be receptive. His close friend Morris Ernst, a Jew, traveled to London to see if the U.K. could take 100,000 to 200,000. Morris came back with good news then the following exchange took place:

ROOSEVELT: “Nothing doing on the program. We can’t put it over because the dominant, vocal Jewish leadership of America won’t stand for it.”

ERNST: “It’s impossible! Why?”

ROOSEVELT: “They are right from their point of view. The Zionist movement knows that Palestine is, and will be for some time, a remittance society. They know that they can raise vast sums for Palestine by saying to donors, ‘There is no other place this poor Jew can go.’ But if there is a world political asylum for all people irrespective of race, creed or color, they cannot raise their money. Then the people who do not want to give the money will have an excuse to say, ‘What do you mean, there is no place they can go but Palestine? They are the preferred wards of the world.'”

Author Alfred Lilienthal describes what then happened to Ernst: “As he himself put it: ‘I was thrown out of parlors of friends of mine who very frankly said, “Morris, this is treason. You are undermining the Zionist movement.” He ran into the same reaction among all Jewish groups and their leaders. Everywhere he found “a deep, genuine, often fanatically emotional vested interest in putting over the Palestinian movement” in men “who are little concerned about human blood if it is not their own.”‘” (3)

On the subject of my alleged mistakes on “dates details and perspective,” I made none. For example, I wrote: “On March 25 of that year [1933], the Nazi regime was saved. Reichschancellor Herman Goering called the heads of Germany’s three Jewish organizations into his office and fulminated about their spreading anti-Nazi propaganda and plotting world domination.” The date and composition of the meeting comes from page 34 of Black’s book, and Goering’s tirade comes from page 35.

My perspective came from Black. He described how Zionists were only too eager to work with the Nazi regime. Problem is, Black sought to depict this collaboration as a rescue mission, even though all evidence pointed to a mass betrayal of European Jewry. The most infamous example of Zionist collusion, unmentioned in his book, concerned Dr. Rudolf Kastner, who conspired to get 600 Zionists out of Hungary in exchange for helping the Nazis massacre 800,000 Jews. (4)

Unless Black is prepared to consider mass murder to be a form of rescue, his depiction of the role Zionists played toward European Jewry must be dismissed as deliberately obscurantist and unscholarly. Therefore I cannot be accused of taking his information out of context.

From here on, Black’s e-mail degenerates into the sort of desperate anti-Arab pseudo-scholarship one normally associates with Alan Dershowitz.

Point 2

You also failed to mention that the Palestinians and the Arab movement stood as shoulder-to-shoulder allies of the Nazis during the 12 Year Reich. The Arabs mobilized thousands of European murdering squads in a special SS division, they were accomplices in the Holocaust, perpetrated the Farhud (see www.farhud.org), supplied oil to the Nazis, organized against Russia, Britain and Europe and linked their Arab Fascist movements to the Nazi campaign.

If the Palestinians and the Arab movement “stood as shoulder-to-shoulder allies of the Nazis during the 12 Year Reich,” as Black alleges, how does he explain the 12,000 to 15,000 Palestinian Arabs who joined the British army in 1939? If nothing else, Black’s statement is irresponsible hyperbole. Fact is, however much the Arabs fought the British for independence, they saw an even greater threat in Hitler.

Allegations of a special SS division and holocaust collaboration are unsupported by any evidence. Black is engaging in the standard Zionist practice of hiding behind the Nazi holocaust to libel Palestinians as Nazis. As for farhud.org, it is a site for The Sephardic holocaust, and as such is hardly credible source on Palestinians. Adding to its lack of credibility is that the alleged Arab collaboration with the Nazis comes from Black himself. Black offers himself as corroboration for his own argument.

How tautological!

The term “Arab fascist” is a gratuitous libel and has no meaning.

Point 3

When Hitler was defeated in 1945, the Arabs continued the Nazi program of Jewish destruction, persecuting and expelling to Israel almost all their Jews–Jewish communities that had in some cases dwelled in those lands a thousand years before any Arab and Islamic communities.

This is a complete perversion of what really happened: “the Jews continued the Nazi program of Arab destruction, persecuting and expelling to Israel almost all their Arabs–”Arab communities that had in some cases dwelled in those lands a thousand years before any Jews and Jewish communities.”

The best way to prove that Jews were the aggressors is to read the words of those who perpetrated the atrocity:

Vladimir Jabotinsky–”leader of Right wing Zionism in 1920s and 30s:
“[Arabs] look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervour that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux looked upon his prairie… Therefore, it would be necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs, which is the same condition that exists now. Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population.” (5)

David Ben Gurion:
“If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?” (6)

Of course, I could adduce copious other quotes but these two are sufficient to debunk Black’s calumny that Arabs sought to expel Jews. Also of note–”Israel didn’t exist in 1945, a fact that strongly militates against taking Black at face value as a scholar.

Point 4

Hence, the Arab nations helped convert Israel from a European refuge to an Arab refuge. Israel is today more than half Arab, that is Jews from Arab countries. These Jews lived in harmony for millennia until 1920. I suggest you see another book I wrote, Banking on Baghdad. More info can be found at www.bankingonbaghdad.com.

Israel was never a European refuge, and it can hardly be called an Arab refuge, unless Black thinks that a cruel repressive occupation is a haven from suffering.

The second sentence is inane. Arab birthrates are approximately five times those of Jews. Importing Sephardic or Yemeni Jews has little to do with demographics.

Black is correct to say that Jews and Arabs lived in harmony for millennia, but neglects to mention that the cause of hostilities was Zionist invasion. In 1914, a mere 56,000 Jews lived among 715,000 Palestinians. By 1922, the figures were 83,000 and 663,000 respectively. By 1936, 385,400 Jews lived among 983,200 Palestinians. Jews were deliberately crowding out Palestinians, which is the declared intent of Zionists. “Drive them out!” as ben Gurion told Yitzhak Rabin.

The big lie about Arabs being invaders is standard Zionist disinformation, and it can easily be debunked by studying demographic and land-ownership surveys of Palestine.

In 1880, Jews constituted only 5.3 percent of Palestine’s population, a figure that had been relatively constant for more than a thousand years. By 1946, Jews had become a majority only in the subdistrict of Jaffa. The areas of Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah were 100 percent Palestinian. (7)

In 1945, Zionist Jews owned a minority of the land in every subdistrict; in Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Hebron and Beersheeba districts they owned less than one percent. (8)

Contrary to Black’s assertions, the historical evidence unambiguously proves that Arabs were the majority population in Palestine at the end of WWII, and that Zionist Jews deliberately waged unprovoked aggression against them.

From Nov. 29, 1947, when the UN General Assembly passed the “Partition Plan” (which the Security Council never ratified), until Israel was proclaimed on May 15, 1948, Zionist forces had dispossessed more than 300,000 Palestinians.

By the end of the year, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine registered 726,000 refugees. Walter Eytan, then-director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, referred to the UNRWA’s figure as “meticulous” and believed that the real number was closer to 800,000. (9)

I have not read, much less heard of, Banking on Baghdad , but from the website Black offered and from excerpts of the book I read on-line from Reform Judaism (Vol. 33 No. 2) it does not appear to do much to enlighten the reader about Iraq or its Jewish citizenry.

Whatever value it may have is marred by the selective use of history and obvious regurgitations of discredited Zionist propaganda. Take the following paragraph:

“On June 1, 1941, the sight of Jews returning from the Baghdad airport to greet the returning Regent was all the excuse an Iraqi mob needed to unleash its vengeance. The attack began as the Jewish delegation crossed the Al Khurr Bridge. Jews were murdered and mutilated in the streets; women were raped as their horrified families looked on; infants were killed in front of their parents. Violence quickly spread across the city and beyond, as the gangs looted and torched Jewish shops, burned down synagogues, and defiled their Torahs.”

I seriously doubt that these events occurred as Black described, but I do not want to get into an argument over a book I haven’t analyzed; nevertheless, one oft-cited canard must be addressed. It concerns the bombings that drove Jews out of Iraq.

A major problem for the Zionists is that 80 percent of European Jews wanted to emigrate to the U.S. What’s the point of having a Jewish homeland in Palestine if Jews prefer Brighton Beach or Miami?

If Jews wouldn’t come voluntarily, then they would be forced to come. in 1950 and 1951, Zionist agents, not Arabs, manufactured acts of persecution to compel Iraqi Jews to flee to "the safe haven" of Israel. One such Zionist was Mordechai Ben Porat who tossed hand grenades at the Shem-Tov Synagogue killing and injuring a number of worshippers.

This conduct of Zionist agents is corroborated by Naeim Giladi, a Jewish Iraqi Arab: “About 125,000 Jews left Iraq for Israel in the late 1940s and into 1952, most because they had been lied to and put into a panic by what I came to learn were Zionist bombs.” (10)

On June 11, 1951, U.S. assistant secretary of state George McGhee was so appalled that he condemned Israel: “It was one thing to take Jews from all over the world who were in distress, but it was another matter entirely to attempt to create circumstances which would stimulate immigration of Jews from areas where they were living in peace.” (11)

You’d think that Black would have some passing familiarity with this fact of history. After all, the website of his much ballyhooed book Banking on Baghdad makes the following boast:

“With access to numerous oil company archives, the papers of a half dozen governments, and numerous other primary sources yielding some 50,000 documents gathered by an international team of some 30 researchers, Banking on Baghdad promises to tell a monumental story 7,000 years in the making.”

It seems quantity of researchers does not add up to quality of research.

Point 5

Israel is not a fascist state. But many of its neighbors are. They have been relentless practicing genocide for 7,000 years, victimizing even as they have been victimized, as the record and Banking on Baghdad show.

Israel not a fascist state?! In January 1998, Jewish violinist Lord Yehudi Menuhin told the French newspaper Le Figaro: “It is extraordinary how nothing ever dies completely. Even the evil which prevailed yesterday in Nazi Germany is gaining ground in [Israel] today.”

Israeli Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, told the Jerusalem Post on June 19, 1989: “Jewish blood and a goy’s blood are not the same.” What is this, if not the Jewish version of Hitler’s Aryan master-race mentality?

The concomitant libel of Arab “fascism” should discredit Black as an authority on the Middle East. Arab states have a querulous history to be sure, but unlike Nazis and Zionists they have never practiced genocide. They have fought tribal wars, but not genocide as we know it.

In fact, the systematic Zionist destruction of the Arab civilization in Palestine is entirely consistent with the definition of genocide in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, e.g.:

(a) Killing members of [any identifiable] group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part…(12)

I suppose it’s no coincidence that the subject of Banking on Baghdad is heralded as “a monumental story 7,000 years in the making” and Black’s allegation of genocide in the Middle East is also 7,000 years. Is Black’s book a history or a tendentious piece of anti-Arab propaganda?

Point 6

The current fascist regimes have been propped up and indeed created by the United States and Europe for one thing: oil exploitation.

Again, Black throws around the word fascist without understanding what it means. The word he’s looking for is “authoritarian,” but that may not be pejorative enough for him. At least he’s right about the U.S. and Europe propping up these regimes for the sake of oil.

Point 7

The rigged academic boycott in England is not to be likened to the anti-Nazi boycott waged by interfaith groups, but to one against the Jews launched by Adolf Hitler and other fascist regimes. The world reacted to the Nazi boycott with their own counter boycott.

There was nothing rigged about the academic boycott in England. It was a principled decision, and Black has adduced no evidence to back up his claim. To say the anti-Nazi boycott was waged by interfaith groups, misrepresents and obscures the leading role played by U.S. and British Jews. Black’s tit-for-tat boycott argument is feeble, since the anti-Nazi boycott according to his own book, was largely driven by press reports of Nazi brutality towards Jews.

In summary, Edwin Black’s charges against me have been exposed as the desperate rantings of a Zionist who persists in forcing history to conform to his prejudices. Selective research, pseudo-scholastic arguments, and ad hominem attacks are not what I expect from someone of Black’s reputation.

I will be more selective in choosing my sources from now on.


(1) Cited in Faris Yahya, Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, (Beirut, Lebanon: Palestine Research Center, January 1978), pp. 55, 56).

(2) Cited in Boas Evron, Jewish State or Israeli Nation? and reproduced in Origin of Arab-Israeli Conflict 3rd. ed., (Jews for Justice: Berkley, Calif), p. 17 (www.cactus48.com/truth.html).

(3) Alfred M. Lilienthal, The Zionist Connection–”What Price Peace? pp. 35–”36.

(4) For a summary of the Kastner trial, see (www.aldeilis.net/zion/zionhol03.html).

(5) Cited in Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Original Sins–”Reflections of the History of Zionism and Israel, p. 104.

(6) Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif ( The Jewish Paradox,) pp. 121-122.

(7) Distribution of population (Palestinian and Jewish) by subdistrict, 1946, subsequently published as United Nations map 93 (b), August 1950. (www.passia.org/palestine_facts/MAPS/Distribution_of_population.htm).

(8) Zionist and Palestinian landownership in percentages by subdistrict, 1945, subsequently published as United Nations map 94 (b), August 1950. (www.passia.org/palestine_facts/MAPS/Zionist_and_Palestinian_

(9) Dr. Norman Finkelstein, “Debate on the 1948 Exodus,” Journal of Palestine Studies, (Autumn 1991), note 4, p. 86.

(10) Naeim Giladi The Jews of Iraq, (www.bintjbeil.com/E/occupation/ameu_iraqjews.html) Giladi is also the author of Ben Gurion’s scandals: How the Haganah and the Mossad eliminated Jews..

(11) Cited in John Quigley, Palestine and Israel–”A Challenge to Justice, p.101

(12) Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 6, July 12, 1999 (as amended).