new haven schull Holocaust Analogies: Repaying the Mortgage (journal article)

Holocaust Analogies: Repaying the Mortgage

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Article/book #: 2027
Title: Holocaust Analogies: Repaying the Mortgage
By: Tony Greenstein  
Published in: Return
Date of issue: March 1990
Topic(s) addressed:

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For over 40 years, Zionism has had a monopoly on the history of the Holocaust and its interpretation. The Holocaust has been used to prove the historical necessity of Zionism; which argues that if there had been a Jewish state in 1939, then there would have been no Holocaust. The Holocaust is portrayed as a consequence, not of the social, political and economic factors that led to the rise of fascism in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, but of the 'national homelessness' of Jews. The Zionist movement used the plight of European Jewry in order to batter open the gates of Palestine. At no time did they call for immigration barriers to be lowered in the West, on the contrary they opposed lowering them and their attitude to the Evian Conference, called in 1938 to discuss the refugee question, is best described by a Zionist historian:
"They realised that a conference whose primary purpose was to find alternatives to Jewish immigration to Palestine was not going to do their cause any good, and it would not be excessive to say that the truly dedicated Zionists hoped for the failure of the Evian talks. How disastrous it would be for Zionism if Australia say were to agree to admit a million Jews at once! They did not want a Jewish colony in Australia, they wanted Europe's suffering Jews to go only to Palestine, and if getting them there meant a prolongation of their suffering until the political climate was right, so be it. No better means of winning Palestine for Jews could be imagined than the existence of hundreds of thousands of displaced European Jews whom no other land would accept."
The Zionist movement in America, where imperialism's political center of gravity, and hence Zionism, had shifted, held its most important conference at the Biltmore Hotel in April 1943 and a larger, all-American conference the following year, at which the call for a Jewish state was first explicitly expounded. When Auschwitz was burning 12,000 Jews a day, and a possible future Jewish state was irrelevant to the Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe, the priorities of Zionism were on future state-building. Some, like Nathan Schwalb, Jewish Agency representative in Switzerland, went so far as to state that
"All the nations of the Allies are spilling much blood and if we do not bring sacrifices, with what will we achieve the right to sit at the table when they make the division of nations and territories after the war?"
Another Zionist historian reaches similar conclusions:
"As the European holocaust erupted, Ben-Gurion saw it as a decisive opportunity for Zionism. Just as Weizmann in the first war had realised the opportunities presented by the fluid political situation, so now Ben-Gurion above all others sensed chaos and carnage in Europe...In conditions of peace, it was clear, Zionism could not move the massed of world Jewry. The forces unleashed by Hitler in all their horror must therefore be harnessed to the advantage of Zionism...By the end of 1942 little doubt remained about the enormity of the Nazi purpose. By this time the Zionist movement itself was transformed. While hopes and efforts for the rescue of Europe's Jews continued, the struggle for a Jewish state became the primary concern of the movement"
Morris Ernst, a non-Zionist lawyer, wrote that he was amazed "when active Jewish leaders decried, sneered and then attacked me as if I were a traitor. At one dinner party I was openly accused of furthering this plan of free immigration in order to undermine political Zionism..."

Quotations from this item:
Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1988):  "We have not set up concentration camps and shall not yet do so, but we do have t... "

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