Cuban Communist Party Support for Both Batista and Castro

Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (Bio and Archives)  Tuesday, February 15, 2011 

It is worth dwelling on the Cuban story at greater length, if for no other reason than more than any other, it is so obvious and so close at hand, both geographically in its distance from American shores and by the presence of more than a million individuals who now reside in the United States and were personally involved and aware of how the Cuban Revolution came to power.

It is all the more important to reveal the stark naked truth of the Cuban episode that has for the past fifty years elevated both Fidel Castro and Che Guevara into international icons on the level of pop-stars. The number of teenagers and would-be teenagers wearing Che or Fidel T-shirts probably exceeds those wearing any other emblem with the possible exception of the cross (probably more as a cosmetic adornment rather than a real religious symbol of faith).

Of course, all of this is a matter of simple research available in thousands of documents and first hand sources, but young people all over the world continue to sport their T-shirts in the self-induced hypnosis that opposition to the U.S. by Castro and the support given to him by the USSR and communist block as well as his fifty year long tenure in power and thousands of hours of speeches all vouchsafe that the Cuban regime deserves the support of The LEFT, if for no other reason than Castro opposed U.S. imperialism and overthrew a dictator and therefore, – as in Orwell’s book Animal Farm (Two Legs Bad; Four Legs Good!), i.e., the Communists were/are/always have been on the side of “The People.” 

There were, however, many Cuban refugees in the United States before Castro came to power. They had fled the island to escape the dictatorial and corrupt rule of Fulgencio Batista and they were also fleeing the communist influence in his government and domination of many Cuban labor unions. Let today’s teenagers ask their grandparents! Certainly, all of us who are 65 and older will remember how Desi Arnaz, the star-husband of Lucille Ball of the “I Love Lucy Show,” explained to an American audience that the shocking tabloid newspaper headlines (LUCY BALL IN RED LINK, LUCILLE BALL LISTED AS RED) accusing his wife of communist sympathies were pure libel and a foul trick of yellow-press journalists (no doubt they would be called practitioners of “McCarthyism” today).

Lucy and her brother had registered Communist at the request of their father, a long time labor activist. There was no other “red” connection to Lucy but in addition, Desi revealed in several public appearances how he had fled Cuba and been “kicked out” because of his refusal to tow the line of the Communist dominated unions. He had arrived in the U.S.A. penniless and cleaned canary cages to earn money. As for Lucy’s alleged communist sympathies, Desi put it succintly—-“the only thing red about Lucy is her hair and even that is fake.” 

Populist, anti-American, charismatic figures with strong support among government controlled labor unions

Batista and several puppet presidents under his control had “earned” the support of Cuba’s Communist Party because they appeared as “revolutionary” and “Anti-American.” Other Latin American leaders such as Argentina’s dictator, General Juan Peron and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela today, also appealed to the same bases of support as populist, anti-American, charismatic figures with strong support among government controlled labor unions. The historical obedience to Moscow which characterized most Latin American Communist parties since their creations in the twenties and thirties lay behind the difficult relationship that characterized Fidel Castro’s initial attitude toward Communism and the role played by the old Cuban Communist Party before he gained power in January, 1959.

Although many Afro-Americans were hoodwinked by Castro’s propaganda about the Cuban Revolution bringing “racial equality” to the island’s population for the first time, it was none other than dictator Fulgencio Batista, a “mixed blood,” the descendant of Italian, Spanish, Chinese and African ancestors, who had been the victim of discrimination. He had not been allowed to join the Havana Yacht Club because of his mixed race, a factor he exploited because it focussed attention on the elitist character of the Cuban government and its old colonial heritage of racial prejudices. These prejudices were shared by none other than Fidel Castro‘s father, a wealthy land owner and sugar plantation owner who had supported the Spanish government against Cuban revolutionaries in the 1890s.

THE EARLY PARTY, 1920-1954

Surprisingly, The Cuban Communist Party had deep roots in Cuba going all the way back to the success of the Russian Revolution and Lenin’s ascension to power. The future seeds of distrust between the old Cuban Communists and Fidel Castro were sown many years before Castro became an important figure in Cuban politics. The party was organized in Havana in August, 1920 by a few admirers of the Russian revolution and by the 1930s had become a powerful force in many labor unions, an achievement unmatched elsewhere in Latin America. Its founders were a particularly diverse group of individuals, Julio Antonia Mella, a student activist, Carlos Balino who had been a follower of Cuban nationalist hero Jose Marti and Fabio Grobart, a Jewish immigrant tailor who had been caught up in the Civil War that occurred in Poland and managed to reach Cuba.

Communists played only a very minor role in the 1933 popular revolution that deposed the Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado (1925-1931). It was during this episode that “strong man” Fulgencio Batista with Communist support emerged on the national political scene.  Latin American Communist Party leaders in late 1934 met for a conference in Moscow chaired by Dimitri Manuilsky, for many years head of the Comintern and one of Stalin’s closest friends.

The Cuban Communist party was led at that time by Blas Roca, its Secretary General. Decisions were made with Stalin’s blessing to support insurrection in Brazil, a popular front in Chile, favor an extreme anti-American nationalist program in Mexico and the formation of an eventual alliance with the ruling clique headed by “radical nationalist” leader, Batista in Cuba. This Cuban coalition was named the Unión Revolucionaria.

In September 1934, Batista issued a declaration declaring that “The Communist Party in accordance with its own statutes is a democratic party which pursues its objectives within the margin of the capitalist regime and denounces violence as a means of political action, and a consequence of this, has the right to the same treatment as any other party in Cuba.”

Batista ruled the nation through a puppet president and in 1937, gave his full agreement to the creation of the Union Revolucionaria Party. In 1938, he permitted the publication of the (still illegal) Cuban Communist party’s official newspaper Hoy, edited by Anibal Escalante. Cuban Communist leaders Blas Roca, and Joaquin Ordoquí, met with Colonel Batista and issued the resolutions to be followed that the Party had to adopt a positive attitude towards Colonel Batista “in view that Batista was a defender of democracy.”

By the late 1930s, Batista and the Communists worked hand in glove to allow “free elections” in order to continue their control of the government, form a constituent assembly to produce a new constitution and legitimize the power of a puppet president, Frederico Laredo Bru.

In May 1939, 937 Jewish refugees on board the German passenger ship St. Louis were denied entry to Cuba due to the revocation of their visas by President Bru. Apparently, the only motivation for this inhuman act was Bru’s desire to obtain an even bigger bribe than he had been promised, a move that also garnered support from many Cubans under the guise of protecting “Cuba’s Workers,” fearful of more Jewish refugees receiving asylum or economic assistance during the Depression. This was the politics of envy so carefully nurtured by the Nazis and the Communists who only a few months later would celebrate their alliance in the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of Non-Aggression between the USSR and Germany.

The St. Louis affair was a terrible blot on the conscience of all those who opposed the Nazi threat and anti-Semitic policies. It also sits uncomfortably for the Castro regime who thus required a version of their own “Cuban history”
. Rather then admit that the totally corrupt Cuban government of President Bru (with Batista sitting in the wings) and actually controlling affairs with Communist support was responsible for refusing permission for the Jewish refugees of the St. Louis to seek safety, the version taught in Cuban schools today (and repeated by stooges of the Castro regime writing in to several internet sites about the St. Louis affair), is that the Roosevelt administration ordered the Bru government to reject the right of the passengers to disembark in Havana although they were in possession of Cuban immigration visas and landing permits.

The Cuban Communist Party took no steps to demand acceptance of the refugees. This is all the more reprehensible and disgusting since an earlier generation of Jewish refugees arriving on the island in the early 1920s gave support to the Cuban Communist Party out of all proportion to their miniscule representation in Cuban society. The great majority of Cuban Jews were however not Communists and had formed a committee to consult with President Bru in the hope that the refugees would be accepted elsewhere but appeals to half a dozen Latin American countries and the United States to accept the St. Louis passengers fell on deaf ears and they were ordered to return to Hamburg. At the last moment, Britain, Holland and Belgium agreed to accept the passengers. World War II began only two months later and at least 90% of them were murdered in the Holocaust.

The U.S. has nothing to be proud of in this story since U.S. Coast Guard boats shadowed the St. Louis to make sure that no attempt was made to dock and unload the “illegal immigrants” on American shores but the absurd attempt by the Cuban government to transfer the blame on the U.S. is typical of almost fifty years of Castro’s regime.

Frederico Laredo Bru (a name that will “live in infamy”) was driven by greed and a thorough disregard for any humanitarian concern. Although put in power by Batista, he also wanted to demonstrate that he was not just an insignificant puppet but could demonstrate his own power and pride by defying the Minister of the Interior, appointed by Batista, who had originally granted the visas to the St. Louis passengers. 

In the 1940 election, although the Communists dominated most unions, anti-Batista candidates won 41 of 76 seats, receiving 225,223 votes, while Batista and the Communists won 35 seats and only 97,944 votes. In spite of this rejection of a popular mandate, the Cuban Communist Party urged continued support for Batista who, with their aid, managed to be elected president in spite of his poor parliamentary election results.

Batista resigned his military post as Chief of the Armed Forces and announced his candidacy for the 1940 Presidential elections. It was an honest one in in which he won with full Communist support, promising partial state control of the sugar, tobacco and mining industries as well as land reform. Batista also made anti-American statements to endear him to the Cuban working class which, in spite of U.S. intervention to help win Cuba’s independence from Spain, still regarded the United States with distrust and envy.

Two close associates of Batista were also later to become high ranking Communist members of Fidel Castro‘s government, Juan Marinello (later a member of Castro’s Politburo), who lost his attempt to win the post of mayor of Havana in the 1940 elections and Carlos Rafael Rodriguez (who eventually became Castro’s Vice-President).

Batista’s popularity increased during the war years of his second official presidency, 1940-1944 due to the rise in prosperity caused by the Allies’ demands for sugar, nickel and manganese. As 1944 approached, Batista played a charade by appearing to “step down” as a true democrat. In this way, he would win additional good will support from the United States that was anxious about his ties to the Communists.

As president, Batista was a strong, “democratic leader” but had to suppress an attempted coup by his chief of staff. He extended social welfare measures to workers in the countryside and declared war on the Axis Powers on December 9, 1941 followed by recognition of the Soviet Union in 1943. During the war, Cuba benefited from US aid and the high fixed price of sugar at 2.65¢ a pound. This helped moderate Batista’s anti-American tone.

Once again however, a fairly honest election set back the Batistianos and the Communists. In 1944, Dr. Ramon San Martin Grau was an ex-University professor with substantial student backing and promises of a more honest regime. He won the popular vote in the presidential election and served until 1948. Despite his initial popularity, accusations of corruption tainted his administration’s image, and a sizable number of Cubans began to distrust him.

Batista, who had garnered a fortune of twenty million dollars, the result of his being the real man in charge of Cuba since 1933, appeared to fade away yet communist leaders Carlos Rafael Rodriguez and Blas Roca wrote, in their 1945 book, En Defensa del Pueblo, that “the people’s idol (Batista), the great man of our national politics” was not gone forever. Although the dictator enjoyed Communist Party support for well over twenty years of despotic rule, 99.99% of left-wing college students and many American journalists proudly wearing their Che T-shirts will assure you that “America has always supported corrupt dictators like Batista in Cuba”. During a period of several years, Batista relocated to Florida 1945-48,  and lived in Daytona Beach where there is still a museum of Cuban art with works that he had “borrowed.”

Batista was a masterful politician who enjoyed the confidence and support of the propertied classes while he cultivated the Left, but the wealthy class in Cuba understood that they need not fear him. He had become quite conservative as he became wealthy. Moreover, Cuba on a few additional occasions demonstrated its “popular” anti-American line such as the vote against the partition of Palestine.

Cuba was the only non-Arab and non-Muslim state that voted against the proposal to establish a Jewish state thereby accenting its “independent“ line of foreign policy. Incredibly, several Jewish Cuban communists fully supported the decision simply because it helped cement an image of the Party as “anti-imperialist.” The two Latin American states that had had strong ties to the Axis with strong pro-German leanings at the beginning of the war, Chile and Argentina, abstained. Mexico also followed a “neutral” policy to show its independence of the United States.

Cuba used the Palestine question to try and rally
support among other Latin American states to offer a counterweight to the United States and enlist Arab countries to form a strong block of small nations. The Cuban Communist Party was in an uncomfortable dilemma and out of step on this issue. It could not attack the “popular” anti-American line of the government on the foreign policy issue of Palestine even though the USSR and its East European satellites had all supported the Palestine Partition Plan.

The Latin American headquarters of the Comintern moved from Mexico to Cuba in 1940 and the Communists had a very strong presence in the Cuban Federation of Labor. There were chronic strikes and labor disputes in 1947-48. Student rioters (including Fidel Castro), urban gangsterism, roaming armed bands in the countryside and political assassinations all produced turmoil. The spark for Castro’s political activism was Eduardo Chibas, who, like Castro, came from a well-to-do Galician family from Guantanamo, in Oriente province. Like Castro, he was educated by Jesuits, and was a member of the Cuban elite, deeply religious, but a violent anti-Communist.

In 1948, a stooge of Batista, Carlos Prío Socarrás, was elected as a minority President but the Communists lost three seats in the Senate. Ominously, and forgetting all of his previous anti-American rhetoric, Batista ran his campaign from Florida and was elected as a Senator. Castro, at this time was a prominent figure in Havana politics and a protege of Chibas. In response to these events, the Cuban Communist Party criticized Castro and the other student adventurers for participating in anti-government street fighting during an international conference in Bogota, Colombia.

At the same time and place as the Colombian events, Argentinian Communist Party member, Ernesto Che Guevara, who was present at the Bogota conference, never left his boarding house during the disturbances. Eddy Chibas committed suicide in 1951 during a public address to the nation to call attention to what he believed was a campaign by corrupt politicians to deny him the election, thereby creating a political vacuum in Cuba, leading to the reemergence of Batista in Cuban politics. A few weeks after Chibas’ suicide, Castro met with then Senator Batista and spent several hours in discussions with him at Batista’s ranch. What they discussed is not known but on March 10, 1952, Batista usurped control of the government in a bloodless coup thereby fulfilling Chibas’ worst fear expressed before his death.

The next day, as proclaimed chief of state, Batista moved into the presidential palace. The most radical opposition to Batista’s seizure of power came from the wealthy racist Cuban elite who had detested Batista as a “mixed-blood.” From 1948 to 1952, the Cuban Communist Party had lost control of the unions and the party was divided on whether to support him again. Batista suppressed all opposition newspapers but allowed the Communist daily “Hoy” to remain open, an obvious ploy to win continued communist support.

When Fidel Castro founded his “Revolutionary” Movement, Communists were automatically excluded from joining it and the Party denounced Castro‘s attack on the Moncada Barracks of July 26, 1953, in Santiago de Cuba. The American Communist daily newspaper “The Daily Worker”, described the Castro led attack as “a putschist method peculiar to all bourgeois political factions.”

When Castro ultimately succeeded, he and the Communists knew they were meant for each other regardless of the past. For Fidel, it was the discipline and support of an international force directed against “American imperialism” and capable of providing massive economic, diplomatic and military support. For the Communists, it was a simple shift to another “people’s idol.” Find the official website in Spanish of the Cuban Communist Party, and read the section marked “History”. It contains not a word about the Party from its founding until January 1, 1959. This is how internal contradictions are typically resolved by totalitarian regimes.

Much water has passed under the bridge since then. Part of the self-delusions of those who identify themselves as “progressives,” or many liberals today is their immediate and most often mistaken gut reaction that the “masses” must be right when they emotionally respond to anti-Western and especially anti-American (and even more irrationally, anti-Israel, anti-Christian and anti-Jewish) rhetoric and jargon.

For the Marxist LEFT and many of those who call themselves “Liberals” today, there is no better litmus test for political correctness than the envy of the poor and downtrodden, a powerful forced that can be manipulated. No matter how fanatical, corrupt, degenerate and blind to any humanitarian consideration of such despicable characters as Batista and Bru, or Peron, and later Castro, Nasser, Arafat, Ahmadinejad, Mao Tse Tung, the Ayatollah Khomeini or Saddam Hussein were, they are thought to speak for “The People,” the “Nation,” the “workers,” the “dispossessed,” the “poor,” the “homeless,” refugees etc. The failure to see in such leaders both a symptom and a basic cause of their nations’ problems is the continued malaise of much of the political LEFT.

Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (website:, Ph.D. – Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1974, is an author, freelance writer, editor, researcher, lecturer, translator and teacher with sophisticated communications skills.

Dr. Berdichevsky can be reached at: [email protected]


A Parallel Universe?” ; Nazis in Newark, 1933-39 and Their Counterparts Today

Nazis in Newark by Warren Grover. 

 Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (Bio and Archives)  Saturday, September 4, 2010 

(A book review of Nazis in Newark by Warren Grover, 
Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, N.J., 2003; 
ISBN 978-0-7658-0516-4)

The crisis we face today that has resulted in an ever more aggressive and truculent, militant Islam threatening the foundations of Western civilization from without and within, bears an uncanny parallel, almost a parallel universe, with the dreadful anxiety-filled 1930s, when a virulent Nazism intimidated and cowed much of public opinionthroughout the United States.

The recent incident at Ft. Hood, in which an American born Muslim carrying out the tenets of Jihad resulting in numerous deaths that has “dumbfounded” the Pentagon, puts into the sharpest relief the blindness of our highest authorities, both civilian and military, and their total ignorance of Islam and its many followers who are committed to jihad yet thrive and scheme while protected by our laws. Dozens of “isolated incidents” involving Muslims committing heinous acts of murder and honor killings have been swept under the carpet by our government and mass media treating the guilty as “lone individuals” suffering from “derangement” or “personal crises” while ignoring the ideology that lies at the bottom of their mental instability.

This is all the more reason to read “Nazis in Newark,” a book that reveals a parallel history two generations ago with the apathy to danger in our midst today. Under the impact of a world depression, a large majority of isolationist public opinion in the United States, including many self styled Liberals, sought to adopt a default policy of America first, excusing anti-Semitism, making amends for saddling Germany with war guilt and avoiding any rearmament. Their first object of assigning blame was then, like today, to avoid placing it on the Germans, or the Muslims and their allegiance to Nazi and Jihadist doctrines, but instead on those “war-mongers” who “inflamed emotions” by a “reckless foreign policy,” one that dared to confront the evil ambitions or ruthless dictators and fanatics who had constructed a scenario blaming the Jews for all the world’s ills.

This book is an accurate and insightful account of the struggles of decent Americans who sought to call public attention to the growing menace of Nazism within the United States and the confrontations on the streets of Newark, New Jersey which witnessed the most direct physical battle of the era between Nazi sympathizers and American Jews. It recalls a parallel universe to today’s battles with one notable exception, the absence then of much of the current insane political correctness and “multiculturalism” that excuses Islamist crimes and designs to wreck the foundations of American democracy and self-defense.

Glover’s book casts a sharp clinical light from the standpoint of history on the sanctimonious attitude of Jewish Obama supporters who have created the ultra-Liberal “J-Street” refusing to acknowledge the open anti-Semitic stance or radical Far Left character of many of the President’s most influential supporters, associates and appointees who demean and defame Israel and Zionism.

For them, any sign of Jewish pride must be demeaned in order to secure theircertificate of “kashrut” as loyal Democrats for whom all other ethnic, racial or religious groups must be encouraged to seek special favor from the government and be recognized as an important and proud element of a rainbow coalition.

In a strange irony, many of these ultra-Liberal, ultra-Reform Jews apparently act from much the same motivation and rationale as ultra-Orthodox Jews, convinced that they are setting an example for all the Gentiles as a priestly caste bringing “Light unto the nations,” thereby fulfilling God’s commandments. Like t
heir Orthodox grandparents, they feel obliged to seek forgiveness for their sins but instead of once a year on Yom Kippur and turning to God, they seek to assure their Liberal cohorts, “world opinion”, the U.N.,political correctness,and now President Obama that they are good Jews who are sufficiently self-critical.

While their parents and grandparents rejoiced at the rebirth of Israel in 1948 and regarded it mystically as partial compensation for the Holocaust, they have been psychologically intimidated by the constant anti-Israel line of the media and of the torrent of bloody confrontations picturing enraged Muslim mobs ready for constant mayhem to avenge what they regard as the worst injustice in human history (i.e. the creation of the Jewish State rather than the failure to establish an Arab Palestinian state).

In the 1930s, there were many Jews who at first timidly hoped for the Nazis to eventually change their tune and agreed to support a behind the scenes approach in order to avoid a confrontation that might embarrass a Democratic administration afraid of being labeled as interventionist in foreign policy yet, by 1939, the overwhelming majority of Jews and a growing majority of Gentiles realized that there could be no new “world order” as promulgated by the Nazis that would not be hostile to American interests and ultimate survival. The same realization of the Jihadist vision of a new world order today fails to mobilize the same call to arms.

When Jews actually organized successful real resistance in DEEDS and not just WORDS on a major scale (something unheard of today in the United States) in the Newark riots against the pro-Nazi organizations “Friends of the New Germany” and the “German-American Bund,” the initiative was largely on the part of conservative leaning Jewish war veterans with battle experience, professional and amateur boxers, gangsters, machinists, plumbers, glaziers, athletes, butchers and upholsterers with muscle power rather than the pious statements of “activists” on the Left and liberal leaning “progressive rabbis.”

The same was true in Britain after World War II when the “1943 Group” of Jewish war veterans took to the streets of London to forcefully evict the remnants of Moseley’s British Union of Fascists in defiance of the requests of the establishment British Board of Deputies who pleaded for British Jews not to act as vigilantes and leave their protection to the police (see The 1943 Group by Morris Beckman, A Centerprise Publication, London. 1992.)

The long dormant and docile majority among many Jews still suffering from a time warp in which FDR was regarded as a savior is wholly ignorant of the perfidious roles played by the New York Times and the BBC in their decades’ long campaign to slander and malign “The Jewish State” (the very term offends their international and cosmopolitan sensibilities).

The Jewish worship for learning continues to venerate what so many Liberals regard as “our finest academic Ivy League Institutions” such as Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Vassar and Barnard, aware that these names conjure up the picture of perfect liberal respectability with complete ignorance that precisely these universities were among the most anti-Semitic in their enrollment restrictions against Jewish students in the interwar years and that some of their most prominent faculty members including presidents and deans defended warmer foreign relations with Nazi Germany and opposed any anti-German economic boycott (see Rebecca Bynum’s excellent book review “Fashionable Fascism” in the November, 2009 on line issue of New English Review “The Third Reich and the Ivory Tower; Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses; by Stephen H. Norwood. Cambridge University Press,2009).

Many among today’s Jewish Liberals have convinced themselves that the Religious Right in Israel is their principal enemy and that to win credibility as progressives they must support a position that calls on Israel to make unlimited concessions no matter what the consequences. They follow the classic definition of insanity—“repeating the same course of failed action and still believing that the outcome will be different.” In the meantime, since the “Oslo Accords,” most Israelis have been cured of that form of insanity and realize the futility of continuing to act as if the Palestinian side with Iranian encouragement intends to abide by any of the promises made.

Flashback to the 1930s: Newark, New Jersey became the prime stage of confrontation due to its ethnic make-up and proximity to both New York and Washington, D.C. From 1933 until Pearl Harbor, it was the most prominent American city where the struggle against Nazi sympathizers took on the dimensions of pitched street battles. It is worthwhile recalling how the political battle for “hearts and minds” of Americans was fought and how the anti-Nazi struggle successfully engaged both Jews and Gentiles including German-Americans.

This is particularly important in the light of today’s squeamishness among the “politically correct” Left wing of the Democratic Party to demand that Muslim-Americans express their condemnation of Jihadist activity around the globe and the sympathy, aid and comfort rendered to those fighting our troops and murdering civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and on a dozen other fronts.

The American Jewish boycott against the Nazi regime was initiated on March 19, 1933 by the national Jewish War Veterans at its annual convention in Atlantic City. Nowhere else in America was the call to battle so enthusiastically answered as in the Third Ward of Newark. The response came as a direct reaction to the parades and activities of the Friends of the New Germany, a Nazi front and propaganda organization.

The wealthier more integrated veteran Jewish community leaders of German origin were cautious at first and reluctant to utilize any measures beyond those of trust in the government and police as a strategy to oppose anti-Semitism. The established German-American community in Newark and elsewhere also initially viewed the Nazi government with suspicion and disfavor and hoped for an avoidance of any tensions with their Jewish
neighbors but with each political victory engineered by Hitler over the re-militarization of the Rhineland and Saar, the absorption of Austria and the Sudentenland, the take-over of Memel and demands on Poland to return the “Corridor” and Danzig, more and more German-Americans (although still a small minority) expressed support and pride in the new regime. In doing so, they accepted without reservation the accompanying racist anti-Semitic doctrines of the Nazis.

A growing number of the Liberal Christian clergy following the example of Pastor Reinhold Niebhur, although anxious to avoid any extra-legal measures, gravitated more and more to support of Jewish rights while many in the ultra conservative Catholic clergy, the African-American community and certainly among many hard core isolationists and “country-club” bluebloods among the WASP majority in America felt that this was a foreign matter of little concern to them.

Many even viewed anti-Semitism with “schadenfreude” regarding the Jews as radicals in Europe, staunch left-wing supporters of the new Roosevelt administration or a class of shopkeepers and landlords that had been given a deserved slap in the face.

The central figure in the Jewish resistance movement that arose in Newark was Abner “Longy” Zwillman, a notorious gangster and his henchman, ex-prizefighter, Nat Arno. Their gang was the leading criminal organization involved in bootlegging, racketeering, gambling, protection and labor union extortion all along the Northeast Coast. Zwillman’s financial and tactical support of the Jewish militant activists named “The Minutemen,” dedicated to disrupting Nazi meetings, had nothing to do with his criminal activities. He acted as a proud Jew, profoundly sympathetic to his friends and neighbors, many of them first generation immigrant Americans in Newark’s inner city Third Ward. He and Arno had used their fists and wits to combat anti-Semitism like many of his generation. From the 1920s to 1950s, and sporadically thereafter, American, British, Russian, Argentine, Hungarian and French Jews held many national and world champion boxing titles. Many of them wore the Star of David on their trunks, and were elected to the Boxing hall of Fame (for full list see List of Jews in sports – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)…

…including such greats as U.S. world champion middleweight boxer Benny Leonard (Benjamin Leiner; “The Ghetto Wizard”) who often fought and trained in Newark, Abe Attell (“The Little Hebrew”), U.S. world champion featherweightboxer, Monte Attell, U.S. world champion bantamweight boxer, Louis Kaplan(“Kid Kaplan”),[world champion featherweight boxer, Jaime Averboch, Argentine world champion welterweight boxer, Max Baer (“Madcap Maxie”), U.S. world champion heavyweightboxer, Al Bummy Davis (Abraham Davidoff), U.S. welterweight & lightweight boxer, Solly Krieger (“Danny Auerbach”), U.S. world champion middleweight boxer, Jackie Fields (Jacob Finkelstein), U.S. world champion welterweight & Olympic champion featherweight boxer, U.S. world champion bantamweight boxer, Ruby Goldstein (“Ruby the Jewel of the Ghetto”), U.S. welterweight boxer, U.S. world champion bantamweight boxer, Ben Jeby(Morris Jebaltowsky), U.S. world champion lightweight boxer, Battling Levinsky(Barney Lebrowitz), U.S. world champion light heavyweight boxer, Maxie Rosenbloom(“Slapsie”), U.S. world champion light heavyweight boxer, Barney Ross (Dov-Ber Rasofsky), U.S. world champion lightweight & junior welterweight boxer, Isadore “Corporal Izzy” Schwartz (“The Ghetto Midget”), U.S. world champion flyweight boxer and Al Singer (“The Bronx Beauty”), U.S. world champion lightweight boxer.

Between the two world wars, Jews held twenty-six world boxing titles. Where are they now? Nowhere in our parallel universe of today! The American Jewish scene with its rise in social and economic standing and its aspirations in the business, professional and academic worlds have made these former sports heroes and the spirit of a fighting Jewish community as remote as the days of the Biblical prophets.

It is this image of proud fighting Jews, today almost unilaterally associated with the Israelis, that makes Obama’s Jewish upper and upper middle class sanctimonious Jewish supporters nervous—the Israelis will not abide by the Marquis of Queensbury Rules when fighting savages yet their record exceeds that of any of the Allied and Western armies in protecting civilians during combat (see remarks to the U.N. by Colonel Richard Kemp who commanded British troops in Afghanistan in 2003 Richard Kemp – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia BBC: Former British Army Colonel Richard Kemp Discusses IDF Gaza ).

Flashback again to Newark. Grover’s most damning indictment in the book is Chapter Five that bears the title “The Failure of Liberalism.” It chronicles the initial rejection by the Newark liberal, academic and clerical establishment of the two pastors Frank Kingdon (Methodist preacher, born in London and educated in Boston) a
nd Lucius Hamilton Garner (born in Alabama), both ruggedly handsome and dedicated to fighting for social justice, ending racial discrimination and combating anti-Semitism. Their only important local ally was a wealthy socialite, Amelia Moorfield, an early voice on behalf of pacifism, and feminism. It took a long and painful campaign of education to win over Labor union leaders and a reluctant clergy and academia in Newark to stand up and openly oppose the growing menace of the pro-Nazi “Friends” and later, the The German-American Bund.

Attempts by anti-Nazi organizations and mainstream Jewish groups to organize a boycott of German goods is the subject of a poignant chapter that reveals the unwillingness of any assistance by the government. This was a factor that limited what otherwise would have been a severe blow against the Nazi regime. President Roosevelt’s Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, during the entire period of 1933 to 1941 was convinced that anti-Semitism in Germany was not an American problem and that a boycott would worsen political and economic relations with Germany the maintenance of which remained an important goal of U.S. foreign policy.

The most prominent spokesman for the boycott was S. William Kalb, organizer of Newark Post 34 of the Jewish War Veterans. A man of great organizational ability, good public speaking skills, a physician and Marine combat veteran of World War I, he was frustrated by the lack of support demonstrated by the Jewish owners of Bambergers and Macy’s department stores, both contributors to Jewish philanthropic causes yet fearful of upsetting the lucrative business handling German export goods.

Liberalism was popular, especially among “white ethnics” in as much as it promised relief from the economic misery of the Depression but unable to bridge the gap in winning real progress to end racial discrimination against Blacks and counteract anti-Semitism. The ACLU, then as now, spoke out on behalf of what it considered its most important plank—the right of free speech protection for Nazis or Racists (however much their lawyers would contend that they opposed and abhorred racism and Nazism). Sound familiar?

In contrast to the disgraceful failure of much of the Liberal establishment and ACLU, the German-American League for Culture, founded in 1935 to combat Nazism and foster German culture, proved a staunch ally. The League fully supported German-American participation in World War II. As an American of German descent, journalist Dorothy Thompson felt it incumbent upon her to organize other German-Americans with the support of the League to speak out against Nazism, and counter the publicity given the pro-Nazi German-American Bund. In the fall of 1942, she approached the World Jewish Congress, which agreed to pay for such a statement, and in the last week of December, 1942, the “Christmas Declaration by men and women of German ancestry” was printed appearing in the New York Times and nine other major American daily newspapers, signed by fifty prominent German-Americans, the most famous beingBabe Ruth. Fast forward to today’s parallel universe.

Where is there a shred of similar action among Muslims who are American citizens? Where are their loud protests against the misuse of Islam and the affront to their pride as loyal and patriotic American citizens??? Where are the recognized and distinguished American imams calling for a March on Washington to proclaim their disassociation and rejection of terror? Nowhere! Only…deafening silence.

What little efforts have been made, mostly by those who have left Islam and by a few courageous individuals who refuse to follow CAIR, the largest so called “civil rights movement to protect Muslims” (an exact counterpart today of the Bund and Friends of the New Germany),have been refused coverage of their events by the mass media and by NPR (beneficiary of your tax dollars) as “too controversial”.

The wretched opportunism of the American Communist Party was revealed in the attempts to wrest control of the German-American League for Culture and use it as a front organization as they had similarly done with many Jewish and anti-Nazi organizations. As soon as the proclamation of the infamous, Ribbentrop-Stalin Non-Aggression Pact of August, 1939, the Communist front groups ceased their cooperation with the Minutemen and Jewish opposition to Nazi activities in the U.S., making them an object of derision among Jews everywhere.

The infamous alliance between Hitler and Stalin did more to mobilize general American support among Gentiles against anti-Semitism than any other factor. It had become abundantly clear that in spite of a noisy and all too visible Jewish presence in the American Communist party, it represented only a tiny fraction of the community. The communists’ patient and persistent efforts to penetrate anti-Fascist organizations, as well as their activities on behalf of the Spanish Republic, in favor of boycotting German goods and protests against Nazi anti-Semitism had all been tactical maneuvers.

The publicity provoked by the resistance of the Newark Minutemen to the pro-Nazi organizations helped focus Congressional investigations spearheaded by New York Congressman Samuel Dickstein (Chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee known as HUAC) who relentlessly pursued leads that uncovered the financial assistance provided by the Nazi German government to both the Friends of the New Germany and its more powerful successor organization, The German-American Bund.

Fast forward to today—Why has our government remained silent on Saudi support and financing for Jihadi inspired Sunni terrorists throughout the world? In what must be one of history’s great ironies, the ACLU and the Nazis attacked Dickstein for his “witch-hunting,” exactly the same charge that many “Liberals” and Left wing dupes of the American Communist Party raised against HUAC a generation later (when it investigated Communist subversion and links to Moscow of many so called “Progressives” in Hollywood).

Warren Grover’s book is meticulously footnoted to original sources but is not a boring academic treatise. It is the fast paced exciting story of how a courageous minority of Americans, Jews and Gentiles, realized the evil on their doorstep and refusing to be cowed by it, sought to alert others to the imminent danger. If only today’s reality were the same!

Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (website:, Ph.D. – Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1974, is an author, freelance writer, editor, researcher, lecturer, translator and teacher with sophisticated communications skills.

Dr. Berdichevsky can be reached at: [email protected]


Do Israeli Arabs Live Under “Apartheid”?

 By Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (Bio and Archives)  Tuesday, October 12, 2010 

Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid“ by former President Jimmy Carter called into question the strong traditional and emotional support for Israel as a thriving and beleaguered democracy and raised the specter of an oppressed Arab population in the territories and within Israel itself on a par with the Black population under the previous Apartheid regime in South Africa.

This view goes hand in glove with President Obama’s view of the conflict between Israel and the Muslim world which he views as responsible for in large measure as millstone around the neck of American foreign policy and even a detriment to our forces fighting in Afghanistan.  Both Obama and Carter do a trick with smoke, mirrors, slight of hand and vanishing elephants by claiming that references to “apartheid” call attention to what Israel might or would become (rather than what it is now), if the grievances of the Arabs are not addressed.

It should have been a simple matter for President Carter to declare his concerns when he was President rather than waiting more than twenty years to bring us his program for peace. Moreover, the book deals primarily with the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and the territories on the West Bank under Israeli control. Its treatment of the plight (both real and imagined) of the Israeli Arab minority covers two pages in the book (p. 68 and 168) is shallow and gives the reader little information about what to expect in the territories.

Do Israeli Arabs live under Apartheid conditions? A simple answer must be a categorical NO. Individuals among Israel’s non-Jewish population of Arabs (both Christian and Muslims, Bedouin tribesmen), the Druze, Circassians have held and continue to hold significant positions in the Israeli parliament (Knesset), the police, the army, the diplomatic corps, the arts, literature, cinema, sports, entertainment, the universities, business, medicine and science.

Serious problems and discrimination do exist especially in the areas of career choices, and jobs, as well as a pattern of segregation in residence and elementary educationthat goes far back to conditions prevailing in Palestine under the British and Turkish administrations. Like charges of discrimination practically everywhere else, historical reasons cannot be ignored and must be put into perspective before any judgments can be made.

Much of Israel’s Jewish population settled on private land purchased by the Jewish National Fund, a branch of the Zionist movement with the expressed purposed of providing for Jewish settlement. The great majority of Arabs living in Palestine lived in their own villages or in the “mixed cities” of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Lydda, and Ramla. Nazareth and Acre have separate Arab and Jewish residential quarters. After 1948, practically no Israeli Arab had the desire to relocate and live anywhere but in a dense Arab environment. All Arab (and Jewish) community leaders have opposed an integrated school system of elementary education. In addition to these natural historic factors, there have been security concerns adding to the pattern of residential segregation.

The Arab Minority

The Arab minority in Israel, numbering more than a million souls is guaranteed full cultural expression of its identity whereas practically no more than a handful of a few thousand Jews remain in the Arab states (primarily in Morocco) as if they were exotic plants on display in a hothouse when in 1948 they numbered more than 800,000 throughout the Arab World and Iran and included large sections of major cities such as Baghdad and Cairo. Their fate, expulsion, forced exile and loss of property rate not a single mention in Carter‘s book – his sole humanitarian concern is for the Palestinian Arabs who were first forcibly put under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation without their consent and then became the pawns of all those in the Arab world intent on launching a new crusade to destroy the Jewish state.

Israel’s population today is just over 6.5 million of which non-Jews constitute something like 18%. This does not take into account the former Jordanian occupied areas of East Jerusalem. Of the one million plus Israeli citizens who are lumped together as “Arabs”, there are significant differences among three communities including those such as the Druze, Circassians and Bedouin tribesmen who voluntarily serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

The Arab minority in Israel has lived for almost sixty years in a state of “suspended animation”. They are citizens and are entitled to the same rights and obligations according to Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Israel’s Arabs have, however, always looked at only one side of the equation, demanding equal rights without equal obligations. Equal does not necessarily mean identical. Military service may be replaced by some civilian duty, but to continue wobbling the issue or sitting on the fence has only led to growing disaffection and tensions. In 1948 a few optimistic voices expressed the naïve view that they or the Jews in the Arab countries might serve as a “Bridge to Peace”.

The settled Moslem and Christian Arab Population:

The bulk of the Arab population comprises 950,000 Israeli Muslim citizens and another 145,000 Christians living in villages and towns. In theory, every Arab child must go to school in Israel for at least 8 years and Hebrew is taught from the third grade. Hostility towards Israel has always been primarily due to the experience of being reduced from a majority, both ethnically and religiously, to the status of a minority. The previous confidence of being a Christian or a Moslem and therefore part of a prestigious worldwide religious community was dealt a severe blow by Israel’s independence andmilitary victories. The same attitude of a “lost prestige” prevails among the Arab population in the territories to an even greater degree yet President Carter makes no allowances for this and how they can ever be pacified with less than a return to majority status within one state. He cannot see the contradiction and irony in his use of the term Apartheid.

For both Carter and Obama, Israel is to make every concession regarding full and equal rights and acceptance of a large number of refugees who would thus comprise a huge minority destined to become a majority by the differential birth rate alone while the Arab Palestinian state to be formed by the Palestinian Authority in the west Bank and Gaza would be “Judenrein”. i.e. without any Jewish population whatsoever similar to the reality in much of the Arab states today.

Israeli Arab Cultural Creativity in Arabic and Hebrew

The lack of an appropriate framework and symbols by which the Christian and Moslem population can identify with the state rather than a specific grievance based on prejudice is the problem which Israeli statesmen, educators, philosophers and politicians have not sufficiently addressed. High school graduates are fluent in Hebrew after 3-5 hours a week instruction for ten years. Knowledge of Hebrew is much greater among men and especially those who work in the Jewish sector of the economy outside of the village. Hebrew is needed for higher education as there is no university in Israel especially for Arabs. The shortage of appropriate skilled jobs for Israeli Arab university graduates has always been a primary factor in antagonisms and resentment towards the state. Several Israeli Arabs have distinguished themselves in the theater and aswriters, winning Israel’s highest honors in these professions.

They are Anton Shammas, author of the critically acclaimed novel Arabesques, Makram Khouri, a popular actor on the stage, screen and television and the late playwright, politician and Communist member of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), Emile Habibi; all prominent on the Israeli cultural scene and who have
demonstrated equal talent in Hebrew along with their native Arabic but their work and names are totally unknown among Jewish communities abroad. Within Israel, they have been regarded by some from both communities with suspicion.

What is crucial however is that Israel is the scene of a real, if flawed, coexistence while the Arab World and the Palestinian Authority continue to envision a macabre world of an eventual confrontation in which the Arabs will regain their “rights” aided by Iran as a result of a major Israeli catastrophe. The recent award winning Israeli film The Syrian Bride is a gallant effort by Israeli actors and producers – both Arabs and Jews for a future without the threat of war and the promise of potential benefits stemming from co-existence and mutual respect. Carter has not a word of praise for these joint efforts within Israel at coexistence and no word of criticism for the Palestinian Authority’s openly anti-Jewish textbooks with open incitement to hatred in elementary schools. 

One of Israel’s top football club won the Israel Cup and participated in the 2004 UEFA Tournament. The team, Bnei Sachnin (a small Arab village in Galilee), is made up largely of Israeli Arabs but also includes a number of Africans “on loan” and a manager and several key players who are Jews. No other country has a national team in which Whites, Blacks, Jews, Arabs, Christians and Muslims are represented. If another country had such a team, it would be the subject of endless praise by the international media.

The Druze and Circassians

Hebrew has been fervently embraced by the Druze in Israel, a community of 100,000 Arabic speakers who are considered a “heretical” or “deviant” Moslem sect (an offshoot of Shi’a Islam). The Druze sided with the Jews in the War for Independence in 1948-49 and have since voluntarily accepted the obligations of military service in the Israeli Defense Forces and the Border Police. They have in the past voted heavily for the Zionist parties and admired “strong” Israeli leaders, particularly General Moshe Dayan and Menahem Begin. The same has been largely true among Israel’s 200,000 Bedouin minority, largely concentrated in the Negev, nominally Moslem but and traditionally hostile to the urban-dwelling nationalistic and more religious Moslem population.

Among the Druze, the greater degree of social integration with the Jewish majority is also leading to greater use of, and fluency in, Hebrew, so much so that many observers report spontaneous Hebrew conversations between men and among youngsters at play or while watching football games without any Jews present. Obviously their shared loyalty, sense of common citizenship and language has also led to greater demands for real equality in every walk of life. Yet, the Druze have their own flags (one version used by Druze soldiers in the IDF contains the Star of David and is flown only in their own villages alongside the Israeli flag), and their religious particularity remains unchanged.

They are a “minority within a minority” and their relationship with other Arabic speaking Druze living in Arab states hostile to Israel is a cause of concern and suspicion among both Israelis and Arabs. There is a large Druze minority in Syria, a state that has been particularly hostile to Israel. Many of the Druze residents on the Golan Heights under Israeli administration have close relatives living on the Syrian side, a reality that is portrayed in the Israeli film, “The Syrian Bride.“

The 3,500 Circassians in Israel are non-Arab Moslems who settled in the Galilee region of Palestine at the end of the 19thCentury after fleeing from their homeland in the Russian occupied Caucasus region to Turkey and Turkish controlled areas in the Middle East. They were loyal subjects of the Ottoman Turkish regime and like the Druze, have been on good terms with the Jews and loyally serve in the Israeli armed forces. All the men are fluent in Hebrew and scores of Circassians have moved from their Galilean villages and settled in Israeli cities from Eilat to Haifa. They speak their Circassian language at home but due to their physical isolation from other Circassian settlements in Jordan and Syria, they have readily given up Arabic and adopted Hebrew instead as the most practical means of common discourse.

The Bedouin

A third group of Israel’s “Arab population” are the Bedouins (almost entirely Muslim and mostly located in the Negev), a still distinct group who have traditionally been hostile to the settled population and government authorities throughout the region. The problems of providing health, education and welfare services to the Bedouins and integrating them into the national society with its laws and demands upon all citizens has evoked the same opposition in Arab countries as it has in Israel. Traditionally, the Bedouin have been less susceptible to the claims of modern nationalism and Islam. Many tribesmen traditionally felt no “divided loyalty” in serving as trackers and scouts for Israel’s army and security forces, yet times have changed and Israel now faces the possible additional threat of Bedouin hostility.

The biggest issue for the Bedouin has always been “land use” and grazing rights rather than formal legal “ownership” of land. Traditionally, no attention was paid to the formal ownership of land when Bedouin tribesmen built temporary structures or grazed their herds of sheep and goats. For this reason, all Israeli Bedouin abandon their nomadic life and settle in towns. Israel’s security needs in the Negev, especially the use of land as training ground for the army and for airports, have often posed conflicts with the areas grazed by the Bedouin. Many Arab governments share the same concerns about their Bedouin populations and are suspicious of their loyalty.

The first Israeli Bedouin town, Tel Sheva, was founded in 1967. Another six towns have been established since then and the residents of these towns now account for more than one-third of the Bedouin population. Much resentment among the Bedouins has been caused by the urban framework of these towns that are felt to be too restrictive of their mobility. The problem remains, however, that the best way to provide necessary services is to a sedentary population. The extremely wide gap between Bedouin living standards and that of the settled Jewish population has produced new tensions. Children who formerly took an active part in herding activities are now idle or forced to attend schools. Part of the adaptation to an urban lifestyle has led to more interest in religion and the establishment of a fixed mosque for the Bedouin population in the regional capital of
Beer Sheva.

The Dilemma of the Israeli Arabs

Israel will lose nothing if it accepts the principle of equal rights and equal responsibilities for individuals rather than for communities. However, this does not mean compromising the “national identity” of the state with its Jewish character and symbols. Undoubtedly there were and are many more educated Arab, Druze and Circassians who could have been appointed to the post of Israeli representative at the UN or European Union than the party hacks who are often selected as part of the coalition politics stemming from Israel’s proportional representation system. Even among states whose religious or national-linguistic identity is represented by a dominant group such as Hindus in India, the President is a Moslem and until recently in Iraq, the Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz was a Christian.

After 50 years of procrastination, there has been one Israeli Arab appointed to the level of ambassador (to Finland) and one Druze, Walid Mansour (to Vietnam and Peru). The Arab is Adib Hassan Yihye, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University and the National Defense College, a resident of Kfar Kara who was awarded an Israel Price in 1986 for his work in education. He also teaches Arabic and Hebrew at Ulpan Akiva, a residential language school in Netanya that has twice been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for its work in fostering Jewish-Arab relations.

President Carter’s Concern for the Palestinian Arabs in the Territories

President Carter’s portrait on the left hand side of the jacket cover of his book shows a thoughtful man with his hands clasped under his chin in a staged portrayal of dignity, piety, humility, and deep prayerful contemplation. One is immediately reminded in the starkest and most ironic terms of his predecessor in the highest office of our land who acted without the Carterite halo of sainthood although raised in the same Baptist traditions – Harry S. Truman. “Give them Hell Harry” was the slogan that propelled him to victory in 1948 following the crucial decision to recognize the State of Israel as an act of historic justice, a decision that Jimmy Carter apparently believes he must compensate for by his new found passion for the situation of the Palestinian Arabs.

The right hand side of the jacket cover shows a picture of the foreboding security wall that looms over the people scurrying at its base; an obvious allusion to “Apartheid” and the discomfort and problems that have befallen the civilian Arab population in the region as a result of Israel’s successful effort to drastically reduce infiltration by suicide bombers. The efforts of the jacket cover designers is decidedly to portray a truth but certainly not the WHOLE truth.

A careful reading of the book uncovers a multiplicity of omissions and one-sided coverage although it may well be that the President is convinced that he is an honest broker on a mission from God and a true friend to both sides. There are indeed many expressions of Carter’s “good will to all men” but the picture he paints is a two-dimensional one like the paces of a thoroughbred horse with blinders on, oblivious to the jockeys on either side about to pull past him.

Palestinian terrorism is condemned as “suicidal” for ….“the Palestinian cause” rather than the real victims of these acts of homicide that result in the death and disfiguration of innocent civilians. Israeli steps designed to halt the infiltration of terrorists that interfere with civilian life are referred to as “regrettable”. The immense achievements in living standards that were the result of improved security and general prosperity until the outbreak of the intifada are wholly missing from the book that places the chief responsibility for the current dreadful living standards and lack of security on the Israelis. In numerous citations of “fact”, Carter omits vital information. His description of Jordan’s loss of the West Bank as a result of the Six Day War in June 1967 makes no mention of how Jordan became a belligerent and entered the war and launched hostilities after numerous warnings from Israel not to open a new front.

His fascination with The Fourth Geneva Convention that forbids an occupying power from transferring any parts of its civilian population into “territories seized by military force” does not distinguish how Jordanian policies and population transfers in parts of the West Bank were themselves a result of seizure by Jordanian occupation forces. The same rule apparently never interfered with U.S. and Soviet policy following the Yalta Conference and the seizure of massive parts of what had been Germany and then seized and occupied by Soviet, Polish, Czech and Lithuanian armed forces who annexed the same territories.

References to such events as the Syrian inspired assassination of President Rafiq Harriri of Lebanon are stated simply as “facts” as well as the automatic Syrian denial of any responsibility. President Carter prefers not to express any opinion on the matter (p.99). Israeli and Jewish readers may find it surprising that Carter speaks so highly of the Israeli leaders he has called “right-wing” and “hawks” such as Menahem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ezer Weizman but the intention is crystal clear in his remarks that these leaders had “seen the light“ or were about to and would “inevitably have“ continued “ their conciliatory policy of compromises had they lived (Carter sees beyond the grave).

What is outright repugnant is his analysis of the elections to the Palestinian authority that he so highly praises, describing the victory of Yassir Arafat as “an overwhelming mandate”. This is his view of an election in conditions without freedom of the press, an independent judiciary, widespread intimidation and the absence of a realistic opposition candidate (Arafat’s opponent was a woman for whom the great majority of Palestinian men in the territories would have most likely boycotted if she had run unopposed). Carter’s reluctance to do more than “chastise” (how like a Biblical prophet!) Arafat, a man with so much blood on his hands and the individual most responsible for the use of terrorism as a political weapon in our times for…..”not encouraging more democracy in the Palestinian Authority” and “arresting Palestinians of the news media and human rights activists” (p.193) is a scene out of the theater of the absurd. The term “extremely militant” is only used regarding the 450 Jewish settlers in Hebron (many of them descendants of those Jews who survived a massacre by local Arabs there in 1929) “driving out” 150,000 Arabs.

Carter, like so many other “Johnny-come-latelies” to the Middle East views events through the prism of his background. What else can explain the weird reference to illegal Arab migration into the Palestinian Mandate Territory from 1920 to 1947 as the entry of “Gentiles” (p.66), a frame of reference that is simply out of place. The back of the jacket cover is just as off-base in calling the book a plea for “a lasting peace agreement with justice, compatible with international law” and …“conforms to agreements previously consummated”; a ridiculous description of the present Hamas-led government that has renounced all such agreements.

Every so often, an apparent slip of the pen or Carter’s repressed subconscious emerges to proclaim real and undeniable crucial aspects of the Middle East conflict such as on page 68.…“Only among Israelis in a democracy with almost unrestricted freedom of speech can one hear a wide range of opinion concerning the dispute among themselves with Palestinians and other Arabs.” How then does one reach a meaningful agreement when the other side does not permit a real debate on the issues? Carter has no answer.

Caught in the middle – Between a rock and a hard place

Although Israeli Arab expressions of disloyalty during the Intifada dismayed many Jews in Israel, signs of loyalty and even heroism are often ignored. One case that made headlines in September 2002 was that of 17-year old Rami Mahamid who informed police of a suicide bomber by cell phone just in time to prevent many fatalities at the bus stop in the Israeli Arab village of Umm-el-Fahm. One policeman was killed and Rami seriously injured by fragments of the explosion. Rami was given a police citation by Brigadier General Dov Lutzky, “for saving life with great courage and initiative” and celebrated his “good citizenship”. He was originally shackled to his hospital bed until his story was checked out due to fear that he might have been an accomplice.

Rami described himself as Israeli, not Palestinian, but he spoke with some bitterness about the reality of the Arab minority in Israel. “I feel always under suspicion” he said. “You don’t feel free in your own country.” This is the great dilemma of Israel’s Arab minority. They are under constant suspicion as disloyal. The way forward is to recognize and reward those who are loyal and make them feel that Israel is their state too and to punish severely all (Jew or Arab) who betray their obligations as citizens.

Anyone who doubts this is unaware of how Jews and Arabs in Israeli football clubs, restaurants, garages and the entertainment world have performed harmoniously together during almost sixty years of coexistence. The Arabs of Israel do face a dilemma. They must be aided by a much greater willingness on the part of their Jewish fellow citizens to foster their integration. Those who elect to stay in Israel must be loyal citizens or else they will have no future. They must, however, be given more encouragement and a new and more embracing framework to emphasize that their status is not an ambivalent one. Most of all, recognition of loyalty should be rewarded and common citizenship stressed.

The Future and What Can Be Done

A much more clear-cut critical American position on the Palestinian Authority, and the eventual realization that Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas & Company have led their brothers and cousins on both sides of the Green Line down a dead-end path, will ultimately create a change in attitudes.

The Arabs of Israel have some legitimate grievances. It behooves Israel not to put symbolic obstacles in the path of those Arab citizens who do not identify with the enemy. This should require some attempt at finding the kind of minor compromises that foster identification with the state and lower barriers to full participation in Israeli society but without insisting on acceptance of Jewish identity.

Sponsoring a competition for Arabic words to a common anthem and replacing Hatikva (or permitting an alternative anthem) that sings of love for a common homeland would offend no one except the obtuse and obdurate. A model for this exists in Finland where Swedish speaking citizens in the Aaland islands sing the Finnish national anthem in their own language and serve in special Swedish speaking units in the armed forces yet no would hurl the label of apartheid at Finland. Israel must, of course, also strive to eliminate some of the major disparities in employment opportunities and municipal services to Arab towns and villages.

Many observers who are aware of the unrelenting hostility of Arab Knesset members and many prominent figures in public life among the Israeli Arabs do not give sufficient recognition to the unabashed opportunism that characterizes the political culture prevalent in the region. This means there are no real political parties, no free press or independent judiciary – hence the expression “The Arab Street”. Questions and issues of policy are never really debated. They are manifested in street demonstrations, almost always orchestrated. In stable states with strong governments, the “people” support the government. In weak states, or in the case of Israel, extremist religious and political groups capable of using force, coercion and the threat of violence hold sway because they promise greater pain and punishment than the rewards offered by the government.

This should have been obvious during the “Iraqi Freedom” campaign. Many critics of the Bush administration bemoaned the “apparent lack” of support for American troops until it was clear from Baghdad that the regime symbolized by Saddam Hussein’s statue was gone forever. There is a residue of Arab opinion in Israel that is afraid to speak out in any public forum against extremists who preach secession and civil disobedience. Many Israelis who are suspicious and pessimistic of ever reaching any accommodation with the Arab minority in the country see only emigration as a “final solution”.

This is short-sighted and self-defeating. It also plays into the hands of extremists. Even if many Israeli Arabs are opportunistic and blow with every change in wind, it would be a smart policy to offer a framework based on the “carrot and stick” approach. In so doing, Israel would be spared the accusation that it is an “Apartheid state” and give some hint to the population in the West Bank and Gaza that a real peace agreement would bring enormous benefits to all. Carter’s repeated accusations against Israel only encou
rage the hard-liners to continue their campaign of no meaningful compromise.

The ex-President’s use of the nickname “Jimmy” was always calculated to sound more folksy. He undoubtedly believes that he has a special mission to bring “peace” to the Middle East and that a renewed effort on his part may restore the luster and prestige to his achievement of bringing Sadat and Begin together. Sadat’s fate and the cold nature of the Egyptian regime toward Israel (and the United States) have not given him or President Obama cause to reconsider. They both believe their initiatives will somehow contribute to a new step forward but there is a hollow and pathetic ring to it. If the term “apartheid” has any meaning at all in the context of today’s realities, it is the self-imposed apartheid of Muslim communities refusing any meaningful step towards integration within Western democratic societies.

Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (website:, Ph.D. – Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1974, is an author, freelance writer, editor, researcher, lecturer, translator and teacher with sophisticated communications skills.

Dr. Berdichevsky can be reached at: [email protected]


Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948

A Book Review: Army of Shadows

By Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (Bio and Archives)  Friday, September 24, 2010 

‘Army of Shadows’ is a remarkable book with a cogent title that adds new and significant insight to what is, without a doubt, the most exhausted (and exhausting)  topic in the modern political lexicon of nationalist disputes.

Drawing on original sources in both Arabic documents of the “ArabExecutive Committee” (the leading political body of the Palestinian-Arab Nationalist movement), Supreme Muslim Council and the Arab press as well as numerous memoirs, and Hebrew (Central Zionist Archives, Haganah Archives, Hebrew press and personal memoirs), Hillel Cohen traces the heretofore largely unreported history of Palestinian/Arab collaboration with the Zionist movement during the period of the British Mandate. The book has been very competently translated into English by Haim Watzman University of California Press, Berkeley, 2008).

Arab collaboration with the Zionist Movement took the form of facilitating the sale of land to Jewish settlers, the provision of vital security intelligence, political propaganda and even military assistance. It is no exaggeration, in the light of these many revelations, to assert that without the invaluable cooperation with dissident Arab elements opposed to the mainstream Arab Executive Committee, the Zionist movement would not have been able to achieve the goal of a Jewish state. Such a claim undoubtedly both surprises and shocks those who take an interest in the Middle East and claim to be familiar with the conflict, a struggle that has generated an ocean of ink but left untouched the subject of Cohen’s research. What is even more amazing is that Palestinian Arab cooperation came almost entirely from conservative and traditional rural Muslim circles.

Cohen makes clear why both the official Palestinian nationalist and Zionist sides have kept this information confidential and have been reluctant to see it exposed. History is always written by the victors. In this particular case, the official Arab side led by the Grand Mufti, Haj-Amin al Husseini, presented their case to world opinion as an entirely unified opposition by their community to Zionism, Jewish immigration, and the British Mandate authorities. Likewise, the Jewish Zionist narrative has preferred to exclude most references to that part of the Arab community willing to cooperate in the spirit of compromise. The Hebrew slogan “Eyn Breyrah” (there is no alternative), was used effectively to rally support for the Zionist goal of a Jewish state as a life or death issue, portraying the Arab side as a united front of total rejection to any compromise.

This book is a “MUST READ” not only for the general public but most of all for the thousands of reporters, commentators and “pundits” teeming over Israel, the disputed territories and the entire Middle East with absolutely no knowledge of the original languages, documents, first hand accounts and archives that tell the full story of the conflict. The book is meticulously footnoted to original sources, the authenticity of which are not in doubt. Often, the purveyors of popular images only promote and enhance stereotyped and endlessly repeated hackneyed banalities that dominate the media. Practically every page of this book contains information that will shock, confuse and challenge their basic assumptions.

Those who are familiar with other historical conflicts should know better than to accept versions of the past from the vantage point of hindsight. All Americans have heard of Benedict Arnold, but most prefer to avoid any in-depth analysis of the extent to which American opinion on the eve of the Revolution was divided. Most historians today agree that roughly one third of the American population favored independence, another third was steadfastly loyal to the crown and in between were those hoping to maintain neutrality and avoid any decision until the outcome was determined.

Cohen deals with this relative view of history in a chapter entitled “Who is a Traitor?”  The change in core identity from religion to the European idea of a nation, posed anomalies, contradictions and conflicts that were deepened in Palestinian Arab society by the growing confrontation with the dynamic Zionist movement. A minority of mostly well-to-do rural and traditional Muslims were challenged by new choices that could not be papered over by the Arab Higher Committee that delegitimized any opposition to their leadership. For this minority, the Jews appeared less threatening than local Christian Arabs who, in the past, had relied on the European Christian powers and their churches to help secure material benefits and advantages. The idea of a “Palestinian Nation” as expressed by the Palestinian Nationalist Movement under the Mufti uniting Christians and Muslims appeared strange and unnatural to many Arabs who were pressured to mouth the platitudes expressed by their leaders but retained their own parochial loyalties and interests.

Another important element of cooperation between Palestinian Arabs in urban areas, especially Haifa was the Histadrut—The Jewish Federation of Labor that won the sympathy of Arab workers in the affiliate organization, The Palestine Labor League. Arab workers benefited from the higher wages that prevailed in the labor market due to continued Jewish immigration. The Histadrut maintained close relations with Arab workers through its newspaper in Arabic, Haqiqat al-Amr.

During the Mandate, the clear preponderance of hooligan and criminal elements operating as “nationalists” ready to commit mayhem utilized by the Mufti, created enormous resentment among the more educated and upper class Muslims and Christians as well, who feared that these elements so easily mobilized by the Mufti in the struggle against the Jews could be turned against them. The same fears persist today both in the “West Bank” and even in Gaza and refugee camps in Lebanon among a silent moderate element of the Arab population unable to openly challenge the violent militias of Hamas and Hezbollah.  The high quality and quantity and intelligence gathered by Israel’s security agencies have allowed pinpoint accuracy of many strikes against high ranking terrorist operatives and are due, in considerable measure, to Arab collaborationists.

What makes the split within Palestinian society qualitatively different from the divisions among Americans at the time of the Revolution is the enormous gap between words and deeds. Although almost always strenuously denied, Arabs agreeing to cooperate with the Zionist program made rational decisions based on inter-clan rivalries, the prospect of increased economic wel lbeing and deeply valued motives of revenge and pride. The frequent official denunciations against ‘traitors’ was a central and persistent feature of the Palestinian Arab press and public meetings where frequent use of extremist religious rhetoric damned all those cooperating with the Jews. Violence, blackmail and threats of beatings, deportation, the denial of religious burial in Muslim cemeteries and even calls for wives to abandon their husbands were all used with only mixed results.

Nevertheless, prominent Arab personalities with little sense of a nationalist identity saw in the growing strength of the Zionist movement, a potential ally, the traditional recourse to the enemy of my enemy is my friend. This was proven time and time again even during the major riots of 1929 and the general Arab uprising of 1936-1939, as well as in Israel’s war of Independence and the two intifadas that have captured world headlines. It is true today, in the continued inter-Arab violence and competition for power between the Fatah and Hamas movements. In all of these struggles, the number of Arabs killed and wounded by other Arabs, exceeds the count of Jewish victims.

As early as July, 1921, no less an authoritative Arab political figure than the mayor of Haifa and head of the traditional Muslim National Association, Hasan Shukri sent the following telegram to the British government as a reaction to a Palestinian delegation setting out for London to protest the implementation of the Balfour Declaration:

“We strongly protest against the attitude of the said delegation concerning the Zionist question. We do not consider the Jewish people as an enemy whose wish is to crush us. On the contrary, we consider the Jews as a brotherly people sharing our joys and troubles and helping us in the construction of our common country, We
are certain that without Jewish immigration and financial assistance there will be no future development in our country as may be judged from the fact that the town inhabited in part by Jews such as Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa and Tiberias are making steady progress while Nablus, Acre and Nazareth, where no Jews reside, are steadily

Shukri’s fate was sealed from that moment and although he enjoyed immense local prestige and authority among the Arab population of Haifa, he was the target of a failed assassination attempt in May 1936 just weeks after a successful one ended the life of his brother-in-law and former mayor of Haifa, Ibraham Bey Khalil, a member of one of the richest families in the city. These distinguished leaders were part of the major opposition element among Palestinian notables who feared the Grand Mufti, al-Husseini. They were labeled as the “Nashashibi opposition” whether or not they were actually members of that clan.

From the very beginning of the Mandate, the Zionist movement sought out Arab leaders willing to cooperate offering a variety of rewards that would tempt collaborationists, running the gambit from bribery, raising the general standard of living, manipulating inter-clan rivalries and providing convincing arguments that Zionism could not be extirpated and that an accommodation would be a much more farsighted policy than the eternal confrontation offered by the Mufti. By the late 1920s, David Ben Gurion and Moshe Shertok (later known as Moshe Sharret who later became Israel’s second Prime Minister) rejected the approach of offering “carrots”. They believed that however real the material benefits enjoyed by the Arab population as a result of Zionist activity, a policy of cooperation would inevitably be doomed to failure.

No moderate Arab segment of public opinion could openly confront the extremists for whom terror, blackmail and threats rather than elections or policy debates were the established way of dealing with an opposition. The only hope lay rather in convincing extreme Arab nationalist currents that confrontation would ultimately lead to an Arab defeat. Among those Arabs who did openly express opposition to the Mufti, many eventually had to flee the country and felt abandoned by their Jewish allies.

They had cooperated due to a variety of motives. Many were land owners who cared for their tenants (fellahin) and made decisions to sell mostly marginal and poorly drained uncultivated land in areas with a scant and dispersed population. Some were speculators who acted solely in their own selfish interests while others truly tried to derive maximum benefit for their loyal followers. The income from these sales enabled prominent rural families to live a more comfortable and secure existence in sharp contrast to the past and to cement the loyalty of their followers and tenants in clan rivalries.  A few had married Jewish women and were regarded with suspicion by both sides, others had welcome the medical, agricultural and economic benefits provided for their villages due to close proximity and cooperation with Zionist settlements while there were others who had been attracted to the social and intellectual horizons offered by the new metropolis of Tel Aviv. 

The legacy of almost thirty years of coexistence within the British Mandate left many ties between the two communities in areas that brought tangible benefits to many Arabs in technical and agricultural assistance, trade union activity, transportation, medical treatment and employment. These were not simply jettisoned to satisfy the demands of the power hungry and corrupt leadership of the Palestinian Nationalist movement

Inter-Arab rivalries took on larger proportions as a result of the 1936-39 uprising against the British instigated by the Grand Mufti and his supporters.  A large part of the Arab public was appalled by the vicious terrorist tactics and wholesale purges carried out by the rebels to force them into cooperation. Many supplied information against the terrorists to the British authorities and Jewish settlements. The most fascinating segment of the book deals with the smuggling of arms by Arabs to the Jewish underground forces including the Irgun and the “Stern Gang” (also called the FFI – Fighters for the Freedom of Israel or by the acronym in Hebrew as “Lehi”).

The participation of a few Arabs in the Jewish underground movements as “brothers in arms” in attacks against the British authorities on the eve of partition is fact and not fantasy no matter how strange it appears today. During Israel’s War of Independence, many Bedouin and the entire Druze community switched sides to join the Jews in opposing the invasion by the regular Arab armies. The war also conclusively demonstrated the considerable apathy or outright refusal of a large part of the Palestinian Arab population to take up arms and fight the Jews for control of the country. The invading Arab armies took the major brunt of the fighting and were often looked on with mistrust by the Palestinian civilian population.

The leader of the most prominent Palestinian fighting force, Abdel Qader Husseini, district commander of Jerusalem and the Mufti’s close relative, found most of the population indifferent, if not hostile, to his repeated call to arms much as many French peasants avoided conscription into Napoleon’s Grand Army. He was unable to recruit volunteers for the salaried force he tried to raise in Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarm, and Qalqiliya, all towns reputed to be hotbeds of radical Muslim sentiment and Palestinian opposition to Zionism. In Beit Safafa, his forces were driven out by angry residents protesting the misuse of their homes for anti-Jewish attacks.

What is the significance of this historical research for today? Is it of more than purely academic interest?  First of all, the total disinterest of the media in presenting an accurate account of inter-Arab rivalry and the multiple motivations for cooperation by Arabs with Jews and the Zionist movement in Palestine only serves to expand the already grossly distorted picture created by many Left Wing “activists” of good guys vs. bad guys that comes across on television screens (where pictures are supposed to be worth 10,000 words) showing the Palestinian civilians as humble underdogs and the outmatched victims of a super aggressive arrogant Israeli military machine. The same bias operated throughout our involvement in Iraq and for quite some time was oblivious to the 1400 year old dissension within Islam between the Sunni and Shi’a divisions.

Several recent polls have demonstrated that the prospect of any border change that would involve the loss of their Israeli citizenship in favor of a new one as a result of a territorial exchange with The Palestinian Authority is adamantly rejected by a large majority of Arabs living in border areas.

Finally, whereas there existed real moderates on the Arab side during the mandate who actively promoted collaboration that envisioned a future coexistence, the much misnamed “moderate” Palestinian leader Abbas, the darling of today’s international media and European “statesmen” is a transparent sham whose record of Holocaust denial would have embarrassed any Western head of state immediately after World War II no less than the pro-Nazi Palestinian leader, the Grand Mufti.

Contemporary events thus bear out the central thesis of Cohen’s research and it is this: The version of Palestinian Arab Nationalism as envisioned first by the Mufti during the Mandate and today by the PLO (Yasser Arafat and currently Mahmud Abbas) or the extremist religious organizations of Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah, all have expected their followers to unconditionally submerge their personal, regional, religious identity within the concept of THE NATION, a view they hold as indistinguishable from their leadership. Any other loyalty that challenges total subordination is regarded as intolerable and is the equivalent of treason; thus, the spectacle of Hamas “warriors” throwing PLO supporters off the roofs of some of the tallest buildings in Gaza and recent confirmed reports of the “round up and punishment of collaborators”, by Hamas. It is no wonder that now as well as then (period of the Mandate and Israel’s War of Independence), Jewish forces could count on an “Army of Shadows”.

Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (website:, Ph.D. – Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1974, is an author, freelance writer, editor, researcher, lecturer, translator and teacher with sophisticated communications skills.

Dr. Berdichevsky can be reached at: [email protected]


The Myth of the Golden Age in Muslim Spain

The desire to restore Al-Andalus.

By Dr. Norman Berdichevsky,  Saturday, August 21, 2010

Apologists for Islam including those agitating for a mosque and Muslim community center at Ground Zero (labeled as the “Cordoba Initiative”) never tire of referring to the “Golden Age” of tolerance that supposedly characterized seven centuries of Muslim dominated Spain. This fundamentally flawed assessment draws the wrong conclusion based on fragmentary evidence and distorts the larger picture. It is usually portrayed in such rosy terms by those who have no access to primary Spanish language historical sources and ignores the reality of enormous destruction wrought by the three Arab-Berber Muslim invasions that repeatedly sought to hold on to control and rule over the indigenous peoples of Spain who had been reduced to second class citizens in their own homeland; see for example the recent best seller – Espana Frente al Islam De Mahoma a Ben Laden” by Cesar Vidal, 2005; La Sfera de los Libros.

The desire to restore “Al-Andalus”, an Arabic corruption of the land they conquered that had previously been ruled by the Germanic Vandals (hence alAndalus as “Land of the Vandals” in Arabic) and Visigoths has persisted to this day. Extremist support for the atrocious terrorist bombing of the Madrid Train Station on March 11, 2004 is viewed by some Muslims today not simply as just punishment for the pro-American government of former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar but as the first step in the re-conquest of what is still considered along with “Palestine” as land that must be returned to Muslim dominion.

Renewed Theological Debate

In Medieval Spain, numerous theological debates were held to discuss the relative merits and claims of the three monotheistic religions. Even though many centuries have passed, there is still a fundamental division among them. Jews who first discovered a path towards salvation, believed they were setting an example by serving God as a nation, demonstrating their way of life to other nations. This continued to be possible even after the destruction of the Temple and loss of Jewish independence in 70 AD. Christians, on the other hand, believed that this was possible on a purely individual level and could be achieved by anyone through the agency of the church no matter what his or her nationality, race or sex.

For Islam, the world is divided between two hostile camps, and it is incumbent upon Muslims to subject the other camp to its will. More than a matter of personal submission to the will of Allah, subjugation (the deeper meaning of “Islam” usually confused with salaam meaning “peace”) requires the dominion over territory. The struggle for Islam requires a continual appraisal of a chess-board like map of what part of the world has been subdued and placed under Muslim rule FOREVER (no retreats or “do-overs” are allowed). The subdued territory is Dar-al-Islam while the remaining territories are ideologically still in the camp of the unbelievers. The other camp is labeled the “Camp of War” (Dar-Il-Harb) and must ultimately be conquered. In this regard, territories such as Israel, Spain, Chechnya, Kosovo or Albania, that were once submitted to Allah, cannot be allowed to return to the Camp of War.

Moderate Muslims may want to live in harmony with their neighbors, but this theological sword and the pressure it exerts, suggest that the more militant strain will gain the upper hand.

It is more than six years since Al-Qaeda forced a change in Spain’s foreign policy with a terrorist bombing, it is questionable whether European domestic policies will be able to remain free from the aims and goals of Islamic radicals.

The Original Conquest of 711-716

The Islamic Civilization of medieval Al-Andalus endured in various parts of the Iberian peninsula from a few decades to 700 years. It left its mark primarily in Castile andAndalusia and provided Spain, and to a lesser degree Portugal, with a colorful and illustrious but also violent past that marked the history, language, architecture, art, music, food, place names and society of the country long after the last Muslim had departed.

The Muslims did not constitute anywhere near a majority of the population that numbered approximately 7 million Christians and Jews at the time of the first conquest in 711-716. By the beginning of the tenth century it has been estimated that the Muslim population of Berbers, Arabs and Muladies (Christians who had converted to Islam) was approximately 2.8 million out of a total of more than 7 million. By the beginning of the twelfth century, the number of Muslims had almost doubled but were just a bare majority of the total population of the peninsula. (source: “Judios, Moros y Cristianos; tres pueblos, ritos y costumbres” by Pastora Barahona, editorial Libsa, Madrid; 2004.) There was a hierarchical pecking order in spite of the lip service that all believers were equal.

Arabs stood at the top, Berbers provided the majority of the shock troops and hewers of wood and drawers of water followed by converts and at the very bottom were the infidel Jews and Christians no matter how significant their contribution to the arts and sciences.

The Muslim conquest of Spain was greatly aided by internal divisions among the Christians, especially the land-owning class of Visigoth nobles. The Muslim Conquest of Spain was accomplished in the short space of five years but society did not change abruptly. The newly won territory was given the name Al-Andalus with its capital in Cordoba and became a dependency of the Omayyid Caliphate of Damascus. Just prior to the conquest, much of the original Christian population demonstrated little stake in continued Visigothic rule and, even among the Visigoth ruling class, several clans found it expedient to cooperate with the Muslim rulers in order to preserve their property and privileges.

These Germanic rulers were still considered “foreigners” by many ordinary native Spaniards and their formal conversion to Catholicism from the Arian heresy that rejected the idea that Jesus was co-equal or co-eternal with God the Father(contesting the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity and that Christ was both human and divine). Their “conversion”had only been an initial step designed to appeal to the Catholic majority and integrate the different elements of the population into one society. The harsh anti-Jewish measures adopted by the last Visigothic king were made to appeal to Christians and unite the kingdom in the face of the Muslim invaders who were originally welcomed by the Jews, initially regarding them as liberators.

The tolerant Spain of The Three Great Monotheistic Religions (often referred to as Las Tres Culturas) gradually contracted and was eventually extinguished as a result of repeated invasions of the peninsula from North Africa by severe Muslim-Berber tribes people who brought with them a fanaticism reminiscent of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Only later did a resurgent Christian-Hispanic reaction begin to imitate this intolerance. The term “Golden Age” of Muslim Spain most correctly applies to a relatively short period from the eighth to the mid-eleventh century and is even more accurate when applied to the Christian North of the country for a period of more than three hundred years. (1050-1390).

The Berber-Arab Division

From the very beginning of the Muslim domination of Spain, a considerable antagonism existed between a minority of Arab overlords and their predominantly Berber followers who had joined the Muslim crusade after their conversion to Islam. The majority of these Berbers lived in Morocco and Mauretania and for this reason were referred to asMoros (Moors), a term that continues in use today and is more prevalent thatmuselmanes(Muslims) or árabes (Arabs) in contemporary Spanish.

Many of the Berbers had remained pagan or converted to Byzantine Christianity before accepting Islam and had long been in contact with the south-eastern corner of Spain separated from the Moroccan coastline by the narrow strait of Gibraltar. They provided the majority of the manpower for the invasion but were regarded with contempt by an Arab ruling class who felt a racial superiority and purity of faith connected with the Caliphs in Damascus and later in Baghdad

Collapse of Muslim Spain into Chaos

Muslim Spain, nominally subject to the rulers (caliphs) in Damascus and Baghdad, eventually broke free from any foreign subservience. Around the years 930-1000, Cordoba excelled as the most cultured city in Europe under a stable and prosperous rule, especially during the reign of Abd-al Rahman III (proclaimed Caliph in Cordoba in 929). This enlightened ruler built a sumptuous palace, Medina Azahara, named for his favorite wife Azahara. Its magnificence in ivory, jade, ebony and alabaster rivaled or exceeded that of the Taj Mahal and yet it was totally destroyed and sacked not by the “barbarian Christians” attacking from the North but by the fanatical Muslim Berber invaders in 1010. They left hardly a stone standing.

During a few months in 1009, five different rulers succeeded each other and lost control of much of the provincial territories. A rebellion against loyalty to the Omayyid dynasty led to civil war and the descent of Muslim Spain into chaos. Within a generation, approximately 40 independent Muslim mini-kingdoms or emirates calledtaifasproclaimed their independence and enabled the Christian kingdoms to organize and make major advances in the reconquest of the peninsula.

The Native Jewish population of Spain (many and perhaps most Sephardi Jews were native born converts rather than migrants), always a barometer of tolerance, quite clearly preferred the Christian North to the Muslim South from the beginning of the 11th century. Severe anti-Jewish disturbances began first in Granada and the Muslim South under the Almoravids and Almohades. The great palaces, artistic achievements and part of the sophisticated irrigation works of the Omayyids and Abbasids were largely destroyed by the new invaders. By the time of the final conquest of Granada – the last remaining Muslim kingdom in 1492, almost no Jews resided there whereas more than 225 Spanish towns had their distinctive Jewish quarters (juder√≠as) still intact on the eve of the expulsion.

The Reconquest

The Reconquest (La Reconquista) by the Christian kingdoms eventually took on the dimensions of a religious crusade in which there could only be one winner. The Christians would have won and evicted Muslim rule much earlier had it not been for the arrival of fresh forces brought with the Berber incursions during the 11th and 12thcenturies. The gains of territory achieved by the rival Christian kingdoms did not originally contribute to cementing a sense of religious unity or a crusade (“Christendom”). It was early beset by national, dynastic and linguistic rivalries (Castilian, Catalan, Leonese, Aragonese, Valencian, Portuguese and Navarran-Basque). Fortunately for them, the Muslim opposition was even more fragmented. The many small feuding taifas were to fall one by one to the conquering Christian princes and their armies.

Medieval Spain

Medieval Spain was the scene of a unique encounter among the three great civilizations of Roman Christianity. Arab-Berber Islam and Sephardi Jewry. The multi-cultural synthesis that emerged following the Muslim conquest left behind a stunning legacy, but one that was uneven, sporadic and marred due to political fragmentation, intermittent warfare, religious intolerance and eventual excessive religious zeal that ended in the eventual expulsion of the Jews (1492) and Muslims (1609) or their forced conversion as a step in the consolidation of political unity.

Only in Andalucia, was Muslim rule in Spain continuous for a long period of time. Elsewhere, it was limited and endured for a much shorter lengths of time, notably in Galicia, Asturias, the Basque country, Aragon and much of Catalonia. A good indicator of the Muslim presence is the large number of sites that bear Arabic place names (toponynms) starting with either the article “al” (the) or the prefix “Beni” (sons of). These sites show a strong concentration in the south of Andalucia and along the Mediterranean coasts of what are today the provinces of Murcia and Valencia.

Las Tres Culturas

There is abundant evidence of social coexistence and considerable cultural interchange between members of all three religions in the early period of Muslim rule in the south and later in the Christian North, participation in holidays (even Christmas) and celebrations such as weddings and baptisms across religious lines. Noted Spanish historian Antonio Dominguez Ortiz, in his classic essay Las Tres Culturas en la Historia de Espana, put it this way:

Conversion to Islam had not eroded the taste of many for good wines, the woman’s veil had not yet become a widespread custom (such a requirement does not appear in the Koran) and the happy sensual and cultivated environment that has always characterized the peoples of the South of Spain was not compatible with a rigid interpretation of the Koranic precepts.

The Cosmopolitan and Tolerant Christian North of Spain (1050-1390)

It is noteworthy that the most successful Christian rulers during the greatest advances made in the Christian re-conquest were also the most tolerant. Their kingdoms derived particular benefit from the active cooperation and participation of their Jewish communities. Alfonso VI, known as “The Brave” (1072-1090) appointed a Jewish minister and treasurer. The “philosopher king” Alfonso X (1252-1284) collaborated on many projects with Jewish scholars and translators and proclaimed them as valuable citizens, specifically forbidding th
e use of force to bring about conversions to Christianity. Jaime I, the conqueror of Valencia, was an enlightened king who promoted his Jewish subjects to positions of prestige and influence. As a sign of special favor, he offered a distinct part of the town for Jewish residence in 1239 at their own request.

Under Muslim rule, especially following the arrival of the Almoravids and the Almohades,both Christianity and Judaism were scarcely tolerated and regarded as decidedly “inferior” religions. Their adherents were either forced at sword point to convert or paid exorbitant tribute to remain “protected peoples” (dhimmis), who possessed a divinely inspired book of revelation. They had to pay a “head tax” from which Muslims were exempt. The Jews, being more literate and whose Hebrew closely resembled Arabic, felt much more able to adapt to the new State at once and began to specialize in those activities and professions that Arabs regarded as “beneath them” (especially trade and tax collecting), administration, or onerous and “defiling” (working with leather).

The Three Sources of Hispanic Civilization

The arts, sciences, technology, literature, architecture, navigation, map making, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy and art that flourished in Medieval Spain are often credited to Islam but this is a distortion of the role played by adherents of all three religions. The United Visigothic kingdom of Spain prior to the Muslim invasions had inherited five centuries of Roman civilization and had made use of the achievements of the Greeks and earlier Carthaginians as well as the Assyrians in agriculture, irrigation, mathematics, time keeping, the calender,mining, architecture, road building, mosaic art, pottery, jewelry, law and civic responsibility. The Muslim conquerors who arrived in 711 had inherited these same arts and sciences on their path of conquest across the Byzantine empire, the Near East and Christian-Roman North Africa. Christian and Jewish artisans and scholars made major contributions enabling the Muslim conquerors to make use of these achievements. The Schools of Translation established in Granada and Toledo by Muslim and Christian rulers respectively relied heavily on Jewish scholarship.

Spain’s View of their troubled Past Relations with the Muslims

Due to a long troubled history, Spanish involvement in the affairs of Morocco and the religious fervor generated by the Re-conquest, the Crusades and the Counter-reformation, a problematic legacy has been inherited by many Spaniards who maintain a kind of love-hate relationship with their past and with their Muslim neighbors to the South. From the eighth century to the present day, stereotypes have dominated Spanish attitudes and relations with the Arab states and Muslim civilization no less than with Israel, Judaism and the Jewish Diaspora. Since the 1970s, Islam has re-emerged as a major factor in Spanish society and since then the continual flow of cheap migrant labor and illegal immigration from Morocco has resulted in the rapid growth of the Muslim community.

From the time of the expulsion of the last “Moors”, the term moros has been used in Spain and applied indiscriminately to everything connected with Islam. Due to Spain’s involvement in Morocco, a large Army of Africa was created. In the 1930s, it was commanded by General Francisco Franco and its troops came to play a major part in the suppression of a revolt by anarchist miners and other workers in the northern province of Asturias in 1934, and then in the uprising to overthrow the Republic that culminated in the Civil War (1936-39). In spite of General Franco’s frequent use of the theme of “rescuing” Spain’s Christian heritage from “barbarism”, the use of Muslim troops brought with him from Morocco earned him a reputation for brutality. They were hated and feared by ordinary Spaniards wherever they fought.

Spanish Civilization is indeed indebted to both its early Iberian-Carthaginian-Roman-Greek-Germanic-Celtic origins and the invaluable contributions of both Jews and Muslims in the Middle Ages. The “Golden Age” was due originally to a wise policy of coexistence but was short-lived and followed by centuries of chaotic condition of fanaticism and fratricidal conflict due to the extremist Berber sects who followed a policy similar to that of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda of today. The Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula by the Christian Kingdoms of Castile, Aragon and Portugal attracted Jews to these lands from the feuding Muslim taifas in the South and initially followed a policy of tolerance towards the remaining Muslims (known as Mudejars). Unfortunately, the bitterness of almost seven centuries of war between the Christians and Muslims for domination eventually resulted in Spain’s liberation and unification (1492) that was marred by the triumph of a religious crusade, fed by the excessive zeal of the Church and monarchy bent on the consolidation of state power and the realistic fear that the Muslims would continue to raid and pillage Spain’s Mediterranean coast in preparation for a new invasion. During the period from the 16th century until the suppression of the Barbary Pirates by American sea-power, Muslim pirates kidnapped and enslaved several hundred thousand Christians and held them in captivity and the harems throughout the Ottoman Empire and the lands of its North African allies.

Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (website:, Ph.D. – Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1974, is an author, freelance writer, editor, researcher, lecturer, translator and teacher with sophisticated communications skills.

Dr. Berdichevsky can be reached at: [email protected]

Israel’s Allies in 1948; The USSR, Czechoslovakia, American Mainline Churches and the Left

By Dr. Norman Berdichevsky,  Monday, September 20, 2010 .

Today’s media never attempt to explain how it was Soviet and East Block aid and not American support that was the crucial factor in newborn Israeli state.

The nearly universal belief, never challenged by the media, is that the United States was wholly or largely and “morally” responsible for fully supporting Israel on the ground from the very beginning of its independence in May, 1948. The world has been inundated with a tsunami of Arab propaganda and crocodile tears shed for the “Palestinians” who have reveled in what they refer to as their Catastrophe or Holocaust (“Nabka” in Arabic).

Their plight has been accompanied by unremitting criticism that the United States was the principal architect that stood behind Israel from the very beginning with money, manpower and arms. The fact is that President Truman eventually decided against the pro-Arab “professional opinion” of his Secretary of State, General George Marshall and the Arabists of the State Department. He accorded diplomatic recognition to the new Jewish state but never considered active military aid. His own memoirs recall how he felt betrayed by State Department officials and the American U.N. Ambassador, Warren Austin who pulled the rug out from under him one day after he promised Zionist leader Chaim Weitzman support for partition.

American Jewish voting in the 1948 Presidential election leaned heavily for President Truman but also cast a substantial number of votes for third party “Progressive” leader Henry Wallace who had spoken out even more strongly on behalf of American support for the Zionist position and aid to Israel. It was actually not until the administration of President John Kennedy in the early 1960s that the first American arms shipments were made to Israel.

Soviet Diplomatic Support

The struggle of the Jewish community in Palestine was endorsed completely by what was then called “enlightened public opinion,” above all by the political Left. Andrei Gromyko, at the UN, asserted the right of “the Jews of the whole world to the creation of a state of their own”, something no official of the U.S. State Department has ever acknowledged. Soviet support in the U.N. for partition brought along an additional two votes (the Ukrainian and Byelorussian Republics within the USSR and the entire Soviet dominated block of East European states. Taking (as always) their lead from Moscow, the (hitherto anti-Zionist) Palestinian communist organizations merged their separate Arab and Jewish divisions in October, 1948, giving unconditional support to the Israeli war effort and urging the Israel Defense Forces to “drive on toward the Suez Canal and hand British Imperialism a stinging defeat”!

World Wide Support from the Left

The most famous and colorful personality of the Spanish Republic in exile, the Basque delegate to the Cortes (Spanish Parliament), Dolores Ibarruri, who had gone to the Soviet Union, issued a proclamation in 1948 saluting the new State of Israel and comparing the invading Arab armies to the Fascist uprising that had destroyed the Republic. Just a few months earlier, the hero of the American Left, the great Afro-American folk singer, Paul Robeson had sung in a gala concert in Moscow and electrified the crowd with his rendition of the Yiddish Partisan Fighters Song.

Jewish Attempts to Buy Arms and Czech Approval

The major Arab armies who invaded the newly born Jewish state were British led, equipped, trained and supplied. The Syrian army was French-equipped and had taken orders from the Vichy government in resisting the British le
invasion of the country assisted by Australian troops, Free French units and Palestinian-Jewish volunteer forces in 1941. In their War of Independence, the Israelis depended on smuggled weapons from the West and Soviet and Czech weapons.

The leaders of the Yishuv (Jewish community in Palestine), already in the summer of 1947, intended to purchase arms and sent Dr. Moshe Sneh (the Chief of the European Branch of the Jewish Agency, a leading member of the centrist General Zionist Party who later moved far leftward and became head of the Israeli Communist Party) to Prague in order to improve Jewish defenses. He was surprised by the sympathy towards Zionism and by the interest in arms export on the side of the Czech Government. Sneh met with the Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Clementis, who succeeded the non-Communist and definitely pro-Zionist Jan Masaryk. Sneh and Clementis discussed the possibility of Czech arms provisions for the Jewish state and the Czechs gave their approval,

In January, 1948 Jewish representatives were sent by Ben-Gurion to meet with General Ludvik Svoboda, the Minister of National Defense, and sign the first contract for Czech military aid. Four transport routes were used to Palestine all via Communist countries; a) the Northern route: via Poland and the Baltic Sea, b) the Southern route: via Hungary, Yugoslavia and the Adriatic Sea, c) via Hungary, Romania and the Black Sea, d) by air, via Yugoslavia to Palestine.

At first, a “Skymaster” plane chartered from the U.S. to help in ferrying weapons to Palestine from Europe was forced by the FBI to return to the USA. By the end of May the Israeli Army (IDF) had absorbed about 20,000 Czech rifles, 2,800 machine-guns and over 27 million rounds of ammunition. Two weeks later an additional 10,000 rifles, 1,800 machine-guns and 20 million rounds of ammunition arrived. One Czech-Israeli project that alarmed the Western intelligence was the, so called, Czech Brigade, a unit composed of Jewish veterans of “Free Czechoslovakia”, which fought with the British Army during WWII. The Brigade began training in August 1948 at four bases in Czechoslovakia.

Czech assistance to Israel’s military strength comprised a) small arms, b) 84 airplanes – the outdated Czech built Avia S.199s, Spitfires and Messerschmidts that played a major role in the demoralization of enemy troops; c) military training and technical maintenance. On January 7, 1949, the Israeli air-force, consisting of several Spitfires and Czech built Messerschmidt Bf-109 fighters (transferred secretly from Czech bases to Israel), shot down five British-piloted Spitfires flying for the Egyptian air-force over the Sinai desert causing a major diplomatic embarrassment for the British government. According to British reports, based on informants within the Czech Government, the total Czech dollar income from export of arms and military services to the Middle East in 1948 was over $28 million, and Israel received 85% of this amount. As late as 1951, Czech Spitfires continued to arrive in Israel by ship from the Polish port of Gydiniya-Gdansk (Danzig). Since May, 2005 the Military Museum in Prague has displayed a special exhibition on the Czech aid to Israel in 1948.

In contrast, the American State Department declared an embargo on all weapons and war material to both Jews and Arabs in Palestine, a move that only had one effect in practice. There was no Arab community in North America to speak of and given the fact that a substantial and overwhelmingly sympathetic Jewish community in the United States was anxious to aid the Jewish side, the embargo simply prevented a large part of this intended aid from reaching its destination. The small trickle of supplies and arms reaching Israel from North America was accomplished by smuggling. The U.S. vote in favor of partition was only de facto reflecting the State Department’s care not to unnecessarily offend the Arab states whereas the Soviet vote recognized Israel de jure.

Even with Czech weapons and Soviet aid, Israel would undoubtedly have been unable to halt the Arab invasion without a massive inflow of manpower. The United States, Canada and Europe provided no more than 3000 volunteers, many of them combat hardened veterans from both the European and Pacific theaters of war plus a few hundred idealistic youngsters from the Zionist movements with no combat experience or training. But their numbers were a drop in the bucket compared to more than 200,000 Jewish immigrants from the Soviet dominated countries in Eastern Europe, notably, Poland, Bulgaria (almost 95% of the entire Jewish community) Romania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the former Baltic States and even the Soviet Union who emigrated to Israel arriving in time to reach the front lines or replenish the depleted ranks of civilian manpower. Without both the arms and manpower sent from the “Socialist Camp”, to aid the nascent Israeli state, it would have been crushed.

The About-Face of The Party Line on Zionism

Jewish Marxist theoreticians the world over including several high ranking Party activists, all dedicated anti-religious and anti-Zionist communists had followed the Party Line and even praised a vicious pogrom by Muslim fanatics carried out against ultra-Orthodox Jews in the town of Hebron in Palestine in 1929. The Party Line then was that the Arabs masses were demonstrating their anti-imperialist sentiment against British rule and its sponsorship of Zionism. In 1947, when Stalin was convinced that the Zionists would evict the British from Palestine, the Party Line turned about face. Following Soviet recognition and aid to Israel in 1948-49, both the Daily Worker and the Yiddish language communist daily in the U.S. Freiheit (Freedom) outdid one another to explain the new party line in that…. “Palestine had become an important settlement of 600,000 souls, having developed a common national economy, a growing national culture and the first elements of Palestinian Jewish statehood and self-government.”

A 1947 CP-USA resolution entitled “Work Among the Jewish Masses” berated the Party’s previous stand and proclaimed that “Jewish Marxists have not always displayed a positive attitude to the rights and interests of the Jewish People, to the special needs and problems of our own American Jewish national group and to the interests and rights of the Jewish Community in Palestine”. The new reality that had been created in Palestine was a “Hebrew nation” that deserved the right to self-determination. Remarkably, the Soviet propaganda machine even praised the far Right underground groups of the Irgun and “Stern Gang” for their campaign of violence against the British authorities.

Church Support in the U.S.

The Jewish cause in Palestine enjoyed the support of a large section of mainstream and liberal Protestant churches and not primarily the “lobby” of Protestant Fundamentalists as is often portrayed today by critics of Zionism. As early as February 1941 and in spite of the wholehearted desire of the American Protestant establishment not to risk involvement in World War II, Reinhold Niebhur spoke out convincingly through the journal he founded “Christianity and Crisis” and sounded a clarion call of warning about Nazism. Its final goals were not simply the eradication of the Jews but the extirpation of Christianity and the abolition of the entire heritage of Christian and humanistic culture. This is the only kind of “World Without Zionism” that the Iranian and Arab leaders long for. Niebhur based his views not on any literal “Evangelical” interpretation of Biblical promises but the essentials of justice for the nations and also called for some form of compensation to those Arabs in Palestine who might be displaced if their own leaders refused to make any compromise possible.

Nazi and Reactionary Support for the Arabs

There was nothing “progressive” about those who supported the Arab side. The acknowledged leader of the Palestinian Arab cause was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had fled from Palestine to Iraq to exile in Berlin where he led the “Arab office,” met with Hitler whom he called “the Protector of Islam,” served the Germans in Bosnia where he was instrumental in raising Muslim volunteers among the Bosnians to work with the SS. At the end of the war, the Yugoslav government declared him a war criminal and sentenced him to death. Palestinian Arabs still regard him as their original supreme leader. Lending active support to the Arab war effort were Falangist volunteers from Franco’s Spain, Bosnian Muslims and Nazi renegades who had escaped the Allies in Europe.

The close relationship between the Nazi movement and the German government under Hitler in courting the Arab Palestinian and Pan-Arab attempt to act as Fifth column in the Middle East has been thoroughly researched by Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers’ in their new book Halbmond und Hakenkreuz. Das “Dritte Reich”, die Araber und Palästina, (Crescent Moon and Swastika: The Third Reich, the Arabs, and Palestine) It was published in September, 2006 and has yet to appear in English translation. It documents the Arab sympathies for Nazism, particularly in Palestine and German attempts to mobilize and encourage the Arabs with their ideology, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, and the forces around the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, in Palestine.

Nazi radio broadcasts to the Arabs between 1939 and 1945 constantly proclaimed the natural German sympathy for the Arab cause against Zionism and the Jews. German Middle East experts stressed “the natural alliance” between National Socialism and Islam. And such experts as the former German Ambassador in Cairo, Eberhard von Stohrer, reported to Hitler in 1941 that “the Fuhrer already held an outstanding position among the Arabs because of his fight against the Jews.”

Cüppers and Mallmann quote many original documents from the Nazi archives on this close relationship. From the late 1930s, the planning staffs dealing with the external affairs of the Reich in the Head Office of Reich Security (RSHA, Reichssecuritathauptamt, originally under the monstrous Gestapo-chief Reinhard Heydrich), sought to engulf the Arabian Peninsula and win control of the region‘s oil reserves. They dreamt of a pincer movement from the north via a defeated Soviet Union, and from the south via the Near East and Persia, in order to separate Great Britain from India.

Thanks to the counteroffensive of the Red Army before Moscow in 1941/1942 and at Stalingrad in 1942/1943, and the defeat of the German Africa Corps with El Alamein, the Germans never managed to actively intervene in the Middle East militarily although they helped spark a pro-Axis coup in Baghdad in 1941.

Britain and the Abstentions

In the vote on partition in the UN, apart from the states with large Muslim minorities (like Yugoslavia and Ethiopia), the Arabs managed only to wheedle a few abstentions and one lone negative vote out of the most corrupt non-Muslim states. These included Cuba (voted against partition) and Mexico (abstained) eager to demonstrate their independence of U.S. influence and Latin American countries whose regimes had been pro-Axis until the final days of World War II such as Argentina and Chile (both abstained).

All the West European nations (except Great Britain) voted for partition as well. No other issue to come before the U.N. has had such unanimous support from the European continent or cut across the ideological divide of communist and western sectors. The Jewish state was even supported by Richard Crossman, a member of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine who had been handpicked by Britain’s anti-Zionist Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. Crossman, taking a principled stand, refused to endorse the Labor Party Line.

He had visited the Displaced Persons camps in Germany where Jews who had sought entry into Palestine were being detained. He realized that their sense of desperation derived from a world with no place which they as Jews could truly call home. He wrote that when he started out he was ready to believe that Palestine was the “problem,” but his experiences made him realize that it was the “solution.”

What Today’s So Called “ Progressive” Jews Have Forgotten or Ignore

Even many Jews in the Diaspora whose parents and grandparents rejoiced at the rebirth of Israel in 1948 and regarded it mystically as partial compensation for the Holocaust have been psychologically intimidated by the constant anti-Israel line of the media and of the torrent of bloody confrontations picturing enraged Muslim mobs ready for constant mayhem to avenge what they regard as the worst injustice in human history (i.e. the creation of the Jewish State rather than the failure to establish an Arab Palestinian state).

Some prominent Diaspora Jews, particularly among those who cannot escape the narcotic-like trance they have inherited as “progressives” and are essentially secular and ultra-critical of capitalism and American society with its underlying Christian values, have developed a new kind of psychological self-hatred to exhibit a disassociation from the State of Israel and their religious heritage. They are upset over the close Israeli-American friendship…. 

They easily see Israel’s many flaws (both real and imagined) among which, the worst is that Israel, like America is a “privileged” society enjoying wealth amidst a world of misery. They flatter themselves that they are the modern day prophets who see “the writing on the subway walls” (as Paul Simon sung). They have earned for themselves the justifiable contempt of most Israeli Jews (both religious and secular) for their moral duplicity.

As long ago as 1958 this trend was clearly seen in the interviews given by Leon Uris, the author of the best selling novel “Exodus” in explaining why he wrote the book. He had in mind successful Jewish authors such as Philip Roth, Saul Bellow and Bernard Melamud whom he called “professional apologists” (for being Jews). Uris set out to tell the story of Israel’s rebirth as the story of Jewish heroes rather than the psychological analyses of individuals who grew up damning their fathers and hating their mothers and wondering why they were born.

Uris unapologetically made a pro-Israel film only a decade after every Jewish movie producer had turned down making the film “Gentleman’s Agreement” (1947; starring Gregory Peck) about polite anti-Semitism. It was made into a film by the great Greek-American producer, Elia Kazan who was later turned on with vengeance for cooperating with the House un-American Activities Committee revealing communist influence in Hollywood. Uris himself has been in the front lines in Guadalcanal and Tarawa island and felt an immense respect for the Israelis who had defeated the invading Arab armies and defied the legion of pro-Arab diplomats in the British Foreign Office and the leadership of the Labor Party (a sin the British Left has never forgiven).

Today’s crowd of “progressive” Jewish actors and entertainers outdo even the writers Uris attacked fifty years ago…. 

They are sarcastically referred to by many in Israel as “beautiful souls” i.e., by those who reject their elitism of supposed high moral values so out of place in the Arab Middle East and as remote from the real world as were the great majority of the victims of the Holocaust whose Jewish values prevented them from attributing such evil to the Germans. ….

Whatever the differences between secular and religious Israelis, they pale before the monumental differences that separate life in the State of Israel with all its inherent promises, risks and dangers from the Diaspora’s ultra idealized concerns and sensibilities. This is as true today was it was in 1948. The Political Left today refuses to admit that it stood wholeheartedly behind Israel much like the exercise performed by Stalin’s staff of photographers who could surgically extract and obliterate old time Bolsheviks who had fallen out of his favor.

Convenient Amnesia

Today’s media never attempt (not even the History Channel) to explain how it was Soviet and East Block aid and not American support that was the crucial factor which brought both essential weapons and manpower to the beleaguered newborn Israeli state in 1948-49 and enabled it to turn the tide of battle and justifiably hand the Palestinian Arabs and their allies their “Nabka.” Soviet hopes that they might eventually pressure the new and profoundly democratic Israeli state to side with them in the Cold War were hopelessly naïve*. The Arabs cannot admit the truth of Soviet aid to Israel as it would rob them of their psychological advantage that they are victims who have the right to continually browbeat Western and especially American public opinion as responsible for their catastrophe. Amnesia is a common malady among politicians. … Even President Bush and his supporters seem to suffer from amnesia and were reluctant or incapable of setting the record straight about 1948.

* see Israel Between East and West; Israel’s Foreign Policy Orientation, 1948-56.

Dr. Norman Berdichevsky (website:, Ph.D. – Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1974, is an author, freelance writer, editor, researcher, lecturer, translator and teacher with sophisticated communications skills.

Dr. Berdichevsky can be reached at: [email protected]


Schleichende Zunahme des Antiamerikanismus

 ·  Präsident Obama ist in Deutschland populär, und die Deutschen verlassen sich auf die Vereinigten Staaten. Negativklischees prägen aber immer mehr die Wahrnehmung Amerikas.

Es waren beeindruckende Bilder, die vorgestern aus Washington auf die deutschen Fernseh- und Computerbildschirme übertragen wurden. Trotz eisiger Kälte hatten sich Hunderttausende aufgemacht, um bei der Vereidigung Barack Obamas für seine zweite Amtszeit dabei zu sein. Sie säumten fähnchenschwenkend die Straßen der amerikanischen Hauptstadt. Auf der Freitreppe vor dem prächtig geschmückten Capitol standen Politiker und Würdenträger und ein sichtlich gutgelaunter Präsident. Wohin die Kamera gerichtet war, überall sah man fröhliche Gesichter.

Man kann annehmen, dass sich viele Deutsche mit Barack Obama über seine Wiederwahl gefreut haben. Seit fast einem halben Jahrhundert war kein amerikanischer Präsident in Deutschland so populär wie er. Auf die Frage „Haben Sie von Obama alles in allem eine gute oder keine gute Meinung?“ antworteten in einer Allensbacher Umfrage vom Januar 2009, zu Beginn der ersten Amtszeit, 87 Prozent der Befragten, sie hätten vom Präsidenten eine gute Meinung.

Obama als großer Hoffnungsträger

Das war die höchste jemals gemessene Zustimmung für einen amerikanischen Staatschef. Selbst von Kennedy hatten unmittelbar nach seinem berühmten Berlin-Besuch im Jahr 1963 „nur“ 82 Prozent eine gute Meinung. Heute sind die Urteile über Obama kaum negativer als vor vier Jahren. In der Januar-Umfrage des Allensbacher Instituts sagen 78 Prozent der Befragten, sie hätten von Obama eine gute Meinung. Der letzte Präsident, der bei den Deutschen ähnlich beliebt war, war Lyndon B. Johnson im Jahr 1964.

Obwohl Obama bereits vier Jahre im Amt ist und alles in allem eine eher bescheidene Erfolgsbilanz als Präsident aufweisen kann, wird er in Deutschland noch immer als großer Hoffnungsträger empfunden. Dies zeigen die Antworten auf die Frage „Wie groß sind Ihre Hoffnungen, dass Barack Obama in den nächsten Jahren Gutes für die Vereinigten Staaten und die Welt bewirken wird?“: 50 Prozent der Befragten sagen im Januar 2013, sie setzten „sehr große“ oder „große“ Hoffnungen in den amerikanischen Präsidenten.

So könnte man meinen, das Amerika-Bild der Deutschen sei ungetrübt wie lange nicht. Doch das täuscht. Hinter der glänzenden Fassade der Obama-Begeisterung hat sich das Bild der Vereinigten Staaten bei den Deutschen verdunkelt. Es ist, als entferne sich die Bevölkerung emotional langsam, aber sicher von Amerika.

Wie ein großer Bruder Deutschlands

Die deutsch-amerikanischen Beziehungen hatten aus Sicht der deutschen Bevölkerung jahrzehntelang den Charakter von etwas Besonderem. Ein erheblicher Anteil der amerikanischen Bevölkerung ist deutscher Herkunft. Jeder vierte Deutsche hat Freunde oder Verwandte in den Vereinigten Staaten. In international vergleichenden Untersuchungen zeigen sich immer wieder auffallende Ähnlichkeiten zwischen Deutschen und Amerikanern. Vor allem ist der Schutz, den die Vereinigten Staaten in den Jahrzehnten der Teilung Europas boten, von den Deutschen lange Zeit mit großer Dankbarkeit honoriert worden. Die Vereinigten Staaten waren für viele Menschen wie der große Bruder Deutschlands.

Der durch die Militärmacht der Vereinigten Staaten gewährte Schutz wird auch heute noch von der Bevölkerung als sehr wichtig angesehen. Auf die Frage, mit welchen Mitteln Deutschland am besten für seine Sicherheit sorgen könne, wählen im Januar 2013 unter den vorgegebenen Antwortmöglichkeiten 66 Prozent der Befragten die Aussage „Durch unsere Mitgliedschaft in der Nato“. Erst an zweiter Stelle, genannt von 62 Prozent, folgt der Verweis auf eine gemeinsame europäische Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik.

52 Prozent setzen auf eine Stärkung der Vereinten Nationen. Immerhin 39 Prozent sagen ausdrücklich, dass Deutschland am besten für seine Sicherheit sorgen könne, indem es enge Beziehungen zu den Vereinigten Staaten pflege. An all diesen Reaktionen hat sich im Verlauf der letzten zehn Jahre nichts Grundlegendes verändert. So überrascht es auch nicht, dass eine deutliche Mehrheit von 57 Prozent sagt, Deutschland könne sich „auf Amerika verlassen, wenn es darauf ankommt“.

Irak-Krieg veränderte Antwortmuster

Und doch hat sich der Blick auf die Vereinigten Staaten in der jüngeren Vergangenheit erheblich gewandelt. Am deutlichsten ist dies erkennbar an den Antworten auf die Frage „Welches Land der Welt betrachten Sie als besten Freund Deutschlands?“. Von den siebziger Jahren bis in die neunziger Jahre waren die Reaktionen der Deutschen eindeutig: Mit weitem Abstand an der Spitze, genannt von rund der Hälfte der Befragten, standen die Vereinigten Staaten. Für Frankreich, das an zweiter Stelle rangierte, entschied sich weniger als ein Fünftel der Bevölkerung.

Das Antwortmuster änderte sich dramatisch nach Ausbruch des Irak-Kriegs vor zehn Jahren. Der Anteil derjenigen, die noch die Vereinigten Staaten als besten Freund Deutschlands sahen, fiel auf 11 Prozent, während 40 Prozent Frankreich an die erste Stelle setzten.

Die Entwicklung war angesichts der damals sehr aufgeheizten öffentlichen Diskussion um den Einsatz der Vereinigten Staaten im Irak keine Überraschung. Bemerkenswert ist aber, dass sich nach dem Ende des Krieges, ja sogar nach dem Amtsantritt Obamas trotz dessen Popularität in Deutschland das alte Antwortverhalten nicht wiedereinstellte. Die Zahl derer, die Frankreich als besten Freund Deutschlands betrachteten, fiel fast wieder auf das Niveau von vor dem Irak-Krieg zurück, ohne dass der Anteil derjenigen, die sich für die Vereinigten Staaten entschieden, auch nur annähernd wieder die vorherigen Größenordnungen erreichte.

Von Negativklischees geprägt

Heute bezeichnen 24 Prozent Frankreich und 22 Prozent die Vereinigten Staaten als besten Freund Deutschlands. Von der Sonderrolle, die die deutsch-amerikanischen Beziehungen in den Augen der Deutschen noch in den neunziger Jahren spielten, ist nichts mehr erkennbar. Ähnlich ist die Entwicklung bei der Frage, mit welchen Ländern der Welt Deutschland möglichst eng zusammenarbeiten sollte. Dazu wurde eine Liste mit 14 Ländern zur Auswahl vorgelegt. Hier stehen die Vereinigten Staaten noch knapp an erster Stelle: 64 Prozent der Deutschen sagen heute, dass Deutschland besonders eng mit den Vereinigten Staaten zusammenarbeiten sollte, 63 Prozent meinen dasselbe über Frankreich.

Doch seit 1953, als die Frage zum ersten Mal gestellt worden war, bis zum Jahr 2000 waren es stets um die 80 Prozent der Befragten gewesen, die sich für eine enge Zusammenarbeit mit den Vereinigten Staaten aussprachen. Erst mit dem Golfkrieg 2003 fiel der Wert auf das heutige Niveau. Und auf die Frage „Welches Land wird in zehn Jahren der wichtigste Partner Deutschlands sein?“ antworten nur 20 Prozent mit den Vereinigten Staaten. Mit weitem Abstand an erster Stelle, genannt von 36 Prozent, steht China.

Nun mag die Veränderung der Wahrnehmung der Vereinigten Staaten als strategischer Partner angesichts der sich wandelnden Kräfteverhältnisse in der Welt noch verständlich sein. Auffällig ist jedoch, dass das Bild der Deutschen vom Leben in den Vereinigten Staaten und der Rolle der Vereinigten Staaten in der Welt stark von Negativklischees geprägt ist.

Hektik, Stress und Oberflächlichkeit

Dies zeigt sich an den Antworten auf eine Frage, bei der die Interviewer eine Liste mit 21 Eigenschaften vorlegten, die man Ländern zuordnen kann. Die Befragten wurden gebeten anzugeben, welche dieser Eigenschaften auf die Vereinigten Staaten zutreffen. 77 Prozent wählten die Aussage „Viel Kriminalität“ aus (was wahrscheinlich nicht als Reaktion auf den Amoklauf in Newtown gewertet werden kann, denn als die Frage im Jahr 2003 gestellt wurde, entschieden sich sogar 85 Prozent für diese Antwort).

An zweiter Stelle der den Vereinigten Staaten zugeordneten Eigenschaften stehen gleichauf „Schöne Landschaften“ und „Große soziale Ungerechtigkeiten“. Zu den häufiger genannten Punkten gehören auch „Viel Hektik, Stress“ (45 Prozent) und „Oberflächlichkeit“ (42 Prozent). Dass die Vereinigten Staaten ein Land mit großer Tradition seien, meinen dagegen nur 23 Prozent der Deutschen; dass sie ein Land seien, in dem es sich gut leben lasse, glauben 19 Prozent.

Gebildete Leute vermuten 17 Prozent in den Vereinigten Staaten, eine hochstehende Kultur ganze 8 Prozent. Vor allem die letzten beiden Punkte lassen sich angesichts der enormen wissenschaftlichen und kulturellen Leistungen, die in den Vereinigten Staaten erbracht wer-den, aber auch beispielsweise mit Blick auf die im Vergleich zu Deutschland außerordentlich gut entwickelte Bibliothekskultur letztlich nur als Ausdruck einer massiv verzerrten Wahrnehmung deuten.

Antiamerikanismus macht sich breit

Es gibt Hinweise darauf, dass die negativen Stereotype die Wahrnehmung der Vereinigten Staaten seit einigen Jahren in zunehmendem Maße prägen. Eine Frage lautete: „Wenn jemand sagt, kein Land tritt immer wieder so für die Demokratie ein, ist ein so starker Verfechter von Freiheit und Menschenrechten wie die Vereinigten Staaten. Würden Sie da zustimmen oder nicht zustimmen?“ Im Jahr 1993 antworteten mit „Würde zustimmen“ 40 Prozent der Deutschen, heute sind es noch 31 Prozent.

In der gleichen Zeit ist der Anteil jener, die glauben, die Vereinigten Staaten seien „nach wie vor das Land der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten, wo jeder Einzelne die Chance hat, sein Glück zu machen“, von 40 auf 35 Prozent zurückgegangen. Von 68 auf 72 Prozent zugenommen hat dagegen die Zahl derer, die der Aussage zustimmen, die Amerikaner seien „als Konsum- und Wegwerfgesellschaft ein abschreckendes Beispiel für den Rest der Welt“.

So ist auch die Entwicklung der Antworten auf die Frage „Sind die Vereinigten Staaten für uns heute ein Vorbild oder würden Sie das nicht sagen?“ nur folgerichtig: 1997 empfanden noch 30 Prozent der Deutschen die Vereinigten Staaten als Vorbild, heute sind es noch 11 Prozent.

Man bekommt den Eindruck, dass das Verhältnis der Bürger zu den Vereinigten Staaten in den letzten Jahren nicht ausreichend gepflegt worden ist. Innerhalb Europas halten wir klischeehafte negative Charakterisierungen für unangemessen und nicht akzeptabel – ob es um ethnische oder religiöse Minderheiten geht, um Geschlechterrollen, die sexuelle Orientierung, die Hautfarbe oder Nachbarvölker.

Anscheinend gibt es aber wenig Widerspruch, wenn Amerikaner in der Öffentlichkeit pauschal als dumm, unsozial und kulturlos beschrieben werden. Wem das deutsch-amerikanische Verhältnis am Herzen liegt, dem kann diese Entwicklung nicht gleichgültig sein. Wer der Verbreitung negativer Zerrbilder nicht entgegentritt, darf sich nicht wundern, wenn sich allmählich ein Klima des Antiamerikanismus breitmacht.

Quelle: FAZ