Does Britain’s Celebration of Its Wartime Rescue of German Jewish Children Reflect a Guilty Conscience?

Nov. 28 2018

This Saturday marks the 80th anniversary of the arrival of 206 Jewish children from Germany to Britain; these were the first of some 10,000 who would arrive over the next eight months, thanks to an effort that came to be known as the Kindertransport. Robert Philpot notes that, while the UK is right to be proud of this effort—without parallel in any other country—this year’s celebrations overlook London’s mixed record when it came to Jewish refugees. Most importantly, when the British government let the children into the country, it made a conscious decision to bar their parents, most of whom perished in the Holocaust:

[T]he focus on the Kindertransport also hides a somewhat guilty national conscience, both about those who were not able to escape to Britain, and the fates—including internment and deportation—which befell some of those “lucky ones” who did, . . . some of [whom] were later designated “enemy aliens” [since they came from Austria and Germany, with which England was at war] and faced internment and deportation to Canada and Australia.

Britain adopted a highly restrictive policy toward migrants throughout the 1930s. No exceptions were made for refugees, meaning that by early 1938 there were only about 10,000 Jewish refugees in the country. . . . The introduction of the notorious White Paper of 1939, which capped Jewish migration to Mandatory Palestine at 20,000 per year, closed off another potential route of escape. “The world is divided into places where [Jews] cannot live and places where they may not enter,” lamented the future Israeli president Chaim Weizmann. . . .

Only after Kristallnacht—in the face of strong public support and with even newspapers which had previously been sympathetic toward the Nazis and hostile toward Jewish refugees rapidly changing their tune—did the numbers of refugees admitted to the UK begin to climb. Even then, however, it is important to remember that the Kindertransport was not a government initiative, but, as Tony Kushner of Southampton University has argued, “a voluntary scheme funded and implemented by the British public.” . . .

[Then-Prime Minister Neville] Chamberlain himself wrote privately after Kristallnacht, “I believe the persecution [of Jews in Germany] arose out of two motives: a desire to rob the Jews of their money and a jealousy of their superior cleverness.” So as to leave his correspondent in no doubt as to his own attitude, the prime minister added: “No doubt the Jews aren’t a lovable people; I don’t care about them myself—but that is not sufficient to explain the pogrom.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: British Jewry, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Kindertransport, Kristallnacht, Neville Chamberlain, United Kingdom

Hizballah Prepares for War, and UN Peacekeepers Do Nothing

Dec. 10 2018

According to last year’s UN Security Council Resolution 2373, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)—the peacekeeping force created after the Second Lebanon War to keep both Israel and Hizballah out of southern Lebanon—is authorized “to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces, and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind.” If anything ought to rouse UNIFIL to action, writes Elliott Abrams, it should be the IDF’s recent discovery and destruction of tunnels dug by Hizballah to move troops into the Galilee:

The existence of these tunnels, dug from precisely the area of southern Lebanon that UNIFIL is meant to patrol, means that this area is indeed “utilized for hostile activities.” What, then, is the meaning of [UNIFIL’s statement in] response that it “will communicate its preliminary findings to the appropriate authorities in Lebanon”? The meaning is that UNIFIL will likely do nothing.

UNIFIL is not supposed to be merely a means of communication, or the Security Council would have bought cell phones instead of paying for a military force. Moreover, there are no “appropriate authorities” in Lebanon; if there were, Hizballah would never have been able to dig its tunnels.

The tunnels are hardly the only brazen Hizballah violation of the Security Council resolutions undertaken right under UNIFIL’s nose. Consider this: Hizballah is blocking roads in southern Lebanon to smooth the path of missiles it is moving into the area. . . . Then there is the village of Gila, just north of the Israeli border, where there is a Hizballah headquarters and according to the Israelis about twenty warehouses with weapons, combat positions, lookout points, and dozens of underground positions. All this was built in an area supposedly patrolled by UNIFIL. . . .

This is a test of UNIFIL and its new commander, [Stefan Del Col, who took over in August]. “Communicating” to “appropriate authorities” is a euphemism for doing nothing at all. Hizballah is preparing for war. UNIFIL is supposed to get in its way. If it cannot hinder Hizballah’s war preparations in any way, and is even ignorant of them, UNIFIL is a waste of time and money.

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Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Lebanon, United Nations