How Clement Attlee Saved a Jewish Child from Hitler

Nov. 27 2018

If not an anti-Semite himself, Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader of Britain’s Labor party is at the very least someone who finds anti-Semitism entirely unobjectionable. But it was not ever thus. As has been made public only recently, Clement Attlee—Labor’s then-leader—took a German Jewish child named Paul Willer into his home in 1939. Rajeev Syal tells the story:

Willer was raised with his younger brother by his Jewish mother, Franziska, in the Bavarian town of Würzburg. Their father, Johannes, a Christian, left their mother in 1933, began a new relationship, and declared himself to be a Nazi sympathizer. Willer’s mother, a doctor, struggled to find work and look after her children. She decided she must leave Germany after witnessing the anti-Semitic violence of Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938. . . .

Her plan was for all three to escape to London, while she would retrain as a midwife. But with no money . . . she could leave [Germany and enter Britain] only if she found someone to guarantee to look after her children. [She] wrote to a German church official in January 1939, “I am in such despair and so despondent that I can’t see a way out.” A faint hope eventually came after her London-based brother Otto contacted the Reverend William Hewett, . . . who then found two local families willing to take a boy each.

One of these families was the Attlees, who were regular churchgoers and occupied Heywood, a beautiful home with a walled garden. At the time, Attlee was fifty-six and had been the leader of the Labor party for four years. Europe was sliding closer to war and Labor was opposing the policy of appeasement being pursued by the then-prime minister, Neville Chamberlain.

Attlee’s decision in 1947, when he was prime minister, to end the British Mandate over Palestine would make possible the creation of the state of Israel, although his government would hardly distinguish itself as a friend to the Jews in the process.

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More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Labor Party (UK), 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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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Lebanon, United Nations