The Historic Crossroads of Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

In 1946, President Truman, along with a number of Jewish organizations, urged Britain to allow Holocaust survivors living in displaced-persons camps to leave Europe for the land of Israel, then still a British mandate. In response, the British foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, organized an Anglo-American committee of inquiry to interview Jewish and Arab leaders in Palestine and report on the situation, hoping to convince the U.S. of the impossibility of letting more Jews into the country. Norman Goda describes the telling testimony of the Arab interviewees:

Arab speakers attempted to straddle a moral line. Overt anti-Semitism was to be avoided. The Nazis, after all, had recently discredited racism. Instead, they attempted to turn the tables, attacking Zionism as an imperialist and racist political doctrine, very much akin to Nazism itself. Keeping the Jews from Palestine thus was painted as a noble act of tolerance in a post-imperial world. But the imagined line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitic tropes could not be maintained. . . .

The Cairo hearings in March 1946 were . . . carefully choreographed. Richard Crossman, a British member of the committee, would remember that “[the] Arabs were determined not to submit to the detailed cross-questioning which we had used in dealing with the Zionist spokesman. Their purpose was to deliver to the committee, as a ritual act, a statement of the Arab attitude, and to make it clear to us that this statement could not be modified. . . .” Thus Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia—a country where the Nazis had persecuted and murdered Jews just three years earlier—insisted that “[it] is for the Jews to change themselves, to change certain contentions that they hold which make them offensive sometimes to the locality where they live.”

[In hearings in Jerusalem], Ahmad al-Shuqayri, later the first chairman of the PLO, lamented Jewish control of the global media and economy: “We have not the gigantic financial enterprises of Wall Street in New York and the City of London to lure consciences and direct minds.”

In the end, the entire enterprise backfired: the American committee members became more convinced of the rightness of the Zionist cause, and pressured their British allies to sign a report recommending additional entry visas.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Harry Truman, History & Ideas, Israeli history, Mandate Palestine

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security