The Pernicious Claim That Israel Exists Because of the Holocaust

April 25, 2017 | Einat Wilf
About the author: Einat Wilf, a former Labor member of Israel’s Knesset, is the author of Telling Our Story and The War of Return (with Adi Schwartz).

Even more common than the insidious suggestion that Jews make too much of the Holocaust or cynically use it to their advantage is the related notion that they were given the state of Israel as compensation for their suffering at the hands of Nazis. Labeling this claim “Zionism denial” because it ignores the persistent efforts to create a Jewish state long before World War II, Einat Wilf addresses the corollary insinuation that Palestinians have been allowed to suffer at the hands of Jews because of European guilt over the Shoah:

The deceptively seductive canard that “the Palestinians are the secondary victims of Europe’s crimes” is one of the worst lies [about Israel’s founding], since to the untrained ear it sounds logical. In this tale, after World War II, when it became clear that the Final Solution was not final and that the Jewish survivors could not be expected or welcomed to stay in Europe, the Europeans decided to “dump” the surviving Jews on unsuspecting Arabs who were living in an area that colonial Europe controlled. . . .

[But] Israel exists not because the Europeans dumped the surviving Jews in a colony in the Middle East. Israel exists because the Jews willed it into existence. The modern state of Israel exists because the Jews who created it believed themselves to be descendants of the Israelites and Judeans who were sovereign there in ancient times and paid a high price for preserving their separate existence as a people. The modern state of Israel exists because for centuries and millennia Jews kept yearning for Israel, ending the Passover seder with the words, “next year in Jerusalem.”

In fact, if it were not for Arab resistance and Britain’s betrayal [of its duties as the Mandate power] and submission to Arab pressures, the Holocaust as such might not have taken place. Jews would have been able to escape Europe to their ancient homeland in what was already a widely supported embryonic state. They would have had a . . . country to which to immigrate freely at a time when Hitler was still willing to let the Jewish people go. Israel came into being after World War II not “thanks” to the Holocaust, but thanks to Britain’s imperial dissolution.

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