After the Holocaust, the Creation of a Jewish State Was Anything but Guaranteed

Feb. 22 2019

Some 30 years after purchasing a used copy of The Redemption of the Unwanted: From the Liberation of the Death Camps to the Founding of Israel, by Abram Sachar—first published in 1983—Allan Arkush finally sat down to read it. He writes:

I have to say that it doesn’t contain much that I didn’t already know. Its chief merit is that it does an exceptionally good job of teaching what I consider to be a very important lesson.

Most people in the United States, I’m afraid, if they know anything at all about how the state of Israel came into being, believe that after World War II the nations of the world awarded it to the Jewish people as a compensation for what Jews had suffered at the hands of the Nazis. There’s a grain of truth in this, but only a grain. Between 1945 and 1949, the Zionists had to do a tremendous number of things on their own in order to obtain a state. They engaged in a vast amount of worldwide politicking, organized illegal immigration to Palestine, combatted the British administration in Palestine in order both to earn the world’s sympathy and to force the British government’s hand. Had the Zionists not done all of this, there would have been no decision at the United Nations to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state.

And had the Jews of Palestine then sat on their hands and waited for the UN to implement its decision, that state would never have come into being. They had to fight, on their own, a war of independence against the Arabs of Palestine as well as all of the surrounding nations. Abram Sachar was by no means the first or the last to explain all of this, but he did a singularly good job of it.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Israel & Zionism, Israeli War of Independence


What Egypt’s Withdrawal from the “Arab NATO” Signifies for U.S. Strategy

A few weeks ago, Egypt quietly announced its withdrawal from the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a coalition—which also includes Jordan, the Gulf states, and the U.S.—founded at President Trump’s urging to serve as an “Arab NATO” that could work to contain Iran. Jonathan Ariel notes three major factors that most likely contributed to Egyptian President Sisi’s abandonment of MESA: his distrust of Donald Trump (and concern that Trump might lose the 2020 election) and of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman; Cairo’s perception that Iran does not pose a major threat to its security; and the current situation in Gaza:

Gaza . . . is ruled by Hamas, defined by its covenant as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.” Sisi has ruthlessly persecuted the Brotherhood in Egypt. [But] Egypt, despite its dependence on Saudi largesse, has continued to maintain its ties with Qatar, which is under Saudi blockade over its unwillingness to toe the Saudi line regarding Iran. . . . Qatar is also supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood, . . . and of course Hamas.

[Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim is one of the key “go-to guys” when the situation in Gaza gets out of hand. Qatar has provided the cash that keeps Hamas solvent, and therefore at least somewhat restrained. . . . In return, Hamas listens to Qatar, which does not want it to help the Islamic State-affiliated factions involved in an armed insurrection against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. Egypt’s military is having a hard enough time coping with the insurgency as it is. The last thing it needs is for Hamas to be given a green light to cooperate with Islamic State forces in Sinai. . . .

Over the past decade, ever since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power, Israel has also been gradually placing more and more chips in its still covert but growing alliance with Saudi Arabia. Egypt’s decision to pull out of MESA should give it cause to reconsider. Without Egypt, MESA has zero viability unless it is to include either U.S. forces or Israeli ones. [But] one’s chances of winning the lottery seem infinitely higher than those of MESA’s including the IDF. . . . Given that Egypt, the Arab world’s biggest and militarily most powerful state and its traditional leader, has clearly indicated its lack of confidence in the Saudi leadership, Israel should urgently reexamine its strategy in this regard.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy