One of the 20th-Century’s Greatest War Correspondents Was Also a Committed Zionist Who Helped Expose Nazi Crimes

One of the great war correspondents of the 20th century and a gifted writer, Martha Gellhorn (1908–1998) may be best known because of her five-year-long marriage to Ernest Hemingway. Gellhorn also had Jewish ancestry on both sides, and on the eve of World War II she expressed—in Rachel Shteir’s words—“growing moral outrage about the Nazis’ intentions and the absence of heroes to stop them.” Shteir writes:

It was after the Munich Pact that [Gellhorn] began to understand the crisis of the refugees who had fled Germany to the Sudetenland, now being annexed by the Nazis. She made two trips to Czechoslovakia, which she wrote about for Collier’s. No one listened. So, she wrote a polemical novel, A Stricken Field, published in 1940, about a writer reporting on the crisis of Jewish refugees in Czechoslovakia. The book contains horror stories based on Gellhorn’s experience pleading with the League of Nations high commissioner for refugees for help to no avail. Like the journalist who was one heroine of the book, Gellhorn judged herself inadequate to help the world stop the tragedy. “What I have is patience, care, honor, detail, endurance, and subject matter. And what I do not have is magic.”

After sneaking herself onto a U.S. navy ship so she could witness, and report on, D-Day—something her famous husband wished to do but was unable to—she went on to be one of the first journalists to visit Dachau. But it was not until after the war that she became a committed Zionist:

This brave soul who never thought of herself as a mother or a wife until midlife also never thought of herself as a Jewish writer, or even a Jew. But the same year [1949] she adopted [an Italian orphan], she made her first trip to Israel, where she felt that “something good” would come out of the war. She would write many pieces about the country and even considered writing a book about it. She was enchanted by Israel in a way she had not been by a country since Spain: it served as a hero for her, filling in where individual people had failed.

In one of her most famous pieces, “The Arabs of Palestine” she drew attention to Arab leaders’ efforts to turn Palestinian refugees into pawns in their war with Israel—and to deluge them with anti-Semitic propaganda. Shteir continues:

In 1967, Gellhorn returned to Israel to write about the Six-Day War. She filed pieces on it for the Nation, the Guardian, and Vogue, [publications that have since turned relentlessly anti-Israel]. She still considered Israelis heroes and Arabs villains. She admired Israelis’ informality, the way they comported themselves in war, and seems at times more Zionist than her friend Moshe Dayan. In the Vogue piece, she writes of “the glorious, incredible, matter-of-fact, Israeli army” which “seems to operate on the revolutionary principle that everyone is glad to be there.” She writes that “the secret weapon of Israel is Israelis.”

Read more at Tablet

More about: Ernest Hemingway, Holocaust, Journalism, Moshe Dayan, Palestinian refugees

Would an American-Backed UN Resolution Calling for a Temporary Ceasefire Undermine Israel?

Yesterday morning, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by Algeria, that demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. As an alternative, the American delegation has been circulating a draft resolution calling for a “temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.” Benny Avni comments:

While the Israel Defense Force may be able to maintain its Gaza operations under that provision, the U.S.-proposed resolution also warns the military against proceeding with its plan to enter the southern Gaza town of Rafah. Israel says that a critical number of Hamas fighters are hiding inside tunnels and in civilian buildings at Rafah, surrounded by a number of the remaining 134 hostages.

In one paragraph, the text of the new American resolution says that the council “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

In addition to the paragraph about Rafah, the American-proposed resolution is admonishing Israel not to create a buffer zone inside Gaza. Such a narrow zone, as wide as two miles, is seen by many Israelis as a future protection against infiltration from Gaza.

Perhaps, as Robert Satloff argues, the resolution isn’t intended to forestall an IDF operation in Rafah, but only—consistent with prior statements from the Biden administration—to demand that Israel come up with a plan to move civilians out of harms way before advancing on the city.

If that is so, the resolution wouldn’t change much if passed. But why is the U.S. proposing an alternative ceasefire resolution at all? Strategically, Washington has nothing to gain from stopping Israel, its ally, from achieving a complete victory over Hamas. Why not instead pass a resolution condemning Hamas (something the Security Council has not done), calling for the release of hostages, and demanding that Qatar and Iran stop providing the group with arms and funds? Better yet, demand that these two countries—along with Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon—arrest Hamas leaders on their territory.

Surely Russia would veto such a resolution, but still, why not go on the offensive, rather than trying to come up with another UN resolution aimed at restraining Israel?

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Gaza War 2023, U.S.-Israel relationship, United Nations