Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jewish Struggle for Palestine: 1942-1945

Nadene Goldfoot                                   
British Soldier 1917

In 1920, the League of Nations decided that since the WWI was over in 1917, the Jews should regain Palestine, the land that had been Judea and Samaria or as it had been called originally, Israel and Judah.  It had belonged to the Ottoman Empire for the past 400 years who had lost it by siding with Germany in WWI.  No country had ever become of it.  It was just wasteland gone to seed, as we say, and the only people who really wanted it were the Jews who had been without a country for the past 2,000 years but had retained Jewish people still living on the land.Great Britain was given the mandate to create the Jewish Homeland.  The mandate was for 30 years.  The French held a mandate for Syria.  Britain allowed Abdullah to be king over Transjordan, land that was part of the Jewish Homeland.  It was, at that time, just a desert that was inhabited by about 200,000 bedouins.  The British arranged for a monthly stipend of 5,000 pounds for him.  From 1921 until WWII, Britain's influence in the area went unchallenged.  The British even organized an army that was the best trained and equipped, The Arab Legion.
In 1942, the Zionists (Jews for returning to their ancient homeland of Israel and Judah/Judea) met at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City for a special Zionist conference.  The conference was centered on the original purpose of the Balfour Declaration which was the creation of an independent Jewish state once again.  It rejected the 1939 White Paper  put out by Great Britain which had curtailed Jewish immigration-going against the League of Nations' decisions to create a Jewish Homeland.  They even supported the creation of a Jewish army with its own flag and unlimited immigration of Jews to Palestine.  This was a middle of the horrible Holocaust when Jews were being slaughtered.  They felt that the Jewish Agency should have power and facilities to create the state lands in Palestine for the use of Jewish refugees.                                                                  
British soldier 1917

What changed was going from dependence on Britain to dependence on the USA.  For 30 years the British had held the mandate and had favored Arabs instead of Jews, not living up to their mandate.  Now the USA was in WWII.                                                                            
Fundamentalist Christians considered the return of the Jews to Palestine to be a fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy.  Liberals, both religious and secular, were ashamed of the way Western civilization had dealt with the Jews and were eager to make amends.  So they were supportive and still are.  AIPAC spoke to members of Congress and other officials to educate them in the needs of the Jews' return to their ancient lands that were now open for grabs if they won the war.  It was too horrible to consider losing for everyone.                                                                            
Martin Buber, former Zionist, (1878 Vienna, Austria-1965 Jerusalem) 
  As usual, we had all sorts of opinions from the Jews themselves about the creation of an all Jewish state.  Some were against the Biltmore Program.  In Palestine itself, Jews from the Union Party, intellectuals mostly who were led by Judas Magnus, president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Martin Buber, philosopher, and a few others were opposed to a pure Jewish state and wanted a bi-national one.  In the USA, the American Council for Judaism believed that Judaism was not a nationality for political ends but a faith for spiritual rejuvenation and had forgotten about their original roots as being necessary.  They thought they could just be like the Christian faith living in the USA.
Haj Amin al-Husseini, who caused the riots in 1929 in Jerusalem, here sits with Hitler in 1941, Germany.  He's asking Hitler to keep Jews out of Palestine.  
Of course the Arabs would soon be against the Biltmore program when they heard about it since Haj Amin al Husseini, the Sherif of Jerusalem,  would not go for it.  Husseini had become a Nazi-individual so was not their spokesman in good standing with the West and no longer had any clout.  Abdullah, King of Transjordan through the British dealings, was liked by President Roosevelt in 1944.  Roosevelt decided to make no decisions that would be hostile to the Arabs.  Emir Feisal, head Arab spokesman had been in favor of the Jews' return, hoping they would raise the level of his Arabs, but hadn't realized the size of the land that was designated for the Jews and thought he should have as much as they, so there were complications with his vote.                                                                  
Cyprus Internment Camp for Jews-barbed wire
In the meantime, Britain was keeping Jews out of Palestine during the war when they needed refuge there, so underground groups were formed to sneak them into the country from Europe.  The British actually turned violent against the Jews to prevent Jewish immigration.  Thousands of refugees were arrested by the British and put in camps in Cyprus after the war which was just like being put back in Nazi concentration camps.
 Cyprus Internment Camp for Jews with Piano and singer
At the time Germany was defeated in 1945, Britain's Labor Party won and this gave new hope to the Jews.  The Labor Party was more pro-Zionist and had attacked the conservative government for issuing the White Paper in 1939 which had limited Jewish immigration.  The socialist, Ernest Bevin, had defended Zionist rights.  As the new foreign secretary of the British government , he had to decide between that cause and other pressing problems he now had.  The Soviet Union was putting pressure on Turkey and Greece.  There was the separatist movement in Iranian Azerbaijan, the Kurdish autonomy bid, and the independence movement in India.  Britain didn't want anti-British uprisings with the Arabs at this time.  Beven decided to go along with the same old policies against Jews.

In August 1945, President Truman asked Prime Minister Clement Attlee for the admission of 100,000  Jewish refugees into Palestine.  An Anglo-American Commission was dispatched to London, Germany, Austria and Palestine to study the problem.  All that time studying and the Jewish refugees  in camps in Central Europe and West Germany was getting worse by the hour.
Avraham Stern, poet and nationalistic (1907 Poland-1942 Tel Aviv, Palestine) killed by British police during an arrest , former leader of Irgun Tzevai Leumi, formed Lohame Herut Israel-or Stern Gang, as the British called them.  They were also referred to as Lehi.  
The Zionist leaders in the Jewish Irgun and Stern Group were angered by holding Jews in camps and not allowing them into Palestine.  The groups got money from the USA Jews to buy weapons and coordinate their work with the Zionist force, Haganah, while Zionist political leaders denounced their terrorism.  My own 3rd cousin, Stanley Goldfoot from South Africa, was the Chief of Intelligence for the Stern group.  He was a news reporter who later started his own magazine in New York City.

Sternists such as Goldfoot were also imprisoned in Jaffa in an old Turkish-built prison fortress where about 200 Sternists, including 40 arrested in the Jerusalem Stern-camp, were held.  Here Goldfoot held an impromptu press conference in a cell. It was Ben-Gurion who had them transferred in packed prison vans to the Acre Prison where they were segregated in cell blocks.  They were released  in early 1949 after the first Israeli Knesset.

 Though it is said that the Irgun and Stern group were terrorists, they were young fighters against the British turncoats who were to help create the Jewish Homeland and did just the opposite. Joshua Cohen of the Stern Group was born in Palestine and had been able to return from 4 years in a British detention camp in Eritrea and was young enough to be ready for action.  He was the most liked in the Stern Group.  In 1942, when almost all the Sternists  had been jailed by the British, Cohen, at age 19, held the group together singlehandedly.  He used an orange grove as his headquarters where he stayed day and night with a pistol  in hand, while his girlfriend (later his wife) carried messages for him and brought back stale bread and water to go with the oranges he ate.

Bombing of King David Hotel in Jerusalem by Stern Group, 
The worst they were said to do was to bomb the King David Hotel, but had given warning to them first so they could all get out.  What happened was that those in charge decided it was a prank call and didn't warn anyone as told to do, and people did die.  Other accusations were bombing the British police stations and killing civil and military officials.  Count Folke Bernadotte, UN Mediator,  (January 2, 1895 Sweden- September 17, 1948, Jerusalem) was killed, but who did it is not known.  It wasn't Goldfoot, but it was planned by the Stern Group, otherwise known as Lehi. The Lehi group regarded Bernadotte as a stooge of the British and their Arab allies, and therefore as a serious threat to the emerging state of Israel   Anytime something did happen, these Jews were all rounded up and imprisoned.  Many young Jewish men were hung by the British in Acre. The Sternists didn't like to kill.  One of the leaders, Yizernitzky, said that "a man who goes forth to kill another whom he does not know must believe one thing only---that by his act, he will change the course of history, and that's what they were doing when they assassinated Bernadotte.  Cohen was reluctant to kill unless he regarded such action as absolutely essential.  He was an idealist.

Acre's fort was converted into a jail, where members of the Jewish underground were held during their struggle against the British, among them Zeev JabotinskiShlomo ben Yossef, and Dov Grunner. Grunner and ben Yossef were executed there. Other Jewish inmates were freed by members of theIrgun, who broke into the jail on 4 May 1947 and succeeded in releasing Jewish underground movement activists. Over 200 Arab inmates also escaped  Stanley Goldfoot was also held here.  

2/2/15 Update: Britain is going anti Semitic big time at a stage when they are becoming highly populated by Muslims.  Why they are attacking Jews is typical of their past history.  "“We are demonstrating against the complete Jewification of the borough and by the term Jewification we mean: “Where Jewish culture has occupied white countries, rendering them unrecognisable”… Suffice to say, we have already made contact with the Metropolitan Police and on his website“>they are more than happy to facilitate our demonstration in the borough of Stamford Hill,” writes Joshua Bonehill, an organizer of the rally." A group called “Liberate Stamford Hill” has planned a rally for March 22 at 2pm local time to oppose what it calls the “Jewification of Great Britain.  The rally is set to take place in a district of northern London that is home to the highest concentration of Orthodox Jews in Europe. Jewish Press

It was here at Acre that by May 15, 1948 this city remained in Arab hands.  Moshe Carmel, the Jewish northern front commander,  had been imprisoned by the British here in the Fortress from 1939 to 1941 for "illegal" Haganah activities, so he decided to attack that besieged town, though it was well defended.  Ben Gurion didn't object though wondered since Israel had very few troops to use for this action.  The Jews struck on May 19th.  

So Britishers don't want us back in our ancient land and fought us from trying live there as according to the mandate they were to fulfill, and they really don't like us living in England, either.  What they'd really like is for everyone to become Episcopalians or leave.  Funny, a rally was just held in Paris about fighting anti Semitism.  

 Dan Kurzman, in his book, Genesis 1948, copyright 1970, does a good job of telling about this period and Stanley Goldfoot

Resource; Textbook at college:  2nd Edition of Middle East-past and present by Yahya Armajani, Thomas M. Ricks
Genesis 1948, by Dan Kurzman, copyrighted 1970.
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia-Avraham Stern Many old photos of Palestine,_Israel

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