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GR Ed.: Compared to 2018, the NYT in 1948 was visibly committed to opinion, analysis and freedom of expression regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Albert Einstein’s 1948 letter to the New York Times
If we want to understand the real history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, we can turn to a trustworthy Jewish source: Albert Einstein. Einstein was a humanitarian and peace activist, in addition to being one of the greatest scientists of all time. What did this extremely intelligent, wonderfully wise and warmly humane Jew have to say about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians? In a landmark open letter to the New York Times in 1948, Einstein clearly and candidly explained why Israel’s militant Zionist leaders were not to be trusted and did not deserve money or support from Americans. (You can find scanned images of the Einstein letter online, and because it appeared in a major American newspaper its authenticity is not in doubt.)
The letter was also signed by Hannah Arendt, Sidney Hook and more than 20 other Jewish intellectuals who wanted to alert Americans and the larger world to the dangers of emergent racism, fascism, terrorism and religious fanaticism in the newly-formed state of Israel. They also foresaw and predicted the disastrous results we see today in Israel/Palestine.
I have annotated the letter with [bracketed comments] to help readers better understand how the “Einstein Letter” relates to the present situation. Other prominent, world-esteemed Jews have strongly opposed the policies and methods of the militant Zionists, including Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, Isaac Asimov, Erich Fromm and Noam Chomsky. They have been joined by icons of peace like Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter.
Michael R. Burch, editor and publisher of Holocaust and Nakba poetry
Christians may want to consider the ethical questions What does the Bible say? What would Jesus do?
Please note that Menachem Begin, discussed in the letter, was a future prime minister of Israel. He was, according to the letter, a racist, a fascist and the preeminent terrorist in the Middle East, murdering Arabs, Jews and Englishmen. What sort of nation elects a fascist terrorist to its highest office?
from Letters to the New York Times
December 4, 1948
New Palestine Party
Visit of Menachem Begin and Aims of Political Movement Discussed
TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES: (emphasis added by Michael R. Burch)
Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.
The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents. [See Note A]
Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement. [See Note B]
The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future. [See Note C]
Attack on Arab Village
A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants “240 men, women, and children” and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin.
The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.
Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.
During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.
The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.
The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a “Leader State” is the goal.
In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin’s efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.
The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.
ISIDORE ABRAMOWITZ, HANNAH ARENDT, ABRAHAM BRICK, RABBI JESSURUN CARDOZO, ALBERT EINSTEIN, HERMAN EISEN, M.D., HAYIM FINEMAN, M. GALLEN, M.D., H.H. HARRIS, ZELIG S. HARRIS, SIDNEY HOOK, FRED KARUSH, BRURIA KAUFMAN, IRMA L. LINDHEIM, NACHMAN MAISEL, SYMOUR MELMAN, MYER D. MENDELSON, M.D., HARRY M. ORLINSKY, SAMUEL PITLICK, FRITZ ROHRLICH, LOUIS P. ROCKER, RUTH SAGER, ITZHAK SANKOWSKY, I.J. SCHOENBERG, SAMUEL SHUMAN, M. ZNGER, IRMA WOLPE, STEFAN WOLPE
New York, Dec. 2, 1948
[NOTE A: Einstein made the point that supporting Jewish fascists like Menachem Begin was like supporting Nazis. Unfortunately, many prominent Americans have supported the fascist movement led by Begin and his disciples, who now firmly control Israel. Begin founded Herut in 1948. It was the political twin of the Irgun, a violent terrorist group headed by Begin. Both were ultra-right-wing organizations that opposed any ceasefires or negotiations with Arabs, preferring to expand Israel’s territory in defiance of international law and the U.N. mandate that partitioned Palestine, defining Israel’s borders. Before entering politics, Begin had been the preeminent terrorist in the Middle East, wantonly murdering British, Jewish and Arab civilians. His most notorious act was blowing up the King David Hotel in 1946. That explosion killed 91 people and wounded 46 others, most of them hotel staff and other civilians. (This remains the single most deadly act of terrorism in Israel/Palestine to this day.)
It was not just peace-loving intellectuals who compared Begin to European fascists like Hitler, because David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s George Washington and first prime minister, who was no shrinking violet, said similar things. But by the mid-1960s Israel’s voters were swinging hard to the extreme right. A 1964 government resolution calling for the reinternment of Zeev Jabotinsky’s remains in Israel signaled Herut’s and Begin’s ascendency. (Jabotinsky was the creator of the fascist “Iron Wall” doctrine, which maintains that Jews must crush the spirit and will of Palestinians through superior firepower and sheer brutality, rather than seeking peace through diplomacy and compromise.)
In 1977, the former über-terrorist Begin was elected prime minister in a landslide. In his book Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid, former U.S. president and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jimmy Carter mentioned the sea change that took place in Israel’s policies after Begin came to power. Begin’s administration promoted the construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, in effect expanding Israel’s borders by allowing robber barons to steal land from defenseless Palestinian farmers and their families. Begin also authorized the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which became Israel’s Vietnam. As Israeli military involvement in Lebanon deepened, and the Sabra and Shatila massacre shocked the world, Begin grew increasingly isolated. He resigned from politics in 1983, but his racist, fascist spirit lives on in disciples of his and Jabotinsky’s, such as Israel’s current prime minister, Benyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu.]
[NOTE B: Unfortunately, the American pubic, through their government, have supplied Israel with hundreds of billions of dollars in financial aid and advanced weapons. That “aid” has been used by Israel to practice large-scale ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This ethnic cleansing begins with home demolitions (more than 24,000 according to the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions), which are followed by Israel’s euphemistic “settlement expansions.”
Funding this wildly unjust system, which has been compared to a new Holocaust, has created the impression in Palestine and throughout the Muslim world that Americans are raging hypocrites when they talk about “equal rights,” “justice” and “democracy.” Muslims have correctly concluded that the U.S. will always support Israel, no matter how cruelly, brutally and offensively it treats Palestinians, Bedouins and other non-Jews in its quest for free land and ever-expanding borders. The results have included 9-11, two horrific wars, multitudes of lives lost on both sides, and trillions of dollars in unpaid war debt that threatens not only the solvency of the U.S., but also that of the free world. If the dollar plummets in value, or if the U.S. can no longer borrow money, what will happen to the economies of Germany, Japan, and other countries that rely on exports to Americans?]
[NOTE C: If we heed Einstein’s wisdom, and judge Israel by its actions—apartheid, ethnic cleansing, strafing its victims in Gaza—rather than by oceans of self-serving propaganda, the racist/fascist nature of its government quickly becomes apparent. Or we can simply read what prime ministers of Israel and other prominent Zionists have said themselves. Please keep in mind that when the terms “transfer,” “eviction” and “removal” are used, the Zionists are talking about ethnic cleansing: a crime against humanity. When the right of return is denied to Palestinians, this means the victims of ethnic cleansing are being collectively sentenced to remain stateless, rightless refugees forever. When the term “expropriation” is used, it means the theft of Palestinian land via superior firepower, which is armed robbery. Here now are the leading Zionists in their own words; you can judge for yourself whether Einstein was correct, or not …
“Spirit [ethnically cleanse] the penniless [Arab] population across the border by denying them employment.”—Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism
“This REMOVAL [ethnic cleansing] of the poor [Arabs] must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.”—Herzl (who obviously knew it was wrong)
“It is our right to TRANSFER [ethnically cleanse] the Palestinians!”—Transfer Committee Director Yossef Weitz, who oversaw Israel’s pogroms
“We [Zionists] all applaud, day and night, the IRON WALL.”—Ze’ev Jabotinsky, spiritual father of the Likud and disciples like Menachem Begin
“This IRON WALL is our policy towards the Arabs. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy.”—Jabotinsky
“Zionist colonization … must either be terminated, or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population.”—Jabotinsky
“Zionism is a colonizing adventure and, therefore, it stands or falls on the question of armed forces.”—Jabotinsky
“The Arab is culturally backward … his instinctive patriotism … cannot be bought, it can only be curbed by major force.”—Jabotinsky
“There is no justice, no law, no God in heaven; only a single law which decides and supersedes all: [Jewish] settlement.”—Jabotinsky
“I devote my life to the rebirth of the Jewish State, with a Jewish majority, on both sides of the Jordan.”—Jabotinsky
“The Islamic soul must be broomed [swept, ethnically cleansed] out of Eretz-Yisrael.”—Jabotinsky
“Hitler—as odious as he is to us—has given this idea [ethnic cleansing] a good name in the world.”—Jabotinsky
“Zionism is a TRANSFER of the Jews.”—David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, defining Zionism as ethnic cleansing/replacement
“The compulsory TRANSFER of the Arabs … could give us something we never had [even in Biblical times].”—Ben-Gurion
“Jewish power, which grows steadily, will also increase our possibilities to carry out the TRANSFER on a large scale.”—Ben-Gurion
“With compulsory TRANSFER we can have a vast area … I don’t see anything immoral in it.”—Ben-Gurion
“It is impossible to imagine general EVACUATION without compulsion, and brutal compulsion.“—Ben-Gurion
“There are two issues here: sovereignty and the REMOVAL of a certain number of Arabs; we must insist on both.“—Ben-Gurion
“Before [statehood] our main interest was self-defense … But now the issue at hand is CONQUEST, not self-defense.”—Ben-Gurion
“We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria.”—Ben-Gurion
“We must do everything to ensure they [ethnically cleansed Palestinian refugees] never return.”—Ben-Gurion
“The interests of security demand that we get rid of them.”—Israel’s second Prime Minister, Moshe Sharett
“TRANSFER [ethnic cleansing] could be the crowning achievement, the final stage in the development of [Zionist] policy …”—Sharett
“We are equally determined to explore all possibilities of getting rid, once and for all, of the huge Arab minority.”—Sharett
“There is no such thing as a Palestinian.”—Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (later parroted by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum)
“They [the Palestinians] are as grasshoppers in our sight.”—Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir
“The Palestinians are like crocodiles …”—Prime Minister Ehud Barak
“We shall reduce the Palestinians to a community of woodcutters and waiters.”—Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
“[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs.”—Prime Minister Menachem Begin
“There is no Zionism, colonization, or Jewish state without the EVICTION of the Arabs and the expropriation [theft] of their lands.”—Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
“I believed and to this day still believe, in our people’s eternal and historic right to this entire land.”—Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
“The killing [of Palestinians] is a good deed, and Jews should have no compunction about it.”—Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg
“[Land is acquired] by force—that is, by CONQUEST in war, or in other words, by ROBBING land from its owner.”—Menachem Ussishkin
“This the land problem … the [Palestinian] Arabs do not want us because we want to be the rulers.”—Ussishkin (who can blame them?)
“Eventually we will have to thin out the number of Palestinians living in the territories.”—General Eitan Ben Elyahu
“There are no two peoples here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population.”—Benzion Netanyahu
“We should CONQUER any disputed territory in the Land of Israel. CONQUER and hold it, even if it brings us years of war.“—Netanyahu
“[Zionism] will include withholding food from Arab cities, preventing education, terminating electrical power and more.”—Netanyahu, predicting Gaza’s fate
Do we need any more evidence than what the prime movers of Zionism said themselves, and the terrible things they did, which confirm their self-incriminating words?]
Einstein on Palestine asks why Einstein turned down the presidency of Israel, and examines what the great Jewish intellectual, peace activist, pacifist and humanitarian had to say about the conflict between Jews and Palestinians.
Mattityahu “Matti” Peled was called Abu Salaam, the “Father of Peace,” by the Palestinians who knew him. Peled was an Israeli war hero and Aluf (Major General) who became a strong advocate for a Palestinian state and a stern critic of Israel’s brutal occupation of the Palestinian territories, which he called “corrupting” and a violation of the Geneva Conventions. He also called American aid to Israel a “plague” that was “damaging” to Israel and far in excess of Israel’s actual defense needs.
The Shministim are idealistic, principled young Israeli Jews who refuse to serve in a brutal army of occupation after they graduate from high school.
You may also want to read and consider Israeli Prime Ministers who were Terrorists and Does Israel Really Want Peace?
Christians may want to consider the ethical questions What does the Bible say? What would Jesus do?
Related pages: Why Israel is Wrong: Evidence for and the Case against Israel’s Racism, Apartheid and Ethnic Cleansing