Sunday, May 01, 2016

  • Sunday, May 01, 2016
  • Elder of Ziyon
It is very telling to see how many self-professed "anti-Zionists, not antisemites" are eagerly supporting Ken Livingstone's statement that "Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews."

As the UK Labour party reeled from this and other antisemitic statements, so-called "anti-Zionists" went on the offensive, claiming that Livingstone said nothing wrong, because of the controversial Haavara agreement struck between Zionists and Germany in the 1930s to save the lives of German Jews.

To use that agreement as proof of "Hitler supporting Zionism" is nothing but a manifestation of antisemitism.

Others have shown how Livingstone's history is absurd. But that doesn't stop Israel-haters to pretend that he was right. For example:

This morning another example came up, as +972 columnist Mairav Zonszein retweeted this (since deleted but he had tweeted the same link here):

(Zonszein, it will be remembered, penned a NYT op-ed that falsely claimed that Israel made her abortion much more onerous than if it has been done in other Western countries. And she herself is happy to cherry-pick quotes to pretend to prove Israelis are evil.)

Nasir linked to a blog post by another self-avowed "anti-Zionist" who pretends to be against antisemitism, Tony Greenstein, who published this image:

Zonszein and Nasir could have read the rest of the article posted - "the very physical existence of a half-million Jews was at stake" - but their desire to conflate Zionism with Nazism is so deep that they couldn't be bothered to read beyond the highlighted section to gleefully  trumpet that Livingstone was right.

However, the article excerpted here is an excellent overview of the agreement itself - and its ultimate effectiveness. Here is the entire section:

A painful controversy divided the Jewish people during the time of Chaim Arlosoroff's term on the world Zionist Executive . It related to the question whether Jewish representatives - more concretely, whether the world Zionist movement - should establish contacts with Nazi Germany for the purpose of getting Jews and Jewish property out of the country. The official Zionist response was : Yes, because there were no chances of a quick end to Hitlerism, and the very physical existence of a half million Jews was at stake . Chaim Arlosoroff was one of the major proponents and implementers of this position, which found its practical expression in the Transfer Agreement .

The opponents of the Transfer argued : Jewish national and human honor could not tolerate the slightest dealings with the Nazis . The controversy was explosive . The Jews in Palestine and the world Zionist organization were accused of breaking the anti-Nazi economic boycott, of "demoralizing" the struggle against Germany. The very usefulness of the Transfer Agreement was questioned - it could at best rescue only selected individuals along with their meager possessions . Naturally, the opposition was directed primarily against Labor, which was in the leadership of HaVaad HaLeumi and the world Zionist organization, and against Chaim Arlosoroff personally, the "architect" of the agreement .

The supporters of the Transfer Agreement replied : Jewish tradition has created two principles, highly moral commandments and standards for Jewish behavior in cases where Jewish lives are being threatened : Pikuakh Nefesh and Pidyon Shevuyim . (Pikuakh nefesh : saving a life . The preservation of life takes precedence over all commandments. Pidyon shevuyim : ransom of captives, even if it means negotiating with criminals .)

The transfer was being undertaken in that spirit . In modern Jewish history there is no lack of examples of sending emissaries even to our persecutors . Did not Herzl go to St . Petersburg to negotiate with the Russian Minister Plehve? Did not Jabotinsky negotiate an agreement with Petlura's chief lieutenant Slavinski in the hope of saving the Jewish communities in the Ukraine from slaughter? Transfer was the practical meaning of Zionism. Herzl himself defined Zionism as a "transport organization ."

In such an atmosphere of sharp debate pro and con, of inflamed emotions against sober and practical calculations, the negotiations concerning transfer were begun with the Heinrich Bruning government as far back as the summer of 1931 . Because of the financial panic and the bank crisis in Germany, the government had set a limit of 200 marks on the amount of money that could be taken out of the country.

Chaim Arlosoroff, together with a number of leaders of the German Zionist organization, attempted to have the regulation repealed . But it was not until September 1933 that the German government gave its consent to the Transfer Agreement. From that moment until the outbreak of World War II, the Haavara (transfer) carried out annually 50,000 transactions. Most of the 50,000 German Jews who emigrated to Palestine utilized the Transfer Agreement, taking out with them 140 million Reichsmarks. 60% of the capital invested during that period in Eretz Israel came from these funds . All of the colonization in Emek Hefer was due to the transfer. All these accomplishments strengthened the yishuv. They helped to create on the internal front many of the advances necessary for a successful policy in the years of struggle for the establishment of the State .

Thus history settled the argument and showed that in the new economic and political realities created by the Transfer, there was more foresight than in all the opposition which had created such a perfervid hostility toward Labor and particularly toward Chaim Arlosoroff.
The people who now claim the moral high ground by saying "ooh, ooh, Zionist Jews cooperated with Hitler!" are engaging in the worst kind of antisemitism. 50,000 Jewish lives were saved because of this agreement, as distasteful and controversial as it was at the time. But the zeal to associate Zionists and Nazis is simply too great to worry about details like that.

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