Alison Weir’s short, powerful book documents hidden stories that have led to the major conflicts of the past century; understanding this history should help pave a path to peace in Israel/ Palestine. Weir has written an accessible, myth-busting book that is meant to be widely read; it is tightly focused, with less than 100 well-referenced pages.
Weir’s fascinating history focuses on how the State of Israel came into existence through a cynical using of the United States and how it was defended from American critics who saw the support for Israel as violating US principles and damaging US interests.
The significance of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the British “gentleman’s agreement” between the British government and Lord Rothschild that pledged British support for a Jewish homeland, has not been understood by many for thequid pro quo that it represented. The agreement, which occurred when it appeared that Germany was winning WW I, was that Zionists would work to get the United States involved in the war if Britain would deliver Palestine as a Jewish homeland. The reason for the American involvement in the war and the American contribution to the arrangement have not been widely understood: the Balfour Declaration (as well as the later British Mandate) were drafted in both Britain and the US, including by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.
Germany had no inkling of this deal until the post-war 1919 Paris Peace Conference, which Zionists attended to ensure that Britain would come through with its part of the agreement. Given the extremely harsh terms that Germany was forced to accept after the war, this deal would contribute, along with other factors (such as the devastating Zionist boycott of Germany in the 1930s and Jewish support for Communism), to German resentment of the Jewish community.
Even before Britain washed its hands of Palestine, Zionists recognized that they needed the support of the United States for Israel to survive and thrive, so the U.S. became the focus of propaganda and political pressure. Harry Truman, the US President who recognized the State of Israel immediately after it declared itself a state, had received a then-staggering $2 million from a Zionist donor during what had appeared to be a losing presidential campaign. State Department leaders were against supporting Israel because it damaged U.S. relations with Arab countries and, more importantly, violated important American principles of self-determination and justice. Elected leaders, vulnerable to political pressure and access to campaign funding, were not able to maintain such America-first integrity.
Weir documented various little-known Zionist efforts to support the creation of their state. The activities — basically bribes, lies, subterfuge, threats and violence– included:
Ÿ Zionist leaders’ “mixed reaction” to Nazism, with some seeing that the convergent goals would benefit a Jewish state that required a Jewish population;
Ÿ Secret American Zionist clubs (including the elite Parushim with Felix Frankfurter) which pledged to work for Israel behind the scenes;
Ÿ Creating the myth that a refuge was needed for Jews (including falsifying anti-Semitism in Germany and Poland and, more importantly, sabotaging western countries’ efforts to open their doors to Jewish refugees after WW II in order to ensure that Jews had few choices of refuge outside of Israel); and
Ÿ Zionists’ role in the creation of Christian Zionism and the Scofield Reference Bible.
Weir ends her short history of Israel’s creation by documenting some key examples of how Israel-firsters were able to destroy the careers — if not the lives — of prominent Americans in government, journalism and academia who warned of the loss of American credibility in supporting a state that was based on religious discrimination.
Weir keeps her book focused on the early history of Israel, ignoring highly significant later events, particularly those concerning Senator William Fulbright: his uncovering of Jewish charity fraud that recycled charitable donations into US propaganda, his attempts, with JFK, to force the main Zionist organization to register as an agent of a foreign government (which ended with JFK’s assassination) and the loss of Fulbright’s Senate seat to the then-unheard of Dale Bumpers.
The main messages from Weir’s history are that the Jewish community has not legitimately needed a homeland- refuge from anti-Semitism and that Americans must take back their country by insisting that their elected officials place the interests of the United States before those of Israel.
Karin Brothers is a freelance writer