HOWARD EPSTEIN: FIND THE LONG SPOONS. THE DEVIL IS IN THE DINING-ROOM
In the UK recently, 1.75m people (about 3% of the population) petitioned Parliament (in vain as it turned out) to stop President Trump’s upcoming State visit, which will mean, amongst other pomp and circumstance, a banquet at Buckingham Palace with the Queen. Yet, the roll-call of others she has had around to dinner include Idi Amin, Bashir Al Assad, Nicolae Ceausescu, Mobutu of the (so-called) Democratic Republic of the Congo, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and, in 2015, President Xi Jinping of China (this monarch’s third reception of a Chinese leader), extra-judicial killers or mass-murderers all — and with all of whom the UK then traded or hoped to trade.
It would seem that the petitioners did not stop to ask themselves: is a vulgar misogynist likely to cause worse royal indigestion than a mass murderer?
Then again, given the way Erdoghan rewards those journalists in Turkey not in the pocket of the state (with prison but without trial), is it right for the UK to embark on building a jet fighter with Turkey? For that matter, should the Brits be buying oil from the Saudis and selling them armaments.
Should virtue-genuflection take priority over economic opportunity? And when should jobs trump (sorry) morality? Or vice versa?
Every nation has to make choices. You may not like America because of its record in Iran, South America and South-East Asia — or, more recently, Iraq — but do you think Israel should refuse to trade with the USA? Of course not. After they killed off our opportunity to build a fighter-jet, where else are we going to get them? You may not approve of Putin but, given Russian anti-aircraft systems based in Syria that control our air-space, do you castigate PM Netanyahu for getting along just fine with him? Another resounding no.
Then again, would you sell state-of-the-art Israeli weapons to arms dealers whom you know supply the Basij secret police in the service of the Ayatollahs? You know they will not be using them against us any time soon, and it would be a massively lucrative order, so do you care that they will use them to quell Iranian student riots, were they to break out again? We can surely survive without such sales.
What about Da’esh? They have plenty of money and are unlikely to be firing their weapons at Israelis in the foreseeable future (as they will have to dislodge Hezbollah from the Golan first). Would you say business is business ….? Almost certainly no.
How about Sweden, in the vanguard of anti-Israeli Europeans. If they wished to place an order for hi-tech, interactive Israeli vests for combat soldiers, would you say, first make nice to us then we’ll talk? What about the almost-equally hostile Belgium and Holland. Would it surprise you to know that we recently sold that very equipment to them for their armed forces? Where would you draw the line?
And where — in time — do we start to consider these matters? How about just after the birth of the State? Wait! What about just before?
We know that Henry Ford was a rabid anti-Semite. He hired Charles Lindbergh, a notorious Nazi sympathiser, in 1941 to join his board. Birds of a feather….. This left Ford’s son, Edsel, free to secure The Ford Motor Company’s interests in war-torn Europe. You may read in How the Allied multinationals supplied Nazi Germany throughout World War II at:
After Pearl Harbor, Edsel Ford moved to protect the company’s interest in Occupied France, even though this would mean collaboration with the Nazi government Edsel and Dollfus decided to consolidate their operation in conjunction with Carl Krauch, Heinrich Albert, and Gerhardt Westrick in Germany. The problem they had was how to keep in touch, since their two countries were at war. In order to overcome this difficulty, Edsel traveled to Washington at the beginning of 1942 and entered into an arrangement with Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, who simultaneously was blocking financial aid to German-Jewish refugees by citing the Trading with the Enemy Act.
A way was found not just for Ford but for many other industrial titans of the USA to keep trading with the enemy throughout that, well, titanic struggle.
Well, that’s the Jew-haters for you — ready to sup with the devil and no question about the length of the spoons. But we Jews would never have traded with Nazi Germany, would we? Did we?
In Deal with the Devil, a magnificently-researched 2013 article in the Times of Israel:
Joanna M. Saidel explains in great detail, how:
As WWII drew to a close, Hitler sought the rapid annihilation of every remaining Jew. A group of Revisionist Zionists enlisted Swiss politician Jean-Marie Musy to convince Heinrich Himmler to go against the Fuhrer’s orders. ….
She explains how a group of Irgun operatives swallowed their rising bile and worked through, Dr. Jean-Marie Musy, an old Swiss friend of Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Reichsfuhrer SS and General Plenipotentiary of Nazi Germany, Heinrich Himmler, to exchange Jewish lives, the remnants of the camps who were otherwise destined to die in last-minute massacres as they lay close to death on the ground or on death marches, should they be able to raise themselves, in exchange for leniency for Himmler. Ms Saidel claims that many Jews were spared thanks to the Irgun and Himmler:
[A] first trainload of 1,200 Jews from Theresienstadt concentration camp were indeed released, as agreed upon, but no other Jews were liberated in this manner under the Musy-Himmler agreement. Hitler intervened and halted the plan to move these Jews out of Nazi territory by train. Instead, a secondary plan evolved, by which many thousands of Jews were ultimately saved through Himmler’s intervention in Hitler’s evacuation plan and by stopping the complete destruction of the concentration camps late in the war.
Later, Hitler learned of the plans and tried to put a stop to them. Largely, he was successful in this, the annihilation of the flower and wealth of European Jewry having been his one — evil and nihilistic — accomplishment in just over ten years in power. Himmler exited his life courtesy of a cyanide pill, having been instrumental in saving “the lives of many thousands of Jews”, as Ms Saidel writes was confirmed at [a] 1974 conference at Yad Vashem, and … resulting documentation.
She writes further:
Dr. Rudolf Kastner, the former president of the Hungarian Zionist Organization, said in a 1945 affidavit: “After the fall of 1944 Himmler granted several concessions. Thus he permitted the departure for Switzerland of 1,700 Hungarian Jews deported to Bergen-Belsen and also agreed to suspend the annihilation of the Jews of the Budapest ghetto. Himmler permitted the handing over to the Allies the Jews of Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt without a shot being fired, which in his eyes and the eyes of his colleagues was a very generous concession, and certainly one [for] which he expected some political concession be granted in return.
At the war’s end, Kastner emigrated to Israel, where he became active in the Mapai Party …. In 1953, he was accused of collaboration with the Nazis in Hungary during the Holocaust.
A sensational series of events in the courts and the Knesset followed, after which:
Kastner fell into a depression which he described to reporters as “blacker than night, darker than hell.” … In early March 1957, Kastner was shot in an assassination attempt and died two weeks later. His murder is regarded as the first political assassination in the State of Israel. In January 1958, his sentence was posthumously overturned by the Supreme Court
So a morality tale about supping with the Nazi devils and, you might think, an isolated one. But then you would be overlooking the calculus of WWII.
If there can be gradations of tragedy in the Shoa, one would surely have to place the fate of the woebegone Jews of Hungary in the most bitter category. Hitler pursued a Neroesque policy, as the Third Reich began to be consumed by flames worthy of Götterdämmerung. Throughout 1944, as German forces retreated after their defeats at Stalingrad and Kursk, across the lands they had laid waste, drenched in the blood of Jews and others, so Hitler’s organiser-in-chief of the Final Solution, Eichmann, was perfecting the movement of Jews in cattle trucks from ghettos to gas chambers and crematoria. Of course, no Jew would never deal with a man like that. Oh no?
In Auschwitz, a New History , author, Laurence Reese explains:
On April 25, 1944, in his office at the Hotel Majestic in Budapest, Eichmann met with Joel Brand, another leading member of the Jewish Relief and Rescue Committee. Brand had already attended previous meetings with Eichmann and other SS officers in an attempt to bribe them to allow a number of Jews out of Hungary. Now Eichmann said to Brand, “I am prepared to sell one million Jews to you.”
Eichmann proposed an exchange of “Blood for Goods,” in which the British and the Americans would give the Nazis one new truck for every one hundred Jews. Eichmann promised that the trucks would only be used on the Eastern front where the Germans were fighting against the Communist Soviet Union. Brand was asked to go to Istanbul in Turkey to negotiate the deal. Eichmann hoped to obtain 10,000 trucks in exchange for one million Jews.
but, a scorpion always being a scorpion:
even before Brand reached Turkey on May 19, 1944, Eichmann had already ordered the deportation of the Hungarian Jews, which began on April 29, 1944.
Following the Holocaust, Israel’s relations with Germany were very tense. Israel, recovering from the 1948 War of Independence, was focussed on the in-gathering of what remained of European Jewry, whilst in a deep economic crisis and at a time of harsh austerity. Unemployment was very high and foreign currency reserves almost non-existent. (As an update, just last week they passed $100 billion, probably representing the highest per capita figure of any diversified economy in the world.)
In 1952, Ben-Gurion demanded reparations from Germany, arguing with recalcitrant Israelis that as much Jewish property as possible should be recovered “so that the murderers do not become the heirs as well” and that the reparations were needed to finance the absorption and rehabilitation of the Holocaust survivors in Israel.
A fierce public debate erupted, unifying right and left furiously opposed to a deal with the Germans, on the basis that accepting reparations payments amounted to forgiveness for the Shoah.
On 5 November 1951, Mapam MK, Yaakov Hazan, told the Knesset:
“Nazism is rearing its ugly head again in Germany, and our so-called Western ‘friends’ are nurturing that Nazism; they are resurrecting Nazi Germany…. Our army, the Israel Defense Forces, will be in the same camp as the Nazi army, and the Nazis will begin infiltrating here not as our most terrible enemies, but rather as our allies…”
Before a Knesset debate of 7 January 1952, surrounding roads were closed, roadblocks and wire fences erected and the IDF mobilised to suppress something approaching a revolution. Over 15,000 protesters (about 1% of the Israeli population), and the riots they indulged in, amounted to the most serious attempt in Israeli history — to this day — to impede the democratic processes of the Knesset.
Menachem Begin, after a vivid and impassioned speech, referring to the 1948 Altalena Affair, when the IDF shelled a ship carrying arms for the Irgun, led the protesters towards the Knesset. After five hours of rioting, the use of fire hoses and tear-gas re-established the government’s authority. Hundreds were arrested; about 200 protesters and 140 policemen were injured.
“I am not assuming that there are people who believe that Germany will pay a total of three billion marks, over a period of 12 years, and that this is no empty promise…. The Israeli government will obtain nothing but a piece of paper referring to three billion marks. And all this is only intended to mislead the public ….”. [Time, and post-WWII German policy, were to prove him wrong.]
The Knesset ultimately voted 61-50 in favour of reparations and, over time, the Germans paid the reparations in full — all 3.5 billion Deutschmarks of them — a lifeline then, that many Israelis were prepared to forgo, rather than sup with the devil.
Today, we are somewhat less squeamish. Our whole submarine fleet is German. Future subs will be German — and Iranian. According to a Times of Israel report last December:
The Iranian government company owns 4.5 percent of the German shipbuilding company at the center of a scandal over its provision of submarines and other services to the Israel.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit last week ordered the police to look into allegations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, used his close relationship with the premier to push Israel to purchase several submarines from ThyssenKrupp, award the company a contract for naval vessels to defend Israel’s gas fields, and allow it to build a shipyard in Israel.
(Whoa! What’s that? The Iranians will have a 4.5% share in a shipyard in Israel? Better order a whole load of new ladles for that one.)
Of course, before the 1979 Iranian Revolution that swept the Shah from power and led to the Mullocracy, hell-bent on destroying Israel, we did a lot of trade with Iran. But do you think that it completely dried up after 1979? Yes? No.
In the Iran-Contra Affair (also known as “Irangate”), a mid-1980s political scandal in the United States, President Reagan‘s administration sold arms to an avowed enemy of the US, Iran, desperate to acquire sufficient matériel to continue its war with Iraq. At the time, American citizens were being held hostage in Lebanon by Hezbollah, the militant Shi’a organization then loyal to Iran, and today its direct extension.
The sale of US arms to Iran through Israel began in the summer of 1985, after receiving the approval of President Reagan, who wanted to fund the Contras, the right-wing guerrillas fighting the socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Israel’s involvement was stimulated by separate overtures in 1985 from an Iranian arms dealer and a US National Security Council consultant. Prime Minister Shimon Peres agreed to sell weapons to Iran at America’s behest, provided the sale had “a clear, express and binding consent by the U.S. Government.” (You can be sure that that consent was forthcoming.)
“Operation Tipped Kettle” (according to a Haaretz report of 26 November 2010, based on information released by virtue of US Freedom of Information laws) involved weapons that the Israel Defense Forces had liberated from the clutches of the Palestine Liberation Organization during Operation Peace for Galilee in Lebanon in 1982 — and then transferred to the Contras. The shipment included 20,000 rifles and submachine guns, 1,000 machine guns, 90 recoil-less rifles, 110 mortars, 1,000 hand grenades and large amounts of ammunition.
The second stage, in 1985-6, was (Haaretz reported) “patently illegal” being:
[A] blatant effort by the White House to violate a Congressional order and to cook up a strange deal involving the sale of American weapons (originally supplied to the IDF ) to anti-American Iran, for use in its war with Iraq; the release of Western hostages being held in Lebanon by Iranian-controlled Hezbollah; and the financing of Contras’ activities thanks to the difference between the sum paid by the Iranians and the true value of the weapons – minus a profit for those engaged in the deal.
Haaretz ended its report drily:
What the officers and ministers, the officials and ambassadors are doing in secret today will be revealed, thanks to the Americans in another 25 years.
The open question is: will we, a quarter of a century from now, be able to take pride in the decisions now being made in our name?
Some of those decisions will center on what will be done in the near future by Israel in league with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States, most or all of whom want to squeeze under Israel’s nuclear umbrella.
Now, that is a reference to those subs again. Israel’s submarines are believed to be nuclear-capable, which means they can launch nuclear-tipped missiles. That gives us our second-strike capability, that preserves the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) paradigm, that will deter Iran from nuking us — and that is the protection that the Sunni states crave.
Do you think we should be helping them? They are none of them decorous in their conduct: Jordan, if only because King Abdullah publicly condemns Israel almost as regularly as you fill up your car on Saudi oil, even as we help him to maintain his tenuous hold on power, whilst the Saudis have a liking for decapitation by scimitar and are so misogynistic that their motto is not so much Keep Death of the Road as Keep Women out of Cars. They are also, more seriously, the biggest Sunni exporters of Islamic radicalisation (the Shia Iranians match or exceed them) to the UK and the USA. According to the Huffington Post:
The … House of Saud … [could promote] the intolerant and extremist Wahhabi creed just domestically. But, unfortunately, for decades the Saudis have also lavishly financed its propagation abroad. Exact numbers are not known, but it is thought that more than $100 billion have been spent on exporting fanatical Wahhabism to various much poorer Muslim nations worldwide over the past three decades. It might well be twice that number. By comparison, the Soviets spent about $7 billion spreading communism worldwide in the 70 years from 1921 and 1991.
whilst according to UK newspaper, The Independent:
“Saudi spending [in the UK alone] on religious causes abroad as between $2bn [£960m] and $3bn per year since 1975 (comparing favourably with what was the annual Soviet propaganda budget of $1bn), which has been spent on 1,500 mosques, 210 Islamic centres and dozens of Muslim academies and schools”.
More than that they have flooded the Islamic book market with cheap well-produced Wahhabi literature whose print runs, Birt says, “can be five to 10 times that of any other British-based sectarian publication, aggressively targeted for a global English-speaking audience.” This has had the effect of forcing non-Wahhabi publishers across the Muslim world to close. It has put out of business smaller bookshops catering for a more mainstream Muslim market.
What those two sets of reports tell us is the Saudis are doing their bit (alongside Russia cyber warriors) to undermine the Anglo/Western societies with whom we Israelis most closely identify philosophically, educationally, morally and — oh yes — in terms of those all-important military deals. And these, the Gulf Sunnis, are the people we want to get into bed with? And we shall want something in exchange for conferring MAD protection on them.
So where to draw the line? How about at deal with Hamas? Do you think that Jewish morality demands that all dealings with them should be forbidden — or that it demands that they should not? Should Gilad Shalit’s freedom have been won at the cost of the release of 1,027 mainly Palestinian prisoners, one of whom, Yahya Sinwar was “elected” last week as military chief of Hamas. Reportedly, after 22 years in Israeli prisons, he is not a cheerleader for the Jewish State. (Interestingly, his life-sentence in 1989 was for murdering Palestinian (alleged) collaborators with Israel.)
So, noo! Where would you draw the line? Would you riot outside the Knesset to prevent diabolical links being formed? Do you think that you would be joined by nearly 90,000 other protesters (representing the same percentage of the population as protested reparations in 1952). Do you think 3% of Israelis would sign a petition (on the UK anti-Trump scale) to protest closer ties with — well, with anyone? Perhaps we would draw the line at North Korea, but is that because there is almost nothing that they could offer us?
Is everything driven by self-interest and expediency?
© 2017 February – Howard Epstein
Howard Epstein is a political commentator and the author of Guns, Traumas and Exceptionalism: America in the Twenty-First Century, recently published by Amazon and on Kindle. He writes:
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