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PRINCE CHARMING

By Israel Shamir

 (based on talks given in Stanford University, California and American
 University, Cairo)
 

 - What has he found in her? - jealously gossip the shrills. - Why does he
 shower her with gifts? What's she got that we haven't?
 She costs him a lot of money and good will, she alienated him from his old
 buddies, and for a good reason: the little murderous bitch, hers is a brand
 name for every mean trick, but he, usually tight-fisted and penny-pinching,
 generously cares and stonewalls for her, lays low her enemies and silences
 her critics. What is the secret behind the peculiar love affair between
 Daughter of Zion from Middle East and the superpower across the ocean?
 These questions tease the mind, and call us to explore the source of the
 great anomaly of our time. Like exploring the source of Nile in preceding
 century, it requires an ability to look into lions' eyes with a white hunter 's disdain for death, and Sherlock Holmes' detective talents.

 The current favourite explanation is a vaguely defined "strategic interest
 of American corporations", sometimes deciphered as desire of the US weapon
 industries to sell their stuff to Arabs. Others prefer America's need to
 have a base, or a "local cop on the beat" in the troubled area. Idealists
 believe in Americans' guilt feelings, in the long shadow of Holocaust or
 psychological similarity. Another prolific school explains the anomaly by
 oil. Arab oil has to be under American control and who would be better to do
 the job than ferocious Hassidic Jews?

 Although, this school explains everything by oil, whether it is the war in
 Afghanistan, looming American attack on Iraq, tension between India and
 Pakistan, or trouble in Palestine. They remind me of ancient Greek
 philosophers who believed in existence of one basic element the world is
 built of.

 Thales said, water is the basis of all things.
 Anaximenes said, air is the basis of all things.
 Heraclites said, all is fire.
 It is all pipelines, proclaims a chorus of experts whenever there is a
 discussion of reasons behind American policies in the Middle East.
 It seems quite convincing, until one is reminded a cheerful line of Afif
 Safiye, the witty PNA man in London: "Palestine has a lot of oil. Olive oil".

In order to understand the obscure charms of the Daughter of Zion, we should
 remember that Uncle Sam is but a third lover of the plucky girl. With Bush's
 predecessors, the British Empire in 1917-1922 and the Soviet Union in
 1945-1949, we have an advantage of full knowledge of sources and motives.
 The archive documents were aired, published and analysed by better men,
 while we can just sum up the fruits of their labour, and find out "what
 attracts them".

 II

 The first Prince Charming to be seduced by her husky voice was British
 Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour, who promised to turn Palestine into a
 National Home for the Jews. Britain reneged on promises given to Arabs,
 seized Palestine, enforced the Jewish rule in the land, killed and exiled
 every unbending Palestinian leader, destroyed Palestinian economy and
 trained the future IDF shock troops to deal with natives. They've got
 preciously little in return. Palestine was an expensive thing to run, and it
 caused a lot of trouble. Perfide Albion became an object of much dislike in
 the Middle East. British soldiers and officers were killed by both
 Palestinians and by not-so-easily placated Zionists.

 Traditional explanation for their strange behaviour is an identical one to
 that given for the US support. It is again "imperialism", "oil", "strategic
 value", "divide and rule" and similar platitudes, (minus guilt and
 Holocaust, as it happened well before Hitler.) But a neat "collection of the
 official documents, memoranda and letters of those in power in London and in
 Palestine" in the decisive years 1917-1922 contains just one reference to
 economic value of Palestine as perceived by the British statesmen,
 "Palestine has no strategic value whatsoever ".  There is no "oil" in the
 index at all.

 In private discussions behind the closed doors of the Whitehall, one can't
 find even a shred of imperialist desires to divide and rule. Contrariwise,
 the British leaders "anticipated great trouble from Zionists" (General
 Allenby). As Lord Cecil succulently put it, "we (the British) are not going
 to get anything out of it [of possession of Palestine]". British did not
 need Palestine, they would love to get rid of the place, but they did not
 dare. The Palestine Papers put to rest the "imperialist" explanation, leave
 alone oil, for the tumultuous affair between Zionists and the British
 Empire.

 Now, a thoughtful Israeli writer, Tom Segev, has proposed quite different
 motive in his best-selling book One Palestine, Complete. Published in
 English last year, it was acclaimed by the Jewish pundits of America as
 "thoroughly researched" (Jewish week), "fascinating" (Hadassa Magazine),
 "landmark of information" (Houston Jewish Herald), while this great admirer
 of Sharon, Ron Grossman of Chicago Tribune called it "brilliant. an utterly
 fascinating narrative of the period".

 Segev does not mince words. He rejects oil-strategy explanations and in the
 very beginning of his book, he affirms: England did it because its rulers
 "certainly believed in great power of the World Jewry  to influence world
 events, whether in the US or in revolutionary Russia. British government had
 come to conclusion that it is worth their while to conquer Palestine, to
 suppress its people and to give it to Zionists in order to curry favour with
 the World Jewry.

 The Prime Minister, Lloyd George "feared Jews", and in his memoirs he
 explained his momentous decision to support Zionists by urgent need to form
 an alliance, "a contract with Jewry", "a highly influential power whose
 goodwill was worth paying for", in order to win the war. "The Jews had every
 intention of determining the outcome of the WWI. They could influence the US
 to intensify their involvement in the war, and as the real movers behind the
 Russian revolution, they also controlled Russia's attitude towards Germany.
 The Jews offered themselves to the highest bidder, and unless Britain would
 clinch the deal first, the Germans would have bought them".

 The astute Lloyd George based his opinion on the reports of British
 ambassadors, who were unequivocal. "The influence of the Jews is very
 great, - noted his man in Washington. - They are well-organised and
 especially in press, in finance, and in politics their influence is
 considerable". The ambassador in Turkey reported that an international
 connection of Jews was the real power behind Ataturk's revolution. The
 Foreign Office undersecretary Lord Cecil summed it up, "I do not think it is
 easy to exaggerate the international power of the Jews". The Royal Institute
 of International Affairs asserted that "the sympathy of Jews was vital to
 winning the war".

 Jews fully shared this vision of united and powerful Jewry, writes Segev.
 The postmaster general Herbert Samuel, a Jew and a Zionist, proposed in 1915
 to give Palestine to Jews so "millions of Jews scattered around the world,
 including the two million in the US, would show lasting gratitude for all
 generations". (It actually lasted less than 20 years until the beginning of
 Zionist anti-British terror) In a proper British understatement, Samuel
 wrote, "the goodwill of the whole Jewish race may not be without its value".
 The Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann "did his best to encourage this
  impression", says Segev. He "conjured up the myth of Jewish power" and
 "reinforced British predilection for seeing the Jews everywhere and behind
 every decisive event". But Brits were not biting until in 1917 their
 military situation became desperate. Russian front had been collapsing under
 the influence of Bolsheviks, and Germans transferred divisions to the
 Western front. Britain decided to deal with the Jews so they will push
 America into European war.

 III
 Now, Tom Segev did not discover America, but he has introduced a much-needed
 rhetoric device, called "perception". Wisely, he does not say, "Jews wielded
 such a power that Britain preferred to deal with them and surrender
 Palestine sacrificing thousands of British soldiers and millions of
 Palestinians". Instead, the Israeli writer Tom Segev uses a formula
 perfectly acceptable even to severe Political Correctness enforcement
 officers. Not "Jewish power", but "perception of Jewish power", "belief in
 Jewish power" was the moving factor, akin to belief in witchcraft. His
 device and its application allow us to continue to deal with our subject
 peacefully, leaving the adjacent but troublesome question of reality vs.
 perception to some other time.

 A perception is almost as good as a real thing, wrote Mark Twain in his 1
 million Bill. An American hero of this short story is universally accepted
 for a millionaire, though he has not a penny on his soul, and he still makes
 millions on the base of the perception.

 The New York Times review of Tom Segev's book describes Balfour and other
 British supporters of Zionists as "acting from anti-Semitic reasons". It is
 an interesting definition: even devout Christian Zionists fully supportive
 of the Jewish state, are considered "anti-Semites", if they perceive and
 refer to the power of Jews. Before WWII, an anti-Semite would consider
 Jewish power to be a rather negative After the war, in order to be innocent,
 one should not even notice Jews. That is why an open, no-holds-barred debate
 of real extent of Jewish power would not be an easy one, as it is
 notoriously hard to measure and prove influence and no newspaper or TV
 network of the Western world would touch it with a barge pole.
 Segev further protects himself by attributing to the Brits a silly belief
 that "the Jews control the world" . No sane person, from Lloyd George to
 Hitler, ever thought so. The world is too big and complex to control. But
 the Jewish apologists usually attribute this exaggerated claim to their
 opponents, refute it and consider the case closed. We shan't fall for it,
 and keep the case open a bit longer.

 Segev does not reason why hard-nosed British politicians and civil servants
 succumbed to such an illusion, why they did not ascribe the "decisive
 influence" to West African witch doctors or Chinese Tao masters, but to the
 Jews. This lacuna is filled by a thick volume by University of California
 Professor Alfred S. Lindemann published by Cambridge University Press, Esau's Tears..

 Lindemann refers to the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, when Jacob H. Schiff,
 the American financier, blocked the Russian attempt to obtain bonds they
 sought in the international markets to finance the war, and provided
 financial support for Japan, eventually causing humiliating defeat of
 Russia. Afterwards, Schiff boasted that "international Jewry is a power
 after all".   Simon Wolf, another important American Jewish leader, confidant
 of presidents, lectured the Russians: "The Jews of the world control much of
 it. There is no use in disguising the fact that in the US, the Jews form an
 important factor in the formation of the public opinion and in the control
 of finances. they exercise an all-potent and powerful influence". In 1905,
 after the Russo-Japanese war, their boasts were accepted as justified.
 Winston Churchill and Theodore Herzl firmly believed that international
 Jewry has enormous power in international relations. Professor Lindemann
 concludes, "they were not wrong in believing that Jews were a power in the
 world, and a rising one, particularly because of influence they could
 exercise in the up-and-coming US".

 Lindemann concurs that the reason behind the Balfour declaration was Balfour's and the US President Wilson's fear that the Germans might make such a
 declaration, rally influential Jews to the cause of the Central Powers and
 put paid to the Anglo-American war effort . That is why English rushed to
 outbid other potential buyers of the perceived Jewish influence.

 IV.

 It is well outside the scope of this piece to decide or even discuss whether
 the Jews actually delivered the goods as promised, or were they able to do
 it, or even whether the Jews exist. It would suffice to say that it
 certainly appears so. America threw its fresh forces to the battlefields of
 Europe, tired German armies were defeated, Treaty of Versailles sealed the
 fate of Germany and Palestine. Long standing traditionally good relations
 between German Jews and Germans were irrevocably ruined by the perceived
 alliance of the Jews with the enemy of Germany. Eventually, ordinary Jews,
 ordinary Germans and ordinary Palestinians were made to pay a terrible price
 for the ambitions of the American Jewish leadership.

 The British did not dare to cheat on the Jews after the war, as they were
 threatened again by possible Jewish desertion, this time to the Russian
 cause. Head of British Military Intelligence General MacDonogh warned the
 highest circles of the Empire, "The most important thing about Palestine is
 not its topographical relation to Syria or anything else, but that it
 interests the whole of the Jews all over the world. Zionists tell me that if
 the Jewish people did not get what they were asking for in Palestine, we
 should have the whole of Jewry turning Bolsheviks and supporting Bolshevism
 in all the other countries as they have done in Russia" ..

 Quite recently, Israeli right-wing, notably Sharon, Lieberman and Netanyahu,
 repeatedly stated that "if the Jewish people didn't get what they were
 asking for in Palestine", they will switch their support to Russia of
 President Putin. It took a few trips by Israeli ministers to Russia to
 enforce the American leadership's commitment to support Israel, although it
 was an empty threat. Now, for a first time in centuries, the Jews lost their
 perceived position of power brokers between two powers. Putin's Russia is
 too weak to threaten America; radical Left is rather weak and has no
 identifiable Jews; European Jews did not recover after the WWII. It is luck
 (or skill) of Israeli leaders that the US is lead by nincompoop Bush, not by
 people like President Nixon, or Lord Curzon, the man who said in March 1920:
 "The Zionists are after a Jewish state with the Arabs as hewers of wood and
 drawers of water. That is not my view. I want the Arabs to have a chance and
 I do not want a Jewish State" .  But Nixon has been impeached through the
 efforts of Jewish-owned Washington Post, and Lord Curzon perished in strange
 circumstances.

 As he predicted, British Empire got very little good out of the deal with
 the Jews even in the medium run. British victory over Germany in 1918 was a
 Pyrrhic one, as it accelerated the decline of the Empire. Many politicians
 moaned that instead of begging for Zionist alliance and pushing for victory
 in 1915-1917, it would be better for the British if they would make peace
 with Germany.

 British rule in Palestine gave England no influence, no profits, no
 strategic advantage, it did not even guarantee the Jewish support, leave
 alone gratitude. Organised mainstream Jewry supported America, Jewish
 communists supported Russia, while Jewish right-wing looked towards
 Mussolini and Hitler for inspiration and assistance. Zionist militant
 organisations, Hagana, Irgun and Stern Gang humiliated, terrorised and
 murdered British soldiers, officials and statesmen. Very soon, the English
 understood that they made a big mistake to enter the deal.  They discovered,
 as many leaders before them and after them, until Yasser Arafat, that one
 needs a very long spoon to eat with Devil from the same pot.

 V

 The love affair between English Prince Charming and Daughter of Zion was
 over, but she did not remain lonely and deserted. The place of the British
 gentleman was taken by Joseph Stalin. In 1945-1949, the Soviet Union became
 the strong supporter of the fledging Jewish state. Russia voted for
 partition of Palestine, was first to recognise Israel, and was the main
 supplier of arms to Zionists (via their Czech satellite)  while the West
 imposed its blockade on the Palestinian side. Eventually, the Russian
 admirer dumped the girl, like his British predecessor, and returned to
 support the Palestinian cause. The strange zigzag of Russian policy
 intrigued politicians and scholars, who offered predictable explanations:
 "Stalin's desire for Middle East foothold", "Soviet belief in pro-Communist
 sympathies of Jews in Palestine", "Russia's trying to undermine British
 imperialism" and surely, "oil", "expansionism" and "imperialism".
  All these explanations seem plausible. For us, the Israelis, the most
 favourite one connected Russia's move with the Israeli Left. In 1948, the
 fighters of Palmach imitated the Red Army, sung Russian songs; some of them
 had Russian or Polish Communist background. Geo-strategists preferred the
 Russian search for a harbour in the Mediterranean, while political
 scientists saw it as the struggle the between Russian Bear and the British
 Lion for the influence in the Middle East.

 We would not know the right answer, but last year the Foreign Offices of
 Moscow and Tel Aviv jointly published two heavy (I know, I carried them)
 volumes of documents pertaining to this period.  It contains secret and
 confidential letters by Stalin and to Stalin, and provides a full insight
 into the Second Lover's Tale.

 "Yes, our support of Zionist state is a complete break with the
 long-standing Soviet tradition of supporting anti-colonial and
 anti-imperialist movements. Yes, this decision of ours will poison relations
 with the Arab world. Yes, it will enslave the native people of Palestine.
 But it can sway the American Jews to the side of the Soviet Union, and the
 American Jews will deliver the US to us" - that was the true reasoning of
 Stalin and his men.

 In those years, strong sympathies of the American Jews to the Soviet cause
 led to the Rosenberg Trial, and Senator McCarthy already felt it in the air.
 Stalin, as the Brits before him, did not care much about Palestine. He did
 not consider the British Empire an important enemy - after two world wars,
 England was ruined. He was not interested in oil. He thought, as the Brits,
 to make a contract with the Jewry, to give the Jews what they want and to
 get their support in return.

 It took him some time to understand his mistake. Israeli strongman David Ben
 Gurion disabused potential friends of Moscow and stressed that the first and
 most important friend and master of Israel remains the American Jewish
 leadership. When the first ambassador of Israel, Golda Meir, arrived in
 Moscow, Stalin witnessed incredible surge of Jewish solidarity. The Jewish
 wives of Kremlin commissars, from Mrs Molotov to Mrs Whatshisname, rushed in
 tears to Mrs Meir as to their long lost sister. The Jews in Russia occupied
 too many too important positions, and thousands of them crowded the streets
 in front of the Israeli embassy. Stalin hoped his support of Israel would
 have helped him to captivate the mind of American Jews, but now he had
 realised that, by means of Israel, the leaders of American Jews captivated
 the mind of Russian Jews. Instead of getting the Fifth Column in New York,
 he allowed Americans (via their Israeli ally) to activate their Fifth Column
 in Moscow. Stalin underestimated the hold Israel has over Jewish mind. He
 looked into this abyss and retreated as soon as possible.

 VI

 Two previous important partners of the Jewish state supported it as they
 perceived Jewish influence in America being a joystick to the superpower
 control board. They believed: give to Jews what they want (Palestine), and
 they will give you what you want (America). For real or for perception, they
 came to grief. In a classic English story, A Monkey Paw, a magic tool
 fulfils the owner's wish but in such a horrible way that he has a reason to
 regret asking for it. The alliance with Jews had a similar effect. They got
 what they asked for, - victory in war or pro-Russian stand of American Jews,
 but came to regret it.

 Still the belief in Jewish power is the most common one among the elites of
 the world. That is why many countries send to Tel Aviv their best and most
 experienced ambassadors, usually on their way to or from Washington Embassy.
 That is why, whenever a country wishes to beseech Washington, it sends an
 envoy to Tel Aviv. The Israelis pass the request to the right people in the
 US, and apparently it works.

 This belief is the most common one in the US, as well. American politicians
 support Israel because they share the opinion of Lloyd George and Herzl.
 They also respect the condition demanded by heirs of Jacob Schiff and never,
 but never mention the dreadful words, "Jewish power". In the world free of
 taboos, a new Henry Miller can't shock his readers referring to sex, but to
 the Jews and their unseen might.

 Is it only a perception? Perhaps. But the American traditional elites pay
 for it a real double price: they send their folks to fight a third war
 within the last hundred years for somebody's else perceived interests, and
 their positions at the top table disappear daily. This perception bleeds
 Iraq and Palestine, sends money to Israel, distorts the public discourse.
 Not in vain, Mark Twain used to say, a perception is almost as good as a
 real thing.
 ____________________________________________________________________________

 Notes:
   Palestine Papers, Seeds of Conflict, compiled and annotated by Doreen
 Ingrams., published John Murray, London 1972 page 77
   Tom Segev, One Palestine, Complete published by Henry Holt, New York 2001,
 p 36
   page 33
   Cambridge University Press, 1997
   p 302
   p 417
   PRO.CAB. 27/24 quoted by the Palestine Papers.
   C20/3 quoted by Palestine Papers.

 Israel Shamir is an Israeli writer based in Jaffa. This article can be
 freely displayed and transmitted by electronic means. For permission to
 publish hard copy, to subscribe or unsubscribe to this list, write to
 shamir@home.se
 

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