Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy
By William A. Cook
Publisher: Dandelion Books, LLC (September 16, 2005)
Tracking Deception, by William A. Cook, offers a sustained diatribe against Israel and the United States, comprising forty-three articles published between September, 2002, and April, 2005, when the two governments were escalating hostilities against their respective enemies of choice. Not more than thirty-two months transpired, but Cook’s articles went into print on the average once every three weeks for this entire period. The result is something more than a book.
Most histories relax somewhat to let the story tell itself, as may be seen, for example, in the impressive investigative books about Iraq by such authors as Thomas Ricks, Bob Woodward, and Chalmers Johnson that were published at about the same time. In contrast, Cook’s admixture of data and acrimony was persistent in all his articles and therefore throughout his text as a whole. Dates, laws, quotes, sources, and fascinating lists of names and transgressions abound to illustrate and justify his sense of outrage. Granted, his “hard” information is now and again incorrect (usually on the short side of the truth), but this is typical during warfare, and in retrospect it is obvious that Cook’s distortions were far more accurate than most of the reportage in the respectable press at the time.
Apparent toward the end of 2002, when the book begins, was that a major invasion was imminent in Iraq and that Israel’s Prime Minister Sharon had been doing everything he could to intensify the conflict with Palestinians since he came to power eighteen months earlier, most notably by having scuttled negotiations both at Taba and in response to the generous Saudi Peace Plan. By spring, 2005, when Cook’s diatribe ends, the invasion of Iraq had degenerated into outright warfare that culminated in the siege and total destruction of Fallujah once Bush was reelected. Meanwhile, Israeli troops had isolated Arafat in his Ramallah compound, where he would be “contained” until his death, and Sharon had refused to negotiate with his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, despite his generous peace plan that began with a unilateral ceasefire.
Predictably, American activists were outraged by the development of events, if with far more concern about Iraq than Israel. Cook’s articles, most of them published by CounterPunch, rectify this imbalance by focusing on the tactics of Israel as well as its enlarged dependence on the United States since 1948. Most of them discuss the two in combination with an emphasis on Israel’s tactics. Obviously, Cook was willing to risk displeasure from the predictable chorus of angry Zionist apologists who go after anybody who dares to criticize Israel.
Tracking Deception‘s final essay, “The Destructive Power of Myth,” at least double the length of any of the rest, turns out to have been written in response to the 9-11 catastrophe a full year later. It seems intended as an appendix providing a final overview of Cook’s historic perspective, but it can also be appreciated as a theoretical introduction that clarifies his effort throughout the text to challenge the merits of public mythology exemplified by both Zionist ideology and the misbegotten patriotic support of Bush’s foreign policy shared by the vast majority of the American people. Contrary to Marxist base-superstructure assumptions, Cook features the paramount impact of ideology at the expense of economics, but then traces chauvinistic enthusiasm in both Israel and the United States to the highly successful effort of relatively small but powerful minorities in distorting this shared consciousness to meet their own needs. Crucial to their success, he argues, is their ability to manipulate relatively simple myths to serve this purpose. Such myths, he argues, usually put to use the perceived virtues of the community at large (e.g., a nation’s presumably unique dedication to freedom or its right to occupy its ancient “homeland”) as well as the need to take action now and again in defense of these virtues.
Cook also suggests that these collective myths can be political, religious, or both in combination, and remarks that they seem best promoted by a hierarchical structure (a priesthood, for example, or a political party) to “codify, justify, and implement” their enactment. (pp. 344-45) Obviously Cook tailors this definition of myth to apply equally to the American obsession with freedom inclusive of the laissez faire and Israel’s even greater obsession with its unique status as a “chosen people” deserving of a theocratic state of its own.
Relevant to the collective mythology dominant in the United States, Cook warns of the ability of capitalistic enterprise to distort public opinion, and here Marxist assumptions come to the fore:
In truth, what we believe is what the corporate world wants us to believe, and they have the means to make it happen. They own communications – newspapers, television channels, magazines, movie production studios, movie distribution houses, telephone systems, and radio stations. . . . In truth what Capitalism actually does in the name of the United States is to reap the greatest profits by producing for the least possible cost, regardless of the consequences to the peoples of other countries. . . . Capitalism, not Democracy, is at fault. (p. 355).
More specifically, Cook identifies eight dominant corporations engaged in this effort to sustain a public mythology beneficial to corporate hegemony: General Electric, AT&T/Liberty Media, Disney, Times Warner, Sony, News Corporation, Viacom and Seagram, and Bertelsmann (p. 324). The specific identities of these corporations shift at times resulting from mergers and buyouts, but both their leadership and shared goals remain the same.
And what are these goals in the United States today? It seems, as Cook insists, that a very small elite imposes “useful” beliefs on the public at large. But useful to exactly whom? Relevant to our nation’s economy since World War II, this lucrative mythology has featured the defense of American democracy and the American way of life against predators both at home and abroad. Beneficiaries include all who either directly or indirectly support themselves through their participation in what seems best and most accurately described as Keynesian militarism. These individuals extend from the very wealthiest investors to the employees of contractors and sub-contractors as well as the multitude of local stores and services that provide their needs. This turns out to be a very huge chunk of our present economy, as illustrated by the total financial costs incurred by the military establishment since the thirties.
President Clinton sought a better and more acceptable alternative by featuring globalization, but it wasn’t enough. President Bush added two wars to the recipe, and, lo, the affluence of the nineties extended well into the first decade of the twenty-first century. Our nation’s economic prosperity turns out to have been the most important byproduct of its military status abroad combined with the high costs involved – a double benefit difficult to ignore. Low taxes and deregulation could be thrown in for good measure. And look at America today!
Unfortunately, this financial benefit dependent on military aggression abroad is hardly admirable and needs a credible mythology to gloss over its disreputable imperfections. No problem at all. The appropriate collective narrative rooted in the robust defense of universal freedom enjoys widespread acceptance promoted by books, movies, magazines, newspapers, the popular media, and of course the round-the-clock news coverage on cable TV and the radio. As to be expected, the public has fully taken to heart this collective myth ultimately epitomized by President Reagan’s notion of American democracy as a shining city on the hill, indeed a beacon of hope for oppressed people across the world.
More Americans resonate to this myth than anybody wants to acknowledge among educated friends. The Republican Party in fact seems to depend on it. The real story, of course (if such exists), is far more complicated, and with an abundance of ramifications that too often fail to reflect positively on our nation’s accomplishments. For anybody interested in pursuing a more adequate narrative, a variety of standard one-volume U.S. histories may be suggested here: by Charles Beard, Samuel Eliot Morrison, Howard Zinn, Paul Johnson, Walter McDougall, and/or William Appleman Williams, among many others.
Cook’s Preface begins with the blatant warning, “The life-blood of Democracy is truth, and Bush has murdered truth” (p. ix). Can the truth be murdered, strictly speaking? Perhaps not, but Cook obviously thinks Bush came as close to doing this as anybody in recent history. Cook then becomes more specific relevant to the Iraq invasion:
Month by month Bush’s duplicity and deception mounted. His administration took America to war against a nation that had no intention of harming America, no means to harm America, and offered no threat to America…. He fabricated an enemy force of considerable might that would confront American troops once the invasion started – when in reality Iraq had been devastated by 12 years of sanctions and had no army to field (p. xii).
In other words, the entire operation was total fraud from the very beginning. Supposedly Iraq had been invaded because it posed a dire and immediate threat to the rest of the world, whereas it was in no threat at all except when it came to combating occupation troops.
In Chapter 1 (Sept. 8, 2002), Cook complains of Bush’s Manichaean assumption that America “represents the forces of good fighting against the forces of evil,” supposedly justifying our nation’s unilateral world domination. “You are either with us or against us,” Bush explained to announce the so-called Bush doctrine of universal war against terrorists, necessitating preemptive attacks wherever this seemed needed. And of course our nation’s principal ally in this holy cause was Prime Minister Sharon’s government in Israel. As others have argued, however, it seems the tail just might have been wagging the dog, for Sharon actually boasted to the Knesset on one occasion, “Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel; we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it” (Cook, p. 65).
Cook ridicules Bush’s effort to obtain the support of the U.N. for the attack on Iraq by pointing out its earlier refusal to abide by Resolutions 686, 687, and 688. However, Cook discloses that in doing so Bush conveniently ignored the more than 55 UN sanctions that Israel had defied back to 1948 (in later pieces Cook increased this number to 155 violations), not to mention the UN Security Council resolutions, 242, 338, 262, 267, 446, and 465. Obviously a double standard was in play.
In Chapter 2 (Oct. 10, 2002), Cook uses the same comparison in response to Bush’s speech of September 12 that justified rushing to war against Iraq based on four arguments, all of which could more easily be applied to Israel: (1) that Iraq had once invaded and occupied Kuwait (quite aside from Israel’s occupation of 8 out of 9 principal cities in the Palestinian territory); (2) that Iraq had failed to comply with UN-imposed commitments in 1991 (quite aside from Israel having established over 30 settlements on the West Bank since Sharon became Prime Minister); (3) that Saddam had defied the UN by not complying with 16 UN resolutions (quite aside from the fact that Israel had defied the UN by not responding or complying with at least 68 resolutions); and (4) that Iraq had failed to return approximately 600 prisoners (quite aside from Israel having refused to allow the return of over one million Palestinian refugees).
In Chapter 24 (Feb. 28, 2004), titled “Israel: America’s Albatross,” Cook reports that more than 50% of Europe’s population considers Israel to be a threat to world peace. He also goes so far as to declare more sweepingly, “Israel and America are perceived by the vast majority of people around the world as true threats to world peace” (p. 158). Moreover, he insists that Israel cannot rightfully identify itself as a democracy, since it lacks a constitution after 60 years of existence. Instead, he argues, it abides by a system of laws that seems primarily derivative of the Torah (the first five books in the Old Testament). He also deplores Israel continued refusal to deny the recognition of the Palestinian minority despite UN Resolution 181 calling for this to be done.
Cook focuses on Ariel Sharon’s unique responsibility for having intensified hostilities against the Palestinians. He summarizes Sharon’s three most despicable crimes against Palestinians: (1) his responsibility in 1953 for the killing of 53 civilians in a refugee camp and soon afterwards 69 more in the village Qibya; (2) his responsibility for the destruction of Had’d Street after the 1967 war, culminating in the destruction of 2,000 homes, the displacement of 16,000 people, and the assassination of 104 suspected guerrillas, and (3) his role in the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, when 1,962 men, women, and children were massacred by Lebanese Falangists under the supervision of Israeli troops. Cook then compiles a more extended list of various other crimes and provocations by Sharon that have so effectively kept hostilities brewing against the Palestinians for almost half a century.
Cook also estimates the costs incurred by the U.S. for supporting Israel to have been in the range of $1.6 trillion since 1973, an excessive amount for a total Jewish population that increased from 2 million in 1958 to 7 million today. Cook specifies that 737,166 Palestinians were evicted from their nation in 1948 and another 69,000 in 1967, and he later supplements this data, declaring that in 1948 alone Palestinian families were driven from 418 towns and villages so all the houses and property could be destroyed and replaced by Israeli settlements (p. 202).
Cook culminates Chapter 24 by listing ten ways Israel has “repaid” the American taxpayer during this period (he proposes only nine, but the last can easily be subdivided): (1) its unwillingness to return any stolen lands whatsoever to the Palestinians; (2) its total defiance of more than 100 UN resolutions (on p. 277 he cites 155 UN resolutions); (3) its frequent use of spies in the U.S. exemplified by Jonathan Pollard (and later Larry Franklin); (4) its inexcusable attack on the US Liberty during the 1967 War; (5) its heavy dependence on neoconservative influence in Washington; (6) its countless atrocities illustrated by the attack on the Jenin refugee camp and the murder of international peace observers; (7) its encouragement of Evangelical Zionist Christians to incite hatred against Arabs in the United States; (8) its defiance of the Arms Export Control Act through its use of cluster bombs acquired from the U.S. without the needed permission; (9) its lucrative arrangement that obliges both U.S. and Israel military establishments to purchase military hardware from Israel instead of the United States; and (10) its sale of U.S. classified technology to such nations as Ethiopia, South Africa, Chile, Venezuela, and China despite prior agreements not to (pp. 164-66).
Regarding Sharon’s presumably conciliatory “liberation” of Gaza, Cook quotes Dov Weisglass, Sharon’s principal advisor, to the effect that the “ulterior motive behind Sharon’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the Gaza strip was not to further the peace process but to ‘freeze it’ in order to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state” (see chap. 35, p. 251). He had promised a full diplomatic settlement as a tradeoff for the American invasion of Iraq, but then reneged on his offer by substituting relatively minor concessions: the elimination of a couple of Israeli West Bank settlements as well as granting independence to Gaza. Apparently he justified this bait-and-switch arrangement with the argument that bigger concessions required by the Road Map would have been unacceptable to the Israeli public as demonstrated by one or two well-publicized demonstrations by Israeli settlers upset with the loss of their property on the West Bank. Afterwards (later than the publication of Cook’s account), Sharon nullified even these concessions by besieging Gaza and imposing a tight embargo to starve its population into submission.
The final observation buried earlier in the essay, “Israel: America’s Albatross,” is the risk taken by American politicians who dare to resist withholding their full support of Israel’s agenda. This was illustrated, Cook discloses, by the intense public relations effort against Howard Dean’s presidential campaign simply because he expressed his doubts about Israel’s status as a democracy. Of course he was not specifically attacked for this particular reason, but, whatever the declared reason (as much as anything his joking litany of new states to be visited), his campaign was strangled, as it were, because he lacked adequate sympathy with Israel. According to Cook, “The Israeli political forces launched a massive attack against Dean, as vicious as any mounted against Arafat, and he folded. Such is the power that controls America’s Democracy” (p. 159). Cook neglects to mention the earlier exposé by Paul Findley, They Dare to Speak Out, published in 1985, which mentions many other public figures – inclusive of Ball, Percy, and Fulbright – whose careers were terminated for the same reason.
Cook also devotes a couple chapters to the religious bigotry of American millenarian (“end-time”) fundamentalists and Arab fanatics as well as Zionist extremists obsessed with their status as God’s “chosen people.” Significantly, his choice of quotations by Zionists seems far more damning than for the other two. For example, he quotes Effi Eitam, the head of Israel’s National Religious Party, to the effect that Palestinians “are not ordinary people, but “uncircumcised,” “little people,” and “evil,” by contrast with the Jews who are ‘the blessed.'” He also quotes Gush Emunim rabbis, of another right-wing religious group, who insist that “Jews who kill Arabs should be free from all punishment,” and claim that “Arabs living in Palestine are thieves because the land was Jewish and belongs to them.” (p. 10).
Apparently these rabbis also find satisfaction in such Talmudic edicts such as, “those who read the New Testament will have no portion in the world to come” (Sandhedrin 90a); and “Jews must destroy the books of the Christians” (Shabbath 116a), and “Whosoever disobeys the rabbis deserves death and will be punished by being boiled in hot excrement in hell” (Erubin 21b). Of course the Talmud’s principal appeal is said to consist of its arguable contradictions. However, these particular examples seem at least excessive. According to Cook, once this kind of thinking is brought into play combined with the dogma of the Christian right, the result is “a virtual whirlpool of Zionist Christian fanaticism” (p. 293).
And thus Cook takes his argument to almost every aspect of the Near East crisis since the year 2001. He scrutinizes such concerns as torture, shock and awe, extra-judicial executions, the “fence” (or wall), the roadmap, green parrots [Ed: bombs intended to be used against children; Cook p. 276], the assault on Rafah, insufficient opposition in Israel, the spread of hostility into Syria, the decline of American democracy, the unfortunate 2004 Democratic Convention, the failed Kerry campaign, the failed Camp David negotiations, the ambiguous role of Osama bin Laden, the despicable Yassin assassination, and the flawed assumptions of Leo Strauss, Richard Perle, Alan Dershowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Charles Krauthammer as well as neoconservatives in general. Last but not least, he explores in depth the critique of supposedly anti-Semitic trends summarized by the State Department. Ironically, the State Department’s so-called “Country Report” almost entirely refrains from criticizing Israel in the main body of its text, but then launches into a full-scale assessment in its Appendix that is more or less in line with Cook’s arguments throughout his book. The government authors of the study seem to concur with much that Cook says, but with the typical prudence to limit their concerns to an appendix easily overlooked by readers.
There is one major oversight in Cook’s line of argument. He appropriately pairs current U.S. and Zionist excesses, but draws upon our nation’s early history – and indeed that of Western Civilization as a whole – to suggest a vast prehistory of similar excesses, but without mentioning Zionism’s comparable historic record. This oversight can be misleading. For just as American history’s respectable narrative can and should be amplified by a counter-narrative that features harsh and even unspeakable disclosures, the same is possible with Zionist history. Here, too, a counter-narrative needs to be acknowledged – in this case lest the fiction of incessant victimization is used to gloss over what might seem an atypical and therefore partially justified instance of violence against others – the Palestinians now under attack by Israel.
Appropriately, Cook draws attention to earlier American atrocities that anticipate our nation’s conduct in Iraq – for example the total destruction of the Pequot tribe during the early seventeenth century and the persistent effort through the end of the nineteenth century to disperse native American societies that occupied territory sought by white-European settlers. Most obvious was the so-called Trail of Tears, when approximately 4,000 innocent Cherokee Indians died in transit. As Cook indicates, all this was entirely in accord with the wishes and intentions of our Founding Fathers, Jefferson having declared that the U.S. government was obliged “now to pursue them (Indians) to extermination, or drive them to new seats beyond our reach.” Washington suggested in the same vein that Indians deserved nothing from whites but “total ruin.” And Cotton Mather had inveighed a century earlier, “Turn not back till they are consumed. . . . Beat them small as dust” (Cook, p. 299).
Also inexcusable was our nation’s heavy dependence on slavery as well as the Mexican and Spanish American Wars, the despicable occupation of the Philippines, and the various invasions of Central America and the Caribbean region. Similar ventures after World War II included more military operations on foreign soil than by the rest of the world combined, for example in Panama, Grenada, the Dominican Republic, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Kuwait. The Korean War was partially justified, but not Vietnam, setting an example famously ignored with the invasion of Iraq forty years later.
Cook and the Jeffrey St. Clair, the author of his fascinating introduction, trace this penchant for violence both at home and abroad back to seventeenth century Protestantism and its obsession with the cosmic struggle between good and evil, then further back to the Catholic Inquisition and the extermination of Cathars in the early thirteenth century. The entire city of Beziers with between 15,000 and 20,000 people was annihilated because most of its inhabitants adhered to the unacceptable Cathari heresy. When admonished that the entire population shouldn’t be killed because not all were heretics, the Papal Legate Arnaud Amaury supposedly replied, “Kill them all. God will know his own.” And of course the Crusades were brutal, with Jews and many others exterminated additional to the Arabs trying to defend their homeland. The capture of Jerusalem and massacre of its citizens during the First Crusade was particularly bloodthirsty.
So what unspeakable narrative can be brought to bear against the Zionist cause? Just where and to what extent do its earlier transgressions come into play? To begin with, Old Testament violence is evident throughout the Books of Kings, Chronicles, and Daniel, in which the relentlessness of hostilities suggests the probability that Israel was fully as responsible as its enemies for the centuries of intertribal conflict that incessantly beset the Levant before the Jews were finally defeated by Roman troops with the destruction of Masada in 73 A.D. followed by exile from the region imposed by the Emperor Hadrian in the year 135 A.D.
The penultimate but culminating event actually took place in 115-17 A.D., two decades earlier, when Jewish refuges tried to establish a state of their own on the island of Cyprus, apparently having migrated there in large numbers after their earlier defeat by the Romans. Once they obtained a majority of the total population, they are said to have resorted to a surprise attack to kill all of Cyprus’s non-Jewish inhabitants, estimated to have been in the range of 240,000. The entire gentile population – men, women, and children – were supposedly dispatched in a single day, some of them horribly butchered. Another 220,000 were supposedly killed in the African city of Cyrene in order to secure a friendly mainland port, and countless others were killed in Egypt as well. Altogether something on the order of 500,000 were said to have been murdered in order to create a state entirely populated by Jews. Soon afterwards, however, the Roman general Hadrian brought troops to Cyprus and defeated the Jews, exiling the few who were permitted to live. After another Jewish revolt two decades later, Hadrian – by then Rome’s Emperor – apparently lost his patience and exiled from the Levant the entire Jewish population. The infamous Diaspora was at last totally in effect.
Not surprisingly, the 115 A.D. massacre is almost totally forgotten today, probably because it contradicts the prevalent myth of unsullied Jewish innocence. Useful Jewish histories by such competent authors as Abram Sachar, Barnet Litvinoff, and Paul Johnson ignore the episode as if it never happened. However, it did, as confirmed by articles in the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica and even the 14th edition (the latter without mentioning the numbers involved). Gibbon discusses the episode in chap. 16, fn. 1, of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and the Jewish Encyclopedia mentions it in a context cluttered with sufficient pedantry to obscure its full implication. Houston Chamberlain’s summary fills half a page in the Fifth Chapter on Jewish history in his remarkable study Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, vol. 1 (p. 342 in the current edition). Wikipedia also summarizes the episode, and it can be further researched on Google with the combination of such terms as Hadrian, Cyprus, and Jews.
So it would seem an incident in ancient Cyprus anticipated today’s effort in Israel, if in a much more brutal manner typical of the age. Here apparently Zionists first sought to impose their own “final solution” toward racial purity in a state they hoped would supplant Israel, better protected from enemies by the Mediterranean Sea. However, just as Hitler’s genocidal effort to rid Europe of Jews bore a disastrous impact on Germany, the similar effort of Cypriot Jews turned out to be no less catastrophic for the Jewish population in the region. Hadrian alone succeeded in effecting the dispersion of an alien population – Jews themselves – and only, one suspects, because the horrific crimes of the Cypriot Jews were common knowledge at the time. As a result Jews were scattered across the region and unable to concentrate their population well enough to lay claim to territory again – at least not until the State of Israel.
Is Israel now immersed in much the same strategy, if in a relatively humane manner (as brutal as it seems today)? The reluctance of Israel’s government to engage in serious negotiations with Palestinians would suggest this, as would the remarks of various prime ministers since the thirties, for example Ben-Gurion’s remark, “We must expel Arabs and take their place,” Begin’s remark, “Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And forever,” Sharon’s remark, “. . . there is no Zionism, colonization or Jewish state without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands,” and Olmert’s remark, “I . . . still believe in our people’s eternal and historic right to the entire land.” [all of these are quoted from James Petras’s The Power of Israel in the United States, p. 93]
The Dark and Middle Ages were of course a different matter. Jews lived in urban ghettoes by both choice and necessity, supporting themselves as a small but talented sub-population useful to their respective communities. Most were shopkeepers, doctors, and the like, but some engaged in money lending offensive to their host populations because of usurious interest rates as well as the transfer of wealth gathered in this manner to subsidize warfare and the extravagance of the gentile aristocracy. Numerous feudal lords were dependent on the services of Jewish usurers as middlemen able to extract money from the peasants – money that they themselves could thereupon extract in turn from the moneylenders as loans, gifts, fines, ransom, etc. Many of the usurers nevertheless became wealthy and powerful themselves, sometimes at extravagant levels. As a result, the aristocracy (including the royalty) now and again doubly benefited from the persecution of Jews, both by regaining their own lost popularity with their aggrieved subjects, many of them debtors, and by using the opportunity to squeeze even more wealth from the usurers.
It should therefore be no surprise that Jews were persecuted and banished from England in 1290, from France in 1394, and from Spain in 1492, and that they were massacred and driven from Poland in the mid-seventeenth century and from Russia at the turn of the twentieth century. By this time moneylenders had been supplanted by more powerful Jewish banks, especially the Rothschild enterprise with branches in England, France, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and with close ties in the United States, especially with the Morgan and Kuhn, Loeb Wall Street firms. Most of the wars during the nineteenth century were said to be financed by Rothschild banks as lucrative investments. And as explained in the insightful but somewhat incoherent study, The Secrets of the Federal Reserve, coauthored by Eustace Mullins and Ezra Pound, the Rothschild connection seems to have played a major role behind the scenes in the creation of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board, the finance of World War I, the 1929 Crash, and even the subsidization of Hitler’s political campaign in early 1933.
The situation in Germany was relatively complex in the twentieth century, but it also reflects on Zionist excesses as well as those of the gentile population. On one hand, many Ashkenazim Jewish refugees from Russian pogroms had migrated to Germany, thereby stirring anti-Semitism among many of the gentile population. Then again, many German Jews since the early nineteenth century had both assimilated with the non-Jewish and become secularized in their relative indifference to religion. Marx, Freud (of Austria), and Einstein provide the most obvious examples, all three of them atheists (Einstein of the closet variety as disclosed in his 1954 letter to Eric Gutkind). However, there were many others as well who abandoned religious studies for a secular university education, and often with exceptional results. Though Jews comprised just 2% of Germany’s total population (the same as in the U.S. today), a large number quickly rose to eminence in the fields of science, medicine, the law, education, philosophy, journalism, art, music, popular entertainment, etc. Meanwhile, Jewish banks continued to play a dominant role at the top of society, and, among the so-called proletariat at the other end of the social spectrum, Jews played a no less dominant role both in labor unions and radical groups, most notably the Communist Party. At the time, it seemed to many middle and lower middle-class Germans that Jews had stolen their nation from them despite the benefit that Germany’s combination of Aryan and Jewish talent had put the country at least neck-in-neck with England at the beginning of the twentieth century. For a couple decades, the two nations were in intense competition in almost every category of achievement as the primary epicenters of Western Civilization.
Unfortunately, Germany lost World War I, a conflict that should never have happened in the first place. And no less unfortunately, the German public blamed Jews (the banks, Marxists, etc.) for their defeat – as they would for the two depressions and period of hyper-inflation in the mid-twenties. Moreover, the rapid increase in intermarriages between Jews and gentiles offended both Jewish and gentile advocates of racial and cultural purity. Many ethnocentric Germans sympathized with the anti-Semitic campaign of the Nazi Party led by Adolph Hitler (who was himself probably a quarter Jewish), and a similar contingent of Jews no less beholden to a purist answer sought redress in the Zionist movement initiated just a decade or two earlier by Theodor Herzl in response to the Dreyfus Affair in France. What better way to end anti-Semitic violence, Herzl argued, than by giving the Jewish people a nation of their own – specifically Israel, where they had first come from twenty centuries earlier?
According to Carl Schorske in Fin de Siecle Vienna, chapter 3, Herzl, like Hitler, used the popular pre-fascist leadership of the Viennese figures, Georg von Schönerer and Karl Lueger, as a model for the movement he was trying to create. As a result, Herzl, like Hitler, was actually identified by his followers as Führer and addressed with “heil” and the salute of an outstretched arm. According to Lenni Brenner’s account, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, there was also what might be described as ongoing hostile cooperation between Zionists and Nazis in transferring German Jews to the Levant preceding World War II.
With the advent of full-scale warfare Hitler felt compelled to resort to a “final solution” – the Holocaust – in order to rid Europe of its Jewish population once and for all. In this instance the word “final” had at least a double meaning: first and foremost as Germany’s last opportunity to rid itself of its Jewish population, but also of course as a strategy dependent on the finality of outright murder. Almost six million Jews were killed as a result. The elimination of Jews seems to have been more important to Hitler than their slaughter, but if slaughter was the only remaining means to obtain their elimination, Hitler insisted on giving its implementation the highest priority, whatever its cost to the German war effort, which was probably more than anybody realizes today.
According to Brenner, the Nazis nevertheless remained willing to continue ransoming Jews for release abroad into the early forties. As late as 1942 they actually offered Rabbi Michael Dov-Ber Weissmandel a bargain basement tradeoff that liberated the entire Jewish population of Western Europe in exchange for $2 million – something on the order of a dollar apiece for the entire population. Weissmandel conveyed this offer to the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in Zurich, only to receive a reply from the Zionist leader Nathan Schwalb of the HeChalutz in Switzerland explaining why this offer had to be rejected:
Since we have the opportunity of this courier, we are writing to the group that they must constantly have before them that in the end the Allies will win. After their victory they will divide the world again between the nations, as they did at the end of the first world war’s end, we must do everything so that Eretz Ysroel [the region of Palestine] will become the state of Israel, and important steps have already been taken in this direction. About the cries coming from our country, we should know that all the Allied nations are spilling much of their blood, and if we do not sacrifice any blood, by what right shall we merit coming before the bargaining table when they divide nations and lands at the war’s end? Therefore it is silly, even impudent, on our part to ask these nations who are spilling their blood to permit their money into enemy countries in order to protect our blood – for only with blood shall we get the land (p. 237).
In other words Jewish martyrs were needed to justify the creation of Israel, and who better served this purpose than the concentration camp victims (too many of them assimilationists) who had not already heeded the invitation to come to Israel.
After World War II, the American connection in the creation and sustenance of Israel came into play beginning with the remarkable generosity of President Truman just months before the 1948 election despite the dire warnings of George Marshall, George Kennan, Robert Lovett, and Kermit Roosevelt. The abrupt creation of Israel that resulted was soon followed by the 1948 war, whose most salient event was the Israeli Stern Gang’s execution of 500 inhabitants in the village of Deir Yassin in order to induce the flight of Palestinians into adjacent countries.
Afterwards came the first sixty years of Israel’s history as told by Noam Chomsky, George and Douglas Ball, Seymour Hersh, Geoffrey Aronson, and Andrew and Leslie Cockburn as well as Paul Findlay’s trilogy that discloses the Zionist responsibility for the wars of 1948, 1967, and 1973. Later came the useful exposés of James Petras and Meersheimer & Walt relevant to the current situation, as well of course as Tracking Deception, by William Cook.
So what is the point? Simply enough, that there is a lot of dirty laundry in both closets – that Zionists have as much to be ashamed of in their collective history as Americans do. Just as Americans flatter themselves as benevolent paragons of freedom useful to the rest of the world, Zionists flatter themselves as unique historic victims whose occasional excesses in the creation of Israel can be justified on this basis. Not so, not so. The unspeakable narrative is more complicated in both instances.
Of course William Cook cannot be faulted for his neglect of the full history of Zionist transgressions. However, the linkage he justifiably features between current Zionist and American excesses necessitates an acknowledgement of the excesses in earlier Zionist history equivalent to those he mentions of the United States and Western Civilization as a whole. Aside from this modest oversight, his book remains a powerful read.