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Prince Charming

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

- 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."
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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) volume 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.

 

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