• Mon. Oct 3rd, 2022
Jøder fra Ungarn ankommer til koncentrationslejren Auschwitz i sommeren 1944.

“Europe had a bad conscience about what happened on European soil during World War II, therefore it is said that the Jews got a land in the Middle East three years after the end of the war.” – is often said.

Here are four comments on that statement.

1st Europeans should have a bad conscience about the fact that Israel was not created earlier

If a Jewish state – which could have received a large number of Jewish refugees – had been established in the British Mandate area before World War II, the story of the Holocaust could have been significantly different.

In 1939, the British government advocated a one-state solution for its mandate area Palestine. In the previous two decades, armed Arab resistance had pressured London to drop international promises (made in 1917 and 1922) to establish a national Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Less than four months before the outbreak of war in Europe, the British Parliament passed a limit of 15,000 per year on Jewish immigration for the next five years (1939 “White paper”). Then the Arab majority was to decide whether more Jewish immigration could be allowed. One does not have to be a professor of history to understand how open the borders would have been to Jewish immigration on the day the local Arabs could decide. (But you can read a little – in Norwegian – about why we say that!)

But it was not just the British mandate authorities and the Arabs in the area who did not want to open the borders to Jews fleeing the Nazi persecution. In July 1939, 32 countries and 39 organizations attended a conference in Évian, France on the Jewish refugee problem. The only country that was open to receiving a large number of Jews was the Dominican Republic (a limited settlement of a few thousand did not begin until the war really raged in Europe.) “The world seems divided into two – a place where the Jews cannot live and a place where Jews are denied entry, ”the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann is said to have said.

The same reluctance that the rest of the world had against accepting Jews on the run was also felt in Norway. After Crystal Night in November 1938 – keywords 91 killed Jews, 30,000 sent to concentration camps, 1,000 synagogues set on fire and 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged – the newspaper Nationen lamented that German Jews “flocked” to Norway daily and would create an “eerie Jewish problem”, because in Norway there were already Jews in “significant numbers”, the newspaper wrote.

Jewish immigration – whether to Palestine or other areas – would create problems where there was no one before, this was the prevailing attitude in the leading circles of Norway in the 1930s. At the time, the Labor Party also advocated so-called assimilation. The Jews had to find themselves living nicely where they lived, even though it was burning around them .

The Jews had been given views, from European countries, on support for a Jewish national home long before World War II. The League of Nations had formalized this as early as July 1922, while Adolf Hitler’s young Nazis were still confined to the beer cellars in Munich. Europe’s bad conscience should first and foremost be that no clearer, practical and political support was given to a Jewish national homeland in the area before – before the war.

  1. Europe showed no willingness to give Jewish refugees the prospect of a dignified life in Europe afterwar</€

Europe got another chance after the Nazis were defeated. Over the course of five years, the number of Jews was reduced by two-thirds, not because of mass emigration or displacement, but because of industrial mass murder, starvation, and massacres. Was there an opportunity for the few surviving Jews to be assimilated now?

In Eastern Europe, perhaps the clearest signal came in Poland as early as a year after the war. On July 4, 1946, 40 of the 250 Jews in the city of Kielce were killed. There were also several other massacres. A total of 160,000 surviving Jews fled Poland in the first two years after the war.

In Western Europe, hundreds of thousands of Jews were in refugee camps from Eastern Europe. Britain fought fiercely to prevent the refugees from crossing the Mediterranean to Palestine, and succeeded in stopping about 51,000 of the approximately 70,000 refugees who left the quay ( English ).

No country showed willingness to give a greater number of Jews a new future. The same applied to Norway. Only when Da Jewish World Federation sent a query, the government opened on February 12, 1946 to allow 200-300 Jews to enter Norway. But demands were made that the Jews should have utility value for Norway. “Those who must be granted entry permits are professionals in areas where we lack labor and provided that they can solve the housing issue themselves in agreement with the Jews who already live in Norway,” it says in the government decision as Hilde Henriksen Waage reproduces in his book When the State of Israel was created.

In September 1947, the total number of Jews that Norway was willing to receive increased to 600, but the conditions were also tightened. Entry permit could only be granted “after political and police approval, and that the person can and will work.”

Norway was thus willing to receive a maximum of 600 Jews, but only if they could benefit from them! Had the rest of Western Europe received the relatively small number of Jewish refugees, it would at most have solved the situation for a few tens of thousands of Jews. Both the tragically low offer and the conditions set by the Norwegian government confirmed the clear signals that also came from the other countries: the homeless Jews who survived the war were not given any prospects for a dignified future in Europe – the continent where they had lived for centuries.

Luckily, someone in the Labor Movement saw where it was going. Arbeiderbladet , which at the time remained skeptical of a Jewish state formation in Palestine, admitted in an editorial in late September 1946 that it was no longer allowed to reject a Jewish state “if at the same time refusing to open the doors to other countries for the homeless Jews in the refugee and ruined cities of Europe. ”

Luckily, someone in the Labor Movement saw where it was going. Arbeiderbladet , which at the time remained skeptical of a Jewish state formation in Palestine, admitted in an editorial in late September 1946 that it was no longer allowed to reject a Jewish state “if at the same time refusing to open the doors to other countries for the homeless Jews in the refugee and ruined cities of Europe. ”

Was it the bad conscience that got the European countries, with the exception of Greece who voted against and Britain who abstained, to support the division of the British mandate, so that the Jews who had survived the horrors of the war got a small area where did they have autonomy? At least the quote from Arbeiderbladet ‘s leader does not testify very strongly to that. I would by no means rule out that bad conscience was part of the picture, but perhaps the support from European countries – after six million Jews were killed on the continent – came more because governments were reluctant to the Jews were to settle in their own land?

  1. Europe did not create Israel, the Jews did themselves

The claim that “Israel was created because of Europe’s bad conscience after the Holocaust” gives the impression that it was Europe that created Israel. That was not the case. It was first and foremost the Jews themselves who created Israel.

The European states should have a bad conscience because they did not provide more tangible support for a Jewish state formation before and after May 1948. Yes, most voted for a split in the UN General Assembly in 1947, but no Western country was willing to sell arms to the Jews – even though they knew that the local Arabs and the Arab neighbors had threatened war of extermination.

In January 1948, Golda Meir, who later became Prime Minister, was on a rally among American Jews. It was two months after the adoption of the partition in the UN in November 1947, but the Jews were in a desperate situation. David Ben Gurion estimated that they lacked $ 25 million for arms purchases to withstand the Arab attacks, but few believed that Meir could manage to raise more than $ 5 million for his tour of America.

Meyer’s message was clear: The Jews of the United States cannot decide whether or not there will be war in Mandate Palestine. There it will be. The Arabs will attack and we Jews will fight to the last man, if necessary. But we do not have the weapons to defend ourselves against the cannons, planes and tanks of the Arabs. Despite our courage, we will be slaughtered if we do not get help.

A few years ago, six million Jews were killed in Europe, Meir continued. Some of you might say that 700.000 more Jews in Palestine does not mean much. But these Jews represented more than their own lives: “If we win the war, there will be a place on earth where the Jews are free and independent,” Meir said. “If we lose, the century-old dream of a Jewish homeland will be extinguished in the new century.” You can decide the war, she told the American Jews. If the Jews of Palestine are to win, we must have weapons of self-defense now, it will not be useful in a few months.

Meyer’s speech received overwhelming response. During a six-week tour, American Jews donated $ 50 million. It had never happened before in the history of the world that any society had given so much money to any purpose, and no foreign purpose at all. That was three times as much as Saudi Arabia earned on oil in 1947. Read more about Golda Meyer’s fundraising trip in the article When the Jews Created Israel ( Norwegian ).

Czechoslovakia was the only country that sold large quantities of modern weapons to the Jews during the War of Independence. Britain had made an effective blockade and confiscated all the weapons they seized.

Israel received recognition from several countries, including the United States, right after the War of Independence, but one cannot survive a war on recognition. It was not until the 1960s that significant weapons systems were sold from the United States to Israel.

It was the Jews of Palestine – first Ottoman Palestine, then Mandate Palestine, who, with the support of the Jews of the rest of the world (primarily the United States), created Israel, while Britain tried to prevent it, and other Western countries did not something noteworthy to help.

  1. Israel’s law is not based on a guilty conscience over World War II

The misconception in Europe that Israel was created because of a bad conscience because of the Holocaust has dangerous consequences. It can easily be followed by the idea that Israel’s right to exist becomes less, as new generations get World War II at a distance and the bad conscience therefore eases.

The rights of the Jews in Israel are based on the long-standing historical, religious and cultural ties to the area. In modern times, Israel’s rights are firmly entrenched in international law. Among other grounds for Israel is also this, which is confirmed in the article: The Jews have been treated as foreigners, and subjected to discrimination and persecution. It was a century-old open wound that could only be healed by the Jews getting their own state ( Norwegian ).

It is reasonable that this state is located on former Arab territory. Almost all Jews who lived in the Arab area have fled ( Norwegian ) – most to Israel. They have fled after centuries of systematic discrimination. The situation of ethnic and religious minorities in North Africa and the Middle East clearly speaks of the need for the Jews to retain their own state ( Norwegian ). Also in Europe, including Norway – and Denmark -, there is an ever-increasing anti-Semitism. As recently as yesterday [28. January 2013] Jyllandsposten reported that Jewish children in Denmark are asked to move away from areas with many Muslims, and over to other schools, to avoid harassment from their Arab fellow students. This is just one of countless examples of the situation of the Jews in Europe getting worse.

Final comment – some more details about Norway

Finally, it is worth attaching a separate comment to the Norwegian Government’s decision of 12 February 1946, which we quoted under point 2. “Entry permits for Jews were to be granted only to professionals whom Norway needed, and on the condition that they be able to solve the housing issue in agreement with the Jews who already live in Norway ”(MIFF’s emphasis):

The quote shows that in 1946, the Norwegian government coupled the few Norwegian Jews who were fortunate enough to have survived the war with the Jewish refugees from other countries. A similar decision in today’s situation could be that the government opened up to receive a few hundred new Somali refugees, show that their housing issues could be resolved in agreement with the Somalis who already live in Norway. We can understand what revolt such a decision would have led to if it had been adopted. There is nothing to suggest that the wording of the 1946 decision upset particularly many in Norway.

The opponents of Israel often argue that the Jews are not a people, and thus have no right to any state. GovernmentThe decision of 1946 clearly speaks in the opposite direction, and so does the whole history of anti-Semitism.

Those who in any way find some form of “reasonableness” in the actions of some Jews creating hatred towards other Jews, regardless of where they live, skin color, etc., have thereby acknowledged that the Jews – all Jews – are one people , Odd Myrland points out in the article ( Norwegian ) “ Are the Jews Jews “?

Something similar can be said about the government’s adoption. A government that found it reasonable for Norwegian Jews to have a special responsibility for Jews from a completely different country has thus recognized that the Jews – all Jews – are one people.

The article was originally published in Norwegian in January 2013 . In Danish by Jane Hoffmann, March 2018.

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