When Churchill hailed Zionism,
Mussolini and Hitler

By Lenni Brenner

Below is a letter of mine, published in the Spring/08 issue of COLUMBIA, that University's magazine. It is in response to a review of Michael Makovsky's new book, Churchill's Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft, by alumnus Dore Gold, Israel's UN ambassador, 1997-99. Gold's review is below, but the feature of this documentary collection is Churchill's 1920 article, "Zionism Versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People."

World War ll is history's most written about era. After Hitler's defeat, scholars rushed to study the Austrian and German societies that generated his fantastic personality. Eventually historians analyzed the mistakes and crimes of the winners, "the big three." The cold war generated massive research into Stalin's crimes. With the triumph of America's civil rights movement came full exposure of Roosevelt's racially segregated military. Then Reagan acknowledged Roosevelt's shameless interning of West Coast Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps and compensated the victims. But Churchill got off lightly in America. It is conceded that he was an imperialist, but his resistance to Hitler is still seen as he put it, the British empire's "finest hour." His paintings and mementos sell well here. Few rich buyers have any serious knowledge of his pre-war politics.

Did Israel's ambassador know of Churchill's sordid record when he heeped praise on the scoundrel? Read Churchill and Gold. Decide for yourself.

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Letter in COLUMBIA, Spring 2008
By Lenni Brenner

Dore Gold, Israel's ambassador to the UN from 1997 to 1999, makes a hero out of Churchill. According to Gold, he "never lost his fundamental sympathy with the restoration of Jewish sovereignty .... Realpolitik tempered many of Churchill's public statements, but never diluted his faith in Israel's cause." However the reality is that Churchill was infamously anti-Semitic in the 1920s and hailed Mussolini and Hitler when they came to power.

In a February 8, 1920 article, "Zionism Versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People," Churchill declared that "We owe to the Jews in the Christian revelation a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind." But "it may well be that this same astounding race may at the present time be in the actual process of producing another system of morals and philosophy, as malevolent as Christianity was benevolent."

While assuring readers that "Nothing is more wrong than to deny to an individual, on account of race or origin, his right to be judged on his personal merits and conduct," and praising "National Jews," he warned:

"In violent opposition to all this sphere of Jewish effort rise the schemes of the International Jews .... There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews. It is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders."

He patronized Zionism as an antidote to Bolshevism:

"Nothing could be more significant than the fury with which Trotsky has attacked the Zionists generally, and Dr. Weizmann, in particular. The cruel penetration of his mind leaves him in no doubt that his schemes of a worldwide communist State under Jewish domination are directly thwarted and hindered by this new ideal, which directs the energies and the hopes of Jews in every land towards a simpler, a truer, and a far more attainable goal."

Churchill ran various British cabinet ministries from 1917 to 1920. His priority was intervention against his imagined "worldwide communist State under Jewish domination." An estimated 28,000 Jews were murdered in pogroms by Russian Czarists, supported by Britain. Yet he brazenly claimed that "Wherever General Denikin's authority could reach, protection was always accorded to the Jewish population, and strenuous efforts were made by his officers to prevent reprisals and to punish those guilty of them."

Churchill's anti-Bolshevism was fanatic. In 1927 he told Italy's Fascist Party, "If I had been an Italian, I would have been entirely with you from the beginning to the end of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism."

After Hitler came to power, Churchill proclaimed that "if our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations." When the Spanish civil war broke out, Nazi pilots helped Franco overthrow the Left-led republic, armed by Stalin. Churchill announced that he "will not pretend that, if I had to choose between Communism or Nazism, I would choose Communism."

Eventually Churchill realized that Hitler was a danger to Britain and fought him. And the madness of Hitler's holocaust cured Churchill of his own anti-Semitism. But even then he must be condemned for doing nothing to specifically help the Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe.

That Churchill was initially a fan of Mussolini and Hitler is well known in Britain. However, most Americans know nothing of his pre-World War ll career. Many construct an ideal Churchill out of his wartime speeches. Gold built on their ignorance, adding wonderful patronage of Zionism to their fairy-tale hero's résumé. But Gold doesn't even mention that his pro-Zionist was, simultaneously, also a supporter of Czarism, Mussolini and Hitler. What does that tell us about Churchill, Gold, and Zionism?

Lenni Brenner New York, NY

Lenni Brenner is the author of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators.

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Winston Churchill, "Zionism Versus Bolshevism: A Struggle for the Soul of the Jewish People," Illustrated Sunday Herald, February 8, 1920.

Some people like Jews and some do not; but no thoughtful man can doubt the fact that they are beyond all question the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.

Disraeli, the Jewish Prime Minister of England, and Leader of the Conservative Party, who was always true to his race and proud of his origin, said on a well-known occasion:

"The Lord deals with the nations as the nations deal with the Jews." Certainly when we look at the miserable state of Russia, where of all countries in the world the Jews were the most cruelly treated, and contrast it with the fortunes of our own country, which seems to have been so providentially preserved amid the awful perils of these times, we must admit that nothing that has since happened in the history of the world has falsified the truth of Disraeli's confident assertion.

Good and Bad Jews

The conflict between good and evil which proceeds unceasingly in the breast of man nowhere reaches such an intensity as in the Jewish race. The dual nature of mankind is nowhere more strongly or more terribly exemplified. We owe to the Jews in the Christian revelation a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all other wisdom and learning put together. On that system and by that faith there has been built out of the wreck of the Roman Empire the whole of our existing civilization.

And it may well be that this same astounding race may at the present time be in the actual process of producing another system of morals and philosophy, as malevolent as Christianity was benevolent, which, if not arrested, would shatter irretrievably all that Christianity has rendered possible. It would almost seem as if the gospel of Christ and the gospel of Antichrist were destined to originate among the same people; and that this mystic and mysterious race had been chosen for the supreme manifestations, both of the divine and the diabolical.

"National" Jews

There can be no greater mistake than to attribute to each individual a recognizable share in the qualities which make up the national character. There are all sorts of men - good, bad and, for the most part, indifferent - in every country, and in every race. Nothing is more wrong than to deny to an individual, on account of race or origin, his right to be judged on his personal merits and conduct. In a people of peculiar genius like the Jews, contrasts are more vivid, the extremes are more widely separated, the resulting consequences are more decisive.

At the present fateful period there are 3 main lines of political conception among the Jews, 2 of which are helpful and hopeful in a very high degree to humanity, and the third absolutely destructive.

First there are the Jews who, dwelling in every country throughout the world, identify themselves with that country, enter into its national life, and, while adhering faithfully to their own religion, regard themselves as citizens in the fullest sense of the State which has received them. Such a Jew living in England would say, "I am an Englishman practicing the Jewish faith." This is a worthy conception, and useful in the highest degree. We in Great Britain well know that during the great struggle the influence of what may be called the "National Jews" in many lands was cast preponderatingly on the side of the Allies; and in our own Army Jewish soldiers have played a most distinguished part, some rising to the command of armies, others winning the Victoria Cross for valor.

The National Russian Jews, in spite of the disabilities under which they have suffered, have managed to play an honorable and useful part in the national life even of Russia. As bankers and industrialists they have strenuously promo ted the development of Russia's economic resources, and they were foremost in the creation of those remarkable organizations, the Russian Cooperative Societies. In politics their support has been given, for the most part, to liberal and progressive movements, and they have been among the staunchest upholders of friendship with France and Great Britain.

International Jews

In violent opposition to all this sphere of Jewish effort rise the schemes of the International Jews. The adherents of this sinister confederacy are mostly men reared up among the unhappy populations of countries where Jews are persecuted on account of their race. Most, if not all, of them have forsaken the faith of their forefathers, and divorced from their minds all spiritual hopes of the next world. This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (US), this worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster, has so ably shown, a definitely recognizable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the 19th century; and now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire.

Terrorist Jews

There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistical Jews. It is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others. With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from the Jewish leaders. Thus Tchitcherin, a pure Russian is eclipsed by his nominal subordinate Litvinoff, and the influence of Russians like Bukharin or Lunacharski cannot be compared with the power of Trotsky, or of Zinovieff, the Dictator of the Red Citadel (Petrograd), or of Krassin or Radek - all Jews. In the Soviet institutions the predominance of Jews is even more astonishing. And the prominent, if not indeed the principal, part in the system of terrorism applied by the Extraordinary Commissions for Combating Counter-Revolution has been taken by Jews, and in some notable cases by Jewesses. The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in the brief period of terror during which Bela Kun ruled in Hungary. The same phenomenon has been presented in Germany (especially in Bavaria), so far as this madness has been allowed to prey upon the temporary prostration of the German people. Although in all these countries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing.

"Protector of the Jews"

Needless to say, the most intense passions of revenge have been excited in the breasts of the Russian people. Wherever General Denikin's authority could reach, protection was always accorded to the Jewish population, and strenuous efforts were made by his officers to prevent reprisals and to punish those guilty of them. So much was this the case that the Petlurist propaganda against General Denikin denounced him as the Protector of the Jews. The Misses Healy, nieces of Mr. Tim Healy, in relating their personal experiences in Kieff, have declared that to their knowledge on more than one occasion officers who committed offenses against Jews were reduced to the ranks and sent out of the city to the front. But the hordes of brigands by whom the whole vast expanse of the Russian Empire is becoming infested do not hesitate to gratify their lust for blood and for revenge at the expense of the innocent Jewish population whenever an opportunity occurs. The brigand Makhno, the hordes of Petlura and of Gregorieff, who signalized their every success by the most brutal massacres, everywhere found among the half-stupefied, half-infuriated population an eager response to anti-Semitism in its worst and foulest forms.

The fact that in many cases Jewish interests and Jewish places of worship are excepted by the Bolsheviks from their universal hostility has tended more and more to associate the Jewish race in Russia with the villainies which are now being perpetrated. This is an injustice on millions of helpless people, most of whom are themselves sufferers from the revolutionary regime. It becomes, therefore, specially important to foster and develop any strongly-marked Jewish movement which leads directly away from these fatal associations. And it is here that Zionism has such a deep significance for the whole world at the present time.

A Home for the Jews

Zionism offers the third sphere to the political conceptions of the Jewish race. In violent contrast to international communism, it presents to the Jew a national idea of a commanding character. It has fallen to the British Government, as the result of the conquest of Palestine, to have the opportunity and the responsibility of securing for the Jewish race all over the world a home and a center of national life. The statesmanship and historic sense of Mr. Balfour were prompt to seize this opportunity. Declarations have been made which have irrevocably decided the policy of Great Britain. The fiery energies of Dr. Weissmann, the leader, for practical purposes, of the Zionist project, backed by many of the most prominent British Jews, and supported by the full authority of Lord Allenby, are all directed to achieving the success of this inspiring movement.

Of course, Palestine is far too small to accommodate more than a fraction of the Jewish race, nor do the majority of national Jews wish to go there. But if, as may well happen, there should be created in our lifetime by the banks of the Jordan a Jewish State under the protection of the British Crown, which might comprise 3 or 4 millions of Jews, an event would have occurred in the history of the world which would, from every point of view, be beneficial, and would be especially in harmony with the truest interests of the British Empire.

Zionism has already become a factor in the political convulsions of Russia, as a powerful competing influence in Bolshevik circles with the international communistic system. Nothing could be more significant than the fury with which Trotsky has attacked the Zionists generally, and Dr. Weissmann, in particular. The cruel penetration of his mind leaves him in no doubt that his schemes of a worldwide communist State under Jewish domination are directly thwarted and hindered by this new ideal, which directs the energies and the hopes of Jews in every land towards a simpler, a truer, and a far more attainable goal. The struggle which is now beginning between the Zionist and Bolshevik Jews is little less than a struggle for the soul of the Jewish people.

Duty of Loyal Jews

It is particularly important in these circumstances that the National Jews in every country who are loyal to the land of their adoption should come forward on every occasion, as many of them in England have already done, and take a prominent part in every measure for combating the Bolshevik conspiracy. In this way they will be able to vindicate the honor of the Jewish name and make it clear to all the world that the Bolshevik movement is not a Jewish movement, but is repudiated vehemently by the great mass of the Jewish race.

But a negative resistance to Bolshevism in any field is not enough. Positive and practicable alternatives are needed in the moral as well as in the social sphere; and in building up with the utmost possible rapidity a Jewish national center in Palestine which may become not only a refuge to the oppressed from the unhappy lands of Central Europe, but which will also be a symbol of Jewish unity and the temple of Jewish glory, a task is presented on which many blessings rest.

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COLUMBIA - Winter 2007-08 issue

The Only Goal
by Dore Gold

Churchill's Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft by Michael Makovsky (Yale University Press, 368 pages, $36)

Winston Churchill is not usually regarded as one of the leading British statesmen responsible for Britain's backing of the Zionist movement and the resurrection of the Jewish national home. The names of Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour, who authored the Balfour Declaration, or his prime minister, David Lloyd George, more readily come to mind. Indeed, Churchill, who in the early 1920s became colonial secretary, is more associated with the 1922 decision to cut off 75 percent of the territory of British Palestine from the proposed Jewish national home to create Transjordan, in order to give the Hashemite dynasty from Arabia a consolation prize of sorts after their loss of Syria to the French.

Michael Makovsky helps dispel this perception of Churchill in his highly readable Churchill's Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft. He discloses how Churchill already expressed his support for restoring Jewish nationhood in Palestine in 1908, nine years before it became British policy. In a written message to the English Zionist Federation in Manchester, which was read aloud in his absence, Churchill in fact wrote: "I am in full sympathy with the historical traditional aspirations of the Jews."

Churchill opposed the idea of seeking an alternative Jewish homeland in East Africa, which was under consideration in certain Jewish circles at the time, and instead focused on Palestine, even while it was still formally part of the Ottoman Empire. He concluded his 1908 remarks as follows: "Jerusalem must be the only ultimate goal. When it will be achieved it is vain to prophesy; but that it will some day be achieved is one of the few certainties of the future."

Churchill's Zionism did not come out of a vacuum. Like others in his era, he became a believer in Jewish restorationism — reestablishing the Jewish people as a sovereign nation. His father, Randolph Churchill, was cut from the same philoSemitic cloth, championing Jewish rights in his public addresses. Both were inspired by the great British Conservative leader and former prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, who, though born into a Jewish family, was baptized as a child and became a member of the Church of England.

Disraeli visited Jerusalem in 1831 and later wrote a novel about a Baghdadi Jew who dreams of leading his people back to Jerusalem to restore their "national existence." It was a time when Lord Palmerston, the British foreign secretary, was pressing the Ottoman sultan to allow the Jews to return to Palestine. Makovsky delves into this history to better understand the milieu in which both Churchills received their political education, for after Disraeli's death in 1881, Randolph Churchill tried to claim his political mantle.

As Makovsky details, Winston Churchill was fully aware of the Randolph Churchill–Disraeli political connection. Protesting the anti-Semitic pogroms in Russia in 1905, Winston Churchill would cite Disraeli with the remark: "The Lord deals with the nations as the nations deal with the Jews." This was a double-edged comment promising difficulties for nations that would oppress their Jewish populations, as well as a blessing for those that would defend them.

Churchill's story recapitulates a whole school of thought that was prevalent in the early 20th century in England that would provide the eventual political support for the rise of the Zionist movement. After the breakup of the Ottoman Empire as a result of the First World War, the League of Nations approved the mandate for Palestine based on the Balfour Declaration's support for creating a Jewish homeland.

The Palestine mandate gave recognition to "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine." It did not create a new national right, but rather acknowledged a preexisting right that was broadly accepted in international circles within the League of Nations at the time. Although Makovsky does not specifically deal with the legal background of how the Palestine mandate was drafted, it becomes clear when reading his work how British diplomats would come to adopt this kind of language.

In fact, in June 1922 Churchill would declare that the Jews had returned to Palestine "as of right and not by sufferance, and that this was based on their ancient historical connection." Speaking before the Peel Commission years later in 1937, Churchill snapped at a commission member who referred to the Jews in Palestine as a "foreign race." For Churchill, the Jewish people were the true indigenous population of the land: "The Jews had Palestine before that indigenous population [the Arabs] came in and inhabited it."

Anyone reading Makovsky's book who thinks that Churchill backed the rise of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine because of his concerns with protecting the British Empire's strategic interests will be surprised. In some Western academic circles, where the rise of the Zionist movement is seen as a manifestation of Western imperialism, it is just assumed that Britain's motivation for sustaining its wartime support for the Balfour Declaration in the interwar years came out of imperial calculations: Britain sought to safeguard the approaches to its imperial jewel, India, which required control of the Suez Canal in the west, Cape Town in the south, Singapore in the east, and Palestine along the eastern Mediterranean.

But in the 1920s, when Churchill was Britain's colonial secretary, his primary consideration was finding ways of containing the expansion of the newly formed Soviet Union. Initially he even opposed the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and eventually focused on strengthening British-Turkish ties for the same reason. He was hardly enthusiastic about Britain assuming new imperial responsibilities in the Arab provinces of the former Ottoman Empire.

Makovsky explains how Churchill wrote in 1920 to Lloyd George: "You are up against a shocking bill for Mesopotamia, Palestine & Persia. More will have to be spent in these countries next year than the Navy is demanding to save our sea supremacy." His view was summarized a year earlier when he insisted that, "The need of national economy is such that we ought to endeavor to concentrate our resources on developing our existing Empire instead of dissipating them in new enlargements."

It becomes clear, reading Makovsky, that for Churchill a peace treaty with post-Ottoman Turkey was Britain's paramount Middle Eastern interest. Had the new Turkish state not relinquished sovereignty over its former Arab provinces and created a vacuum for the claims of various national movements, one wonders how Churchill's whole view of the Zionist enterprise would have changed. Still, what emerges from Makovsky is that Churchill never lost his fundamental sympathy with the restoration of Jewish sovereignty. Enraged at the Attlee-Bevin government's hostility toward the new state, he declared in the House of Commons in 1948 that Israel's independence was "an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective, not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of a thousand, two thousand or even three thousand years."

Realpolitik tempered many of Churchill's public statements, but never diluted his faith in Israel's cause.

Dore Gold '75CC, '84GSAS served as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations from 1997 through 1999. He heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.