Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL
Jewish Post

Reflections – Assessments – History – Heroes

By Gad Nahshon
Contributing Editor

George W. Bush (left) and former Israeli PM, Ehud Olmert (right) on a tour at the historic heroic Jewish site, Masada, located at the Dead Sea, during the US president’s 2nd visit to Israel in 2008 trying to close a peace deal between Israel and the PA. Photo: Haim Hornshtein/Yedioth Ahahronot for Israel Sun


Many Jews and Israelis have one asset… hope. In Hebrew, hope is Hatikva, the anthem of the Zionists and the state of Israel. By the way, this anthem, which was composed and written by the poet Naftali H. Imber in 1876, never had a law, a basic law, passed in Israel declaring Hatikvah as the official national anthem. For years, I have been campaigning for Israel to adopt a national "Hatikvah Law." Imber died in the lower East Side in November of 1909. This is a unique anthem. In our world of uprisings, wars, genocides and Holocausts, as well as modern anti-Semitism, Jews and Israelis need hope.

Imber wrote in this song/anthem that even if there is only one Jew left in this universe then Judaism will still survive. For two-thousand years we survived because we have had hope for our eternal future!


What is the future of the American-Israeli relationship? Recently Ehud Olmert, Israel’s ex-Prime Minister, as well as the current Mayor of Jerusalem, published his autobiography. He was a member of the Likud Party which is now in power, a member of the Kadima Party representing right-wing opposition in the Knesset, and a disciple of Zeev Jabotinsky.

Olmert claimed, recently, that he almost achieved a peace agreement with the Palestinians while in power. He agreed to let them establish their capital in Eastern Jerusalem! As to the holy places of the three religions, he suggested the establishment of an international council which was to be in charge of these places! He forgot the fact that in the famous U.N. resolution of November 29, 1947, a chapter was included which said that Jerusalem will be a "corpus separatum" or a "separate body or entity." Jerusalem was to be an area controlled by an international council, or the U.N.

In this book, Olmert also discussed the issue of the relationship between the USA and Israel. There were many stories since the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Richard Nixon saved Israel during the 1973 War, for example.

Olmert exposed the great love of George Bush (the son) for Israel. One aspect of this love was the economic-military aid to Israel. Few people are aware of the fact that the first president who supplied this aid was Nixon. It is a ‘traditional’ aid of 3 billion dollars to Israel. American enemies of Israel, such as Arab-Muslim lobbyists and some radical Jews, have, as a priority in their propaganda, the cutting of this aid!

As to George Bush, Olmert, who visited the White House, exposed that Bush ‘gave in’ to Olmert’s pressure and supplied Israel with an unbelievable 30 billion dollars! And that was just in one year! Jews in the USA always declare that their priority is the security of Israel, but in the elections, 80% vote for the democratic party. However, the fact that necessity for that cutting of the federal budget might risk the aid to Israel, the only country in the Middle East any American visitor can walk the streets without fear, raise the question: who loves America today?


The recent non-stop uprisings, revolutions, demonstrations, and so on, raises the issue of the ability of the specific intelligent community or agency to predict or forecast these facts or events. In Israel, the media tends to ask why the military intelligence (the Mossad) did not figure out the uprising in Egypt.

The famous philosopher, Santayana, wrote: "Those who forget the past will have to repeat it." We remember the terrible omission of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Dr. Uri Milstein, a well-known military historian, a unique expert of Israel’s national security and a fighter for the truth, who routinely challenges the establishment, argues in his book that Israel did not study the lessons and the mistakes of this war. He argued that these omissions contributed to Israel’s failure of achieving its military targets since 1973! He always fights for Israel’s survival in the future as a strong state.

He recommended the establishment of what he defined as "security studies" in universities or research centers. He also believes that Israel needs an Israeli West Point! He views these studies as a science.

Who could predict the Egyptian uprising, who knows what will be the future of this country which is now controlled by its army’s council? The ex-head of the ‘Mossad’, the legendary Meir Dagan said in his appearance in the Knesset that the Egyptian regime will be stable. The timing was before the uprising over there: Mubarak heritage without Mubarak? Perhaps the elites, who support this regime, will go on.

Mubarak defended Sadat’s heritage as to the "cold peace" with Israel but he did not educate Egyptian society to follow him. Of course, we can figure out what will be the future of this peace and the process of normalization.


Today, the Holocaust is a popular topic in this country and Israel. Years ago this topic was a marginal one. For example, only a few scholars discuss the pattern of behavior of the American-Jewish establishment, synagogues, and Jewish centers, to the Holocaust. There were exceptions but the majority of Jews who had families in Eastern Europe did not develop an uprising and did not pressure Congress or President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Israeli press came across a unique Bar Mitzvah story about an 85 year old Holocaust survivor from Haifa named, Joseph Kirshlich, who celebrated his Bar Mitzvah with some friends who were also some survivors. Why? When he prepared with his rabbi for his original Bar Mitzvah, the Nazis attacked his town in 1943. They murdered his family and he managed to survive. This new ceremony was managed by the Chief Rabbi of Haifa.

Some survivors in Israel are still looking for compensation for their lost assets. Some claim these may be found in Israeli Banks among other places. Occasionally we hear stories about heirs of those murdered in the Holocaust who petition financial institutions where assets were kept or locate works of art in museums around the world which were stolen from their famililies. Then, as we know, there are still Holocaust deniers. Arabs or Muslims often argue in their propaganda that the Holocaust was invented by the Zionists, or they said that the "Christians murdered the Jews and we pay the price!"


Recently, the Leo Baeck Institute organized a special event, the publishing of a unique 900 page report which discusses the relationship between the Nazi Foreign Office, Nazi diplomacy, and the Nazi diplomats (1933-1945).

The event took place in the center for Jewish History NYC (15 W. 16th Street). The report of 900 pages in German was written by a special commission of distinguished historians, among them Prof. Moshe Zimmerman. The idea to develop this report was initiated by the well-known ex-foreign minister of Germany, Joschka Fischer, who participated in this event. The editor of this report is Prof. Norbert Frei. The event was also sponsored by the New School in New York which opened its gates to German refugees (1933-1945), and the Council on German Affairs.

In the future, the report will be translated into English. Prof. Frei told me that the report is in Israel’s Yad Vashem (Holocaust Center in Jerusalem). Joschka Fischer told the audience that this report on the role of German diplomats, playing in Hitler’s apparatus of persecution, is not a reaction to the guilt but to the shame! This event is the first public discussion on this report in the USA. Fischer expressed honesty and courage saying; “It is an historic mistake to argue that the foreign office was apolitical and had no choice but to serve the Nazi regime.

The German Consul in Greece participated in the deportation of the Jews of Greece to Auschwitz! There are some books or research of the Nazi diplomacy and diplomats but the report discussed all the materials systematically and provided new research. It is not clear if the report discussed German diplomacy before 1933 (Weimar Republic 1918-1933). Were some diplomats anti-Nazi?

Fischer said: “I myself was shocked when I read it. I did not know that the Holocaust was organized by the foreign office in many occupied countries. I never knew about the office which protected indicted criminals and that wanted suspects not go to France and other countries after the war.” During his research Fischer was astounded to learn that some diplomats that seved Germany during the Nazi Regime got their same jobs back after the war and on some occasions, upon these diplomats’ deaths, the new German government issued obituaries praising their service.  “I could not believe that this self-perception (of a lack of culpability for Nazi crimes) will exist among the elite in a modern democratic Germany,” said Fischer.

The next speaker, Prof. Frei, explained: “Our hypothesis was that the foreign office in the Third Reich was the foreign office of the Third Reich.” He also pointed out that many Nazi diplomats, including convicted war criminals, re-established themselves in the new 1950’s Federal Republic of Germany.” But diplomats who collaborated in the 1940’s, with American agents, could not get jobs in the new office after 1945.

Concluding this event, Fischer said:  “Confrontation with the past has always been an essential part of building modern German democracy, but it has always been a struggle. This report is an important contribution to modern Germany’s self-understanding.”


Visiting Salzburg, Austria, birth place of Mozart, city of Mozart’s annual festivals, I was surprised to see, on a wall near the tourist center, a memorial plaque. It was a short quotation by Theodor Herzl (1860-1904) (Benjamin Zeev Herzel) about this city’s anti-Semitism!?

Herzl, the father of political Zionism, who founded the first Zionist congress in Aug. 1897, spent time in this city as a young man who prepared himself to be a lawyer. In this plaque, he wrote that he loves the city but, because of its anti-Semitism, he will not be able to be a judge there. He left Salzburg in 1885. One wonders just what was the origin of this plaque. In 2001-2001, the city’s municipality decided to celebrate 100 years of its local synagogue by quoting only Herzl’s love for the city.

However, the president of Austria insisted that the quote would have to tell the whole story of Herzl’s belief! Indeed, European anti-semitism pushed Herzl, who was a writer and a journalist, toward Zionism. First, he covered the “Dreyfus Affairs” (1896-1906) in France. Second, in visiting Russia, he saw anti-Semitism and the pogroms with his own eyes.


There are books and research which covers the relationship between the American Jewish community and establishment and the Palestine Jews (Hayishov) and Israel. Recently, the Center of Jewish History (15 W. 16th St., NYC) hosted the first exhibition of those Jews and gentiles who volunteered to fight in Israel’s War of Independence (1947-1949).

This exhibition was organized by the American Jewish Society. Its executive-director is Dr. Jonathan Karp. The society plans to challenge this topic of volunteerism: research, collecting materials, and establishing a new archive of these volunteers from North America. Of course, the idea is to expose the contributions of these volunteers to Israel. Most of them left Israel after the war and returned to their countries. Many of them died. Of course, others were killed in this war. They, we should not forget, were willing to die in this war!

The most famous volunteer was Col. David Marcus (Miki Marcus). He was also known as ‘Col. Stone.’ This West Point graduate, a famous lawyer of World War II achievements, was Israel’s first “Aluf” or general! Ben-Gurion loved him and appointed him as chief of staff of the Israeli army. But Marcus was killed, according to official records by ‘friendly fire’ in June, 1948.

The idea of this exhibition is important because Israeli military historians have minimized the contribution of the volunteers to this war, perhaps in order to inflate the achievements of the Israelis. There are books on this topic. Some fighters, such as Ben Dunkelman (Canada), wrote their stories in both English and Hebrew.

Most of the scholars who cover this topic of volunteerism do not know, or ignore, the George Washington Legion, which was founded by the famous Boxer Barney Ross and Major Samuel Wesser. The legion had around 5,000 volunteers! In the background of this legion was “The league of free Palestine,” “The Bergson Group,: or the “Irgun Tsvai Leumi” in the U.S.A. There were some major problems from the outset.

First of all, anyone who participated in a foreign war could lose his American citizenship! It is illegal to do it. Secondly, the Irgun  (the heart in Palestine) was boycotted by the Zionist-Socialist establishment. Those revisionists, disciples of Zeev Jabotinsky, were ex-communicated by the majority of the Zionists. The legion organized many events: Hebrew armies are on the march to victory! If you like to read more on this topic, the North-American volunteerism, read the book “I am my brother’s keeper.” It was written by Jeffrey and Craig Weiss (Schiffer Military History – 1998) and covers American volunteers in Israel’s War of Independence (1947-1949).It was written by Jeffrey and Craig Weiss (Schiffer Military History – 1998) and covers American volunteers in Israel’s War of Independence (1947-1949).

Return to News

Back to Top