Friday, April 20, 2007

Bernadotte - The Journalists Knew

In pointing out some historical errors committed by the BBC (here), I showed there a picture of members of Lechi (the Stern Group) demonstrating against Count Folke Bernadotte.

Well, here's the TIME magazine story from 1948 and pay attention to the opening paragraph:-

Monday, Sep. 27, 1948
Man of Peace

For a week members of the Stern gang, who haunt the Galina café on Tel Aviv's Herbert Samuel Esplanade, had been telling correspondents that they intended to deal with Count Folke Bernadotte. Posters appeared showing Bernadotte's gaunt figure, his hair flying, being kicked out of Israel by a huge boot. The caption read: "Advice to Agent Bernadotte: Get out of our country!"

It was not only the "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel" (as the Stern gangsters like to call themselves) who had inveighed against the U.N. mediator. The Communists (whose line the Sternists follow) called Bernadotte a "traveling agent of American business." Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok accused him of partiality to the Arabs, and Prime Minister Ben-Gurion himself snapped: "The truce is an act of war designed to break our will."

"I Must Take Risks." Bernadotte, a courageous and stubborn man, was not deterred by the country's temper. Last week he reported on conditions in Jerusalem. "It's like this," he said. "Both Arabs and Jews are trigger-happy. They shoot into the dark at night. They snipe by daylight. Excuse me, but it is a most idiotic thing." Jerusalem's Katamon quarter (formerly an Arab residential district, now held by Israeli forces), the Count's cream-colored Chrysler was stopped at a roadblock. From a jeep stepped two men in Israeli army uniforms, carrying Sten guns. While U.S. Colonel Frank Begley (a U.N. observer who drove the Count's car) grappled with one of the men, the other looked into the car, recognized the Count, shoved his gun through the window and started shooting. The bullets went straight through the ribbons on Bernadotte's uniform. Said General Lundstrom, who sat beside him but escaped injury: "There was a considerable amount of blood on his clothes, mainly around his heart."

Also hit (17 times) was Colonel Andre P. Serot, a French member of the U.N. truce mission. He was killed instantly. Bernadotte, still breathing, was rushed to nearby Hadassah Hospital, where he died. The assailants got away in their jeep.

...The Israel government immediately launched a manhunt for the killers. Hundreds of suspects were arrested. Ports and airfields throughout the country were closed. Crack troops entered Jerusalem, prowled the city in armored cars, guns ready. They knew little more than that the murderer was "sallow-faced and dark-haired." But they knew a lot about the Stern gang.

Formed in 1940 by one Abraham Stern as a terrorist weapon against the British, it had committed such deeds before. During the war, Stern offered to help the Axis invade the Middle East if they would recognize the Sternists as Palestine's government. In 1944 the Sternists murdered Lord Moyne, British Resident Minister in the Middle East.

Even though the vast majority of Israelis were shocked by the crime, world public opinion would link the assassination with the long record of gangsterism, terrorism and almost insanely violent propaganda which had become associated with Israel's struggle for independence, and which moderate Zionists seemed unable to stop. In other cases, propaganda had excused or glossed over the crimes of the Jewish extremists by alleging "imperialism" on the part of the British or charging worse atrocities to the Arabs. In Bernadotte's case there was no excuse to make. He was obviously a good man who sought nothing in Palestine but peace...

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