Wednesday, April 26, 2017

When An American Jewish Leader Undermined Official Israel

Jacob Blaustein 

was an industrialist who was drawn into the complex world of diplomatic service. He participated in negotiations on behalf of two United States presidents, peacekeeping missions, and service at the birth of the nation of Israel. As President of the American Jewish Committee, he worked to protect the civil and religious rights of Jews and other minorities and to promote intergroup tolerance. Jacob Blaustein was a lifelong advocate for human rights and helped to promote the idea of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, a position that was established more than twenty years after his death in 1970.

And more relevant to the material below:

In 1950 AJC President Jacob Blaustein reached an agreement with Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion stating that the political allegiance of American Jews was solely to their country of residence. By the Six-Day War of 1967 AJC had become a passionate defender of the Jewish state, shedding old inhibitions to espouse the centrality of Jewish peoplehood...Before the Six-Day War in 1967, AJC was officially "non-Zionist". It had long been ambivalent about Zionism as possibly opening up Jews to the charge of dual loyalty, but it supported the creation of Israel in 1947-48, after the United States backed the partition of Palestine. It was the first American Jewish organization to open a permanent office in Israel.

According to this source, quite anti-Zionist, Blaustein made a speech in February 1948 that illustrated

the "Zionizing" of the otherwise integrated American Jewish community, and the development of inordinate American support for the State of Israel...[the] watershed February 1948 speech by chairman Jacob Blaustein — shows that the American Jewish Committee, then the nation's most influential American Jewish organization, had reluctantly supported partition of Palestine in an effort to stop escalating Jewish nationalist terrorism.  In fateful moments in America's relations with Palestine, after David Ben Gurion declared the Jewish nationalist state, the AJC kept silent on the betrayal of its ideal of nonsectarian government for all Palestinians.  This decision has reverberated in the American Jewish community since — hostage to Israeli state violence and left helpless to offer an alternative to Jewish domination of Palestine.

In April 1950, he had made another speech which clarifies his new outlook: Jews, we are concerned lest our brethren, having once found a haven in Israel, be slaughtered in another war. In addition, any military defeat of Israel would be serious not only for Israel and the Israelis, but for Jews everywhere.  
However, as he explained there, he and the AJCom were not quite pro-Zionism at that time:

...while the American Jewish Committee and the [American] Council [for Judaism] technically have a common point of view concerning world Jewish nationalism and the disastrous consequences that would result if that concept should be successfully indoctrinated among Jews in America and elsewhere, a vast difference of opinion exists as to what, for example, constitutes a 'nationalistic' statement. To us it appears that the Council's definition is so broad as to be but a rationalization of an extreme and sweeping anti-Israel position. Further, it seems we are also apart on what the American scene is like.  We frankly do not understand what the Council hopes to gain by its particular kind of publicity in the general press. They can hardly expect to influence the statements and actions of Zionists and the Israeli by such attacks. Nor can it be believed that the favor of our fellowAmericans who are not Jews will be so won. On the contrary, the latter may unfortunately be tempted to conclude: a plague on all the Jewish houses.

Blaustein held to the view that

there can be no interference by the Government of Israel in the internal affairs of American Jewry

With that background and those credentials in place, we now reread a telegram that was sent from the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State on June 6, 1964 on the subject of the Arab refugees.

At dinner last night, [US Ambassador to the United Nationas Adlai] Stevenson discussed refugee question with PM [Levy] Eshkol of Israel. After emphasizing seriousness of problem for both Israel and US in Near East and in UN, Stevenson asked what plans Israel has for dealing with problem. Eshkol replied that he fully appreciated difficulties question presented for us but that Israel had no new suggestions to advance. After expressing firm opposition to Johnson proposal he said that adding 100,000 Arabs to the 250,000 now in Israel, and assuming the present rate of Jewish immigration continued at about 30 to 35,000 per annum, the higher birth rate of Arabs would “create a Cyprus situation” within 25 years. On this assumption he estimated Arab population would become one quarter of total. Arabs will force refugees back into Palestine by various devices and he was not sure that any open-end formula could even restrict repatriation of 100,000.

While extremely cordial and appreciative of US and UN problem, his position appeared inflexible and he advanced sundry arguments as to why any increase in Arab population was hazardous for Israel, including fact that Arabs do not serve in army. Eshkol referred repeatedly to integration of many of refugees into Arab countries and left no alternative but absorption of balance by Arabs.

After Eshkol leaves, someone else enters the room:

Following his departure, Jacob Blaustein asked Stevenson if he had discussed refugee problem, adding that if formula could be devised which would limit Arab repatriation to 100,000, he felt confident GOI [Government of Israel] could be persuaded to accept it in final settlement of problem. Stevenson concluded that Eshkol's official position at least no more tractable than Ben Gurion's.

Reread this:

he felt confident GOI could be persuaded to accept it in final settlement of problem

Blaustein and the AJCom had ideological and principled opposition to a 'dual loyalty' situation and refused for decades to be identified as Zionists and waged a battle to assure Israel's non-inteference in the life of American Jewry, but when Israel put forward a policy position, an intransigent one even, Blaustein felt that he was worthy enough to suggest that Israel could be "persuaded" to change its mind.

Reflect on that.

No comments: