On episode 68, we speak with activist and blogger Tony Greenstein, a veteran of the Palestine solidarity movement in the UK, about his new book Zionism During the Holocaust: The Weaponization of Memory in the Service of State and Nation.
With an anti-Zionist analysis, Greenstein’s book dives into the history of the Zionist movement’s collaboration with the far right, even including Nazi Germany, while seeking to build the state of Israel.
“You have to see Zionism as a racial project to perpetuate the Jewish people, you can’t understand it any other way,” he tells us. “It wasn’t to create a refuge for Jews or anything else. It was a perpetuation of the Jewish nation-race.”
Greenstein analyzes the Zionist movement’s settlement policy before, during and after the Nakba – the expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians in 1947-1948 – and how Zionist leaders “consciously ignored” the Nazi genocide against Jewish Europeans in order to grab land in Palestine.
He says that in the early 1940s, Zionists “not only were not bothered about the Holocaust, they actively tried to stop anyone who wanted to provide a refuge from doing so. And that was the amazing thing. They had a weird and incredible logic. But it was their logic.”
The Zionist logic, he adds, “was that where there are Jews, there is anti-Semitism. Jews cause anti-Semitism, because they are living in the countries of other people. In the words of [Israeli novelist] A.B. Yehoshua, they are guests in other people’s hotels, and of course, they’ve outstayed their welcome.”
Transplanting Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe to America or Britain, he explains, “would not solve the problem. It would simply recreate anti-Semitism in another place. So you had to be cruel to be kind and say the only place of settlement was Palestine.”
He also talks about the reasons behind Israel’s current alignment with far-right regimes and governments.
“Israel has no hesitation in cooperating with neo-Nazi regimes and movements. Is it any wonder? We have a Jewish Nazi party, which is set to become the third largest in the Knesset [Israel’s parliament] now,” he explains, in reference to the Religious Zionism party, which looks set to win a ministerial seat in the next government.
“If you establish an ethno-nationalist state, what you do accords with the logic of what the Nazis did as well. That’s the fate of ethno-nationalist states, which is why neo-Nazis today love Israel, because really, what is there not to like about it? As [American far-right figure] Richard Spencer says, ‘I’m a white Zionist.’”
Articles we discussed
- “Israel’s November election choice is between the far-right and the further-right,” Tony Greenstein
- “Zionism during the Holocaust: The weaponisation of memory in the service of state and nation – Book review,” Jim Miles, Palestine Chronicle
Video production by Tamara Nassar
Theme music by Sharif Zakout
Subscribe to The Electronic Intifada Podcast on Apple Podcasts (search for The Electronic Intifada) and on Spotify. Support our podcast by rating us, sharing and leaving a review, and you can also donate to fund our work.
Lightly edited for clarity.
Asa Winstanley: Well, we’re here today with Tony Greenstein, who will be familiar to many of our listeners and viewers. But for those of you who are not: Tony Greenstein is a veteran of the Palestine solidarity movement in the UK. He’s an activist and a blogger. He’s an iconoclastic and uncompromising Jewish anti-Zionist. His blog for many years, to me, has been really an invaluable source. I’ve relied on it for a lot of my journalism. And I regard it as an essential source for anyone in the Palestine solidarity movement. Tony pulls no punches. And he always speaks the truth, the unvarnished truth, shall we say, as he sees it. And I always learn something new from Tony’s blogs.
And now he’s the author of a new book called Zionism During the Holocaust, which will be out to buy soon. I’ve got my copy of it here, which viewers on YouTube will be able to see, and I think I’m going to be reviewing at some point for EI. But I think for now, I can say that it’s an essential read. And I learned a lot from it.
So we’re going to sort of go through some of it in this episode of the podcast. So as the title suggests, it’s on a topic that is often, to many, majorly controversial, which is the issue of the Zionist movement’s historical collaboration with the far right, even including Nazi Germany. So with that preamble, Tony, welcome to the show.
Tony Greenstein: Thank you. Thank you Asa and Nora.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: Thanks for being with us.
Asa Winstanley: So tell us about your book, and what inspired you to write it.
Tony Greenstein: Well the first book about Zionist collaboration with the Nazis was nearly 40 years ago by Lenni Brenner. And there has been nothing since. There’s been a lot of research, a lot of journal articles and books and so on. But there’s been nothing from an anti-Zionist perspective. And I felt it was necessary to do so. Because as we can see, today, the Holocaust is exploited mercilessly by the Zionist movement. The very false definition of anti-Semitism – the IHRA – is produced or used by a group that calls itself, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
So the Zionists have tied the Holocaust very closely to the narrative that Israel is a refuge, is a defense, is an answer to anti-Semitism. And I thought it’s extremely important to actually look at what happened during the Holocaust. What was the Zionist record then? Because you would assume from the way they use it now, that the Zionists were at the forefront of trying to save Jews, trying to support Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, to try to open the avenues of rescue.
So anyone reading the book, I think, will be quite amazed by the fact that the Zionists during the war, saw the Holocaust as a complete distraction from their own efforts, which were to build the Jewish state. Of course, between 1941 and 1945 there was no Jewish state, but it was in the offing. That was their main goal. And they saw it as their only goal. They held the Biltmore Conference in [May] 1942, when the Holocaust was just getting going with the extermination camps. Of course, it began nearly a year previous to that with Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia when the killing squads, the Einsatzgruppen, went in the wake of the German army, mopping up Jews in Galicia, in the Ukraine, in White Russia and so on.
But the Zionists during that time not only were not bothered about the Holocaust, they actively tried to stop anyone who wanted to provide a refuge from doing so. And that was the amazing thing. They had a weird and incredible logic. But it was their logic. The Zionist logic was that where there are Jews, there is anti-Semitism. Jews cause anti-Semitism, because they are living in the countries of other people. In the words of [Israeli novelist] A.B. Yehoshua, they are guests in other people’s hotels and, of course, they’ve outstayed their welcome.
So, simply transplanting Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe to America or Britain would not solve the problem. It would simply recreate anti-Semitism in another place. So you had to be cruel to be kind and say the only place of settlement was Palestine. And that is why they actively – and this is on record – I mean, Selig Brodetsky in 1943 (who was the president of the Jewish Board of Deputies) he actively sabotaged the rescue efforts of the chair of the chief rabbi’s rescue committee, Rabbi [Solomon] Schonfeld, a very distinguished rabbi, and doctor. He actively sabotaged his rescue attempt. He got a signatory, a petition, from 40-50 parliamentarians, bishops and various other worthies, peers and so on, saying “open the doors,” because in 1942, with the Allied declaration on the 17th of December that there was a Holocaust – because people didn’t realize at first, that the Nazis weren’t just killing Jews in pogroms, but were actually systematically exterminating them – there was a mass wave of a revulsion and 80 percent of British people said, “let them in regardless.”
The British government, of course, did not agree and that was a Labour coalition government under Herbert Morrison, the home secretary. Schonfeld was appointed by the Chief Rabbi Dr. [Joseph] Hertz – Dr. Solomon Schonfeld was his name. And he had all these rescue schemes, which he wanted to put into operation. And the Board of Deputies under Selig Brodetsky, who’d become president in 1940 – previously it was in the hands of the bourgeois anti-Zionists – but once he got his hands on the board and the Zionists did, they set their face against any rescue at all whatsoever. But this is a kind of history which is unknown.
I quoted a letter in The Jewish Chronicle from Marcus Retter, who was his close assistant, who goes through it and there was a correspondence in The Jewish Chronicle. And the historian of the British Jewish community today, Dr. Jeffrey Alderman wrote a letter in response to the daughter of Selig Brodetsky saying, “Yes, everything Marcus Retter says is correct. And you don’t have to believe him, you can go back to the correspondence columns of The Jewish Chronicle, when Brodetsky defends what he did, because he said, ‘this was not the proper way to do it, you have to go through the official channels.’” So he was more concerned about procedure and protocol, when people were literally – 10,000 a day – were burning in Auschwitz. And that is, if you like an illustration of the depths of depravity of the Zionist movement. And it has to be said the bourgeois anti-Zionists were not brilliant by any means when they led the Board of Deputies, have no doubt about that. But they were responsible for the Kindertransport in 1938-39, which rescued 10,000 German Jewish children and brought them to England.
And maybe I can quote from my book: It’s from David Ben-Gurion, who became the first prime minister of Israel, the longest serving prime minister until Netanyahu. And he was then chair of the Jewish Agency, which was a quasi-government-in-waiting. And he said about this plan to bring 10,000 Jewish children over: “If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Israel then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the people of Israel.” And he wasn’t, of course, the only person who said that.
Chaim Weizmann was equally blunt. Malcolm MacDonald was the colonial secretary at the time and he recalled – and this is in Nicholas Bethell’s book The Palestine Triangle for anyone who’s interested in the source, but it’s all in the book. He said, “I remember at the time that Weizmann’s attitude shocked me. He insisted on the children going to Palestine. As far as he was concerned, it was Palestine or nowhere.” And when MacDonald refused to guarantee the children would go to Palestine, Weizmann told him that “we shall fight you. And when I say fight, I mean fight.” So that was the Zionist attitude during the war. Indeed, the first proposal to set up Yad Vashem, which is Israel’s Holocaust propaganda museum, came in 1943 or ‘44. From [Mordechai] Shenhavi, I think it was 1943 [editor’s note: it was 1942]. When most of the Jews were still alive, he was proposing to set up a memorial to those who were still alive. I mean, they were calculating after the war, how best they could make use of those who are going to die. And that is the utter depravity of it.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: Chaim Weizmann, just for our listeners’ clarification, was the first president of the Israeli state.
Tony Greenstein: That’s right. And a very long standing president of the World Zionist Organization before that. A major major figure in Zionist history. So that was their attitude. So today, of course, you won’t get an inkling of that. And anyone who speaks out about it will be damned. I mean, not just me, Ben Hecht who was a revisionist Zionist, was attacked and demonized. And as I say he was a right-wing Zionist. But he wrote about it in a book called Perfidy in 1961, ‘62, about the Kasztner trial – which I can go into later – in Israel, the trial of a major collaborator.
Asa Winstanley: Yeah, I want to get into that a bit later.
Tony Greenstein: Hannah Arendt was another. She was probably the greatest political philosopher of the last century. Herself a refugee from Nazi Germany. She wrote a book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, which touched on some of these themes, because she saw through the Eichmann trial, which was a show trial. Everyone knew Eichmann was guilty, of course, I mean, he deserved whatever happened to him. But the trial itself, as she said, exonerated Hitler and Himmler because the trial judges or the appeal court in Israel found that Eichmann was solely responsible for what he had done. Not Hitler, Eichmann. We can say what we want about Eichmann, but he was acting on orders from Hitler clearly. But she wrote a book which touched on some of these issues, the very issues the Eichmann trial had been designed to avoid, which was the Kasztner trial before it. And she was, you know, persona non grata. I mean, she was accused of being a Holocaust denier, a Nazi and everything else. So I don’t expect it’s going to be received with welcomed by The Jewish Chronicle.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: I think that’s a badge of honor.
Tony Greenstein: In fact, there’s already been one review by Jenni Frazer, who wrote an article with, I think, the Jewish News. She described the book as anti-Semitic. She hasn’t read a word of it, but she knows it’s anti-Semitic.
Asa Winstanley: I love it when people review books they have not read. It’s very telling. I was reading the final few chapters of your book today, Tony, and in the conclusions. You write, quote, “the Zionist movement consciously ignored the Holocaust while it was occurring, even to the point of denying or questioning whether it was happening. Throughout the war, achieving Jewish statehood was the overriding priority.” Now, this is a really significant conclusion that you’ve reached. It’s a really big claim, which some of our listeners may find quite shocking. Obviously. we don’t have time to go through the entire book, but could you lay out some of the evidence that you put forward for this in your book?
Tony Greenstein: After the Allied Declaration, on the 23rd of November, the Jewish Agency, which had been in possession of information about the Holocaust for three months, that is from August – this is the most intense period of the Holocaust, probably one and a half million Jews died in those three months alone in 1942 – they simply sat on the news of it.
Stephen Wise, who was the leader of American Jewry boasted openly that, I have been keeping it under wraps and not publicizing it. It was at the request of the State Department. But regardless, the fact is they simply kept quiet about it until they were forced to do that, because the third load of exchange prisoners, that is, prisoners who had been exchanged with Nazi Germany, Jews, arrived in Palestine, they described what was happening, they could no longer keep quiet about it.
So they issued a statement on the 23rd of November 1942. The Allies followed suit very quickly afterwards, on the 17th of December 1942, saying that, “yes, it wasn’t just random killings, it wasn’t large scale pogroms. It was a systematic extermination of the Jewish people of Europe.” And that was significant. But yet, even after that the Zionists then simply reprinted Nazi propaganda in Ostland, a Nazi paper, saying there were 55 ghettos still in Poland, but 2 million Jews were still alive out the 3.3 million. And this was just a total lie. I mean, there were barely any Jews left by the end of 1942. Poland had been combed thoroughly. There were, I think, two or three ghettos: the Warsaw Ghetto, but most of its inhabitants had already been transported to Treblinka. There was Lodz, which was the second largest ghetto in Europe, and there were one or two fragments dotted around, but at least two and a half million, I would say, of Poland’s Jewry had been exterminated by then. So the Zionists simply swallowed hook, line and sinker, the claim that were 55 or 53 – the number varies – of Jewish ghettos left in Poland. It was simply not true. Yet they repeated it.
And throughout, they dismissed it, they continued to cast doubt on the newspapers. So a newspaper would print a report, and they would have an editorial saying these figures can’t be trusted, they may well be an exaggeration, we shouldn’t overemphasize and so on. People like Nathan Schwalb, who was the Hechalutz [a Zionist youth group] representative in Geneva, were quite open, he said, “Well, the Allies have their casualties in the war, and we have ours.” And that’s how they saw them. They were just the Jewish casualties in the battle to get a Jewish state. So if you accept their logic, and the logic of Zionism is that a Jewish state was everything, that was the main and sole goal, and, of course, there’ll be casualties along the way.
You have to see Zionism as a racial project to perpetuate the Jewish people, you can’t understand it any other way. It wasn’t a refuge, to create a refuge for Jews or anything else. It was a perpetuation of the Jewish nation-race. And that’s why today – I’ve given examples in my book – assimilation is compared to the Holocaust. Why? Because if you assimilate, if you marry out and you’re a Jew, to a non-Jew and disappear, that’s the same as disappearing in the gas chamber. That’s the logic. And in fact, [the Israeli organization] Lehava has a slogan “Assimilation is a Jewish Holocaust,” or intermarriage is a Jewish Holocaust. So they are quite open about it. And I give quite a number of examples of it in the book.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: Anti-assimilation and [anti-]interracial marriage are part of the law in Israel.
Tony Greenstein: Yes, that’s right. They codified it.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: In order to grow a Jewish Zionist population.
Tony Greenstein: Yeah. And Arthur Ruppin, he wrote in his book, The Jews’ War of Survival that the Nazi race laws, the Nuremberg laws were and I quote, “Returning to Judaism, those Jews who had been lost to it because of increased assimilation in Germany.” So I mean, even while it was happening, the Zionists were the only ones to welcome the Nuremberg Laws because, as Ruppin put it, they were returning Jews. Even what’s called Christian Jews, this phenomenon: a Jew who converted to Christianity, under Nazi race laws was still Jewish.
The Zionists were quite happy about that, they were returning the sinners to the fold as it were. So this is the logic. The Zionists accepted the Nazi definition of Jews as a race, an alien race, of course. But, of course today they don’t mention these things, for obvious reasons.
Asa Winstanley: You’re starting to get into the ideological foundations of Zionism and the racialized reasons for the Zionist leadership’s support for the Nazis in the 1930s. And I think this is a real strength of your book: that you really lay out the whole history of it. You mentioned earlier, Lenni Brenner’s book Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, from 1983, which I’ve also read. It’s a much shorter book than yours, it’s still very good, but it’s kind of out of date in certain respects now. Could you talk a little bit more about the ideological foundations of Zionism and explain a little bit more about Arthur Ruppin, who you’ve already mentioned, and the reasons – the foundations of Zionism, which ended up in the Zionist movement in Germany in the 1930s, offering their support to Adolf Hitler?
Tony Greenstein: I think we have to be careful. I wouldn’t necessarily say they offered their support to Adolf Hitler so much as the Zionist movement saw – most Jews when Hitler came to power, on January the 30th 1933, were horror stricken. They could see that this wasn’t simply just another anti-Semitic regime, of which there were quite a few in Eastern Europe. But this was something totally different. It was a fascist regime, which had anti-Semitism at the core of its policies. And anyone could see that this posed a serious threat to the survival of the German Jewish community. I mean, it was pretty obvious.
So the boycott took off. Initially it was spontaneous: people just didn’t buy German goods. You know, 95-96 percent of the Jewish community in Britain supported the boycott. I give the example of a shop in the East End [of London], a toy shop, which was selling German goods, and when someone found out, there were thousands crowding around and they had to bring the mounted police in to clear them, they were outraged. He was forced to just return the goods to Germany.
But the Board of Deputies, of course, opposed the boycott along with the Zionists. The Zionists were opposed from the very start – well before Haavara even – to the boycott. Zionism came about, it was a reaction to anti-Semitism, I think we can all agree on that. Excluding Christian Zionism, which came well before Jewish Zionism, incidentally. Zionism was a different reaction from most Jewish reactions to anti-Semitism. Bourgeois Jews would think you could reform the country and change the laws and change the attitudes of people, so they propagandized. Socialist Jews and communist Jews believed you had to overthrow the existing system, etc. But the Zionists were unique, because they basically accepted the framework of the terms of debate of the anti-Semites.
They said “the anti-Semites have a case.” Let me give you [the example of] Jacob Klatzkin, who was the editor of their paper Die Welt, he said “If we don’t admit the rightfulness of anti-Semitism, we deny the rightfulness of our own nationalism. Instead of establishing societies for defense against the anti-Semites who want to reduce our rights, we should establish societies for defense against our friends who desire to defend our rights.” So he made it quite clear there: they welcomed anti-Semitism and they agreed that the Jews, because they were a nation that had lost its way, that was living in other nations’ countries had developed asocial characteristics.
If you look at this book, I don’t know if you can see it, this was the first pamphlet by Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State. And on page 26 he said, “The cause of anti-Semitism, its immediate cause is our excessive production of mediocre intellects who cannot find an outlet downwards or upwards. That is to say no wholesome outlet in either direction. When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat, the subordinate officers of all revolutionary parties. And at the same time when we rise, there rises also the terrible power of our purse.” So there you have it: he accepted all the caricatures. Jews were either too rich, or they were revolutionary and subversive. So what was the answer? It was basically to form a Jewish state where Jews would congregate, but Jews had no place in the diaspora, and they called it the accursed galut. Galut being exile, Jews were in exile, they had no life of their own really, Jewish history really begins in Palestine. And there was a void of 2,000 years, according to Ben-Gurion.
Now, Arthur Ruppin was the most important person maybe after Ben-Gurion in the Yishuv, in the Zionist community in Palestine. He went there in about 1907 and from then on he became director of the Palestine Office and he directed the funds that they got from abroad. And he was really the founder of the kibbutz, not because he was a socialist, he was a rabid reactionary. He was a German nationalist and condemned Dreyfus. And he only became a Zionist really, because the anti-Semites rejected him being a German nationalist because he was Jewish. So he decided he had to become a Jewish nationalist instead. But he was a rabid, complete racist. And he believed that the Jews of Europe were not Semitic, he didn’t believe they had any Semitic blood in them. That was the Arab Jews, who were dysgenic elements. They were a foreign element. And what he did was he brought over Yemenite Jews to Palestine to do the hard work for the kibbutzim – don’t believe they actually made the desert bloom or any of that.
As in the words of Etan Bloom, who has written a very interesting PhD thesis for Tel Aviv University, he was guilty of pathological stereotyping. Because they came from the Arab countries, they had much lower wages than anyone else. They barely had enough food, and they were deprived of medical attention and 50 percent of them died as a result in Palestine. And then he in 1920-21, the Zionist Organization under Weizmann and him, rejected the applications of Ukrainian Jews who were dying in the pogroms to come to Palestine because they were the wrong sort of Jew, you see, they were weak, they were feeble, they were refugees. They didn’t have the pioneering spirit, they had the wrong socio-economic makeup, you know, they weren’t farmers, they were maybe petty traders and what have you.
So this idea that Zionism sought to create Israel as a refuge is all wrong, it never has been the case. They were going to disaster spots, used them to pluck out Jews, and then put them in the West Bank to settle on the territories. Of course, it’s not because of any concern for them as individuals or Jews, for that matter, but Ruppin guided the settlement policy and he’s called the father of land settlement in Palestine. He was in charge, with the JNF [Jewish National Fund] of course, they were subordinate, they carried out the buying up of land and the settlement and so on, but Ruppin was in overall charge of it. And when Chaim Arlosoroff was assassinated in 1933, almost certainly by the Revisionist Zionists the Irgun, because he had been leading the negotiations for Haavara, the trading agreement the Zionists instituted with Nazi Germany, Ruppin took over. And Etan Bloom speculates that when he went to Jena, the University of Jena, he met Professor Hans Günther.
Hans Günther was a professor, the chair of racial anthropology. He was described by [historian] Gabriel Piterberg as the mentor of Himmler. He outlined the racial concepts and ideas and he was put into the chair by [Wilhelm] Frick who was, I think, later hanged at Nuremberg. He was the first Nazi state minister in Germany. He was put into that chair by the Nazi Party. And he and Ruppin spent a congenial afternoon discussing race theory. Ruppin said of Günther that his book was a treasure chest of ideas. So they really did agree. In his diaries he says, this was a pleasant conversation. Now in two of the diaries, I think it’s in the Hebrew and in the English, this meeting does not appear. Alex Bein, who was also the biographer of Herzl. But in German it does, so that’s how we know that this meeting took place. And, of course, what he wrote in his diary, we can take it to be fairly accurate when he describes it as a pleasant conversation.
Bloom speculates that this was kind of buttering up the Nazis, to agree to the Transfer Agreement, because the Transfer Agreement was not a Nazi idea, it was a Zionist idea. And we have to bear that in mind. And, of course, all the nonsense about it being aimed to get Jews out of Germany is a whole load of tripe. You can read my book: the Zionist movement lobbied the Nazis, the Gestapo, not to allow Jews to go out of Germany anywhere but Palestine. And Palestine could only admit 15,000 at maximum a year. So what did that mean? They would stay in Germany and perish.
Asa Winstanley: Yes. So let’s talk about that. On that note then, let’s talk about the Transfer Agreement, the Haavara Agreement. Could you maybe start by explaining, when Hitler first came to power in Germany, what the reaction of the Zionist leadership in Germany was?
Tony Greenstein: Francis Nicosia, who’s the professor of Holocaust Studies at Vermont University, the Raul Hilberg professor. He’s pro-Zionist, he’s not an anti-Zionist. But he’s written two books, which give a lot of information. And he writes: “So positive was the Zionist assessment of the situation, that as early as April 1933, the Zionist Federation of Germany announced its determination to take advantage of the crisis, to win over the traditionally assimilationist German Jewry to Zionism.” Bear in mind, in Germany in 1933, Zionism was a fringe movement, maybe one in 50 Jews supported it.
Asa Winstanley: This is what’s often missing in our modern day discussions about this topic. You mentioned in your book as well, that it wasn’t until, I believe, 1940, that in Britain, for example, the Board of Deputies of British Jews became a Zionist organization.
Tony Greenstein: That’s right. People often get it the wrong way around, they see the Israel lobby as the source of all problems. Now, we none of us have much affection for the Zionist lobby in this country, or in America. But I think we need to understand that they derive their power from the non-Jewish bourgeoisie, not the other way around. And there’s a very perceptive comment in Stuart Cohen’s book on British Jewry and Zionism, where he said, “the British bourgeoisie, the British Jewish bourgeoisie, rather, was hostile to Zionism for 20, 30 years. Because they felt it undermined all their hard-won rights of Jewish emancipation and so on. Here they’ve been saying, we’re good British people, we’re patriotic and all the rest of it.”
And here were the Zionists saying: “No, no, no: we’re a nation apart, we’re not really British.” So they reacted with horror to this. And it was only with reluctance, when they saw that to be Zionist was to be patriotic, and when the non-Jewish bourgeoisie had adopted Zionism, as its firm and fixed policy, because it saw a Jewish state eventually, in Palestine as being useful for British interests, you know, the colonization next to the Suez Canal, it was only then that the Jewish bourgeoisie came over to Zionism, but it did it pretty late in the day. Even in 1917, they saw it as a philanthropic venture. So they gave it that kind of support, but it didn’t go along with the ideology at all, or that British Jews didn’t belong there. They were quite happy for Eastern European Jews to go to Palestine rather than Britain, that is true, but they weren’t Zionist in any formal sense. They didn’t adopt the ideology. So yes, it was very late.
Asa Winstanley: So Hitler becomes chancellor of Germany in 1933. And at that time Zionism is a fringe movement among German Jews and among Jews in the world. So what was their response?
Tony Greenstein: Berl Katznelson, who was the deputy to Ben-Gurion, editor of Davar, which is the main [trade union grouping] Histadrut paper, saw the rise of Hitler as, quote, “An opportunity to build and flourish, like none we have ever had or ever will have.” Ben-Gurion said that the Nazis’ victory will become a fertile force for Zionism.
Asa Winstanley: The future first prime minister of Israel.
Tony Greenstein: That’s right, yes. And you can find that in Tom Segev’s book, The Seventh Million. Rabbi Joachim Prinz who was one of the main leaders of the German Zionist Federation later to become, I think, deputy president of the World Jewish Congress, said “It was morally disturbing to [seem to] be considered as the favored children of the Nazi government, particularly when it dissolved the anti-Zionist youth groups and seemed in other ways to prefer the Zionists. The Nazis asked for a more Zionist behavior.”
Of course, hinting at that got [former London mayor] Ken Livingstone thrown out of the Labour Party, but it’s absolutely true. In fact he only touched on it. It’s here in black and white. And that quote is from his own article, so there is absolutely no doubt. If you read Zionist historians, they don’t disagree with this at all. But, of course, that’s buried away in the footnotes and learned journals, but most people will believe that a Jewish state and the Jews are synonymous and that’s what we have to tackle.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: Going back to Chaim Weitzmann for a moment. You noted in your book that he emphasized that a Jewish Palestine, quote, “would be a safeguard to England in particular in respect to the Suez Canal,” the intention was, quote, “to form a portion of a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.” So this also kind of coincides with European settler-colonialism and imperialist [and] capitalist designs on the rest of the world, particularly Asia and the Middle East. Can you talk about how Zionism was also a project and is still a project of European imperialist force?
Tony Greenstein: A desire to see the colonization of that area went back to Napoleon, if not before. Napoleon wanted a French settlement in much the same area, and [British prime ministers] Palmerston, Disraeli, they all saw the benefits to British imperialism of a Jewish settlement. Why a Jewish settlement? Because the Bible legitimized it. The imperialists marched with a gun in one hand and a Bible in another: one legitimized the other. So it made sense [to them]: the return to Palestine, it was a powerful moral force and imperialism likes to see itself even today as having a moral legitimacy. We went to India to stop widows being burned on the funeral pyres. We didn’t go to India to exploit it and to drain it of every last rupee. That’s just cynicism beyond belief.
So the same with a Jewish state in Palestine. It was fulfilling God’s will – it was going as a moral imperative. There was considerable dissent amongst the British bourgeoisie about the Palestine experiment. The Daily Express and The Daily Mail ranted against the cost of this. Where were the benefits? And in the House of Lords there was strong opposition. Large sections of the military were very unhappy with it. So if you read some of the papers – Doreen Ingrams’ [book] Palestine Papers is useful on that – you’ll see the debate within the ruling class about the merits of having a Zionist settlement. But the ardent imperialists like Churchill, the political wing, if you like, of the ruling class came down strongly in favor of Zionism.
Asa Winstanley: Including the Labour Party.
Tony Greenstein: The Labour Party was worse in so many ways. I’ve got that quote by Ramsay MacDonald who went to Palestine in 1922. And he wrote an article which was published by Poale Zion, which is now of course the Jewish Labour Movement. And he says: “The rich plutocratic Jew who is the true economic materialist. He is the person whose views upon life make one anti-Semitic. He has no country, no kindred. Whether as a sweater or a financier, he is an exploiter of everything he can squeeze. He is behind every evil that governments do, and his political authority always exercised in the dark, is greater than that of parliamentary majorities … he detests Zionism, because it revives the idealism of his race.” Now I think you’d probably agree that that would get you expelled from the Labour Party today.
Asa Winstanley: And yet there it is published by the forerunner of the Jewish Labour Movement.
Tony Greenstein: That’s absolutely right. And I think we should start to make use of that quote, because it is very, very useful. There’s a number of other quotes by the right wing of the Labour Party which are equally anti-Semitic. The Zionists were not bothered with that. The best response to the anti-Semitism campaign would have been to say, “well, Zionism has never fought anti-Semitism, so why are you concerned now?” But, of course, people didn’t have the wits about them to realize what they were really about. But that is a problem that we face.
Zionism has never had any problem with genuine anti-Semitism. You mentioned Lenni Brenner’s book, and that was 40 years ago, there’s been a lot of research since that. Two books by Francis Nicosia which have uncovered a lot of information in the German archives, and other articles. But I wrote an article in 2014 saying where I disagreed with Lenni for the Journal of Holy Land Studies. The book is fine as a blow-by-blow account of what the Zionists said and did, and I don’t detract from it and Lenni did a lot of very great work. But I disagreed with his analysis. He didn’t even mention Rudolf Vrba, who was one of the two Jewish escapees from Auschwitz, because he’d never heard of him, as he told me later, but you can’t understand the Kasztner [trial] and what happened unless you understand that Kasztner suppressed the Auschwitz protocols, which were the first definitive proof of the existence of Auschwitz as an extermination as opposed to a labor camp.
But there were other things. He went along with the line of the Orthodox Neturei Karta Rabbi [Michael Dov] Weissmandl. It’s fine that they support the Palestinians, and they come on demonstrations, but politically I would not ever rely on them because their political ideology is quite reactionary. They come on Palestinian demonstrations, but you won’t see an Orthodox woman with them because women stay in the home and so on. So I think it’s a great mistake. He covered Weissmandl but didn’t mention that he was a member of the Judenrat [an institution representing the Jewish community] in Slovakia. He didn’t mention things like the letter he sent advising Chief Rabbi [Fulop] Freudiger of Hungary to trust Dieter Wisliceny who was the butcher of Slovakian Jewry – he had [the deaths of] hundreds of thousands on his hands. [Weissmandl] put into effect a bribery scheme in Slovakia to stop the deportation, not realizing the Catholic Church had done its work for him, because they were pretty outraged – the pope – at the fact that a Catholic priest was heading the Slovakian government.
So there were a number of things that I disagree with Lenni politically over and I would agree with Vrba: Weissmandl had the Europa Plan, whereby you could bribe the Nazis $2 million to stop the deportations outside of Poland. Vrba described that as a harebrained scheme, and I have to say I agree with him. The Zionists, [historian] Yehuda Bauer, laid into Vrba because of this saying, “How could you expect someone so noble a character as Weissmandl.” That is also the other thing which Brenner didn’t do: he didn’t tackle the Zionist historiography, how the Zionists have rewritten the history of the Holocaust in their own favor. For example, it’s a cardinal axiom of the Zionist movement that the Holocaust is unique to Jews. And indeed it’s anti-Semitic to claim it for anyone else. Yes the gypsies suffered, but it wasn’t a Holocaust.
There’s a very good debate which I quote from, Sybil Milton versus Yehuda Bauer, where Sybil Milton says, “Nazi extermination was on the basis of your biology and the gypsies qualified just as much as the Jews.” But, of course, the gypsies don’t have a political lobby and don’t have any political purchase. Same with the disabled: they were murdered because of who they were: you can’t change if you’re disabled into abled. So there were also maybe up to 700,000 [murdered] we don’t know the numbers. We don’t know the numbers of gypsies who were exterminated either. But then, of course, we don’t really know the number of Jews, all these numbers are guesstimates at best. But to Zionists, there was only one group that really suffered from the Holocaust. Because in the words of Lucy Dawidowicz, who was one of the main Zionist historians, it was a War Against the Jews. And for the Zionists, that’s pivotal: that everything that Hitler did was to exterminate the Jews, that was his sole aim. And that’s a completely un-materialist history of it, because I think it’s quite clear that Hitler’s main enemy was Bolshevism: communism. And the Jews were the biological parents of it, you know, the “Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy.” So that’s how the extermination must be seen. It’s actually not true that Hitler was determined to exterminate every Jew. Expulsion was their policy before 1939, in fact before 1941. So they’re wrong on every single issue and Sybil Milton takes Yehuda Bauer apart. And I quote from that debate in the book so you can read it yourselves.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: You write about both the suppression and the exploitation of pivotal moments in the history of rebellion of Jewish communities during the Holocaust, especially the Warsaw Ghetto fighters.
I remember reading the autobiography of Marek Edelman who was the co-founder of the Jewish Bund and was just a remarkable fighter and remained an anti-Zionist and was very supportive of the Palestinian struggle for liberation. But that part of his political history, when he died several years ago, I believe The New York Times didn’t even mention his support for Palestine. And the Zionists kept trying to claim him as this great Jewish hero who was kind of in the spirit of Israel, was you know –
Tony Greenstein: I’m not sure they did – I mean, yeah in Israel, there was hardly any [coverage]. I think Haaretz covered it, but there was hardly anything. In Warsaw, he was seen off by the state president, he had a state funeral, a fifteen gun salute and not even the lowliest clerk at the Israeli embassy attended the funeral. He was disappeared. So, yes, I’m sure the New York Times just eliminated his support for the Palestinians. But when he addressed a letter to the Palestinian resistance, as he said they were, he compared them to the Warsaw Ghetto fighters. That caused outrage in Israel, he was really persona non grata. He was a nonperson. And so Israel forgot him very quickly. He was the last commander of the Warsaw Ghetto resistance.
It was really worse than that. There were Zionists who fought, not because they were Zionists, but in spite of the fact that they were Zionists, and their own youth movements in Palestine instructed them to return to Palestine, through what was [called] the Aliyah Bet. They refused, to their credit: Zivia Lubetkin, Chajka Klinger, I quote, and so on. They were instructed to come to Palestine and they were told it was a waste. So they’ve only subsequently adopted it and Chajka Klinger when she came to Palestine, I think it was in 1947, spoke to the Histadrut executive and she condemned the Zionists who she said made up the bulk of the Judenrat, the Jewish councils which collaborated [with the Nazis] and said we have to put them on trial. And she criticized very heavily, as did the other Zionist fighters, the response in Palestine.
All their memoirs were altered. In some cases really forged, almost quotations. They excised large parts of it which were critical. So you have to go back to the original sources. And now Chajka’s diaries are printed. But the leader of [Labor Zionist organization] Hashomer Hatzair, Meir Yaari, the leader of Mapam as it became, was bitterly critical of her, because they didn’t understand that the real battle was in Palestine, it wasn’t in Europe. And that was their mistake that they believed they should stay with their own people. Yes, Zionists did fight in the Warsaw Ghetto, there’s no doubt about that. But it had nothing to do with Zionism.
Asa Winstanley: There’s so much in your book, Tony, that we won’t have time to get into. And you cover some of the same topics that Lenni Brenner’s book does, which I’ve written about as well in relation to Owen Jones recently. Namely, the Haavara Agreement and the case of Rezso Kasztner, who was a Hungarian Zionist leader who collaborated with the Nazis. And you go through all those and those cases, they’re still controversial to some people like Owen Jones, who defended Rezso Kasztner.
But there was a lot in your book that was new to me. Yours is the only book that I know of which brings the entire story up to the modern day in terms of Israeli collaboration with the far right, and you’ve got a global perspective on it. So could you explain a bit more about your findings on Israel’s links to the far right and fascist regimes? More recently, in the post-war years and up to today.
Tony Greenstein: My last chapter, chapter 18, is on Argentina. And I think that is a special case, because that was the first neo-Nazi regime, leaving aside Paraguay.
Asa Winstanley: I read this chapter today and I found it really fascinating. This was largely new to me. So explain that.
Tony Greenstein: Between 1976 and 1983 a military junta took over in Argentina. Their ideology was anti-Semitic. They clung to this Andinia Plan, which is that Marx, Freud and Einstein formed the kind of holy or unholy trinity. And this was the Jewish conspiracy. And so they arrested Jews, left-wing Jews mainly, but not entirely, to find out [about it] and they tortured them and they died under torture most of them.
Asa Winstanley: So this was the local Argentinian military junta, which was essentially fascist in character. This sort of global conspiracy they had, would you say it was their own kind of spin on the Nazi ideas of a Jewish world conspiracy?
Tony Greenstein: In essence, yes, except it revolved round Einstein, Marx and Freud. Why, I’m not sure. I haven’t researched the origins of the Andinia Plan. But they had this, and under the junta up to 3,000 Jews – something like 12.5 percent of all those who disappeared were Jewish. And the Argentinian Jewish community is less than 1 percent of the Argentinian population. So you would have thought, given all the fuss in the campaign about Soviet Jewry – if you remember that, “Let our people go” and so on, a massive campaign in the 60s and 70s – you would have thought that Israel would have been to the fore in denouncing the Argentinian junta. Not a word of it. I mean, absolute radio silence. Why? Well they were the largest arms supplier to the Argentinian junta. When Jimmy Carter cut off arms sales, Israel stepped into the breech. Israel was training these officers, they were going to Israel to receive their training. In the Falklands War, Israel supplied Argentina with emergency military equipment and so on. The Israeli embassy were refusing applications from Jews who were considered by the junta to be subversive.
So this idea that Israel will somehow be a refuge against anti-Semitism for Jews, is poppycock because if you’re a socialist Jew abroad and you fall foul of, say, the Ukrainian junta under [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy then you probably won’t be given a very great welcome. But certainly in Buenos Aires, the Israeli embassy did not want to know. Some Jews got visas anyway, but their policy was very hostile. And that was written up in a book by an Israeli correspondent for Yehdiot Aharonot, I think whose name was Zohar, off the top of my head, but it’s in the book, and basically, they were the wrong sort of Jews. And so they were not welcomed.
And the most famous of them was Jacobo Timerman, who edited a left-Zionist paper, La Opinión, and he was arrested and tortured. When he was released his case attracted enormous publicity and he was held under house arrest. The Israeli ambassador Ram Nirgad visited him and asked him to sign some papers saying his treatment had been good and he absolutely refused. He condemned the local Jewish community council, DAIA and AMIA, who he accused of being collaborators and a Judenrat, because they were Zionists. Because most of Argentinian Jewry then was not Zionist. I don’t know what the situation is now. But Israel absolutely refused to speak out. And when Timerman asked the director of the Israeli foreign ministry why, [the answer] was because the Russians are our enemy whereas the Argentinians are part of our friendship with Americans.
There you have it: when it came to it, the interests of Israel always come first. So this idea that a Jewish state will protect Jews abroad is total nonsense. But again, the Argentinian episode has also disappeared down the memory hole. So this is a basic history of what happened. There was a lot more which I had to cut out. But I think the essentials are there. The Knesset refused to discuss the plight of Argentinian Jewry, right throughout the period. It was simply vetoed on government orders until finally the Supreme Court said “yes, it has to be discussed.” But the evidence is there. Shulamit Aloni from Ratz, the civil rights party repeatedly tried to discuss it and she was threatened, physically by the Zionists, who said “this is not to be discussed, Israeli interests come first.” So that is the lesson of Zionism and the Israeli state. When it comes to it, it’s not a guarantor of anything if you’re Jewish either.
Asa Winstanley: And Israel was arming the junta throughout all this period.
Tony Greenstein: Yep, absolutely. Kfir jets it was flying. Yeah, yes.
Asa Winstanley: And was part of that arming during periods when American arms were not being sent to the junta?
Tony Greenstein: Yes. Basically, Israel had the policy that when the United States was forced by Congress under public pressure not to equip and arm some of the South American juntas. The same in Guatemala, Israel always stepped into the breech.
Asa Winstanley: This was a pattern throughout all that period of dirty wars in Latin America. It was the same with the Contras in Nicaragua. And as you mention in the book, the genocide in Guatemala, which Israel was also complicit in by helping to arm the the generals at the time – Ríos Montt – who was later found guilty of genocide.
This relates to what you said earlier: Israel was a useful tool, and still is a useful tool of global US imperialism, and before that British imperialism. Another thing I found really fascinating in the Argentine chapter, which I don’t think I really knew about, or maybe dimly, was the issue of the AMIA community – the Jewish community center which was bombed in 1994. And we hear this brought up occasionally still today that there were claims at the time and still now that Iran and Hizballah was behind this. But that’s actually been shown to not be the case.
Tony Greenstein: Yes it is pretty clear now from the police informer who turned, if you like Queen’s evidence, that the plot to bomb the center originated inside the police itself. And they basically got into casing the joint, to point out the weak spots and so on. And it’s a fair conclusion that they were responsible. There’s no evidence that Hizballah or Iran did it. And the Americans have basically accepted that there is no evidence. But you know, for Israel, their interests are in blaming Hizballah and Iran.
Asa Winstanley: Yeah. This is Operation Gladio type stuff, really, isn’t it? Because something else you get into the book is that, in a lot of these South American military dictatorships, there was a neo-Nazi, if not an outright Nazi ideology in place, because in a lot of cases, there were Nazi war criminals who were sheltered in South America, sometimes even with the help of Israel. I knew that part of it, but something new I learned from your book was that the Israelis were doing essentially the same thing as the Americans and the British when they were rescuing Nazi war criminals from Italy and West Germany, after World War Two, at the end of World War Two. Israel actually did that in a few cases as well. Could you tell us, who were Walter Rauff and Otto Skorzeny and what did they do for Israel? This is something you touch on in your book.
Tony Greenstein: I don’t know a great deal about what they did for Israel, but I know that they were agents of Israel. Otto Skorzeny apparently was a hitman for Israel. Skorzeny was famous because he first of all rescued Mussolini when Mussolini was overthrown in the coup in, I think it was about September 1943. He was arrested and held wherever and Skorzeny, who was a parachutist, led the rescue attempt and put Mussolini back in charge of what was called the Salò Republic, which was really run by the Nazis, not by the Italians. And it was then that the deportation of Italian Jewry began. So Skorzeny played a key part in that. And then in Hungary again, the anti-Semitic regime the Nazis had installed under Horthy in March 1944 was basically eased out of office by [Miklós] Horthy after the response of the west to the deportations. Deportations of Jews started on 15 May 1944. And they were stopped by Horthy on 7 July basically because they’d become an open secret in the West, what was happening, the massive publicity given to the Auschwitz protocols, which, despite Kasztner’s efforts, were publicized. The Swiss press blew it all up in the open. And basically, Horthy just called a halt to it and said, “We can’t persist in this any longer.”
They all knew what was happening. But he got cold feet, as did quite a number of the Nazis’ allies in Eastern Europe, [Ion] Antonescu in Romania, likewise, got cold feet, when he realized that the Germans were going to lose the war. And so that situation changed. But Horthy established his regime, I think it was from about August to October , under General [Geza] Lakatos, which was a fairly benevolent regime as they go and the Jews weren’t persecuted and deportations were no longer taking place. And then Horthy was very stupid in many ways. He told Hitler that he was joining the Allies. So of course, the Nazis then promptly overthrew him. And Skorzeny came in and he captured Horthy’s son, also called Miklós, rolled him up in a carpet, believe it or not, and told Horthy that if he made one wrong move or disobeyed what his orders were, his son would be shot. And so he played a very key part in re-establishing a neo-Nazi, if you like, regime in Hungary, from about October, I think it was the 23rd onwards until Budapest was liberated in January 1945.
There were no deportations because Auschwitz had already really shut shop, it had stopped exterminations in about October or November. They were actually blowing up the extermination equipment because Himmler was also getting cold feet at that time as well. But when the Nyilas, the Arrow Cross, who were the fascists who had taken power – they ran riot in Budapest and they killed up to 50,000 Jews. Budapest had a quarter of a million Jews in it. So about 200,000 were saved because of the Auschwitz protocols. But 50,000 died in these savage pogroms before the Soviets liberated Budapest and the rest of Hungary. Skorzeny played a key part in that.
But nonetheless, he was an agent of Israel. And likewise Walter Rauff. Walter Rauff had to his credit the invention of the gas truck, whereby you put people in the back of the gas van, or you attach a hose to the exhaust, channel it inside and people die quite painfully of carbon monoxide poisoning. Those gas trucks were used first against the disabled in Germany, which caused an outrage. People began wondering what’s happened to my child, he’s been taken off, declared subnormal and then a death certificate arrives. This happened times 70,000, or something. So eventually it was pretty much an open secret. There were these killing centers in Germany and Hitler realized he couldn’t persist with it any longer. But it was transferred, what was called the wild euthanasia, to the concentration camp. So it continued, but it didn’t continue in Germany. And that was the answer to those who said, “well, German people knew about the extermination camps.” It’s not true. The main reason why they were not situated in Germany was precisely because the German people didn’t know about them so they were situated in Poland for those reasons.
But Walter Rauff, he not only invented the gas truck, which killed, I don’t know, a minimum of 100,000, probably many more, on the borders of the Soviet Union, in Chełmno, which was the first extermination camp and then in Serbia and elsewhere. He went to Tunisia and he was trying to set up – during the Nazi occupation from about October 1943 – an extermination camp in Kairouan. But the Nazi occupation only lasted about six months. And the Italians also objected. So eventually, they gave up the idea. And as I said, the Nazi occupation of Tunisia was short-lived fortunately. But Rauff was a major, major war criminal, and for Israel to have him as its secret agent was just outrageous. But that’s what happened. And they paid for his passage to Ecuador, where he started a new life. I think he became a high officer in the Chilean secret place under [Augusto] Pinochet.
So yes: Israel has no hesitation in cooperating with neo-Nazi regimes and movements. Is it any wonder? We have a Jewish Nazi party, which is set to become the third largest in the Knesset now. Israeli politics are going around. If you establish an ethno-nationalist state what you do accords with the logic of what the Nazis did as well. That’s the fate of ethno-nationalist states, which is why neo-Nazis today love Israel, because really, what is there not to like about it? As Richard Spencer says, “I’m a white Zionist.”
Nora Barrows-Friedman: Over your decades of research and this book and your own political activism, where do you see Zionism headed? Now in this current state, in this context of Israel becoming more and more fascist, more of an apartheid, genocidal state and more ingrained with imperialist designs and politics around the world?
Tony Greenstein: It’s a difficult question, because it depends on so many variables. What I don’t think is possible, is that the Palestinians by themselves will have the weight to overthrow Zionism in Palestine. Unlike the South African Black people, they don’t have a major working class on which whites are dependent. That isn’t the case in Israel. South Africa was an exploitative colony primarily, an exploitative settler-colony, whereas Israel really doesn’t want Palestinians, it would quite happily expel them over the Jordan, given the chance if it was politically feasible. So there is a much greater strength in Israel, not only politically but economically and socially as well. It’s a very tight community. And that’s why any ideas of socialism – I mean the term “leftist” is a term of abuse in Israel today. You can see the Zionist left, which was never much of a left, it’s now a fragment, it’s fulfilled its role, it’s irrelevant. So I don’t see within Israel any change whatsoever.
I think groups like the Board of Deputies will continue to whitewash what happens. The Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish News and so on, will ensure that nothing true gets out. So it’s up to the Palestine solidarity movement in Britain to make young Jews aware, like they have in America, of the reality of what is happening. I think, to a large extent amongst British people, there is a growing realization that Israel is an apartheid state. But where I think people go wrong is to believe that the British establishment will therefore be persuaded. Israel is supported because it’s in the interests of British and American imperialism. So there won’t be much change unless they are forced to change by a mass movement from below. And so the idea of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, that you can really mainstream the anti-Zionist or the pro-Palestinian narrative, simply doesn’t accord with reality, because it’s not in their interest to. Which is why the most anti-Semitic papers, you know, the [Daily] Mail, which campaigned vehemently, with the Express, to not admit Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, you know, is the most pro-Zionist of them all. They can employ a neo-Nazi called Katie Hopkins, who speaks on platforms with Holocaust deniers, at the same time as they can be avidly pro-Zionist.
Being anti-Semitic and Zionist is perfectly compatible. And obviously, many Jewish people don’t understand that. But I think in terms of the end of Zionism: until the Arab people have overthrown the regimes that oppress them – because those regimes are protected by Israel, that’s why Israel was put in place to guarantee the safety of Western oil interests – until we see revolution in the Arab East, then I don’t think Zionism will be overthrown. I can’t see any other force that can do it. Certainly not within Israel, the Jewish population, the settler population, certainly isn’t going to do it. Anyone who believes that is living in cloud cuckoo land. Martin Luther King said it: those who benefit from privileges will not voluntarily give them up. It’s the letter from Alabama jail. It’s as true now as it was then.
So there are basically no reformist solutions to Zionism. You can reform capitalism and introduce palliatives. But you can’t do that with Zionism, it has to be overthrown, utterly destroyed. I say in my book that even if there had been no Palestinians, even if the Zionist movement had colonized an empty Pacific island I would be opposed to Zionism, because it’s a reactionary formation in its own right, regardless of what it’s done to the indigenous Palestinians and that’s as true now as then. Palestine will not be free until the Arab world is free, I’m afraid. Unless America withdraws its support because the oil runs out or something like that. But even then, I somehow doubt it.
But that’s my scenario. In America, Zionism is losing favor amongst Jewish people. The main supporters are, of course, Christian fundamentalists, because they are Christian imperialists. That’s what really motivates them. It’s a national religion just like you had the German reich’s church, where the Germans were the chosen people. So likewise America and the Manifest Destiny. It’s all the same. Bob Dylan wrote that every nation that goes to war has God on its side. And that’s as true of America as it is of Israel. I’m sorry that’s not very optimistic, but I can only do my best to help people understand what Zionism is. Unfortunately it’s not within my power to do much more.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: You’ve done a lot Tony!
Tony Greenstein: I am but an individual.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: Tell us where you can get the book, when it’s coming out and how people can stay in touch.
Tony Greenstein: Right, okay. It’s long overdue, I was naively optimistic that it would be out last April. But not having been through this process before, having only written one book before and that was all done for me. This was basically self published in the sense that I paid over lots of money to a publishing company to do it for me. It’s a massive book, it’s nearly 200,000 words. And I had to send back proofs repeatedly, correct errors, all of that. And in the process, I rewrote some of it as well. So it will be out within the month, cross my fingers, everything apart from the hardback cover has been completed. So it is really just now a matter of time. The proof copies, as I say, are out. And the book itself will be out. So if people want a copy of it, write to me, email me at TonyGreenstein104@gmail.com. I will put that on my blog. And I will let people know but it’d be very useful.
Unfortunately, PayPal took down my account recently, they provided no reason, but I think we can guess where the pressure came from. That would have been the easiest way. But that’s not to be so if you email me, I’ll provide you with the bank details. And if you transfer the money it’s almost gonna be at cost price, the paperback is gonna be about £12.50 and the hardback about £18 and it’ll a bit more expensive from the publishers themselves. But I won’t be making a vast fortune I’m afraid. I just want to get it out really, because I think the information in it needs to be known and understood. Because if people had understood Zionism’s record vis-a-vis anti-Semitism, they would have pulled them up about the Labour Party and said, “Well, your record today isn’t very good is it? Why are you so concerned about Jeremy Corbyn?” But people don’t ask simple questions like that, do they?
Asa Winstanley: What was the response? Presumably, you approached publishers with this.
Tony Greenstein: Yes. I approached Zed Press, one of whose consultants told me that the book was incendiary. Pluto Press didn’t even give a response. Verso hesitated, they actually did employ a couple of readers. One of whom was quite useful in terms of the structure of the book. So it did help me rethink it. But in the end they got cold feet. I mean, it is a large book Pluto told me it was too large for them anyway, but I don’t know. But you know, it’s easier printing left-wing academics, you’re not going to cause too much of a stir and this will undoubtedly cause a stir and they obviously didn’t want to be associated with it. So I decided I had to do it myself.
The Zionists were very helpful in that because I set up a CrowdFunder, and I did it deliberately on the Saturday because I knew they would be at synagogue and they couldn’t get anything out. So by the Monday or the Tuesday, it had raised about £700, but I wrote to each person saying, Send me your email, this is going to be taken down, there’s no way they’ll let it stay up. But then I can write to you again and organize another means of payment. And, of course, I blogged on it about the Zionist attacking free speech. So I raised about half the cost simply from that. So in essence the Zionists did help me unwittingly, because it took them three days to take the CrowdFunder down. And we know, of course, why they did that. So that’s how it is. But sometimes, they are so predictable, they’re predictably stupid as well.
Asa Winstanley: Tony, thanks very much for your time, we really appreciate it. And your blog, if people just Google Tony Greenstein’s blog, it’s on Blogspot. And I’m sure there’ll be more details there about your book in the coming days and weeks. Thank you very much, Tony Greenstein.
Nora Barrows-Friedman: Thanks Tony.
Tony Greenstein: That’s okay.