- Below is a 'copy' in its entirety of a very important
letter to the New York Times from Jewish intellectuals including Albert
Einstein, Hannah Arendt, and Sidney Hook that appeared on December 4, 1948
While it is quoted from in brief on several web sites, it appears nowhere
in its entirety, and it deserves to be disseminated as it originally appears.
- -- John Wheat Gibson
- Letters to The Times New York Times December 4, 1948
- New Palestine Party Visit of Menachem Begin and Aims
of Political Movement Discussed
- TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:
- Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our
times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the "Freedom
Party" (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization,
methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist
parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former
Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.
- The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party,
to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of
American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to
cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United
States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to
welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout
the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin's political record and
perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.
- Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial
contributions, public manifestations in Begin's behalf, and the creation
in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports
Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to
the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.
- The public avowals of Begin's party are no guide whatever
to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism,
whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist
state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real
character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to
do in the future.
- Attack on Arab Village
- A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village
of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish
lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands
who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK
TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a
military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants-240
men, women, and children-and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives
through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified
at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah
of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act,
were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the
foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses
and the general havoc at Deir Yassin.
- The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and
actions of the Freedom Party.
- Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture
of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like
other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves
pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they
have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model. During the
last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups
inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers
were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting
their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing,
and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and
exacted a heavy tribute. The people of the Freedom Party have had no part
in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no
land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense
activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and
devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.
- Discrepancies Seen
- The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made
by Begin and his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine
bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable
stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British
alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a "Leader State"
is the goal.
- In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative
that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country.
It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has
refused to campaign against Begin's efforts, or even to expose to its own
constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin. The undersigned
therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning
Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest
manifestation of fascism.
- ISIDORE ABRAMOWITZ, HANNAH ARENDT, ABRAHAM BRICK, RABBI
JESSURUN CARDOZO, ALBERT EINSTEIN, HERMAN EISEN, M.D., HAYIM FINEMAN, M.
GALLEN, M.D., H.H. HARRIS, ZELIG S. HARRIS, SIDNEY HOOK, FRED KARUSH, BRURIA
KAUFMAN, IRMA L. LINDHEIM, NACHMAN MAISEL, SEYMOUR MELMAN, MYER D. MENDELSON,
M.D., HARRY M. OSLINSKY, SAMUEL PITLICK, FRITZ ROHRLICH, LOUIS P. ROCKER,
RUTH SAGIS, ITZHAK SANKOWSKY, I.J. SHOENBERG, SAMUEL SHUMAN, M. SINGER,
IRMA WOLFE, STEFAN WOLFE.
- New York, Dec. 2, 1948
- Source notes: Laura Nader gave a copy of the microfilmed
NYT to Anne Lipow in April. (Nader has been using it in her class at UC).
The copy was illegible in parts and the first column was cut off; Laura's
original was the same. Anne and UC Anthropology Librarian Suzanne Calpestri
then tried to retrieve an electronic version of the letter. It appears
nowhere in its entirety on the Internet, and is not in any NYT electronic
archive accessible to UC Librarians (i.e., it doesn't exist). Suzanne
made another copy from a different microfilm; it solved the mystery of
the missing first column but this copy was also "dirty" in other
areas. Neither copy was scannable using OCR,so I typed it in by hand exactly
the way it appeared in the original, and have proofed it carefully. However,
the spelling of some of the signatories was unclear in the microfilmed
originals, so there may be a few errors in this rendition. It would be
nice if someone were to annotate the list of signatories, so that those
less-familiar names could be placed in context. At any rate, this clearly
belongs IN FULL TEXT on the web for distribution to as many people as possible.
Please circulate this among anyone you think may be interested; I think
it especially belongs in the hands of those friends and family members
who are still reluctant to criticize the Israeli government.
- Source info:
- Jenny Lipow Berkeley, CA
- John Wheat Gibson