Udgivet: 22 april 2024 Udgivet af: Kilderne i Såne Kommentarer: 0

KIS-redaktionen har modtaget denne artikel på engelsk, skrevet af et medlem af Kilderne i Såne som vi hermed bringer uden at oversætte til dansk. Artiklen giver blandt andet et historisk indblik i Palæstinas historie før oprettelsen af staten Israel.

Af Philip Hollingbery – 20. april – 2024

On 2 November 1917, the leader of the British Zionist Federation, the 2nd Baron Rothschild, received a letter from the Foreign Secretary. It was the result of two years of discussions in the corridors of Whitehall, and the version that was made public is known as the Balfour Declaration. It confirmed that the Government would do what it could to establish a ”national home” in Palestine for the Jewish people. It added that nothing should prejudice the rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine – which comprised 92 per cent of the population. 

USA’s President breaks his election promise

The war was going badly. Thousands of young men were slaughtered daily in the mud of Flanders. It was a wall-to-wall holocaust (but we don’t use that word). My father lost an uncle in the fighting and my mother lost two. In the USA, Woodrow Wilson had begun his second term as President in November 1916, with the promise to keep America out of the war. Within months, that promise was broken. 

British Zionists were in close and regular contact with their American colleagues, and from 1916 had politely but quietly been assuring the Government that the Zionist lobby in the USA had enough influence to persuade President Wilson to declare war on Germany, provided England supported Zionism. 

Sykes & Picot’s secret exposed 

Balfour was forced to go public with his Declaration by the success of the Bolsheviks in Russia. He realised that the Kremlin would soon blow the whistle on the secret Sykes-Picot agreement, to which the Czar’s government had also been party. The Ottoman Empire, which controlled most of the Arab territories (including Palestine) was allied to Germany. Winston Churchill’s attempt to capture Gallipoli from the Ottomans had been a disaster. The Sykes-Picot agreement (3 January 1916) was about dividing control of these territories between Britain and France after the Ottomans had been defeated. This required an armed revolt by the Arab leaders, who would certainly not get on their camels if they had known. But the Zionists knew about the agreement. 

Arthur Balfour, a dour Scotsman, was a member of the Government led by David Lloyd George. This flambouyant Prime Minister was the first (and last) Welshman to hold that office. He was as self-assured in his public life as he was in the bedroom, where his secretary understood that she kept her job only on the condition that she was also his mistress. 


USA’s entry into the war in on 6 April 1917 proved decisive for Germany’s defeat. Approximately 270,000 Americans were killed or injured in the last year of the fighting. In November 1918, Germany sued for peace and surrendered vast amounts of munitions, warships and road vehicles in good working order (with spare parts) to the victorious allies: 5,000 guns, 30,000 machine guns, 3,000 Minenwerfers, 2,000 aeroplanes, 5,000 locomotives, 150,000 waggons, 5,000 motor lorries, 6 battle-cruisers, etc., according to Winston Churchill. 

One of President Wilson’s conditions for ceasing hostiliites at the Armistice on 11 November 1918 was that the Kaiser should play no part in negotiations. This was justified by the American faith in ”democracy”. He was forced by the victors to abdicate and go into exile in Belgium. With hindsight, it is probable that a Hohenzollern with family links to all of Europe’s other monarchies would have been a more suitable leader of a defeated Germany than Adolf Hitler. 

Starving Germany’s children 

At the outbreak of the War in August 1914, Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, had established a naval blockade of German ports. This effectively reduced Germany’s capacity to import food and war materials by sea. To the distress of the German civilian population, he maintained this blockade with vigour after the Armistice. As he explained to the House of Commons in March 1919, his intention was to coerce the Germans to settle for the terms to be imposed on them by the victors as soon as possible. Reports received by the British War Office from its staff dispatched to different parts of Germany confirmed that the country was close to starvation, Churchill told the House. 

Lloyd George does his worst 

Those terms were harsh. David Lloyd George went to Paris for the Peace Conference, which opened in January 1919, determined to make Germany pay for the War. ”Germany must be squeezed until the pips squeak, and more”, as one of his colleagues had put it. The conference opened in the Palace of Versailles, and ended there six months later, with the signing on 28 June 1919 of the Treaty imposed on Germany. The elderly French leader Georges Clemenceaux was even more determined for revenge, while the seriously ailing American President, Woodrow Wilson, gradually overcome his desire for reconciliation. 

Among the British delegation was a relatively young economic adviser whose name would be on everyone’s lips within the year. Even by the high standards of Cambridge, where he was born and had studied, John Maynard Keynes was exceptionally brilliant. Homosexual in his youth, but surprised in later life by the love of a Russian ballerina (whom he married), he was also charming, and daring in his career. Head-hunted to the Treasury to help finance Britain’s huge expenses of the war, he had astonished his older colleagues by the success of his currency speculations on behalf of his nation. 

Keynes does his best 

Keynes was horrified when he learnt of Lloyd George’s plan to punish Germany, and he was close enough to the Prime Minister to be listened to at first. The younger man warned the ”Welsh Wizard” (as he would later dub him) that forcing Germany to pay reparations in cash that the country did not have would prevent it from buying imports that it needed from the rest of Europe and also from the USA, seriously damaging the economies of all these countries, and forcing them to relinquish even more of their already depleted gold reserves to the USA. 

Forcing Germany to make reparations in kind, in the form of coal and steel, Keynes added, would depress the prices of these commodities so much, that their producers in the victorious countries would be driven out of business, and workers would lose their jobs. There would be a depression on a scale never seen before, and another world war within 20 years. 

It was not exactly rocket science. Less brilliant minds than Keynes’s undoubtedly grasped the disaster that was unfolding. But Lloyd George did not flinch, and, in due course, all of Keynes’s dire predictions came to pass. Exhausted and sick at heart, he resigned his job, fled back to Cambridge, and penned an angry book for the general public that immediately became a bestseller, ”The Economic Consequences of the Peace”.  

The mistakes made at Versailles 

All of this was well known at the time. The desparate under-nourishment and deaths of young German children made a deep impression on the young Adolf Hitler when he returned to civilian life. No one should be surprised that he decided to do somethng about it. It is astonishing that Danish film maker Lars von Trier, or anyone else for that matter, should get pilloried, a century later, for claiming to understand Hitler’s point-of-view. 

Despite Keynes’s genius in correctly and transparently predicting the future, most of us still believe, wrongly, that depressions and wars ”just happen”, instead of being deliberately and stealthily provoked, with scapegoats systematically set up to get the blame. Contrary to what is still universally believed, the behaviour of nations (like modern physics) is counter-intuitive. Nor doeas punishing a nation or its government as if they were naughty delinquents ever have the consequences that the general public desires. 

Once the British and the French, through the League of Nations, had obtained their respective ”mandates” to control much of the Middle East, the conflicting frustrated aspirations of both Zionists and Arabs gave way to more urgent concerns for the Europeans. The Suez Canal was once again secure against the threat of falling under Arab control. This threat had been a thinly disguised secondary motive for modern Zionism, since the Canal was important for western interests, especially imperial British and French trade. 

A hero of the desert’s mysterious death

The eccentric Englishman who had risen to fame as an outspoken friend of Arab aspirations, ”Lawrence of Arabia”, had been bitterly disappointed when he had learnt of the Sykes-Picot agreement. Now he was seriously worried. Besides publishing two books about his experiences of the Arab revolt, he joined the Royal Air Force under an assumed name as an aircraftman. He kept out of public life, and obviously feared that he could be a target for assassination. This didn’t prevent him from taking part in a variety of high-level activities behind the scenes. 

One fine spring day in 1935, 13 May, Lawrence set out on one of his hand-crafted Brough ”Superior” motorcycles, along a straight country road close to his cottage in the West of England. He was catapaulted off his machine at high speed, and died a week later of the severe head injuries he incurred. There were several witnesses who saw him come off, and made statements to the police, but some of their testimony was mysteriously withheld from the coroner’s inquest into his death. He had been a very experienced motorcyclist, and had survived all kinds of hazards in the desert. Winston Churchill was the most eminent mourner at his funeral. 

Death in Cairo 

As the war foreseen by Keynes became imminent, the British authorities made immigration to Palestine increasingly difficult. At the same time, the number of Jewish families in Germany and eastern Europe who were anxious to settle in Palestine was increasing. Consequently, some of the Zionists already living there identified England as their enemy, and were even sympathetic towards Nazi Germany. Militant Jewish groups were formed in Palestine, acquiring weapons, killing Arabs, and attacking British soldiers. They described themselves unreservedly as ”terrorists”, and advocated driving out resident Arabs from their homes by force. They did not flinch from murdering Arab women and children. 

Walter Guinness, the 1st Baron Moyne, was a member of the iconic Irish brewing family, and a close friend and political ally of Winston Churchill. In 1944, he was the highest-ranking British official in the Middle East, and sympathetic to the Arabs. Like everyone else in the industrialised nations, however, he didn’t think they were ”ready” to govern themselves. 

His car had just arrived at his Residency in Cairo on 6 November 1944, when it was approached by two Jewish assassins. One of these shot the driver dead, while the other shot and seriously injured Baron Moyne. He survived the three bullets for several hours, but the surgeons eventually were unable to save him. The killers fled on their bicycles, but were quickly captured by two alert Egyptian police officers. They were tried and hanged. 

The King David Hotel massacre 

On 22 July 1946, the wing of the King David Hotel containing the British administrative headquarters in Jerusalem was blown up by explosives placed in the basement by Jewish terrorists. 91 people were killed and 46 were injured. The casualties included Arabs and Jews as well as British soldiers and civilians. Some of the victims were outside the building; others were inside nearby buildings. 

Folke Bernadotte is very well known, as the Swedish diplomat who persuaded Heinrich Himmler to allow Scandinavian prisoners to be rescued, in March 1945, from concentration camps, by means of the Red Cross’s White Buses. A member of Sweden’s royal family, he was cousin to King Gustav VI Adolf, who was the father of Denmark’s Queen Ingrid. In 1948 he was sent to Palestine by the United Nations as their chief negotiator. He was a firm advocate of the UN’s principles of self-determination and decolonisation, and argued that Arabs displaced by the Zionists should be allowed to return to their homes. 

White Buses hero brutally killed in Jerusalem 

This did not suit the militant Zionists. On 17 September 1948, Folke Bernadotte’s car was ambushed in Jerusalem by four Jewish terrorists. He was shot dead, together with his friend and diplomatic colleague, Colonel André Serot. The perpetrators got away. Although they were subsequenctly detained, together with numerous fellow conspirators, they were all eventually granted amnesty. 

Unlike other assassinations, there is no dispute about the primary motives for the killing of Folk Bernadotte. Their importance cannot be underestimated. No UN diplomat can do his or her job, if he risks assassination as a result of the way he/she intends to vote. The killing compromised the UN almost as soon as it was created. Israel, with its lack of a constitution and its movable borders, furthermore, would not have become the power it is today without the ruthless determination of its own acknowledged terrorists. Those who defend Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself demonstrate that they believe that terrorism does pay. 

Was Folke Bernadotte’s nationality a secondary motive for his murder? During the 2nd world war, Sweden had avoided being occupied by Germany, by collaborating in the supply of minerals (some of them transported from the north of occupied Norway) and manufactured goods vital to the Nazi war effort. On the other hand, the Swedes had also granted asylum to many Jews and communists from Denmark and Norway. Was the Swedish royal family being punished by Folke Bernadotte’s assassination for being on the ”wrong” side in the conflict? 

The same question can be asked about several other high-profile Swedish killings. The investigation into the death (on 18 September 1961) in Africa of another high-ranking UN diplomat, Dag Hammerskjöld, was confronted with a great deal of conflicting evidence. The murders of prime minister Olof Palme (28 February 1986) and minister for foreign affairs Anna Lindh (who died on 11 September 2003) also remain deeply mysterious. 

Those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them. 

Philip Hollingbery


Foto: Eddie & Carolina Stigson – Unsplash