Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Letter to The Times
December 4, 1948Below 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. Of
particular interest is the reference to the Deir Yassin massacre which
occured earlier that year. 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.
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
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.
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
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
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