Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gov. Kay Ivey has in her hands the ability to alter for the better the very dangerous trajectories that our nation is now facing



POSTING NOTE: This letter was written by the father of one of the members of a  our  editorial board. Identification of the writer and of the recipient has been removed 

 This letter is being posted as an example of respectful conversation, directed to achieving a fair and reasonable solution to a situation   where  the actual truth  is unknowable the short run but can  probably be sorted out,  given due diligence and time for an adequate investigation..


Gov. Kay Ivey has in her hands the ability to alter for the better the very dangerous trajectories that our nation is now facing

I cannot overstate the importance of  the coming Alabama senatorial election to the well-being of the United States and of  the world

Currently Russia and Iran are on a drive to control the Middle East.

 North Korea is on a drive to obtain nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them which imperil Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and the United States mainland

China seeking economic and military expansion throughout the Far East.

And Iran and China are expanding their activities in South America. 

 This means that Gov. Kay Ivey has in her hands the ability to alter for the better the very dangerous trajectories that our nation is now facing.
               

  •         I  have read a lot about the Judge Moore case . Obviously, everything I read, Pro or con is hearsay. I have nothing to offer publicly on this matter, but you might find some of my thinking useful to you in formulating your own approach to Judge Roy Moore and the election in Alabama which will take place in approximately three weeks.

  • There is a lot of noise and talk about multiple accusers. Many deal with the accusation that he approached younger women. When I graduated high school in New York in 1948 several of the girls in my graduating class got married immediately after graduation. Their ages ranged from 16 to 18. One of the girls married a popular teacher who was a World War II veteran probably 10 to 12 years older than her. Since they kept their relationship away from the school and it was done with the parents knowledge there was no scandal or even question. From my days in the military in the South girls getting married at 15,16, 17, 18 was common.

  •          My personal situation is relevant to my observations. I met my wife when she was 17 years  + 3 weeks old. At that time I was 26 1/2 years old. I was a captain in the Army medical service. Previously I had been an infantry officer and an infantry enlisted man. I had my PhD and  had taught at a major university.

  •         We met on a train during a winter  snow storm. Her father, spotting my uniform, approached me for information concerning the train’s  schedule. Her mother then joined the conversation. Then the girl who was later to become my wife came over and her parents introduced us. We rode together for approximately 12 hours. She told me about her high school cheerleading and about her summer camp counselor experience. I told her bits and pieces about the Army.

  •          During the next three years we corresponded and [with her parents permission] we "dated" which consisted of dining together for about one week per year when I visited the city at which he attended college as  she completed her freshman, sophomore and junior years at college. 

  •          After about 21 days together [or three years, calendar time] I proposed and she accepted. We spoke to her parents that night and obtained their blessing. Now, we have been married for 56+ years, have three adult children and seven grandchildren. The oldest grandchild is 22 years old and studying for her PhD in psychology. Our youngest grandchild is seven years in elementary school.

  •          Also relevant is how the media uniformly treated these age differences as "true romance". For example when Charlie Chaplin married his fourth wife, Oona O’Neill in June 1943, this was the media account: “ Charlie Chaplin  at last found true happiness, and it seems they [Oona  and Charlie] both found their soul mates, despite the fact that Oona was only 18, and Charlie was 53. They met when Charlie Chaplin considered her for a part in an unmade film, Shadow and Substance (during 1942) and were inseparable from then on. She supported Charlie totally throughout a particularly harrowing court case in the 1940’s and when he was exiled from the U.S. in 1952. They eventually made their home in Switzerland. Together Oona and Charlie Chaplin had eight children (Geraldine, Michael, Josephine, Victoria, Eugene, Jane, Annette and Christopher).”

  •          You may remember the McMartin case. There the mantra was: "believe the children". There were many witnesses. Before the McMartin's were cleared they lost their business; they l lost their home. Their daughter had her teaching license stripped from her. Their son became unemployable. Simultaneously throughout the country many ministers and others in contact with youth were unjustly accused in a wave of hysteria.

  • As an advisor to [DELEATED ]Company corporate legal I advised [and they implemented] the following policy. Take all accusations seriously. Refer all accusations for a full and thorough investigation by an impartial outside law firm. If the accusations are upheld then be firm and uniform in applying punishment. If the accusations are deemed sincere but not provable, separate the parties.

  • Although today's mantra is" believe the women” approximately 50% of the accusations proved to be false. This includes several cases where there were multiple women with similar accusations and all appeared believable at first presentation.

  • Some were made as a result of a failed romantic relationship. Others were made when one of the parties, felt slighted, betrayed or deceived in terms of promotion and/or recognition.

  • The uniform quality was that the female accusers nearly all were "very believable". Thus, Sen. Graham or Mitch McConnell or any other legislator or columnist saying that he/she found the women believable is ridiculous.

  • Basically, the actual charges boil down to the words of two women.
    What is interesting is that neither woman has signed a sworn statement which would subject her to perjury if the statement is false.

  • Since this is obviously a political hit job, it should not be rewarded. Also, if the charges are true then judge Roy Moore should not serve in the Senate. However, there is much that is riding on the political makeup of the Senate. This includes vital issues like North Korea, Syria, Iran, etc. The importance of these issues far exceed the "moral issues" associated with any individual. I believe that the best outcome would be achieved as follows:

  • Vote for Roy Moore.

  • Continue with a thorough investigation

  • Have Gov. Ivey appoint an impartial group to hear the evidence and make a determination that would be binding on Judge Moore.
    Have Judge Moore sign a legal commitment to step down if he is found guilty of either of the two main accusations against him. Then the governor of Alabama will appoint a suitable replacement. If Judge Moore is cleared then an obvious political hit job will not be rewarded. [This would speed up the process and make it transparent.]

  • To continue the investigation Leigh Corfman would be required to file a sworn statement and be subject to cross-examination on the details both by the state authorities and by judge Moore’s legal representation. Included would be all past actions of the complainant making complaints against others. The various legal documents she has sworn to and her divorces and bankruptcies. Etc.

  • What has been reported widely is that the complainant had at that approximate age drug and sex problems. Also what has been reported widely is that the complainant has history of making similar complaints against various clergymen. Also reported is that certain details of the complainant’s story such as the judge reaching her in her bedroom by telephone have been proven false.

  • Beverly Young Nelson’s is a more difficult case. Here is a case of really "she said". The yearbook signature should be turned over immediately for expert examination. If it is not Roy Moore's actual inscription then the second case is loses most of its credibility. If it is Judge Roy Moore's actual original signature it damages Judge Moore's credibility but it is not conclusive in regard to the allegations.


  •       The second idea for Governor Ivey  to consider,  which is  under Gov. Ivy’s complete control is the following:

  •        Have Sen. Luther Strange resign his seat immediately. The governor could then cancel the election and call for a new election while she makes an interim appointment to fill the unexpired portion (few weeks) remaining in the term. This would give her, the citizens of Alabama, and the nation time to respond to  the Washington Post’s  imposed crisis that has been thrust upon her state and the nation in an attempt to thwart the will of the citizens of Alabama.



Thursday, November 16, 2017

 TO Rep. Betty McCollum: Lets take  some time away from the "moral outrage" being expressed against Judge Roy Moore and take congressional action against the PA’s use of American aid to actively incite Palestinian youth to murder Jews.

While  legislators rush to the media  to voice negative judgment concerning Judge Roy Moore, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) has introduced legislation to protect Palestinian murderers under the age of 18 from arrest, Rep.McCollum’s bill  characterizes young terrorists as “Palestinian children” and contends that their arrest by the Israeli army constitutes “abuse.”

Those who would be protected in their actions against Israeli civilians by Rep. Betty McCollum include:

16-year-old Morad Abdullah Adais.   On Jan. 17, 2016, Adais broke into the home of Dafna Meir, in the town of Otniel, armed with an 8-inch knife. Adais, who was 16, later described proudly what he did next:

“I plunged the knife into her so deeply that most of it was inside her body. She started screaming, the children saw me and also started screaming, then I stabbed her in her upper body another three or four times. She tried to fight me and tried to take the knife from me. The two children who were there were still screaming, but she continued to resist, so I pushed her, and overpowered her.”

Asked what he would have done if he was able to pull the knife from Meir’s body, the Palestinian teenager said, “I would have continued stabbing her, and if I saw another Jew I would stab and murder him.”

Meir left behind six children, ages 4-17. They’re also minors.

“Teenager” Mohammed Nasser Tra’ayra .  On June 30, 2016, Tra’ayra broke into the bedroom of a 13-year-old girl named Hallel Yaffa Ariel, in the town of Kiryat Arba.  Tra’ayra, viciously stabbed Hallel again and again. Then he stabbed two other Israelis whom he encountered. Hallel’s father shot and killed Tra’ayra. Presumably, McCollum would regard the shooting as “settler violence” against a “Palestinian child.”
If Tra’ayra had not been killed, and Israeli soldiers arrested him, that would have zero or constituted illegal and abusive detention, according to the McCollum bill.


"16-year-old fire bomb thrower" On Dec. 25, 2014 two young Palestinians decided that they would try to burn some Jews to death. They positioned themselves on the road to the Israeli town of Ma’ale Shomron. Along came an automobile with an 11-year-old girl riding in the front passenger seat. The two attackers—one of them a 16-year-old “child”—threw rocks and firebombs at the car.

The car exploded in flames. Eleven-year-old Ayelet Shapiro jumped out, her entire body on fire. Her father’s quick action to smother the flames saved Ayelet’s life, but she suffered third-degree burns to her face and upper body, meaning years of painful surgery and skin grafts, and a lifetime of severe scars and emotional trauma.

How were the attackers caught? Israeli security personnel went into the nearby Palestinian Arab village of Azun, detained suspects, questioned them and  pinpointed the perpetrators. None of which would have been possible under the McCollum bill.


Yes, the Israeli army does arrest a significant number of Palestinian minors. That’s because a significant number of Palestinian minors engage in terrorism. In the past two years, there have been at least 79 terrorist attacks carried out by Palestinians from the ages of 8-17, according to the watchdog group Human Rights Voices.

The real abuse that Betty McCollum is hiding   is that  American aid is being openly used by the Palestinian Authority to help finance the PA’s constant program  to incite minors to engage to murder Jews. “We are so proud that  the backbone of this uprising are the youth of Palestine,” the PA’s U.N. representative, Riyad Mansour, declared during the recent wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks.

But don’t take Mansour’s word for it. Morad Abdullah Adais, the 16-year-old who butchered Dafna Meir in front of her children, told investigators that he was inspired to murder her after watching a PA television program depicting Israelis as cruel oppressors of the Palestinians.

 Lets take  some time away from the "moral outrage" being expressed against Judge Roy Moore and take congressional action against the PA’s use of American aid to actively incite Palestinian youth to murder Jews.












Saturday, November 11, 2017

 THE BIN LADEN DOCUMENTS  REVEAL CIA SPIN OF US INTELLIGENCE ASSESSEMENTS

Stephen Hayes  Weekly Standard Magazine  11-20-17

http://www.weeklystandard.com/spinning-the-bin-laden-documents/article/2010416

Ned Price is not happy.

The former CIA analyst and National Security Council official was at the center of the Obama administration’s efforts to mislead the American people about the continuing threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates and about the rogue states whose support allowed it to regain its strength and expand. With the release on November 1 of 470,000 documents, images, videos, audio, and computer files captured during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the fact that the Obama administration politicized this intelligence became indisputable and the brazenness of its effort clear.

Those responsible are understandably nervous, and they’re lashing out. Ned Price, now an NBC News analyst and a fellow at the New America Foundation, is leading the way. “The newly-released documents don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know,” he tweeted almost as soon as the documents were released. The claim is absurd.

Did we know the contents of Osama bin Laden’s 228-page handwritten journal? Did we know that he first spoke of striking America in the mid-1980s? Did we know he wanted to boycott American apples?

Did we know that bin Laden was surprised by the ferocity of the American response to 9/11 or that he had a subordinate translate Bob Woodward’s book Obama’s Wars so that he might better understand the new U.S. president? Did we know bin Laden’s thoughts on the Arab Spring as it unfolded? Did we know bin Laden sometimes issued statements based on his dreams?

Did we know, as Thomas Joscelyn put it in these pages last week, the extent to which bin Laden “remained an active manager of his far-flung network until his dying day, receiving updates from loyalists around the globe. Groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and al Shabaab in Somalia all sought and received his guidance”?

The U.S. intelligence community had released only 571 of the captured documents between May 2015 and January 2017. The nearly half-million documents just released by the CIA tell us countless things we did not know. We’d never heard bin Laden’s own explanation for how he became a “committed” Muslim or that he credits a prominent Turkish Islamist for his theological evolution. We’d never seen the adult face of Hamza bin Laden—Osama’s heir, whom al Qaeda is grooming for a senior leadership post.

We now have many more details of al Qaeda’s support from Iran. We didn’t know, for instance, that the Iranian regime, which had alternately harbored and detained Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was supposedly surprised when the founder of Al Qaeda in Iraq chose to return to Iraq and fight upon his release.

We have new insights into the ties between the leadership of al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.

We even learned that bin Laden took in American pop culture as he condemned it and that someone in his compound had a copy of the popular “Charlie Bit My Finger” YouTube video downloaded on a computer.

We learned all this in just one week. Terrorism researchers and scholars will be studying this new information for years in order to gain a fuller understanding of bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Why would Ned Price say something so demonstrably false?

Because the other thing we learned by studying these newly released documents is that the narrative of bin Laden and al Qaeda carefully created by the Obama administration—that of an isolated, impotent jihadist leader detached from his deteriorating terror network and at odds with the regime in Iran—was deeply misleading.

* *

Price sells himself as a disinterested intelligence professional and a partisan of only the truth. He made news at the outset of the Trump administration when he wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post announcing his resignation from the CIA. The headline: “I didn’t think I’d ever leave the CIA. But because of Trump, I quit.”

In the piece, Price described the importance of an impartial intelligence community, dedicated to providing unvarnished analyses to the country’s leading policymakers, and made a strong case that we ought to be concerned about Trump’s eagerness to set aside the concerns of U.S. intelligence professionals on Russian meddling in the 2016 election. And he denounced as inappropriate Trump’s comments at the CIA in the opening days of his administration”:

Standing in front of a memorial to the CIA’s fallen officers, he seemed to be addressing the cameras and reporters in the room, rather than the agency personnel in front of them, bragging about his inauguration crowd the previous day. Whether delusional or deceitful, these were not the remarks many of my colleagues and I wanted to hear from our new commander in chief.

Price wrote that intelligence professionals are “taught to tune out politics” and insisted that his decision to quit “had nothing to do with politics.” But he had left out an important detail. A little more than six months earlier, he had contributed $5,000 in support of Hillary Clinton. The Post updated his op-ed with a clarification: “This column should have included a disclosure of donations made by author Edward Price in support of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In August, Price gave a total of $5,000 to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.”

For reporters who had dealt with Price in the three years he had been detailed to the NSC from the CIA, his politics came as no surprise. As NSC spokesman, Price worked at the center of the Obama administration’s national-security spin machine, a fact illuminated in the much-discussed 2016 profile of deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes in the New York Times Magazine. Together, the two carefully cultivated an echo chamber of Obama loyalists in the media, who could be counted on to amplify White House messaging, praise the president’s initiatives, and defend him whenever necessary.

So it was business as usual for Price when the CIA released the Abbottabad documents, and he rapidly laid out a counternarrative on Twitter:

CIA released what it claims are the final public files from Bin Laden’s lair. I’m all for transparency, but this isn’t about that.

In January, [the director of national intelligence], which led the declassification effort, released what it said was the final tranche of Bin Laden files.

The DNI-led review was overseen by career intel officials, who concluded that, w[ith] the Jan[uary] files, all those of public interest were released.

But a funny thing happened when CIA Director Pompeo came into office. I’m told he re-launched a review of the files.

In doing so, he took officers away from important missions to pore—and re-pore—over the millions of documents.

How can we be sure this was a CIA effort? Unlike previous releases, today’s files are hosted on CIA.gov, not the DNI site.

Why would he do that? It seems he’s convinced the unreleased files would tie al-Qa’ida to Iran.

He said as much at the gathering of a conservative group, [the Foundation for Defense of Democracies], opposed to the Iran deal in September.

As luck would have it, CIA provided an advance copy of today’s files to Long War Journal, this group’s publication.

The ploy is transparent despite the fact that the newly-released documents don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know.

What’s not as transparent are the motives of Pompeo, the administration’s leading and most influential Iran hawk.

But these moves suggest he’s reverting to the Bush administration’s playbook: Emphasize terrorist ties as a rationale for regime change.

Price wrote this tweetstorm up as an article for the Atlantic several days later, but the incoherence remained. In one section, he allowed that “it’s impossible to discern Pompeo’s exact motives in this latest release,” only to declare a few sentences later that he, Ned Price, had managed the impossible and could see the CIA director’s exact motives. “Pompeo is playing politics with intelligence,” Price wrote, “using these files in a plot to bolster the case against Iran by reinvigorating the debate on its terrorist ties.”

* *

For years, the Obama White House resisted calls to release the bin Laden documents. The self-proclaimed “most transparent administration in history” gave a series of convenient and self-contradictory reasons for its refusal to share the collection.

At times, we were told the documents couldn’t be released because the information was too sensitive and valuable to make public. At others, however, the administration asserted that there wasn’t much to the cache and what remained unreleased was mostly jihadist detritus that wouldn’t interest anyone.

Sometimes the explanations came from the intelligence agencies; sometimes they came from the National Security Council. In most cases, however, the answers were plainly coordinated. White House officials were copied on emails from the intelligence agencies and vice versa. Ned Price helped direct these efforts.

The January 2017 DNI release that Price holds up as definitive was called “Closing the Book on Bin Laden.” But it covered just 571 documents from the vast Abbottabad collection—a tiny fraction. The accompanying press release claimed that the newly released batch of documents “mirrors themes in previous releases,” among them bin Laden’s “hatred, suspicion of Iran.” It is true that this is what previous ODNI releases claimed. But it just isn’t true that this is what the Abbottabad documents show.

In one previously released document, bin Laden credited Iran for serving as the “main artery” for the strengthening and growth of al Qaeda.

And a document released earlier this month—one we never would have seen if Price had gotten his way—expands on this earlier knowledge. This 19-page report, authored by a senior al Qaeda operative, says that the Iranian regime provided “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed,” including “money, arms,” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.” And a video made public as part of the latest release shows Hamza bin Laden reciting his wedding vows—alongside several senior al Qaeda operatives—in Iran.

In 2015, during the intense debate over the Iran nuclear deal, the government threat assessment on Iran largely elided the country’s role in supporting terrorism. Language that had appeared in previous threat assessments from the intelligence community was gone in the new version. A spokesman for the ODNI told us at the time that the changes had been made for reasons of space and were not an effort to downplay Iran’s support for terror.

But that is just what the White House team was trying to do.

Multiple U.S. Treasury Department designations cited a secret agreement between Iran and al Qaeda under which the Iranian regime actively harbored al Qaeda’s “core pipeline.” A February 2012 designation reported that Iranian officials “facilitated the movement of al Qaeda operatives in Iran and provided them with documents, identification cards, and passports.” An October 2012 designation reported: “Iran continues to allow al Qaeda to operate a core pipeline that moves al Qaeda money and fighters through Iran to support al-Qaeda activities in South Asia. This network also sends funding and fighters to Syria.” A February 2014 Treasury designation singles out “a key Iran-based al Qaeda facilitator who supports al-Qaeda’s vital facilitation network in Iran, that operates there with the knowledge of Iranian authorities.” Sources familiar with the intelligence on Iran have told us that much of the language characterizing the Iran-al Qaeda relationship in those designations comes from the Abbottabad documents.

There were tensions between Iran and al Qaeda, to be certain, including over Hamza’s eventual detention in the country. And the documents—new and old—describe moments of frustration and mistrust between these two American enemies. Bin Laden did not want Iran to export its Shiite version of Islam throughout the region, and he considered plans to combat Iranian expansion. Al Qaeda also kidnapped an Iranian diplomat in order to free hostages held by the Iranian government. Any assessment of the threat presented by Iran and al Qaeda ought to take account of these strains and must appreciate that the relationship is based on mutual exploitation rather than ideological or doctrinal affinity.

That’s not what the previous assessment from the ODNI did. And background statements from “senior intelligence officials” and NSC spokesmen working under the supervision of Price gave the same misimpression. In the past, Obama officials dismissed Iran-al Qaeda cooperation as “baseless conspiracy theories” and claimed, “anyone who thinks Iran was or is in bed with al Qaeda doesn’t know much about either.” The CIA’s release of the vast bulk of the Abbottabad documents reveals a much more complicated picture—and the degree to which such statements had been White House-driven spin.

No wonder Ned Price isn’t happy.

Stephen F. Hayes is editor in chief of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.


Osama bin Laden’s secret diary  reveals Iran's deep involvement in anti-American activities and why the Obama administration withheld this information from the American public… To obtain the Iranian nuclear deal

Clifford D. May, WASH TIMES  11-8-17

http://www.cliffordmay.org/20517/osama-bin-laden-diary

The CIA has finally released hundreds of thousands of al Qaeda documents.

On May 2, 2011, a Navy SEAL team made a brief stop in Abbottabad, Pakistan where they  terminated Osama bin Laden’s life and then moved on to their second mission: collecting as much information as possible from within the al Qaeda leader’s compound.

They carried off computers, memoranda, photos, audio files, even a 228-page handwritten diary – “the single largest collection of senior terrorists materials ever,” a Pentagon briefer told reporters five days later.

Over the years since, what have we learned from this treasure trove? Almost nothing. Why not? Because President Obama promptly put almost all of it under lock and key.

Two of my colleagues, Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio, senior fellows of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editors of FDD’s Long War Journal, strenuously argued against that decision. They believed it served no purpose – or at least no good purpose. (More on that in a moment.) They advocated for the release of the materials to scholars, journalists, policy makers, legislators and the public.

As a member of Congress, Mike Pompeo sympathized with their efforts. Last week, as CIA Director, he released 470,000 documents, images and computer files from the Abbottabad collection. He granted FDD’s Long War Journal a few days advance access to this haul.

So much material, much of it never even translated, cannot be analyzed overnight. But Joscelyn, Roggio and other FDD researchers have begun the process and they’ve already drawn a few significant conclusions.

For one, it’s clear that “when U.S. forces knocked down his door,” bin Laden was not, as President Obama had portrayed him, in retirement or a mere figurehead. Right up until the last moments of his life he “was communicating with subordinates around the globe.”

As for al Qaeda, it was not, as President Obama repeatedly claimed, “on the run” or “on the path to defeat.” It was expanding and strategically reorganizing.

Perhaps most significant to current policy debates is a 19-page assessment by a senior AQ operative attesting that the Islamic Republic of Iran supplied its “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda with “everything needed” to battle the U.S. — visas, money, arms and even “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon.”

Iran also provided safe haven for AQ fighters “in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.” In a separate memo, bin Laden himself makes clear that by 2007 Iran had become AQ’s “main artery for funds, personnel and communication.”

This confirms what some of us have been arguing for years: that Al Qaeda and the Islamic Republic of Iran are not so much enemies as rivals. They compete and quarrel. They have profound theological differences: AQ is Sunni, Iran’s mullahs are Shia. For 1,400 years, no peace process has resolved the split between these two readings of Islam.

But AQ and the theocrats in Tehran do manage to cooperate, collaborate and collude. Both believe they have a religious duty to wage a jihad against “arrogant” — meaning insufficiently submissive — infidels, with Americans and Israelis at the top of their lists.

Which brings us back to the question: Why didn’t President Obama want this material released? I’m afraid the answer is obvious: It would have bolstered opposition to his nuclear deal – his agreement to provide Tehran with legitimacy and billions of dollars while ignoring its ballistic missile program, continuing sponsorship of terrorism and egregious human rights violations; all in exchange for the regime’s promise to delay a nuclear weapons program whose existence it denies.

In a penetrating new article, Weekly Standard editor in chief Stephen Hayes, also a longtime and ardent advocate for the release of the materials, recalls that one of the last acts of the Obama administration was to issue a press release titled “Closing the Book on Bin Laden: Intelligence Community Releases Final Abbottabad Documents.”

In fact, the Obama administration had released only 571 out of tens of thousands of potentially revealing documents and files. And these carefully selected materials were made public only because the National Intelligence Authorization Act of 2014 forced the hand of Mr. Obama’s Director of National Intelligence. Few in the mainstream media bothered to point that out. Fewer still lodged objections. “This is what the politicization of intelligence looks like,” Hayes concludes.

Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, also would have preferred that the Abbottabad collection never see the light of day. He and his apologists have long been promoting Iran as an essentially normal and progressive nation, keen on regional stability, fighting terrorists, and insisting only on its right to self-defense.

In response to the release, Zarif tweeted: “A record low for the reach of petrodollars: CIA & FDD fake news w/ selective AlQaeda docs re: Iran can’t whitewash role of US allies in 9/11.”

Best I can figure he’s alleging that the Saudis paid both the CIA and FDD to cherry-pick documents to make it appear that Iran was implicated in the 9/11 attacks.  Even with 140-character maximum, I’d have expected him to do better.

Other highlights of last week’s document release: the first video images we’ve seen of a grown-up Hamza bin Laden, a favorite son of the terrorist chief who is almost certainly training to become a next-generation AQ leader. The video was taken at his wedding ceremony, a festive affair held in — did you guess? — Iran.

Finally, a note on bin Laden’s diary. In it, he offers praise for Al Jazeera, Qatar’s popular news-and-propaganda outlet. He also reflects on the Muslim Brotherhood — how it influenced his view of the world and led him to commit his life to jihad. Useful for us to be know that, don’t you think? 

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.

Pundicity:  www.pundicity.com  


Friday, November 10, 2017

Lifting the Steele Curtain

Kimberley A. Strassel    Wall Street Journal Nov. 9, 2017 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/lifting-the-steele-curtain-1510274070?mod=rss_opinion_main



The Fusion GPS dossier was one of the dirtiest political tricks in U.S. history.



The Steele dossier has already become a thing of John le Carré-like intrigue—British spies, Kremlin agents, legal cutouts, hidden bank accounts. What all this obscures is the more immediate point: The dossier amounts to one of the dirtiest tricks in U.S. political history. It was perpetrated by Team Clinton and yielded a vast payoff for Hillary’s campaign.

The Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign hired the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS in April 2016 to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. Fusion in turn hired former U.K. spook Christopher Steele to assemble the (now largely discredited) dossier. That full dossier of allegations wasn’t made public until after the election, in January 2017. And the media and Democrats continue to peddle the line that it played no role during the election itself.

“Details from the dossier were not reported before Election Day,” ran a recent CNN story. Hillary Clinton herself stressed the point in a recent “Daily Show” appearance. The dossier, she said, is “part of what happens in a campaign where you get information that may or may not be useful and you try to make sure anything you put out in the public arena is accurate. So this thing didn’t come out until after the election, and it’s still being evaluated.”

This is utterly untrue. In British court documents Mr. Steele has acknowledged he briefed U.S. reporters about the dossier in September 2016. Those briefed included journalists from the New York Times , the Washington Post, Yahoo News and others. Mr. Steele, by his own admission (in an interview with Mother Jones), also gave his dossier in July 2016 to the FBI.

Among the dossier’s contents were allegations that in early July 2016 Carter Page, sometimes described as a foreign-policy adviser to Candidate Trump, held a “secret” meeting with two high-ranking Russians connected to President Vladimir Putin. It even claimed these Russians offered to give Mr. Page a 19% share in Russia’s state oil company in return for a future President Trump lifting U.S. sanctions. This dossier allegation is ludicrous on its face. Mr. Page was at most a minor figure in the campaign and has testified under oath that he never met the two men in question or had such a conversation.

Yet the press ran with it. On Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff published a bombshell story under the headline: “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.” Mr. Isikoff said “U.S. officials” had “received intelligence” about Mr. Page and Russians, and then went on to recite verbatim all the unfounded dossier allegations. He attributed all this to a “well-placed Western intelligence source,” making it sound as if this info had come from someone in government rather than from an ex-spy-for-hire.

The Clinton campaign jumped all over it, spinning its own oppo research as a government investigation into Mr. Trump. Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign’s communications director, the next day took to television to tout the Isikoff story and cite “U.S. intelligence officials” in the same breath as Mr. Page. Other Clinton surrogates fanned out on TV and Twitter to spread the allegations.

The Isikoff piece publicly launched the Trump-Russia collusion narrative—only 1½ months from the election—and the whole dossier operation counts as one of the greatest political stitch-ups of all time. Most campaigns content themselves with planting oppo research with media sources. The Clinton campaign commissioned a foreign ex-spy to gin up rumors, which made it to U.S. intelligence agencies, and then got reporters to cite it as government-sourced. Mrs. Clinton now dismisses the dossier as routine oppo research, ignoring that her operation specifically engineered the contents to be referred to throughout the campaign as “intelligence” or a “government investigation.”

Making matters worse, there may be a grain of truth to that last claim. If the Washington Post’s reporting is correct, it was in the summer of 2016 that Jim Comey’s FBI obtained a wiretap warrant on Mr. Page from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. If it was the dossier that provoked that warrant, then the wrongs here are grave. Mr. Page is suing Yahoo News over that Isikoff story, but he may have a better case against the Clinton campaign and the federal government if they jointly spun a smear document into an abusive investigation.

To that point, it is fair to ask if the entire Trump-Russia narrative—which has played a central role in our political discourse for a year, and is now resulting in a special counsel issuing unrelated indictments—is based on nothing more than a political smear document. Is there any reason to believe the FBI was probing a Trump-Russia angle before the dossier? Is there any collusion allegation that doesn’t come in some form from the dossier?

The idea that the federal government and a special counsel were mobilized—that American citizens were monitored and continue to be investigated—based on a campaign-funded hit document is extraordinary. Especially given that to this day no one has publicly produced a single piece of evidence to support any of the dossier’s substantive allegations about Trump team members.

So yes, Mrs. Clinton, the dossier—which you paid for—was used in the election. And we are only beginning to understand in how many ways.

Write to kim@wsj.com.


Appeared in the November 10, 2017, print edition.

Hillary Campaign Paid Russian Dossier Sources
By DICK MORRIS
Published on DickMorris.com on November 10, 2017

We know that it was Hillary's campaign that bankrolled the discredited anti-Trump dossier. But now it appears that her presidential campaign also paid Steele's dubious Kremlin "sources" for the information they provided - much of it already proven to be phony.

How much more discredited can that dossier get?

Hillary's campaign admitted that it secretly paid Fusion GPS $1,020,000 to amass the dossier framing Trump for allegedly colluding with the Russians. The payments were funneled through D.C. law firm Perkins, Cole. Fusion then paid former MI-6 spook Christopher Steele $168,000 to do the leg work and cover his expenses.

But Steele could not travel to Russia, since he no longer had diplomatic protection.  So, his M.O. was to instead pay Russian sources and use third parties to talk to them. That has been widely reported. And his contract reportedly called for expenses as well as his fee. Paying the informants would definitely be an expense.

Michael Morell, a Hillary supporter and the former acting CIA Director confirmed that "Mr. Steele paid the Russian intelligence sources who provided the information and never met them directly."

So, connect the dots.  If Hillary's campaign paid Fusion, Fusion paid Steele, and Steele paid his sources, ergo: Hillary's campaign paid Steele's sources.

So not only did Hillary benefit from the disinformation Steele concocted, she underwrote the payouts to his Russian sources.

She made the entire Trump/Russian collusion/illusion happen. She now falsely states that her campaign simply picked up where the Republicans left off on the anti-Trump research.

That's a lie. There were no foreign intelligence operatives involved until her campaign took over. That's a matter of record. It was Hillary who took it to the next level.

Don;t forget that's Hillary's M.O. Hire private eyes through law firms and pay them to dig up dirt on her enemies. It's an old story.

Her campaign paid to collect many of the fabricated stories that animated the dossier.

Who exactly did she pay?  Steele's unorthodox sources included:

Source A:  a "senior Russian foreign ministry figure."

Source B:  a "former top-level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin."

Source C:   "senior Russian financial officer still active in the Kremlin"

Source G:  simply identified in the dossier as "a Kremlin official."

So, we have a U.S. presidential candidate, a former Secretary of State, paying an ex- British spy to, in turn, pay top officials in the Kremlin -- with campaign money secretly funneled through that former spy -- to provide information she can use in her negative campaign -- info that is largely false.

Who else did she pay? Steele says that much of his information came from "unsolicited sources"? Who were these sources and how did they know to pass information to Steele? Were other foreign spooks hired to provide more intel to Steele?

We need to know.

There's over $800,000 of the money paid to Fusion by the campaign that hasn't been unaccounted for. It's not just other spooks who might have benefitted. There are some questions about the press.

Did Hillary pay journalists to hype the dossier story?

We need to know. The House Intelligence Committee has just reached an agreement for Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson to testify next week.

It's time for some answers.

To date, Fusion has refused to comply with a subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee for its bank records, a request specifically geared to determine if it had paid any journalists.  Fusion does not deny that it made such payments, but claims a first amendment privilege.

So, Hillary's campaign may have paid Russian sources, instruments of Vladimir Putin, to provide fabricated evidence to sell the idea that Trump was colluding with Putin (when, in fact, she was doing the colluding). And then she may have paid journalists to report, spin, and hype the story that resulted.

Her efforts have been fabulously successful.  While she lost the election, she has cast a shadow over Trump's transition and his first year in office.  The dossier she paid for has led Special Prosecutor on a wild goose chase after the Holy Grail -- evidence of collusion that never happened.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Who Saved Israel in 1947?
ESSAY MOSAIC   MARTIN KRAMER 11-6-17

https://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/2017/11/who-saved-israel-in-1947/
The usual answer is Truman—but it could just as easily be Stalin. In fact, thanks to Zionist diplomacy, it was both; and therein lies a lesson for the Jewish state today.
November 29 marks the 70th anniversary of UN General Assembly resolution 181, recommending the partition of Mandate Palestine into two separate Jewish and Arab states. On that day in 1947, millions of listeners sat glued to their radio sets to follow the voting. The outcome set off spontaneous celebrations among Zionists everywhere, for it constituted the first formal international endorsement of a Jewish state.
To celebrate the anniversary, Israel’s embassy to the United Nations is restoring the hall in Flushing Meadows, New York—today the main gallery of the Queens Museum, then the meeting place of the General Assembly—to its appearance in 1947. The announced plan is to reenact the vote, with the current ambassadors of member states that voted “yes” recasting their ballots.
The most conspicuous of the ballots cast will be that of the United States. Indeed, the vote and its sequel are set to be told as a largely American story. Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, has placed the celebration in this historical context:
From the moment President Truman became the first world leader to recognize the new Jewish state, Israel has had no better friend than the United States of America, and the U.S. has had no more steadfast ally than the state of Israel.
In keeping with this, the keynote speaker in New York will be U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence. Again and again, we are likely to hear how Harry Truman stood up to his State Department (and, perhaps less heroically, catered to Jewish voters) by saying “yes” in November 1947 and then by immediately recognizing Israel when David Ben-Gurion declared the state on May 14, 1948. And once again, we will be reminded of Eddie Jacobson, Truman’s Jewish business partner in a Kansas City haberdashery before the Depression, who famously traded on his old friendship to secure a critical meeting between Truman and the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in March 1948.
The rest of the story has been carefully burnished over the years, including by Truman himself. In 1953, when Jacobson introduced the former president to a Jewish audience as “the man who helped create the state of Israel,” Truman upped the ante by comparing himself with the ancient Persian ruler who restored the Jews to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile: “What do you mean ‘helped to create’? I am Cyrus.”
Historians, it is true, still debate Truman’s motives. But they also agree on one thing: Israel’s creation owed more to Truman than to any other world leader. “Without Truman,” write Allis and Ronald Radosh in their book on Truman and Israel, “the new state of Israel might not have survived its first difficult years, and succeeded thereafter.” Michael J. Cohen, in his earlier book on Truman and Israel, states that in 1947 and 1948, “Truman arguably played the decisive diplomatic role in the birth of the new state of Israel.” Michael Oren, in Power, Faith, and Fantasy, his bestseller on America in the Middle East, asserts that Truman’s comparison of himself with the Persian ruler Cyrus “was not entirely bluster.”
The problem here is simple: everything said about the contribution of Truman could be said about that of Joseph Stalin.
I. Stalin, a Founding Father of Israel?
In a 1998 essay marking Israel’s 50th anniversary, the historian Paul Johnson addressed a “paradoxical aspect of the Zionist miracle, which we certainly did not grasp at the time and which is insufficiently understood even now.” That paradox, wrote Johnson, is that “among the founding fathers of Israel was Joseph Stalin.” Twenty years later, even fewer people grasp it. The Soviet Union is long gone, remembered by Israel and its supporters as the patron of Nasser abroad, the jailer and tormentor of Jews at home, the purveyor of vicious anti-Semitism everywhere. Nor did any Soviet leader himself ever claim the mantle of Cyrus. To the contrary: from the 1950s onward, the Soviet Union did its utmost to erase the fact of Soviet support for the creation of Israel from official history and from Arab memory.
Meanwhile, both in the United States and in Israel, an equal and opposite process has erased from memory the inconstancy of American support for Israel’s creation.
Yes, the U.S. voted for partition in November 1947, but by the following March it had declared partition impossible to implement and proposed a “temporary” UN trusteeship in its stead. On the very eve of Britain’s official withdrawal from Israel the following May, America’s top diplomat was still warning Israel’s leaders against declaring independence.
­­­It is a “paradoxical aspect of the Zionist miracle,” wrote the historian Paul Johnson, “that “among the founding fathers of Israel was Joseph Stalin.”
Yes again, Truman did immediately recognize Israel (de facto but not de jure). But he had already enforced an arms embargo on the Middle East, forcing Israel to scavenge for its survival.
By contrast, not only did the Soviet Union under Stalin vote for partition, and also recognize Israel—the first state to do so de jure, three days after independence—it had come out in favor of a Jewish state well before the United States. Moreover, it had held firm in that support both before and after the vote, and had indirectly assured that the newborn state would have the war materiel it desperately needed to defend itself. According to Abba Eban, Israel’s first UN ambassador, without the Soviet vote in favor of partition (together with the votes of four satellite nations), and without the arms provided by the Soviet bloc, “we couldn’t have made it, either diplomatically or militarily.”
Still, one might wonder: even if all this is true, is any contemporary purpose served by recounting it? That purpose certainly cannot be to “rehabilitate” Stalin’s Soviet Union. Although there is such a tendency in Russia today, few outside that country harbor any illusions about Stalin’s horrific legacy. Nor can the purpose be to belittle the significance of American support for Israel since 1967.
In what follows, my objective is otherwise: to show how, in the years just before, during, and after the establishment of the state of Israel, its leaders thought creatively about the postwar geopolitical order. Knowing that they had no steady friends, they presciently identified the Soviet Union as an emerging great power, and set about wooing Moscow. Soviet support then allowed them to parlay budding cold-war rivalries into even more American support. It was a masterstroke of Zionist diplomacy.
Stalin’s decision is still shrouded in mystery, and it is by no means certain that Zionist overtures played the decisive role in the Soviet Union’s surprising and highly consequential support for a Jewish state. But they might have done. Today, as Israel makes its way in a changing world, marked by the rise of new powers, there may be a lesson to be learned from this history.
It all began with a forgotten speech.
II. A Forgotten Speech That Shocked the World
Shortly before midday on May 14, 1947, Andrei Gromyko, the permanent representative of the Soviet Union to the United Nations, mounted the dais of the UN General Assembly Hall in Flushing Meadows, Queens.
At that moment, the mood of Zionists everywhere was one of gloom. They were still reeling from the magnitude of the Holocaust, the images from the Nazi extermination camps, and the plight of hundreds of thousands of survivors who had emerged dazed from the camps and the forests. The vast majority of these Jews wanted only to leave Europe, and many were embarking on long treks to Mediterranean ports in hopes of gaining passage to Palestine. A quarter-million Jews filled displaced-persons camps in Germany and Austria, desperate for a positive response to their pleas and safe passage to the Jewish homeland.
In Palestine, thanks to a British policy designed to appease the Arabs, the doors remained as firmly shut to Jewish immigration as they had been all through the war. The Royal Navy, intercepting ships headed for Palestine with their human cargo of Jewish survivors, shipped the “illegals” to grim detention camps in Cyprus. Some Palestinian Jews reacted to these draconian measures by taking up arms in an insurgency against the British, setting off a cycle of killings and retributions. Others appealed to the world’s conscience, with limited results. Although the yishuv, the organized Jewish population in Palestine, had prepared itself for independence, no great power had declared itself in favor of a Jewish state.
In February 1947, Britain announced that it would terminate its Mandate and refer the problem of Palestine to the United Nations. In May, the UN General Assembly moved to create a special commission, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), whose job was to “ascertain the facts” and recommend a “solution to the problem of Palestine.”
Although the Jews in Palestine had prepared themselves for independence, no great power had come out in favor of a Jewish state. On May 14, 1947, with a speech by the Soviet representative to the UN, that suddenly changed.
This was the immediate background to the May 14 speech by Andrei Gromyko defining the brief of UNSCOP from the Soviet perspective. No Zionist had reason to expect much of it. The Soviet Union had always derided Zionism as a reactionary if not a fascist movement, and a catspaw of Western and especially British imperialism. Since the war’s end, the Soviets had maintained that the “Jewish problem” could be resolved not by moving Jews to Palestine but only by “the complete eradication of the roots of fascism” in Europe itself. Communist parties across the Middle East, including in Palestine, dismissed the notion of partition as an imperialist plot. The party line instead urged “a single, democratic, independent Palestine”—in which Arabs would outnumber Jews two to one.
At thirty-seven, Gromyko was already a seasoned Soviet diplomat and a former ambassador to Washington. A British admirer in the UN bureaucracy described him as “dour and gruff in demeanor.” Zionist diplomats and American Jewish leaders, who knew him well, had no illusions about this “thunderer,” as they called him (grom meaning thunder in Russian). As Eban later recalled, “both Eliahu Epstein, who headed our office in Washington, and [Moshe] Sharett [head of the political department of the Jewish Agency] were fluent in Russian and had conducted many conversations with Gromyko and with his deputy, Semyon Tsarapkin, without receiving any intimation of Soviet support.”
The American government had no such intimation, either. All along, the State Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the CIA had cautioned that a U.S. vote for partition would enable the Soviets to reap Arab gratitude for opposing it, as Moscow was certainly expected to do. Only four days before Gromyko’s speech, the American embassy in Moscow predicted that in the upcoming UN session, the Soviets would oppose “formation in all or part of Palestine of a Jewish state, which the USSR would regard as a Zionist tool of the West, inevitably hostile to the Soviet Union,” and would instead favor the “independence of Palestine with its present Arab-majority population.”
In opening his speech, Gromyko performed as expected. The British Mandate over Palestine, he explained at length, had failed in its mission; with the spread of violence, the country had deteriorated “into a semi-military or police state.” The Mandate had to be terminated. No surprise there: the fiercely anti-British Soviets certainly weren’t going to insist that Britain linger in any outpost of its empire.
But then, to the astonishment of all, Gromyko began to dwell upon the Holocaust. During the war, he said, the Jewish people had been subjected to “indescribable sorrow and suffering. It is difficult to express them in dry statistics.” Jews had been subjected to “almost complete physical annihilation.” And now “hundreds of thousands of Jews are wandering about in various countries of Europe,” many in camps for displaced persons where they “are still continuing to undergo great privations. . . . The time has come,” he proclaimed, “to help these people, not by word, but by deed. . . . This is a duty of the United Nations.”
What, then, should be done? Up to this point, the Soviet position had been that the solution for these hundreds of thousands of homeless Jews lay in Europe. But no longer. “No Western European state,” Gromyko asserted,
has been able to assure the defense of the elemental rights of the Jewish people. This is an unpleasant fact, but unfortunately, like all other facts, it must be admitted, [and it also] explains the aspirations of the Jews to establish their own state.
And then the bombshell:
It would be unjust not to take this into consideration and to deny the right of the Jewish people to realize this aspiration. It would be unjustifiable to deny this right to the Jewish people, particularly in view of all it has undergone during the war.
The Soviet Union, said Gromyko, would still prefer a “single Arab-Jewish state with equal rights for the Jews and Arabs.” But if the UN commission found this “impossible to implement, in view of the deterioration in the relations between Jews and Arabs,” there was a “justifiable” alternative: “the partition of Palestine into two independent single states, one Jewish and one Arab.”
Eban could hardly believe his ears:
Nothing had prepared us for this windfall. . . . Moscow was reversing its traditional posture by proposing the option of a Jewish state. I had come to the United Nations with pessimistic assumptions about the balance of forces; I now revised my predictions. . . . For the first time, our political sky was lit up with a gleam of hope. It was no longer necessary to be a romantic optimist in order to foresee a Zionist success. Gromyko had become a Zionist hero.
The news electrified the yishuv. “Palestine Excited over Soviet Stand,” a New York Times headline proclaimed. Natan Alterman, the yishuv’s most prominent Hebrew poet, swiftly published a verse “Telegram to Gromyko.” An excerpt:
There are no words.
The yishuv is still dazed.
Please understand: for some time,
we’ve been deprived of news like this
with the taste of manna. . . .
It’s the vital, warm, good emotion
of a swimmer struggling against endless waves,
who’s suddenly tossed a lifesaver from the shore.
David Ben-Gurion met Gromyko in New York a short time later. Afterward, while warning against exaggerating the speech’s importance, he claimed to have received “additional clarifications” from Gromyko that were “positive” and “did not diminish in the least the impression” made by the public speech, which had both “moral and political value.”
III. The Evolution of Soviet Support
As it turned out, Ben-Gurion’s caution was misplaced. For the next two years, the Soviet Union proved to be the steadiest great-power supporter of the Jewish state-in-formation and then of Israel. There were at least five major milestones in the evolution of Soviet support.
(1) When UNSCOP returned a recommendation of partition in September 1947, the Soviet Union quickly backed it. On November 26, in the general debate that preceded the historic vote, Gromyko made the Zionist case, brushing off as “unacceptable” the Arab objection that partition constituted “an historical injustice”:
After all, the Jewish people has been closely linked with Palestine for a considerable period in history. Apart from that . . . we must not overlook the position in which the Jewish people found themselves as a result of the recent world war. . . . The solution of the Palestine problem into two separate states will be of profound historical significance, because this decision will meet the legitimate demands of the Jewish people, hundreds of thousands of whom, as you know, are still without a country, without homes, having found temporary shelter only in special camps in some Western European countries.
The Soviet Union voted “yes” for partition, as did its satellites Belorussia, Ukraine, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. (Yugoslavia, another satellite, abstained.)
(2) In March 1948, with the United States retreating from the idea of partition, the Soviet Union stood firmly in favor of it and attacked the alternative American proposal of a UN trusteeship. On April 20, as the clock wound down on the British Mandate, Gromyko denounced trusteeship as an idea that would place Palestine “in a state of virtual colonial slavery.” Only partition into independent states would “satisfy the legitimate aspirations of the Jewish people, which had suffered so much under the Hitler regime.” If trusteeship were put to a vote, he warned, the Soviet Union would cast a “no” ballot.

(3) Also at the start of 1948, the Soviet Union, while sending no equipment on its own, gave a nod to crucial arms deals between Czechoslovakia and Israel, assuring the latter an advantage in the battle with the Palestinian Arabs that was already under way. The Czech motive was mundane: a need for foreign currency. But the deal depended on Soviet acquiescence (and, according to some accounts, on Stalin’s personal authorization).
The arms deliveries made it possible to provide every Israeli recruit with his or her own weapon and ample ammunition. And the guns arrived in the nick of time, allowing the Haganah to go on the offensive in the lead-up to independence (“Plan Dalet”).
At the start of 1948, the Soviet Union gave a nod to crucial arms deals between Czechoslovakia and Israel, assuring the latter an advantage in its war of independence. “They saved the country, I have no doubt of that,” Ben-Gurion said.
“They saved the country, I have no doubt of that,” Ben-Gurion would say two decades later. “The Czech arms deal was the greatest help, it saved us and without it I very much doubt if we could have survived the first month.” Golda Meir, in her memoirs, similarly wrote that without the arms from the Eastern bloc, “I do not know whether we actually could have held out until the tide changed, as it did by June 1948.”
(4) In June 1948, as Israel gained the upper hand, the Soviets backed the most important Israeli objections to the plan for a settlement being pushed by the UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte. Responding to Bernadotte’s proposal to transfer the entire Negev to Transjordan, foreign minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov advised Stalin that this would put four-fifths of Israeli territory into the hands of Transjordan—“i.e., into British control”—and should be rejected. (“Comrade Stalin agrees,” Molotov scribbled on the document.)
(5) The Soviets also supported Israel on the question of Palestinian Arab refugees. Instead of Bernardotte’s proposal that these Arabs be given the right to return to the territory of the Jewish state, the Soviets preferred that “the Jews be given the opportunity to come to an agreement with the Arabs on this matter in the course of peace negotiations.” Near the end of the war, in December 1948, the Soviet Union and its satellites voted against General Assembly resolution 194, later cited as guaranteeing a “right of return” for Palestinian Arab refugees. (The United States voted in favor.)
In sum, Israel could hardly have asked for more. In October 1948, Sharett reported to the Israeli cabinet that “the Eastern bloc supports us staunchly. . . . In the Security Council the Russians are operating not just as our allies, but as our emissaries.” Eban noted that for these “two or three years,” the Soviets “were more constant in their assertiveness in support of Israel than even the United States. There were no wobblings, no vacillations.” Through it all, moreover, the Soviets had “attacked the Arabs vehemently.” To Eban’s mind, this had to do with the Soviet political style, so totally at odds with the American:
Then and afterward, the Soviet Union were either for you or against you. If they were for you, they were 100-percent; if they were against you, they were 100-percent. The United States always had a plurality in their objectives and tried to combine their objectives in a single policy. So they were never 100-percent for you, and they were never 100-percent against you. Nobody could completely trust them and nobody could completely despair of them.
IV. Why Stalin Did It
Why did Stalin do it? The question has perplexed historians for 70 years. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, scholars have studied and published hundreds of Soviet documents on early Soviet-Israel relations. These documents include policy recommendations made to Stalin and instructions from the Soviet foreign ministry to its diplomats, but no document has revealed Stalin’s own thinking.
Because the sudden shift defied belief, some questioned whether Stalin gave much thought to it at all. This was the view of the historian Walter Laqueur. A decade after the events, Laqueur expressed
some doubt whether the decision to support the establishment of a Jewish state was taken at top level; in view of subsequent developments it is at least possible that this course of action was recommended by some foreign-ministry advisers and approved by Stalin in a fit of absentmindedness.
Possible, yes—but, to judge from the Soviet documents, unlikely. In July 1947, the first secretary of the Soviet embassy in Washington insisted that “it was only after a careful and comprehensive analysis of the situation that Gromyko had been authorized to make his statement.” Throughout that period of high-level analysis, nearly all of Stalin’s foreign-policy advisers opposed partition (as did Truman’s). Their consensus was that support for a Jewish state would provoke “an unfavorable reaction” across the Arab world.
Only Stalin could have overturned this consensus. So great a pivot in official policy, argues the cold-war historian Vladislav Zubok, “was unthinkable without Stalin’s personal decision. . . . [It was] a gamble, a probe, that only Stalin could come up with.” Indeed, it would have been perilous for any underling to propose support for the Zionist project of a Jewish state. Molotov, foreign minister and Politburo member at the time, later recalled that when it came to the idea of a Jewish state, “everyone objected but us—me and Stalin.”
So again: why did Stalin decide as he did? No historians give any weight to pro-Jewish sentiment. At Yalta in February 1945, Stalin had described the Jews to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as “middlemen, profiteers, and parasites.” There is no evidence that his view ever changed, except for the worse. Benny Morris has gone the farthest in speculating that the Soviets, in addition to considerations of realpolitik, might also have been “moved by the horrors of the Holocaust and by a sense of camaraderie with fellow sufferers at Nazi hands.” Bernard Lewis is not persuaded: “It is difficult to believe that Stalin, who killed countless millions in his own concentration camps, was moved by compassion for the plight of Hitler’s surviving victims.”
An American view, commonplace at the time, was that Stalin simply wanted to create turmoil. Partition would end in war, which, whatever its consequences, the Soviets could somehow exploit. Thus, the American number-two at the United Nations wondered “whether the Russians want partition or whether it is chaos they seek in Palestine.” George Kennan, the foremost Soviet expert at the State Department, called partition “favorable to Soviet objectives of sowing dissension and discord in non-Communist countries.”
How exactly such discord would serve Soviet interests remained unclear, however. Right up to Gromyko’s May 1947 speech (and in some cases, even later), every relevant agency of the U.S. government assumed that the Soviets would oppose partition in order to win Arab favor, while America would pay a heavy price in Arab opinion for supporting it. Not surprisingly, then, the Americans remained befuddled by the Soviet move, which seemed to them utterly counterintuitive.
Dean Rusk, head of the UN desk at the State Department, admitted to being “puzzled” by the “novelty of what seemed to be a pro-Zionist [Soviet] policy.” Robert Lovett, under-secretary of state, professed himself “mystified.” Kennan’s imagination also came up short: “There is no way of telling in exactly what manner the USSR will attempt to turn partition to its advantage.” (“It must be assumed, however,” he lamely added, “that Moscow will actively endeavor to find some means of exploiting the opportunity.”)
Astute observers of Soviet policy have attributed a plausible motive to Stalin: the Jewish state would be a useful lever for dislodging Britain from the heart of the region.
Most astute observers of Soviet policy, then and now, have attributed a more precise and plausible motive to Stalin. By 1947, the cold war had already seeped into the Mediterranean and the Middle East via Greece, Turkey, and Iran. Stalin may have concluded that the cause of a Jewish state would be a useful lever for dislodging Britain from the heart of the region. The British might still hold sway over their Arab clients in Transjordan and Iraq, and keep Egypt in their grip. But a Jewish state would drive the British out of Palestine, lock, stock, and barrel. True, supporting it would come at a cost: the (small) Arab Communist parties would be devastated. But it was a negligible price to pay in return for securing Britain’s ignominious retreat from one of its biggest bases in the Middle East.
This was clear as early as June 1946 to a leading Zionist diplomat, Eliahu Sasson, whose field was Arab politics. From this vantage point, he observed the Soviets acting everywhere in the Middle East to counter the British. His prescient conclusion:
Not only is there no reason to expect Russian policy to be hostile to us, there are grounds for thinking it will be friendly. Not out of sympathy to us or out of hatred toward the Arabs, but in order to settle political accounts with England.
The anti-British logic also figured in some Soviet policy papers, and in retrospect it makes perfect sense. But as there is still nothing straight from Stalin’s mouth, the riddle lingers. Molotov didn’t solve it in 1972, when he gave a confused account of his rationale:
It’s one thing to be anti-Zionist and anti-bourgeois and quite another to be against the Jewish people. . . . The Jews had long struggled for their own state under a Zionist flag. We, of course, were against Zionism. But to refuse a people the right to statehood would mean oppressing them.
Thus the paradox: the state of Israel came into being with the crucial support of a regime that continued to see itself as “against Zionism,” “of course.”
V. The Zionist Grooming of Russia
An additional and crucial element—the one I signaled early on—will help fill out the picture. Soviet support for partition and for Israel has usually been described as a “windfall” (Eban’s word) that took the Zionists by surprise. But, years before Gromyko’s speech, Zionist leaders themselves had begun to pursue Soviet support. Although they were surprised in 1947, many would come to believe that their own earlier efforts had produced the turnabout.
The central figures in this saga include Weizmann and Ben-Gurion. But at the very center there may stand a man largely forgotten to Israel’s history: Ivan Mikhailovich Maisky.
From 1932 to 1943, Maisky served as Stalin’s ambassador to the Court of St. James. Of Polish-Jewish ancestry, he had been a revolutionary as a young man and spent World War I in British exile. Returning to Russia after the 1917 revolution, he joined the Bolshevik party and put his charm to work as a diplomat.
Posted back to London, Maisky befriended a who’s-who of the British political and intellectual elite, from Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill to George Bernard Shaw and Beatrice Webb. Today, historians of the Soviet Union celebrate Maisky for his copious diary, in which he tells how, through treacherous waters, he adroitly steered Soviet-British relations through most of the war.
Chaim Weizmann, who conducted Zionist diplomacy from London, had taken notice. During the earlier world war, Weizmann had anticipated the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, placed his bet on Britain, and been instrumental in securing the Balfour Declaration. By 1941, as Zionism’s elder statesman and president of the World Zionist Organization, he was anguished by Britain’s betrayal of its pledge to facilitate a Jewish national home in Palestine. Now the new world war seemed likely to undo the British Empire, throwing open the Middle East once again. Who would fill the vacuum? Whom should the Zionists cultivate?
Weizmann had no illusions about Stalin. In addition to the familiar catalogue of the Soviet dictator’s treachery, Weizmann had personal experience of his cruelty. Although most of the Weizmann siblings had left Russia before 1917, his younger brother Shmuel had gone back to build the “revolution” and disappeared in the “Great Purge” of the late 1930s.
Weizmann had no illusions about Stalin, whose forces had killed his brother. Yet, despite this, Weizmann thought that under certain circumstances, Stalin might prove willing to aid the Zionist cause.
Yet, despite this, Weizmann thought that under certain circumstances, Stalin might prove willing to aid the Zionist cause—and Ivan Maisky was Stalin’s most proximate agent. “A few days ago I had an unexpected visitor,” wrote Maisky in his diary in February 1941: “the well-known Zionist leader Dr. Weizmann.” Maisky was impressed by the dignified demeanor of this “tall, elderly, elegantly dressed gentleman” who spoke calmly and deliberately in “excellent Russian.”
In their conversation, the man credited with winning the Balfour Declaration anticipated the final demise of the British-Zionist entente. The English, he offered, “don’t like the Jews,” and “prefer the Arabs to the Jews.” They were “hardly likely to agree” to mass immigration into Palestine of Jews who might survive the war. “And if they don’t agree, what will happen?” Weizmann sharpened the question: “What has a British victory to offer the Jews?” The implied message: once the war ended, the Zionists would finalize their divorce from Britain and be open to new relationships.
So began the wooing of Maisky, a joint effort by Weizmann and Ben-Gurion. It consisted of overtures and memos in which the Zionist leaders hammered away at set themes: the Jews were resolved to fight for their freedom, a Jewish state would be neutral, and the Arabs were either British agents or collaborators of Nazi Germany.
In particular, the two leaders worked to persuade Maisky that Palestine was a one-stop solution for Europe’s desperate Jewish masses. All through the Mandate period, critics of Zionism claimed that the country couldn’t absorb enough Jews to solve Europe’s Jewish “problem.” The Zionists worked especially hard to persuade Maisky otherwise.
Thus, when, at their first meeting, Maisky “expressed some surprise about how Weizmann hoped to settle five million Jews on territory occupied by one million Arabs,” Weizmann replied that the Arab was “the father of the desert. . . . Give me the land occupied by a million Arabs, and I will easily settle five times that number of Jews on it.” In their second meeting, in September 1943, Maisky repeated his worry about the “smallness” of Palestine, to which Weizmann responded by invoking a report by the renowned American irrigation engineer Walter Clay Lowdermilk, who estimated that the country could absorb another four million European Jewish refugees. The following month, Maisky raised the same issue with Ben-Gurion: “We want to know the truth, what is the capacity of Palestine?” Ben-Gurion spoke more modestly of two million Jews, and in due course provided Maisky with a supporting memorandum.
The two Zionist leaders also assured Maisky that the yishuv’s social and economic organization was not only compatible with Communism but even resembled it. The kibbutzim, Ben-Gurion emphasized in October 1941, while not ideologically Communist, “from an economic point of view . . . were communistic.” Palestine was home to “the only organized labor movement in the whole of the Middle East” and “the nucleus of a socialist commonwealth.”
In March 1943, Weizmann sent a memo to Maisky, which included this deftly ingratiating passage:
Three of the most fundamental aspects of Soviet social philosophy are embodied in the national system being built in Palestine by the Zionist movement: collective welfare and not individual gain is the guiding principle and goal of the economic structure; equality of standing is established in the community between manual and intellectual workers; and consequently the fullest scope is provided for intellectual life and the development of labor. There are no fundamental psychological barriers to mutual understanding, and the Zionist movement has never felt antagonistic to Soviet social philosophy.
As the war progressed and the Soviets began to push the Germans back in Europe, Zionist leaders gained the sense that their efforts were beginning to pay off. In September 1943, as Maisky prepared to leave London for Moscow to help plan the postwar settlement, Weizmann met him one last time. The Zionists, Weizmann said, “had been friendly toward Russia and hoped that the Soviet government would understand their aims.” Maisky replied that “he could not commit his government, but he believed that the Soviets would support them. . . . He thought that Russia would certainly stand by them”—an early hint (or hunch), offered three-and-a-half years before Gromyko’s dramatic bombshell at the United Nations.
Maisky’s route back to Moscow took him through the Middle East, and in October he visited Palestine. Now he was the one to seize the initiative, reaching out to Ben-Gurion, who took him and his wife on an afternoon visit to two kibbutzim near Jerusalem. As if on an official fact-finding trip, Maisky expressed keen interest in all aspects of kibbutz communal life and even posed for a photograph with Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir.
On the return ride to Jerusalem, Maisky told Ben-Gurion that “after the war there will be a serious Jewish problem and it will have to be resolved; we have to express an opinion, so we must know.” Ben-Gurion could hardly believe this turn of events. “It was all a great surprise to me,” he reported to his colleagues. “For me it was a revelation. I could hardly believe it. It obligates us to act—here is another country that is taking an interest in this question.”
Maisky wrote a memo on his visit to Palestine. No historian has been allowed to see it, so it remains the subject of endless speculation—but while the details aren’t known, its thrust is well-attested. The Ukrainian foreign minister at the time called the report “full of admiration at the wonderful progressive achievements of the Jews in Palestine.” Harold Laski, the British socialist leader, told Ben-Gurion in 1944 that “I read Maisky’s secret report and I became a Zionist.”
Did the memo have a similar effect in Moscow? The historian Gabriel Gorodetsky, the translator and editor of Maisky’s diaries, has dismissed the notion that Zionist cultivation of Maisky made a decisive difference. Maisky “misled” Ben-Gurion by suggesting that he exerted a vast influence over Soviet foreign policy; although he did prepare a “glowing report” for Stalin, he had already been shunted aside. On his return to Moscow in 1943, Gorodetsky writes, “he found the doors to the Kremlin bolted.” While he continued to advise Stalin at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences, he was out of the ministry by the end of 1945. Zionist leaders only imagined that their wooing of Maisky had anything to do with Stalin’s decision.
In one obvious sense, this is true: Stalin made his decision more than three years after Maisky’s report, and in the context of the cold war. But the Zionist outreach to Maisky was itself only the most high-profile facet of a more extensive campaign that mobilized another layer of Zionist diplomats (including Sharett, Epstein, and Nahum Goldmann), involved overtures to Soviet missions from Washington to Ankara, and continued right up to Gromyko’s speech.
Would the transformation in the Soviet view have occurred without years of activist Zionist diplomacy? Zionist leaders had no doubt: somehow, they had tipped the scales.
The Zionist statesmen involved in this pursuit were neither naïve nor uninformed about the workings of the Soviet state. In particular, Ben-Gurion’s knowledge of the Soviet Union was deep and wide. As a young socialist organizer, he had spent three months there in 1923 and would later testify that “we [Zionists] were constant in our love for the great revolution in Russia.” But in 1928 the Soviet regime banned even the most socialist forms of Zionism, and Ben-Gurion found that things then became visible “in their true light.” He understood perfectly that reconciliation with Moscow “will come neither as a result of kibbutz settlement . . . nor by translating Lenin or Stalin into Hebrew.”
Still, he and his colleagues also knew just what to say (and in Russian) so as to make support for a Jewish state appear consistent, if not with Soviet ideology or propaganda, then with Soviet interests. And, at the moment of decision, consistent the two seemed to be. In July 1947, the second secretary of the Soviet embassy in Washington told Epstein that the Soviets knew perfectly well “that [Zionist] social experiments in collectivism have nothing to do with the Marxist interpretation of collectivism.” But, he added, the yishuv seemed to be “a peaceful, democratic and progressive community . . . which can block anti-Soviet intrigues, so easily hatched among the reactionary circles ruling the Arab countries at present.”
Would this transformation in the Soviet view have occurred without years of activist Zionist diplomacy? And would it have occurred in time? Historians might differ. But Zionist leaders had no doubt: somehow, they had tipped the scales.
VI. Why the Soviets Turned on Israel
Summarizing the support given the Zionists by the Soviet Union, Walter Laqueur wrote that “without it they would not have stood a chance.” Yet that support never became the foundation of a lasting alliance. Indeed, already by 1949, the Soviet Union and Israel were headed for a collision. What went wrong?
If it is true that the Soviet aim was to push Britain out, then by 1949 this aim had been achieved. Israel had won a decisive military victory and had even conquered the Negev, which Britain had hoped to keep as a bridge between Egypt and Transjordan. Britain’s final exit from the Middle East would take another decade, but its retreat began with the creation of Israel. As far as Soviet strategy was concerned, it was “mission accomplished.”
But the Soviets didn’t just withdraw support; they were becoming openly hostile. Driving the pendulum back were a number of factors, including Stalin’s increasingly severe paranoia on all fronts. And then there was a domestic problem where Soviet Jews were concerned.
During the war, Zionist leaders had assured Soviet authorities that the country’s Jews were out of bounds for Zionist proselytization. “I’m not worried about [Soviet Jews],” Weizmann had told Maisky at their first meeting.
They are not under any threat. In 20 or 30 years’ time, if the present regime in your county lasts, they will be assimilated. . . . Soviet Jews will gradually merge with the general current of Russian life, as an inalienable part of it. I may not like it, but I’m ready to accept it: at least Soviet Jews are on firm ground, and their fate does not make me shudder.
But when Gromyko in 1947 announced the turn in Soviet policy, a wave of euphoria swept Soviet Jewry. From synagogues to labor camps, Jews openly expressed their Zionist yearnings. This fever only intensified upon the partition resolution, the declaration of the state, and finally the arrival of Golda Meir as Israel’s first envoy in September 1948. On her first sabbath in Moscow, tens of thousands of Jews filled the streets around the city’s main synagogue, and they did so again on the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur. Meir gave a vivid description of the scene in her memoirs:
A crowd of close to 50,000 people was waiting for us. For a minute, I could not grasp what had happened—or even who they were. And then it dawned on me. They had come—those good, brave Jews—in order to be with us, to demonstrate their sense of kinship and to celebrate the establishment of the State of Israel. . . . Someone pushed me into a cab. But the cab couldn’t move either, because the crowd was cheering; laughing, weeping Jews had engulfed it. . . . I stuck my head out of the window of the cab and said: “A dank eich vos ihr seit geblieben Yidden” (Thank you for having remained Jews.)
It was all very moving. But Mordechai Namir, the first secretary of the Israeli diplomatic mission, recalled that the spontaneous demonstration produced “a sinking feeling in our hearts because of the suspicion that the blatant conduct of the congregation had crossed the acceptable limits . . . and that we had participated in a very tragic event.”
In the wake of USSR support for Israel, a wave of euphoria swept Soviet Jewry. In response, by the end of 1948, Stalin launched a “secret pogrom” against leading Jews accused of Zionist conspiracy.
The sequel bore out these apprehensions. Gromyko had specified in his speech that “no Western European state” had assured elemental Jewish rights (emphasis added). The implication was that the rights of Soviet Jews hadn’t been compromised; for them now to be asserting the contrary by hailing Israel as their redemption caught the authorities off-guard. With each passing month they grew more alarmed at the percolation of Zionist sympathies at home.
Stalin thus had ample reason to be alarmed by the impact his own policy was having on the two-and-a-half million Soviet Jews who after the Holocaust formed the largest mass of Jews in Europe. Decades of repression had been suddenly lifted, releasing a surge of ethnic and nationalist fervor that would in turn necessitate even more brutal measures of repression. Already by the end of 1948, he had launched what one historian has called a “secret pogrom” against leading Jews accused of Zionist conspiracy.
The subsequent persecutions of the early 1950s, from the show trial and execution in Prague of Rudolf Slansky and other high-placed Jewish members of the Czech Communist party to the Moscow “Doctors’ Plot,” warrant their own grim telling. Suffice it to say that in the Soviet Union and its satellites, domestic anti-Semitism and opposition to Israel became inseparable twins.
VII. Zionists Prefer the West
Nor was it simply that Stalin deplored Zionism and hated the Jews. For its part, the mainstream Zionist leadership had no great regard for Stalin or the Soviet Union. Their preference lay with the West.
True, this did not apply to the far-left Zionist factions that in 1948 coalesced in Israel’s Mapam party. Until the Prague trials in 1952, most of its members, many of whom had also played leading roles in the yishuv’s military defense, looked favorably upon the Soviet Union. Portraits of Stalin brooded over the dining halls of some of their kibbutzim, and the KGB successfully recruited leading Mapam members as agents. But the pro-Soviet left, even at its height, did not appeal to more than 15 percent of the public—its share in Israel’s first elections in 1949—and it declined steadily thereafter.
True, too, at the height of Soviet support, a wave of gratitude had swept the yishuv as a whole. One especially astute witness was the Jewish-Hungarian author Arthur Koestler, who spent much of 1948 in Israel. Koestler, a former Communist and Comintern agent during the Spanish Civil War, owed his fame to his 1940 novel Darkness at Noon. Set in 1938 in the midst of the “Great Purge,” the book accused Stalin of criminal betrayal.
In a piece of reportage from Israel in June 1948, Koestler noted (with understatement) that “this correspondent is hardly susceptible to Stalinite leanings”:
And yet, had he suffered what people here have suffered in the past six months, while one leading Western democracy [Britain] waged an almost undisguised war on them and a second [the United States] looked on, the psychological pressure of circumstances might have turned even him into a fellow traveler [of Communist Russia]. . . . The almost weekly oscillations of American policy, and the paradox that America recognized Israel but by maintaining the arms embargo deprived it of its means of defense, increased the general feeling of bitterness and disgust with the West.
Koestler had witnessed the “spontaneous surge of sympathy and gratitude” toward the Soviet Union among Israelis. Nevertheless, to his mind, this “emotional leaning” was a transient thing. The majority of Jews in Palestine, including in Ben-Gurion’s Labor party,
realize[d] that Russia’s gesture was exclusively designed to serve her own political aims. They remembered well that for 30 years Russia had persecuted Zionism as a fascist movement. The sudden and total reversal of Soviet policy . . . was too obvious a maneuver to take them in.
For Koestler, there was no question that mainstream Zionists preferred the West; the shallow sympathy for the Soviets arose only from the West’s own reluctant reception of Israel.
That same sympathy, however, had fed a malicious narrative among American opponents of Zionism in the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon who asserted that a Jewish state would become a Soviet satellite, infiltrated by Soviet agents in the guise of Jewish refugees. Zionist leaders denied this claim at every turn. The first to do so was Weizmann, in a letter to Truman on the very eve of the partition vote. Weizmann cautioned the president against believing predictions “that our project in Palestine may in some way be used as channel for the infiltration of Communist ideas in the Middle East”:
Nothing is further from the truth. Our immigrants from Eastern Europe are precisely those who are leaving the Communist scene with which they do not wish to be integrated. Otherwise, they would not leave at all. Had there been a serious attempt by the Soviets to introduce Communist influences through our immigration, they could easily have done so in previous decades. Every election and all observation in Palestine testifies to the trivial hold which Communism has achieved in our community.
Not only that, but the yishuv felt a growing attraction to the United States, now home to the largest Jewish community in the world. Weizmann, once installed as the new president of Israel, assured James McDonald, the first U.S. ambassador, that “our people are democratic and realize that only through the cooperation and support of the United States can they become strong and remain free.” Ben-Gurion chimed in, telling McDonald that “Rome would become Communist before Jerusalem [would].”
McDonald agreed. “When the chips were down and Israel was forced to make her choice,” he later wrote, “that choice was almost always pro-Western.” The Soviet ambassador, Pavel Yershov, concurred, lamenting that Israel was “slid[ing] further and further toward the American position” and “might capitulate completely to the Americans, becoming a tool for the realization of their expansionist plans.”
American wariness that Israel would tip in Moscow’s direction may have figured in the very decision now celebrated as the birth of U.S.-Israel relations.
Formally, however, Israel had declared its “neutrality” between East and West: this was crucial to its efforts to extricate hundreds of thousands of Jews remaining in Soviet satellite countries. Nor did Israel’s early leaders, however much they craved the favor of United States, shy away from leveraging their Soviet ties by hinting that they might yet tip in Moscow’s direction. Weizmann himself warned that if the West “humiliated and deserted Israel in the UN and elsewhere,” its people would become “alienated” and (by implication) drift toward the Soviets. Koestler thought this quite impossible, but he worried that Ben-Gurion and Sharett were “too coy” to say so, giving rise to suspicion in Washington that Israel might “might topple over to the other side.”
In retrospect, such a scenario seems incredible. But wariness of it, and the desirability of pre-empting it, may actually have figured in the very decision now celebrated as the birth of U.S.-Israel relations. In the crucial meeting at which Truman decided in favor of immediate recognition of Israel, White House counsel Clark Clifford made the compelling argument that, by recognizing Israel first, the U.S. could “steal a march on the USSR.” One observer of the decision noted the prevalence of the “fairly well-founded suspicion that the U.S. speedy recognition was prompted primarily by fears that the Soviet Union might do it first.” Among the mix of Truman’s motives, one-upping the Soviets could not have been too far from the surface.
As Israel grew stronger, the cold-war argument became more compelling. By July 1948, Philip Jessup, the number-two in the U.S. mission to the UN, could already describe Israel as “more than a match” for any combination of Arab forces. Jessup also reported that Israel was “aware of the disadvantages to it of too close an association with the Soviet Union” and “recognize[d] that greater advantages would be gained from a closer association with the U.S. and other Western powers.” Warning that were Israel “thrown into the arms of the Soviet Union it could become a force operating to a very great disadvantage to the U.S., the UK, and other Western powers,” Jessup drew the clear conclusion: treating Israel “fairly” would transform it into “a force operating to our own advantage.”
The journey from “fair treatment” of Israel to the post-1967 strategic alliance with the United States would prove to be a long one, with many ups and downs. But it originated in the desire to keep Israel out of the Soviet orbit—an American reaction to a highly improbable scenario that was itself made plausible only by Stalin’s surprising but consistent support for the Jewish state at the moment of its birth. That being the case, perhaps there is another reason for Israel to thank Stalin: he inadvertently helped Israel build its first bridges to United States.
VIII. Lessons for Today
In 1961, the Soviet foreign ministry published a volume of basic documents on Soviet-Arab relations. Although Gromyko himself chaired the publication committee, none of his UN speeches in support of Israel appeared in the book. Nor did his 1988 Russian-language memoirs mention the fact of Soviet support for Israel in 1947 and 1948, or his role in proclaiming it. The Soviets wanted nothing more than to forget the entire episode, and so encourage their Arab clients to do the same. “Israel has turned out badly,” reflected Molotov in his last years, when asked about Soviet support for its establishment. “But Lord Almighty! That’s American imperialism for you.”
Thankfully, a few diligent historians have done much over the past two decades to unearth the record and tell the story in detail. In mustering evidence for this essay, I’ve relied largely on their efforts. They include, most notably, Yaakov Ro’i, Arnold Krammer, and Uri Bialer, whose detailed book-length accounts appeared before the fall of the Soviet Union; and Gabriel Gorodetsky, Benjamin Pinkus, and Laurent Rucker, who in the aftermath of the regime’s collapse plumbed accessible archives to add many new dimensions. What with important scholarly articles by others also filling gaps, the story is there for all who seek it.
And yet, too few do. Both Israeli diplomats and American Zionists prefer to tell the same simple tale reflected in Ambassador Danon’s statement: “From the moment President Truman became the first world leader to recognize the new Jewish state, Israel has had no better friend that the United States of America.” Everyone likes the story of a 70-year love affair between scrappy little Israel and the world’s greatest superpower and democracy. But as we have seen, this statement, however accurate it would become in later years, was untrue in the earliest ones when, as Abba Eban attested from his experience as Israel’s first ambassador to the UN, the Soviets were “more constant in their assertiveness in support of Israel than even the United States.”
Unfortunately, this historical misrepresentation exacts a cost. First, it tends to obscure the real significance of the international legitimacy conferred on Israel by the partition vote. Yes, it took heroic efforts by partition’s supporters, including the United States, to round up the required two-thirds “yes” votes in the General Assembly. But the successful outcome was due to the fundamental fact that both of the victorious great powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, supported partition and the creation of a Jewish state. This convergence created the updraft that drew in the others.
Abba Eban regarded partition as “the first American-Soviet agreement in the postwar era.” That it was an agreement over the creation of the Jewish state suggests just how deep lie the foundations of Israel’s international legitimacy. Many Arab apologists still seek to demonstrate that this or that ballot in the General Assembly was obtained through threat or barter, and it is true that in November 1947, advocates of partition pulled out all the stops. But with both superpowers aligned, it required a special animus against Zionism to prompt a “no” ballot. With few exceptions, this existed only in countries with Muslim majorities.
Second, the false idea that the United States was Israel’s “best friend” in 1948 subtracts from the debt owed to the first Israelis themselves. It would have been much easier to defeat the Palestinian Arabs, and even the combined Arab forces, with the backing of the world’s greatest power. But Israel didn’t enjoy that backing. Sharett, in a meeting with secretary of state George Marshall, spoke bluntly to this point (as summarized by Israel’s first cabinet secretary, Zeev Sharaf):
The United States, [Sharett] continued, had not helped to establish the state; [it] had assisted only by taking part in the vote at the United Nations, and this would not be forgotten. But we, the Jewish people, he said, were carrying on the fight in Palestine ourselves without any aid whatever. We had asked for arms, but they had not been given; we had asked for military guidance, but it had been withheld; finally, we had asked for armor plating for buses, but even this had been refused. Whatever we had secured was with our own capacities alone.
Sharett was too diplomatic to remind Marshall of just what, by contrast, the Soviets had done for Israel.
In May 1949, Truman sent a threatening letter to Ben-Gurion criticizing Israel’s postwar position on borders and refugees. Truman mentioned that the American government (and people) had “given generous support to the creation of Israel.” In his diary, a fuming Ben-Gurion derided this claim, discounting even U.S. support of partition:
The state of Israel was not established as a consequence of the UN resolution. Neither America nor any other country saw the resolution through, nor did they stop the Arab countries (and the British mandatory government) from declaring total war on us in violation of UN resolutions. America did not raise a finger to save us and, moreover, imposed an arms embargo, and had we been destroyed they would not have resurrected us.
The founders of Israel would thus have scoffed at the idea that the United States government stood squarely by the new state at its creation. Israel’s existence, they believed, was owed entirely to their own courage and grit—and to crates of guns sent by order of Stalin, purchased with millions of dollars sent by American Jews.
Telling the partition story as “America-to-the-rescue” robs it of its most important lessons. Zionism’s early leaders never said never, and never took “no” for an answer.
Third, telling the partition story as “America-to-the-rescue” robs it of its most important lessons. The genius of Zionist diplomacy, in 1947 as in 1917, resided in accurately detecting the rise and decline of powers, and in exploiting their competitive rivalries. The Zionists had too much experience to rely on the friendship of any one power. Indeed, it might be said that Zionism insisted that the Jews had no steadfast “best friends” at all. World wars, revolutions, collapsing empires—Zionism’s leaders saw no constants in international affairs, and they relentlessly probed world capitals for the first signs of shifts in policy and power. In practicing a diversified diplomacy, the Zionists never said never, and never took “no” for an answer.
No Zionist today would think to celebrate the partition vote by praising the wise foresight of Comrade Stalin. But it would be a missed opportunity (and bad history) to celebrate it only by hailing Truman, the would-be Cyrus. On that day, the world welcomed the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. It happened because shrewd and persistent Zionist statesmen and diplomats persuaded the leaders of both increasingly antagonistic great powers that a Jewish state would serve the interests of each.
“In terms both of Soviet and of American policy,” wrote Paul Johnson in the 1998 essay I quoted at the outset, “Israel slipped into existence through a window that briefly opened, and just as suddenly closed.” It was Zionist statesmanship—critically coordinated with Zionist arms—that opened the window just wide enough, and kept it open long enough, for Israel to enter. Surely this achievement is the one that deserves to be remembered and celebrated in Flushing Meadows 70 years to the day. The saga of the partition vote, far from being a singularly American story, is a reminder that Israel must remain ever-nimble in maneuvering among the powers, and not rely exclusively on a single one. This was crucial at Israel’s birth, and might prove crucial again.
Finally, there is yet another cause for reflection as Israel approaches its 70th anniversary. In the early years of the 20th century, the Zionist and the Russian revolutions occurred in tandem. They arose from related discontents, in much of the same geographic space. Not surprisingly, they both competed for the allegiance and energies of Jews. The Soviet Union lasted almost 69 years to the day, from 1922 to 1991. As of this year, the state of Israel has lasted longer, and it continues to flourish. Israel won the war for the Jews, as surely as the United States won the cold war.
The Soviet legacy is damnable with regard to Israel, too. The Soviet Union later armed and incited the Arabs to wage wars on Israel that drew blood and inflicted suffering. But let Israel record two credits to the ledger of that calamitous 20th-century regime. First, as Israel’s founders attested and as this essay has shown, the Soviet Union gave vital support to Israel at its birth. Second, it saved millions of Jews from otherwise certain destruction by the Nazis—Jews who, with their descendants, would crucially augment the population of Israel upon the eventual Soviet collapse.

This does not mitigate the crimes perpetrated by Stalin, whose barbarity sometimes rivaled Hitler’s. It is a reminder that while Israel should always prefer the good company of the righteous, the others must not be neglected.