Tuesday, January 31, 2017

1A - Egyptian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement, February 24, 1949

The parties to the present Agreement, responding to the Security Council resolution of 16 November 1948, calling upon them as a further provisional measure under Article 40 of the Charter of the United Nations and in order to facilitate the transition from the present truce to permanent peace in Palestine, to negotiate an armistice; having decided to enter into negotiations under United Nations Chairmanship concerning the implementation of the Security Council resolutions of 4 and 16 November 1948; and having appointed representatives empowered to negotiate and conclude an Armistice Agreement;
The undersigned representatives, in the full authority entrusted to them by their respective Governments, have agreed upon the following provisions:

With a view to promoting the return of permanent peace in Palestine and in recognition of the importance in this regard of mutual assurances concerning the future military operations of the Parties, the following principles, which shall be fully observed by both Parties during the Armistice, are hereby affirmed:
1.  The injunction of the Security Council against resort to military force in the settlement of the Palestine question shall henceforth be scrupulously respected by both Parties.
2.  No aggressive action by the armed forces -- land, sea, or air ‑- of either Party shall be undertaken, planned, or threatened against the people or the armed forces of the other; it being clearly understood that the use of the term "planned" in this context has no bearing on normal staff planning as generally practised in military organizations.
3.  The right of each Party to its security and freedom from fear of attack by the armed forces of the other shall be fully respected.
4.  The establishment of an armistice between the armed forces of the two Parties is accepted as an indispensable step toward the liquidation of armed conflict and the restoration of peace in Palestine.

1.  In pursuance of the foregoing principles and of the resolutions of the Security Council of 4 and 16 November 1948, a general armistice between the armed forces of the two Parties -- land, sea and air -- is hereby established.
2.  No element of the land, sea or air military or para-military forces of either Party, including non-regular forces, shall commit any warlike or hostile act against the military or para-military forces of the other Party, or against civilians in territory under the control of that Party; or shall advance beyond or pass over for any purpose whatsoever the Armistice Demarcation Line set forth in Article VI of this Agreement except as provided in Article III of this Agreement; and elsewhere shall not violate the international frontier; or enter into or pass through the air space of the other Party or through the waters within three miles of the coastline of the other Party.

1.  In pursuance of the Security Council's resolution of 4 November 1948, and with a view to implementation of the Security Council's resolution of 16 November 1948, the Egyptian military forces in the Al Faluja area shall be withdrawn.
2.  This withdrawal shall begin on the day after that which follows the signing of this Agreement, at 0500 hours GMT, and shall be beyond the Egypt-Palestine frontier.
3.  The withdrawal shall be under the supervision of the United Nations and in accordance with the Plan of Withdrawal set forth in Annex I to this Agreement [not printed here].

With specific reference to the implementation of the resolutions of the Security Council of 4 and 16 November 1948, the following principles and purposes are affirmed:
1.  The principle that no military or political advantage should be gained under the truce ordered by the Security Council is recognised.
2.  It is also recognised that the basic purposes and spirit of the Armistice would not be served by the restoration of previously held military positions, changes from those now held other than as specifically provided for in this Agreement, or by the advance of the military forces of either side beyond the positions held at the time this Armistice Agreement is signed.
3.  It is further recognised that rights, claims or interests of a non-military character in the area of Palestine covered by this Agreement may be asserted by either Party, and that these, by mutual agreement being excluded from the Armistice negotiations, shall be, at the discretion of the Parties, the subject of later settlement. It is emphasized that it is not the purpose of this Agreement to establish, to recognize, to strengthen, or to weaken or nullify, in any way, any territorial, custodial or other rights, claims or interests which may be asserted by either Party in the area of Palestine or any part or locality thereof covered by this Agreement, whether such asserted rights, claims or interests derive from Security Council resolutions, including the resolution of 4 November 1948 and the Memorandum of 13 November 1948 for its implementation, or from any other source. The provisions of this Agreement are dictated exclusively by military considerations and are valid only for the period of the Armistice.

1.  The line described in Article VI of this Agreement shall be designated as the Armistice Demarcation Line and is delineated in pursuance of the purpose and intent of the resolutions of the Security Council of 4 and 16 November 1948.
2.  The Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary, and is delineated without prejudice to rights, claims and positions of either Party to the Armistice as regards ultimate settlement of the Palestine question.
3.  The basic purpose of the Armistice Demarcation Line is to delineate the line beyond which the armed forces of the respective Parties shall not move except as provided in Article III of this Agreement.
4.  Rules and regulations of the armed forces of the Parties, which prohibit civilians from crossing the fighting lines or entering the area between the lines, shall remain in effect after the signing of this Agreement with application to the Armistice Demarcation Line defined in Article VI.

[defining Armistice Demarcation Lines in the Gaza-Rafah and Bethlehem-Hebron areas -- omitted.]

1.  It is recognized by the parties to this Agreement that in certain sectors of the total area involved, the proximity of the forces of a third party not covered by this Agreement makes impractical the full application of all provisions of the Agreement to such sectors. For this reason alone, therefore, and pending the conclusion of an Armistice Agreement in place of the existing truce with that third party, the provisions of this Agreement relating to reciprocal reduction and withdrawal of forces shall apply only to the western front and not to the eastern front.
2.  The areas comprising the western and eastern fronts shall be defined by the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization, on the basis of the deployment of forces against each other and past military activity or the future possibility thereof in the area. The definition of the western and eastern fronts is set forth in Annex II of this Agreement [not printed here].
3.  In the area of the western front under Egyptian control, Egyptian defensive forces only may be maintained. All other Egyptian forces shall be withdrawn from this area to a point or points no further east than El Arish - Abou Aoueigila.
4.  In the area of the western front under Israeli control, Israeli defensive forces only, which shall be based on the settlements, may be maintained. All other Israeli forces shall be withdrawn from this area to a point or points north of the line delineated in paragraph 2.A of the Memorandum of 13 November 1948 on the implementation of the resolution of the Security Council of 4 November 1948.
5.  The defensive forces referred to in paragraphs 3 and 4 above shall be as defined in Annex III to this Agreement [not printed here].

1.  The area comprising the village of El Auja and vicinity, as defined in paragraph 2 of this Article, shall be demilitarized, and both Egyptian and Israeli armed forces shall be totally excluded therefrom. The Chairman of the Mixed Armistice Commission established in Article X of this Agreement and United Nations Observers attached to the Commission shall be responsible for ensuring the full implementation of this provision.
2. [Omitted]
3.  On the Egyptian side of the frontier, facing the El Auja area, no Egyptian defensive positions shall be closer to El Auja than El Qouseima and Abou Aoueigila.
4.  The road Taba-Qouseima-Auja shall not be employed by any military forces whatsoever for the purposes of entering Palestine.
5.  The movement of armed forces of either Party to this Agreement into any part of the area defined in paragraph 2 of this Article, for any purpose, or failure by either Party to respect or fulfil any of the other provisions of this Article, when confirmed by the United Nations representatives, shall constitute a flagrant violation of this Agreement.

All prisoners of war detained by either Party to this Agreement and belonging o the armed forces, regular or irregular, of the other Party shall be exchanged as follows:
1.  The exchange of prisoners of war shall be under United Nations supervision and control throughout. . . .
[Paras 2, 3, 4, 5 omitted.]

1.  The execution of the provisions of this Agreement shall be supervised by a Mixed Armistice Commission composed of seven members, of whom each Party shall designate three, and whose Chairman shall be the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization or a senior officer from the Observer personnel of that Organization designated by him following consultation with both Parties to this Agreement.
2.  The Mixed Armistice Commission shall maintain its headquarters at El Auja, and shall hold its meetings at such places and at such times as it may deem necessary for the effective conduct of its work.
3. [Omitted.]
4.  Decisions of the Mixed Armistice Commission, to the extent possible, shall be based on the principle of unanimity. In the absence of unanimity, decisions shall be taken by a majority vote of the members of the Commission present and voting. On questions of principle, appeal shall lie to a Special Committee, composed of the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization and one member each of the Egyptian and Israeli Delegations to the Armistice Conference at Rhodes or some other senior officer, whose decisions on all such questions shall be final. If no appeal against a decision of the Commission is filed within one week from the date of said decision, that decision shall be taken as final. Appeals to the Special Committee shall be presented to the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization, who shall convene the Committee at the earliest possible date.
5.  The Mixed Armistice Commission shall formulate its own rules of procedure. Meetings shall be held only after due notice to the members by the Chairman. The quorum for its meetings shall be a majority of its members.
6.  The Commission shall be empowered to employ Observers . . .
7.  Claims or complaints presented by either Party relating to the application of this Agreement shall be referred immediately to the Mixed Armistice Commission through its Chairman. The Commission shall take such action on all such claims or complaints by means of its observation and investigation machinery as it may deem appropriate, with a view to equitable and mutually satisfactory settlement.
8.  Where interpretation of the meaning of a particular provision of this Agreement is at issue, the Commission's interpretation shall prevail, subject to the right of appeal as provided in paragraph 4. The Commission, in its discretion and as the need arises, may from time to time recommend to the Parties modifications in the provisions of this Agreement.
9.  The Mixed Armistice Commission shall submit to both Parties reports on its activities as frequently as it may consider necessary. A copy of each such report shall be presented to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for transmission to the appropriate organ or agency of the United Nations.
10. Members of the commission and its Observers shall be accorded such freedom of movement and access in the areas covered by this Agreement as the Commission may determine to be necessary, provided that when such decisions of the Commission are reached by a majority vote United Nations Observers only shall be employed.
11. The expenses of the Commission, other than those relating to United Nations Observers, shall be apportioned in equal shares between the two Parties to this Agreement.

No provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question.

1.  The present agreement is not subject to ratification and shall come into force immediately upon being signed.
2.  The Agreement, having been negotiated and concluded in pursuance of the resolution of the Security Council of 16 November 1948 calling for the establishment of an armistice in order to eliminate the threat to the peace in Palestine and to facilitate the transition from the present truce to permanent peace in Palestine, shall remain in force until a peaceful settlement between the Parties is achieved, except as provided in paragraph 3 of this Article.
3.  The Parties to this Agreement may, by mutual consent, revise this Agreement or any of its provisions, or may suspend its application, other than Articles I and II, at any time. In the absence of mutual agreement and after this Agreement has been in effect for one year from the date of its signing, either of the Parties may call upon the Secretary-General of the United Nations to convoke a conference of representatives of the two Parties for the purpose of reviewing, revising or suspending any of the provisions of this Agreement other than Articles I and II. Participation in such conference shall be obligatory upon the Parties.
4.  If the conference provided for in paragraph 3 of this Article does not result in an agreed solution of a point in dispute, either Party may bring the matter before the Security Council of the United Nations for the relief sought on the grounds that this Agreement has been concluded in pursuance of Security Council action toward the end of achieving peace in Palestine.
5. [Omitted.]
6. This Agreement is signed in quintuplicate . . .

In faith whereof the undersigned representatives of the Contracting Parties have signed hereafter, in the presence of the United Nations Acting Mediator on Palestine and the United Nations Chief of Staff of the Truce Supervision Organization.

Done at Rhodes, Island of Rhodes, Greece, on the twenty-fourth of February nineteen forty-nine.

For and on behalf of the              For and on behalf of the
Government of Egypt                                         Government of Israel
COLONEL SEIF EL DINE                                   WALTER EYTAN
COLONEL EL RAHMANY                                   COLONEL YIGAEL YADIN

Friday, January 27, 2017

54A - PM Moshe Sharett to Ambassador Nicholls, conveying message to British Foreign Secretary, Harold Macmillan, May 5, 1955

Jerusalem, 5 May 1955

I appreciate the trouble Mr. Macmillan has taken to comment on my letter to you and should like in reply to make the following observations which cover also certain aspects of Sir Anthony Eden’s recent speech in the House of Commons.
   (1) Regarding the effects of the Turco-Iraqi Pact and the adherence thereto of the United Kingdom, our apprehensions remain unallayed. The view expressed by Sir Anthony Eden that these arrangements for the first time directed Iraq's attention away from Israel has unfortunately not yet been borne out by facts. On the contrary, the Pact has enabled Iraq to extract from Turkey a public commitment against Israel, of which the first fruit was Turkey’s identification with the Arab line at the Bandung Conference. Her Majesty’s Government’s dissociation of the United Kingdom from the exchange of letters between  the Prime Ministers of Iraq and Turkey was gratifying, but by adhering without reservation to the Pact itself, the United Kingdom has endorsed the disability for which under its terms Israel was singled out. The adverse effects on Israel’s position of this exclusion, and of its endorsement by the United Kingdom, are plain.
   (2) The reaffirmation by Sir Anthony Eden of Britain’s readiness to come to Israel’s assistance in the event of an attack against her is welcomed as an expression of goodwill and friendly intent, but in present circumstances the Government of Israel cannot regard it as adequately meeting the issue. This assurance derives from the Tripartite Declaration of May 1950, which was designed to benefit the Arab states as much as to protect Israel. It represented a principle of policy balanced in its application. But if a balanced structure is superimposed on unbalanced foundation, no equilibrium can result. This precisely the situation which Israel has to face. The security and political scales in the Middle East having been heavily titled against her, no assurance directed in equal measure to both sides can restore the balance.
   (3) The basic fact is that Israel is formally excluded, whether as participant or as beneficiary, from the network of pacts, treaties and agreements now spread over the Middle East. Such is the case with regard to the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, the Anglo-Jordanian Treaty, the United States-Iraqi Agreement. In the view of the Government of Israel, the Western Powers which act as sponsors of, or parties to, those alliances have an inescapable responsibility for the inevitable adverse effects of their policy on Israel’s security and intra-regional position.
   (4) It is against this background that the refusal must be viewed of Her Majesty’s Government to formalise its relationship with Israel on a footing of equality as between two contracting parties – similar to the relationship which exists between it and at least three of Israel’s avowed enemies. The United Kingdom has assumed, and is apparently ready to go on assuming, legally binding obligations based on reciprocity vis-a-vis Arab States. Israel, on the other hand, is expected to rest content with a purely one-sided verbal declaration which does not even apply to her alone. Sir Anthony Eden indeed emphasised that the Tripartite Declaration was not a bilateral one between the United Kingdom and Israel. It was a declaration, he said, in which the United States and France were equally engaged. Yet independently of this Declaration Britain is a party to a series of bilateral treaties with the Arab States. Israel alone does not seem to be eligible for such relationship. Israel’s repeated attempts to engage the United Kingdom Government in a clarification of the issues involved have so far failed. A formal proposal to this effect made in our Note of 22 September 1954 has remained unanswered and was, indeed, ignored in the British reply of 19 October 1954. It is difficult therefore for the Government of Israel to resist the disappointing conclusion that her majesty’s Government is unable to accord to Israel the same measure of friendship and support which it confers on the Arab States which insist on maintaining a state of war against Israel.
   (5) Sir Anthony Eden’s statement that a British guarantee covering Israel could not precede but can only follow the settlement of major issues outstanding between her and the Arab States does not explain, but serves merely further to emphasize, the discrimination with which we see ourselves confronted. No such condition has been prescribed in connection with the treaties thus far signed with certain Arab States, nor are we aware of an intention to apply it in the event of other Arab States, say Egypt or Syria, declaring their readiness to conclude defence treaties with the United Kingdom. Indeed, the postponement of a guarantee to a time after the Arab-Israel conflict has been resolved borders on the paradoxical. It is precisely because the Arab States maintain an implacable hostility towards Israel, and despite that hostility are considered eligible for participation in the Western defence system, that Israel is in need of, and feels herself entitled to seek, a special guarantee for her security. In the absence of a settlement, a guarantee becomes essential. It may even prove useful as conducing to a settlement. Its importance dwindles if it is envisaged merely as a post factum imprimatur on a settlement already achieved.
   (6) I have given a good deal of thought to the implications of Mr. Macmillan’s statement that the process of drawing the Arab States into a defence association with the United Kingdom was an essential step towards inducing in them sufficient confidence both in themselves and in the West to enable them to contemplate putting their relations with Israel on a better footing. The implication seem obvious: no defence association with Israel is possible before a settlement between her and the Arab States has been reached; no such settlement is possible before all, or nearly all, Arab states have been drawn into the orbit of a Western defence system; hence Israel must be relegated to the tail of the queue both in point of time and in order of precedence.
   (7) From a practical aspect the conditioning of any guarantee to Israel on a prior settlement of the major outstanding issues appears bound to retard rather than hasten the advent of a settlement, for the simple reason that the Arab states are entirely uninterested in seeing Israel's integrity guaranteed. Moreover, if an initiative is taken by the United Kingdom, or by any other third Power, to outline specific proposals on which a settlement might be based, further serious complications are bound to ensue. The nature of the Arab-Israel conflict is such as always to expose Israel to the danger that she will be confronted with demands for unilateral concessions. Israel claims no Arab territory. The Arab States claim territory from Israel. Israel does not ask that Jews who fled to her from Arab lands be repatriated. The Arab States insist on the repatriation of Arab refugees. In these circumstances, what the Arab states can be called upon to concede is merely a claim to something which they in any case do not possess; whereas Israel may be faced with the demand to give up what she has. Should the proposed settlement be based on such an approach Israel will have no choice but to reject it, nor will a Power sponsoring the proposal be free in the eyes of our people from a charge of partisanship. The Arabs, on the other hand, would hail the concessions demanded of Israel as a triumph of their intransigence and, far from becoming amenable to a compromise, feel encouraged to persevere in the their tactics and press for even more far-reaching concessions. To avoid any possible misapprehension, I take this opportunity of reiterating Israel’s categorical misapprehension; I take this opportunity of reiterating Israel’s categorical refusal to cede any part of her territory or to readmit Arab refugees. Minor and mutual adjustments of the frontier fall into a different category and can always be considered when the time comes for demarcating the line as a result of a peace settlement; there will also be a continued application of the principles governing the grant of entry permits under the Reunion of Families’ Scheme.
   (8) I appreciated the proposal that Her Majesty’s Government should use its good offices with the Prime minister of Egypt in exploring the possibility of a settlement. We should welcome such initiative if it were directed towards inducing the Egyptian Government or respond to Israel’s repeated offers of contact and negotiation but not if it were used as an occasion for proposing specific terms liable to prejudge the issue and possibly wreck the chances of an eventual understanding. The responsibility for such an untoward outcome of a well-meant intervention would be very grave. As things stand, Egypt still owes a reply to the United Nations’ proposal, which Israel has accepted, for a high level meeting to deal with problems of border security along the Gaza Strip. Her Majesty’s Government will also be aware of Israel’s readiness to proceed to the gradual payment of compensation for abandoned Arab lands – which may necessitate a special loan – provided the Suez-Canal blockade against Israel shipping and threats and reprisals by Arab States against foreign firms having connections with Israel are discontinued. These proposals offer scope for progress without being fraught with the danger of irreparable harm, such as is liable to be caused by the raising of issues which directly and fundamentally affect Israel’s sovereignty in terms of territory and population.
   (9) I deeply regret that my first communication intended for transmission to Mr. Macmillan should be somewhat sombre in tone but I believe that, in view of the serious issues at stake, a candid expression of our views and feeling at this stage will serve the best interests of Anglo-Israel friendship which I am sure Mr. Macmillan no less than I has much at heart.

SOURCE: DFPI 10, doc.208.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

134 - C.L. Sulzberger Article on Ben-Gurion, November 14, 1956

In the final paragraphs of his weekly “Foreign Affairs” column, C.L. Sulzberger wrote:

            Ben-Gurion’s government stands alone and isolated. It has no ally. It does not even appear to have a friend. Among the great powers, Soviet Russia is unremittingly working against Israel’s very existence. The United States, appalled by the adventure into Egypt, is cooler to Jerusalem’s cause than at any moment since the Zionist state was founded.
            A Forced Withdrawal
            Now, as the result of gathering world pressures, the jaunty little Israeli army is having to draw back into its crowded borders, yielding the various positions it had – and hoped to hold. In the end, it would appear, it will even have to relinquish the Gaza portion of old Palestine, where Nasser based his guerrilla assaults.
            Boycotts, political strictures and economic constraints are working against Ben-Gurion. Despite the military booty seized by Israel from Egypt, the Arabs will again become stronger and more resolute, impelled by Soviet incitements and equipped with new Soviet weapons. And the presence in the Middle East of Israel’s most implacable great power enemy, the Soviet Union itself, is now a virtual fact.
            From the first moment that Ben-Gurion knew the extent of the Egyptians’ arms purchases from the Communist bloc he determined that some day he would have to “smash them.” ... The attempt has been made. The results are not yet entirely clear, in any long-range ultimate pattern. Ben-Gurion’s great audacious challenge was ventured – and it failed. When next the old scholar turns to the pages of Aeschylus perhaps we will comprehend, in the light of sad experience, what the Athenian meant by writing: “Things are where things are, and, as fate has willed, so shall they be fulfilled.”
SOURCE: C.L. Sulzberger, “Fate – as seen by Premier Ben-Gurion and Aeschylus,” NYT, November 14, 1956, p.34.

133 - Sharett, Epilogue to Joel Brand’s book, On a Mission for those Sentenced to Death

In the Margins of the Book

I have willingly responded to the request of Yoel Brand to add to his book my clarifications and assessments. In my official capacity [as head of the Jewish Agency Political Department] in those days I had closely followed the whole saga of his mission, and took part in the efforts aimed at the rescue of Hungarian Jews which were exerted in the wake of that mission. Clearly, I could not do this without providing the reader with my knowledge and my perspective on the events described by Yoel Brand in his book.
            This book is to my mind the story of one man who physically and mentally went through the horrific chapter of the annihilation of Hungarian Jews; a man who became a messenger for a puzzling and imaginary operation which, according to its initiators, was meant, on the face of it, to save them; a man who firmly believed in his innocent heart that that operation, which was far beyond any bounds of practical logic in the circumstances of the time, was workable.
            As someone who experienced the events which are still boiling inside him to this very day, the writer is entitled to tell his story openly. The book presents the deep and agonizing impressions of the author regarding one of the most tragic chapters in the bloody history of European Jewry during World War II. Still, one cannot view this book as the complete story by itself. Naturally, the writer was not able to see, and certainly not at the time of his mission, the background and full scope of the events he was dealing with; nor could he understand and correctly evaluate the basic facts which had shaped international reality during the War years and which had determined the fate of the struggle to rescue multitudes of Jews from the hands of the Nazi hangman. Perhaps one is not allowed to pass judgement, after the events, on a writer who did not uncritically relate the experiences he went through during the days they took place. Yet, at the same time, he cannot expect that his book, which is undoubtedly a shattering human document of Jewish martyrology, would be accepted as well as a factual description, balanced and all-encompassing, of actual events.
            Below an attempt will be made to deal briefly with the factual errors of the story as told here and to correct the perspectives.

            A. The premise which prima facie comes out of this book, that the chapter of the saving of European Jewry began with Yoel Brand’s mission, ignores some basic facts. Already at the 21st Zionist World Congress, which ended in Geneva exactly on the eve of World War II, it was decided by the Labor parties that their emissaries working in Europe would each go back to his post in spite of the dangers involved, and precisely because of the danger looming at that time for all European Jewry. In those days a center was established in Switzerland for organizing the activity of contacts and help throughout the continent. With the outbreak of the war, the Jewish Agency’s and the Hagana’s efforts to move European Jews to Palestine “illegally,” against the White Paper policy, were strengthened in order to get them to safety in time. These efforts bore fruit. Many ships arrived in Palestine carrying refugees from Europe during the war. The Jewish Agency and the Hagana also strove, right from the beginning of the war, by cooperation with the British Army – the only possible vehicle for this purpose – to have teams of volunteers infiltrate into Europe to organize Jews to resist the Nazi enemy and to save themselves. The Jewish Agency fought hard, in some cases not in vain, to use all avenues of legal immigration of Jews from enemy countries. Many rescue efforts were undertaken by the World Jewish Congress and the [American] Joint [Distribution Committee], thanks to which many Jews and whole groups escaped from the hell in time.
            When the first shocking news about the annihilation and its scope reached us, it was not kept secret but was publicized all over the world. The news was summed up in a report published by the World Jewish Congress already in 1942. The news was impressively publicized in a series of public meetings in Palestine, during a session of the British Parliament in December 1942, and in a mass meeting in New York in 1943. Towards the end of 1942 a national “Rescue Committee” was established in Palestine by the Jewish Agency and the Va’ad Hale’umi [National Council], in which all yishuv organizations participated. A “Rescue Campaign” was created which organized a tax collected from the yishuv, a substantial part of its resources were channeled to the rescue of European Jews. A center was established in Istanbul, which strove and succeeded, mostly clandestinely, to gain contacts with several counties under Nazi occupation, transferred money for the financing of local rescue activities and collected information about the evolving situation there. This center organized a team of emissaries and couriers who carried out its missions on dozens of secret and dangerous trips. The center established action committees in the occupied countries for the purpose of renting ships and sailing them [to Palestine]. These committees functioned clandestinely, but sometimes used contacts with local officials of the occupation authorities in order to save Jews.
            The Istanbul center established contact with Budapest as well, and constantly exchanged information and consulted with the committee established there. Without this contact, which was attained thanks to the initiative of the Palestinian emissaries even before the eruption of the Shoah in Hungary, Brand and his comrades would never have arrived at the idea of his flight to Istanbul. The mission of Ira Hirschmann – an American Jew who functioned with special authority for dealing with refugees given him by the American President – came about on the initiative of organized American Jewry, which took much inspiration from the rescue activity in Palestine. Hirschmann arrived in the Middle East before Brand’s arrival, and once he was informed by the Jewish Agency’s representatives of this mission, he immediately set about finding out the possibility of making it successful. The anxiety regarding the fate of Hungarian and Balkan Jewry was worrying to the Jewish Agency and “Rescue Committee” activists ever since the appearance of the danger of their occupation by Hitler. The first news about the annihilation campaign in Hungary reached Palestine and alarmed the yishuv before Brand’s arrival in Istanbul.

            B. The writer has fallen prey to exaggerating the power and authority of the Jewish Agency in those days. Under the fear and solitude and the dark despair which suddenly engulfed Hungarian Jewry, it was only naturally that its activists would imbibe an exaggerated and mistaken conception of the Jewish Agency’s power and that of the Palestinian Jewish public in general to directly act and influence the Allies’ policy as well. But anyone cognizant of the concrete situation in those days, even superficially, would smile bitterly at Brand’s accusations against the emissaries stationed in Istanbul for not being able to immediately provide him with an airplane. For the sake of the reader who is ignorant of the circumstances of the time, let me note that all means of communication between Palestine and the outside world were in the hands of the British military authorities, and each journey and each flight to another country necessitated a permit, the getting of which depended on special efforts which were at times in vain. It so happened that the Head of the JA's Political Department [i.e., Sharett himself] did not receive a Turkish entry visa, and not always was a seat on an airplane made available for a flight out of Jerusalem in time. Generally, the freedom of action of the Istanbul “Rescue Center” was limited and dismal. Its activists had to constantly struggle against serious limitations born out of the existing regime of cooperation with the Allies, a system without which that Rescue Center could not function at all, and out of the constraints exerted by the Turkish authorities which maintained their regular contacts with Germany until the end of the war. Brand’s accusation regarding the lack of bombing of the annihilation centers in Europe and the railways leading to them is also a result of conceptions which had utterly no basis in reality – as if bombers, and long-range ones at that, were at the disposal of the Jewish Agency or the Hagana, or as if the British and American air forces were prepared to act according to Zionist directives. In fact, protracted efforts were made by the Jewish Agency to motivate the British to bomb those targets – precisely at the initiative of Yitzhak Gruenbaum, member of the JAE and head of the Rescue Committee, on whom the writer heaps his boiling wrath.

            C. Another element ignored by the writer – the most serious one – is the policy followed by the Allies regarding any contact with the enemy and any activity which could be of any help to him, and their attitude towards the problem of saving European Jews through the war years, and generally his ignoring the political background of the Allies’ war against Hitler and their inter-relations as members of a coalition fighting Hitler. The transporting of material help to the enemy, be it for the loftiest aim, was one of the most injurious [pasul] and improper deeds, which was unheard of. In vain would anybody ignore the fact that saving Jews was not among the aims of the Allies’ war against Germany – at most it was to be a by-product of their victory. Needless to say, the Allied powers shunned and even refused to define saving of Jews as a guideline for the operational conduct of the war. Moreover, from time to time the Zionist mission was confronted by unwillingness to accept its proposals for cooperation in the war, which emanated from a fear that the European nations would gain the impression that the war was being fought mainly for the sake of the Jews. Any demand that, while planning wartime operations, the frightening fact of the continuing annihilation of Jews should be taken into consideration, and that laws of war could be overlooked so that Jews might be saved, was met by one single response: the only efficient way to save your people is to guarantee and expedite the collapse of Hitler by concentrating all energies in the fighting itself. The fact that, meanwhile, millions were slaughtered like sheep was not weighed at all towards changing this policy, and for this reason alone the fate of the proposal that the Allies supply Germany, in the midst of the war, with food supplies and means of transport and other vital material was clear. This plan could not but be seen as an insane one, one which wholly contradicted the basic principles of fighting the enemy to the very end. Moreover, once the principle of “unconditional surrender” was fixed as a primary aim of the war, they became highly nervous to carefully refrain from any step which could be taken as possibly leading to some compromise with Hitler, or generally understood as the slightest deviation from the established policy. The mutual suspicion among the Allies in this matter, that is between the western powers and the Soviet Union, as well as the high sensitivity of any member of the partnership regarding his partner lest this or that step would be wrongly understood by him, were then at their apex. Evidently, one could certainly assume that if the question was of the annihilation of millions of Englishmen or Americans, public opinion in these nations would have compelled their governments – if they did not arise by themselves – to break all rules and forego any danger in order to save them, whatever happens. However, the question was that of millions of Jews, and since no such danger loomed over the heads of multitudes of Englishmen or Americans, the moral aspect of the hard position of the Allies was not put to a decisive test.

            D. Most obviously, Brand and his comrades did not, or could not, really grasp the malignant character of Britain’s position under the White Paper policy. Any action of saving Jews assisted by England, which ultimately could have any connection with Jews immigrating to Palestine, stood in contradiction to this negative policy and was seen as threatening the British authorities with an insoluble complication. The shocking tragedy of “Struma”{*}
{*} NOTE: This dilapidated vessel, which sailed from Romania to Palestine with 769 Jews, men women and children who escaped slaughter, was detained in Istanbul and stayed there for a whole month, with the knowledge of all powers. All efforts to prevail on the British authorities to allow the entry of these refugees into Palestine were to no avail. No country whatever proposed to accept them. Ultimately the Turkish authorities forced the vessel to return back while screams of despair and  pain were heard along the Bosporus shores. Upon entering the Black Sea, the vessel hit a mine and sank. Only one of its passengers was saved.

was decisive proof of the shocking situation reigning then. Even in the sphere of utilizing Palestinian Jews for the war effort within the framework of the British Army by enlisting them to the Army, building a fighting force and sending fighters into the enemy’s rear, England found itself shackled by itself on account of the policy she pursued on the eve of the war, maintaining it rigidly throughout the war period. Inasmuch as Zionist and yishuv action attained certain achievements in this sphere, they came very late and only after overcoming the obstacles placed before them by the White Paper. Several important initiatives of military actions failed because of that policy.

            E. And again, one cannot be surprised at the people of the Rescue Committee of Budapest, including Yoel Brand in view of their inability to see the full picture of the circumstances in the world beyond the wall of siege engulfing European Jewry, and as well as the real situation of the Jewish question within the camp of those fighting against Hitler. As people whose lives hung by a thread and who were deep in the darkness of the underground, it was only natural that  they were prone to cling to any spark of hope, be it the most illusory, of saving themselves and their many brethren. It was because of this blindness that they fell prey to believe that “Chaim” was none other than Chaim Weizmann, whose permanent home then was London, while in fact he was Haim Barlas, the Jewish Agency’s representative in Istanbul, who had been active there for a long time, organizing the immigration of refugees to Palestine and whose name was well known throughout the besieged Diaspora centers. The gap between the conceptions prevalent in Budapest and the realities beyond the wall became apparent immediately upon the arrival of Yoel Brand in Turkey, which caused him deep shock. He was astounded when not finding an entry visa to Palestine awaiting him in the Istanbul airport, for evidently he believed that the Turkish authorities used to fulfill any wish of the Jewish Agency’s emissaries. In fact, an entry permit was prepared for him, but matters were bungled up by the appearance with him of a companion, about whose arrival no prior information has been given, and who was known to the Allied authorities as a highly dubious personality.{*}
{*} NOTE: Reference is to Bandi Grosz (Andrei Gyorgy), who operated as a double, and probably a triple, agent. Some accounts treat the Brand mission as a cover for a different one entrusted to Grosz. For details, see Yechiam Weitz, The Man who was Murdered Twice: The Life, Trial and Death of Israel Kasztner. Transl. Chaya Naor (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem Press, 2011), 21, 170-72, and sources cited there.

Whatever happened to Yoel Brand in Istanbul, and later in Aleppo, astounded and frustrated Yoel Brand and struck him as some confusion or terrible misunderstanding or lack of seriousness towards himself, or even as criminal neglect of him. In contrast, it was crystal clear to all who were well versed in the real circumstances then and there, that the sudden appearance in Istanbul, which ostensibly was neutral, but in fact the Allies were quite powerful there, of an emissary from a enemy country, his being a Jew notwithstanding, accompanied by a suspicious fellow believed to be dangerous, was a totally incongruous happening, extremely problematic and one which the Jewish Agency, given its position, could not resolve.

            F. And here is, in short, what happened to Yoel Brand from the day of his arrival in Istanbul onwards, as is known to the people who were involved in the matter. I will first bring forth some evidence regarding their dealings with Yoel Brand by members of the Istanbul Rescue Center. When he appeared before them and related the proposition he was entrusted [by Adolf Eichmann] to carry with him from Budapest – “Blood for Merchandise” – members of the center were astounded upon hearing this for it sounded like something beyond any human logic. Still, they stuck to it. Here is what one member of the team, Menachem Bader, related in his book, A Sad Mission:
                 As if stoned we listened to what Yoel told us – the description of the havoc, the details of the negotiations, the price demanded for the lives of Jews in Hungary, the promise of a respite, or, in Eichmann’s words, “putting the Jews in cold storage for two weeks, since this period would suffice till your international decides whether it is interested in the transaction.”
                 The first reaction – after Yoel finished talking – was a desire to rise up and scream: A lie with a latchet! it’s all a ruse, an outrage! The Germans are clearly assuming that the Allies would oppose this [proposed] agreement, for the Nazis are aware of their not hurrying to help us evacuate the Jews from Bulgaria and Romania, and it is clear that only one intention is hidden in Eichmann’s proposal: to prove to the world at large that Germany’s enemies, too, do not care for the fate of the Jews, and that those harboring sympathy for Jews would not make any sacrifice for saving the Jews who are about to be thrown into the furnaces. But this first reaction was checked within our heart before we cried out. Each of us asked himself how could he answer in the negative and burden his conscience with the rejection of this chance, albeit a most dubious one? Even if such evil intentions are apt to deceive us, there is no alternative. Since the annihilation has been decided upon anyway, perhaps here is something...
               We decided that one of us would immediately go to Palestine and relate the proposal to the national institutions [i.e., the JAE and yishuv leadership], together with our appeal to do even what is beyond human power for carrying it out.
           Immediately upon Yoel Brand’s arrival in Istanbul it became clear that, whatever happened, he would not be able to stay there for long. The Turkish authorities were about to send him back to where he came from, and obtaining a permit for each additional day of his stay in the city was as difficult hard as parting the Red Sea. At the same time it was clear that it was axiomatic that we could not let him go back empty-handed, because his returning with no answer at all would free the hangmen from any “undertaking” and allow them expedite the pace of the annihilation which had begun already.
            In view of this situation, first of all in order to gain time and somewhat restrain the murderers by creating an impression that the Jewish Agency was taking Brand’s mission most seriously, and mainly in order to achieve whatever was possible and impossible in terms of actual rescue, our people in Istanbul suggested that Brand be brought to Jerusalem, and one of them immediately journeyed to Palestine to arrange for this. However, we members of the Jewish Agency Executive in Jerusalem feared that, once Brand crossed the Syrian southern boundary into Palestine, which is governed by the Allies, he would not be permitted to go back to an enemy country, and his not returning there was tantamount to returning empty-handed, and that meant the end of the last remaining hope of saving Hungarian Jews. Thus, under the pressure of these difficulties, an idea was advanced that the meeting with Yoel Brand should take place in Aleppo, the Syrian city close to [Palestine’s] northern boundary. The British in Istanbul agreed with this plan and promised that Brand would be allowed to go back. True, from the beginning there was some fear that the British would not stand by their word, but we concluded that, anyway, we had nothing to lose. Bringing Brand to Aleppo, inasmuch as it involved some danger, was seen by us as the least evil. However, what happened is that the moment Brand’s train arrived at the Aleppo station, accompanied by Ehud Avriel, a member of our Istanbul team, he was arrested – to the extreme frustration of Avriel and myself and the people who accompanied me on my journey from Jerusalem to Aleppo. When I later protested against this action during my meeting with the British High Commissioner of Palestine, saying there was a breach of trust here, he pronounced a sharp answer: we are at war and there is no ground for any questions or arguments. The unflinching adherence to the war policy entailing the avoidance of rescue operations of Jews was evident here in full.
            However, the Jewish Agency did not raise its hands in despair even after Brand’s arrest and his being sent to prison in Egypt. On the basis of the report he gave me in Aleppo in the presence of a British officer, I immediately flew over to London. There the president of the Jewish Agency, Chaim Weizmann, accompanied by me, saw Foreign Minister Anthony Eden and demanded that all regular wartime principles be put aside for the sake of saving multitudes of Jews. We encountered a response ostensibly full of empathy, but a wavering and very reserved one. In fact negative. According to what the British told us, consultations did take place among the Allies. The Russians, they said, expressed totally negative opposition to any dealing with the plan. No positive response came from the Americans. The general attitude towards the plan was to see it as something that there is no point whatsoever in discussing. Nevertheless, talks with the British Foreign Office continued. In one of them the director of the refugee department said to the Jewish Agency’s representative: If indeed it were possible to extricate one million Jews from Europe, what then could we do with them? How could we transport them? Where would we have accommodated them?{*}
{*} NOTE: Sharett flew to London on June 25, 1944. See his report to the ZE, London, dated June 27, 1944. The text of this report was published in Ma'ariv during the Kasztner-Gruenwald trial (see diary entry for June 10, 1954, and notes there), and later in Ha'aretz, June 3, 1961.

            Following several more attempts of beating our heads against the wall, there was nothing left to the Jewish Agency but to deal with the freeing of Yoel Brand himself so that he could come to Palestine.

            G. Even before the Brand episode, on the eve of the Germans’ entry into Hungary,  the Jewish Agency presented the British Middle East Military Command with a detailed plan for sending Jewish armed groups into Hungary and the Balkan countries for the purposes of sabotage operations behind the lines, the enlistment of Jews into the resistance and the carrying out efforts to save Jews. Following the failure of the Brand episode, a chance was seen that this plan would be approved as a kind of compensation. Indeed, approval was given by Churchill after a way to personally reach him was found. Several concrete preparatory steps were carried out. But, at long last, the negationists won over the supporters. Again the reservations emanating from the White Paper decided matters, and this plan was buried as well.

            It is evident from all the above that one must accept this book as a trustworthy attempt to present a detailed description of what was going on inside Hungary; as an expression of the inner struggles, the pains, the despairing efforts of one individual who found himself at the centre of the dreadful episode; and as additional evidence of the terrible experiences our European brethren went through at the time, experiences which became an unrelenting nightmare for many of the survivors. At the same time, however, it was beyond the power of the writer to correctly evaluate the concrete possibilities of rescuing Jews on the other side of the front, given the background of the Allies’ position. It is also evident that he had no intention – and he stresses this point more than once – to lay down an accusation against those who, while struggling constantly with difficulties and obstacles, endeavored to do all that was seen as possible, as well as what was definitely impossible, in order to save their brethren from death.
            The whole episode of the rescue efforts during World War II – its endeavors, achievements and failures, its few shining lights and its heavy shadows, the burning devotion of the yishuv leaders invested in it and the impotence in which they were immersed – has not yet been told and aptly summarized. It is still awaiting an objective, fully- and well-informed, penetrating analysis.

SOURCE: Joel Brand, B’shelihut Nidonim Lamavet [On a Mission for those Sentenced to Death], as told by Alex Weissberg, with N. Raban. (Tel Aviv: Ayanot, 1956), 231-38.

132 - Excerpts of letter from Reuven Shiloah to Teddy Kollek, July 6, 1956

                                                                    Embassy of Israel, Washington
                                                                    July 6, 1956

To:     Mr T. Kollek, Prime Minister’s Office, Jerusalem
From: R. Shiloah, Israel Minister, Washington

My Dear Teddy,

I am sorry for not having yet thanked you for your friendly treatment during my last visit to Israel, and for your cables and letters since then. I beg for your forgiveness.

I have postponed writing since I wanted first to examine anew the situation here and update my knowledge and my appraisals, and also because I was waiting for Eban's return from Israel, hoping to learn from him a more accurate evaluation of the situation and the mood prevailing at home, rather than from information gathered from newspapers and private letters.

My opinion regarding the personnel changes at the Foreign Ministry is known to you. For many years now (in fact, ever since 1930 when I went out to Baghdad for the first time on behalf of the [Zionist] movement and perhaps even earlier when as a young member of the “Socialist Youth” in Jerusalem I heard M.S. lecture), I have been connected by deep ties of work, admiration and affection to M.S. I have gone with him a very long way, facing many obstacles, but also filled with achievements and creativity. Under his tutelage and with his help I took my first steps in diplomacy, Arab affairs, security matters and international affairs. I always found in him a loyal friend who gave advice and encouraged and supported me on every idea or initiative that I proposed. Nevertheless, I was always fully aware of his weaknesses. For several years now I have frequently been in disagreement with him over quite serious matters – both personal and political. For years I have watched with great trepidation as his relations with the Prime Minister and the defense establishment deteriorated, and for a number of years now I have held the belief that, for his own good and future and in the best interests of the State, he should remove himself from foreign affairs for a while. On objective grounds, I thought that it was not good that a man who is destined to shoulder central tasks in the State [in the future] should devote himself only to foreign affairs.

I also believed that the deteriorating relations between him and the PM were increasingly undermining the government’s ability to act, [- - -] endangering the government and the State even in normal times and even more so during the current serious year. Still, I had hoped that M.S., with a big effort and the help of friends and other advisers among those who have been working with him in recent years, would perhaps be able to mend fences with the PM and improve the relations of his office with the Ministry of Defense and the Army. But this effort has not been made.

I am convinced that there was no alternative to this tragic amputation, but it hurts me deeply that it is attended by so many complications, so much bitterness and personal animosity on the part of all those involved.

The main problem is certainly how to bring about a speedy healing of the wounds, and how to normalize the necessary social relations that the operation was meant to achieve, to bring about stronger contacts and mutual peaceful relations between the Foreign Ministry and the defense establishment  – the IDF, the PMO and the Defense Ministry, how to enliven and encourage the morale of the foreign service, to drive out the [deadening] routine dominating it and make it once again creative, maintaining its proper standing as befits a state under siege and  facing a state of war.

I do not have many fears regarding the quality of relations between Golda and the PM, but I cannot hide that I am worried about the relations between [the MFA and other] offices, the [IDF] staff, etc.

I did not receive from Eban a clear picture of the [prevailing] political mood at home, nor regarding the plans of creating a more unified leadership for foreign and defense matters. Possibly, during A.E.'s stay in Israel these plans had not yet crystallized. A.E.'s impression is that the aim is to leave things as they are for the time being. I certainly agree that no hasty steps should be taken, and that there is no need for a crisis and upheavals beyond the upheaval of the Golda-M.S. changeover. However, I do think it is incumbent on us to begin the planning and systematic implementation of repairing the structure of the [foreign] office and service, as well as the personnel structure and work methods.

I am not prepared to propose a detailed written personnel and organizational plan (I would not hesitate to do so if asked), but it seems to me that some things cannot be delayed. It is my opinion that unification of dealing with, and the responsible authority regarding, matters of the Armistice Agreements should be speedily given directly to the IDF, with the political direction being given to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. This issue has been a bone of contention between M.S. and the PM, and at the time I saw it not as a personal conflict but as an obvious matter of principle. In my opinion the experience learned during the first years of the State has proved the correctness of the contention that the responsibility here should lie in the hands of the Defense Minister and the IDF staff, together with an active participation – at times a decisive one - of the Foreign Ministry. [- - -] I cannot recall a more successful period in Armistice affairs, as well as in other matters, as under CoS Yigael Yadin with Moshe Dayan as the responsible [liaison] officer to the MACs and myself, your obedient servant, as the MFA’s representative for this matter.

I hear from State Department sources that they were informed by their Embassy in Israel that it has already been decided to transfer responsibility for MAC affairs to the IDF, and that Yosef Nevo has already been appointed as the [liaison] officer responsible for this matter. If this is true then I am very happy.

[- - -]

Best wishes,

SOURCE: ISA FM 130.19/4488/1. Parts of the letter are quoted in Haggai Eshed, Reuven Shiloah: The Man Behind the Mossad: Secret Diplomacy in the Creation of Israel, transl. by David & Leah Zinder, fwds. by Shimon Peres & Haim Herzog, (London: Frank Cass, 1997), 229-30.

131 - Nahum Goldmann Appreciation of Moshe Sharett

            In this struggle [for a privileged position of the World Zionist Organization in relation to Israel and for legally establishing its right to work in Israel] I acquired the vital support of Moshe Sharett. Apart, perhaps, from Chaim Weizmann in the later years of our relationship, Sharett was my closest friend among all the Zionist leaders. Our friendship went far beyond our practical work together. I cannot call to mind any serious conflict with him, although we had occasional differences of opinion over tactical matters. His career is well known. It included all the positions of honor that Zionism and Israel had to bestow. After being in charge of the political section of the Zionist Executive for years, he became Israel’s first foreign minister and, later, its prime min­ister. Ben-Gurion finally forced him out of the government in a most brusque and ruthless manner. Sharett was an extraordinarily gifted man, especially remarkable for his phenomenal memory and talent for languages. He knew a number of languages perfectly, and was a brilliant creator of new terms in modern Hebrew.
            Sharett’s political talent was chiefly analytical. He never overlooked a single aspect of a problem and backed every demand he made with logical, meticulous argumentation. He was not so much the intuitive politician, exemplified by Chaim Weizmann, as a man who depended on systematic analytical reflection. At times he carried the principle of minutely substantiating every-thing to the point of exaggeration. I remember Weizmann saying to him: “When you’re asking something of the Colonial Office or the Foreign Office, limit yourself to two or three telling arguments and leave out the minor ones. Otherwise you run the risk that when you get through the man you’re talking to will forget the important arguments and remember only the minor ones.” But this was impossible for Sharett. He was afflicted with the vice of perfectionism, if I may put it that way. Everything had to be just right. Every document he drafted, every letter he wrote, was revised and polished to make sure that every word was in its right position and sparkling with just the right luster. He wasted too much time and energy on minute details, but his esthetic sense and desire for perfection required this often excessive expenditure of effort.
            As the first foreign minister of Israel, Sharett created the new Israeli diplomacy. It took courage as well as knowledge of human nature to train the young diplomats to think like statesmen. For centuries the Jews had expressed their reactions purely in the form of protest and criticism. Since the Diaspora never allowed them to create a political reality of their own, they had to content themselves with reacting passively or seeking escape in dreams, illusions, and wishful thinking. This explains their tendency to extremism bitter accusations, radical demands, and hypersensitivity, not to say persecution complexes, all of which are typical of powerless, oppressed peoples. With the establishment of a country of their own, all this has had to be fundamentally changed. The Jewish people had to be trained in realism, in accepting compromise (which in practical politics is often more important than theoretical demands), and in making the best of what cannot be helped.
            The first man to recognize that this takes more strength than is required for persistently trying to do the impossible was Chaim Weizmann; as a result, he was attacked for decades as a compromiser, a weakling, and even a traitor. Sharett, like me, was a pupil of Weizmann, and he too was often criticized for the same failings. It was also one of the reasons for the clash with Ben-Gurion that led to his sudden resignation. In most conflicts between Weizmann and Ben-Gurion, Sharett had taken Weizmann’s side and Ben-Gurion knew it. Sharett also rejected Ben-Gurion’s ideas on many points of foreign policy, although here he did not go as far as I did. Above all, he resisted the retaliation policy that Ben-Gurion pursued for years. It was easy for Ben-Gurion to override my opposition in these matters because I was not a member of the government, but he had to pay some attention to Sharett as foreign minister and leader of a group within the Israeli government. No doubt the decision to get rid of him before the Sinai campaign is explained by this opposition. It took Sharett a long time to get over this ruthless dismissal.
            In character Sharett was one of the most distinguished figures in Zionism and Israeli politics, a true aristocrat who owed his splendid career almost entirely to his own positive qualities – an extremely rare occurrence, Of course, like everybody else, he had to pay a price for his virtues. They prevented him from being a real fighter and from using the necessary ruthlessness to enforce his ideas. Goethe’s saying that the man of action has no conscience did not apply to Sharett. His scrupulousness merely diminished his effectiveness from time to time. To fight a political battle with irreproachable tactics is almost impossible, and Sharett was not a man to pound the table, to mobilize his supporters for defense and attack, or to consider his choice of means justified by his ends. On the other hand, these shortcomings lent him a moral position all his own. He became, especially in the last years of his life, Israel’s great ethical authority, and while he was not feared and held in awe like other leaders, he was revered and loved more than any.

            His attitude toward the Zionist organization and toward rela­tions between Israel and the Diaspora was similar to mine. He supported these ideas as long as he was an influential figure in the Israeli government, and after he resigned I tried to get him to return to a leading role in Zionism. Having become president of the WZO in 1956, I suggested more than once that he become my co-president. This he refused, but I did finally manage to persuade him to become chairman of the Zionist Executive, a position that gave him the opportunity to perform important services. His presence increased the prestige and authority of the organization, especially in Israel. Since he was also a tireless worker and took care of all the routine details in which I was not much interested, he was a much better chairman than I would ever have been and gave the Zionist movement new impetus. I had always hoped he would succeed me as president, and his unexpected death was an irreparable personal loss and a severe blow to the Zionist organization. He played a decisive part in whatever limited success was achieved in rebuilding the WZO after the founding of Israel.

SOURCE: The Autobiography of Nahum Goldmann (New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1969), 319-22