Once Upon a Time

“Yet, I shall never forget how my father fought to defend Jewish honor —I remember two things from my childhood: Jews being persecuted and the courage of the Jews.”[‘Anonymous Soldiers’ by Bruce Hoffman, Menachem Begin quote].

“What use was there in writing memoranda? What value in speeches?—No, there was no other way. If we did not fight we should be destroyed. To fight was the only way to salvation. [Anonymous Soldiers’ by Bruce Hoffman, Menachem Begin quote].

When Descartes said: ‘I think, therefore, I am’, he uttered a very profound thought. But there are times in the history of peoples when thought alone does not prove their existence—There are times when everything in you cries out: your very self-respect as a human being lies in your resistance to evil.

We fight, therefore we are!” .”[‘Anonymous Soldiers’ by Bruce Hoffman, Menachem Begin quote].

Today for the umpteenth time Israel is being pressured to accept a so-called ‘Palestinian’ state. Once again because of Israel’s lack of representative democracy, weakness prevails. Over the years, Arab leaders have been able to persistently erode Jewish indigenous status over the Land of Israel. That they are able to do so is simply because Israel’s leaders argue politically and not through the use of established history.

As a commencement, they could reference “The Works of Flavius Josephus or Josephus’s The Jewish War; A biography or Flavius Josephus: The Jewish War [Bellum Judaicum]. In all, not a single reference to Arabs or ‘Palestinians’, only Romans, Greeks, Jews, Pharisees, Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes. Traveling through history, one can readily justify the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel throughout the years from origin to the present days. Consider the following:

[1] Nationhood and Jerusalem. Israel became a nation in 1312 BCE, two thousand years prior to the rise of Islam.

[2] Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a ‘Palestinian’ people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

[3] Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews have had dominion over the Land of Israel for 1000 years with a continuous presence in the subject land for the past 3,320 years.

[4] The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 CE lasted no more than 22 years.

[5] For over 3,320 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not visit it.

[6] While Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scripture, it is not mentioned once in the Koran.

[7] King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed was never in Jerusalem.

The above is simply illustrative as there are many other points which can be added.

The period 1917 through1947, embraces WW1, WW2; and it in recent times, largely impacted the Jewish people and their struggle against the British, Arabs and Germans. Bruce Hoffman concentrates on the specific struggle of the Jews against the British in his heavily detailed work, “Anonymous Soldiers, The Struggle for Israel.” This magnificent creation is of comparatively recent vintage, the copyright being dated 2015.

Author Hoffman’s preface forms the key to his inner thoughts. He asks a rather unusual question, “Does terrorism work? “To which he answers, “Scholars and analysts are divided. He feels that the question has an undeniable relevance which has only intensified since September 11, 2001. He works through President Ronald Reagan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Nobel Laureate Schelling, Caleb Carr, Max Abrahms, Frantz Fanon and Frederick J. Hacker, specific cases and finally the declassification of the British Public Records of 1958 ,the research of the renowned Cambridge historian Professor Christopher Andrew, the British Security Service [MI5] and the National Archives, hand written minutes to memorandums by Prime Minister Winston Churchill ,correspondence sent to MI5 signed  by H.A.R. “Kim” Philby, John J. O’Sullivan and finally the discovery in Israel of the long mislaid intelligence files of the Palestine Police Force, now housed at the Haganah Archives in Tel Aviv. The conclusion, “—terrorism’s ability to act as a catalyst for wider conflagration or systemic political change appears historically undeniable.”

The book is divided in 3 parts, Chapters 1 through 6, from Britain’s conquest of Palestine toward the end of WW1, to the early years of WW2. The 2nd part, Chapters 7 through 10, focuses on wartime Palestine. The final part, Chapters 11 through 19, chronicles the war that Britain fought in Palestine following WW2.  The book focuses on terrorism’s role in the momentous events that led to Britain’s decision to abandon the Mandate.

The Kirkus review of the subject book is labeled, “How Jewish terrorists defeated British rule.”In the 1930s, hundreds of thousands of Jews fleeing the Nazis pressed for permission to immigrate incensed over Britain’s quota. With British soldiers fighting the war, the police force was inadequate and demoralized. In 1938 alone, 5708 terrorist incidents occurred. Winston Churchill, with considerable understatement, admitted that Britain’s Mandatory administration had been “a thankless, painful, costly, laborious, inconvenient task.”

With 12,000 Hungarian Jews being gassed in Auschwitz daily in mid-1944, and England still keeping Palestine’s doors shut, the Irgun was not prepared to wait until global political circumstances made Jewish statehood convenient for the British or the rest of the international community.

Chapter 2 Page 21 The Seeds of Terror: Ben Gurion, the Histadrut’s director, pressed for the allocation of additional funds to the Haganah, arguing that the  “self-defense forces saved the Yishuv from destruction”. [Page 38].

Chapter 3 Page 40 Red Days of Riots and Blood: Ben Gurion on Trumpledor’s  heroic role, “This is the 1st time the Arabs have seen that a man could be found ready to give his life for an idea —.”[Page 48].

Chapter 8 Page 141 Conscripted for Life: Churchill in the summer of 1943,”I have never forgotten the terrible sufferings inflicted upon the Jews; and I am constantly thinking by what means it may lie in our powers to alleviate them, both during the war and in the permanent settlement which must follow it.—We shall  however, slowly fulfill our pledge to the Jews.[Page 156]. With the intensification of Irgun and Stern gang attacks, among the most notorious was the Lehi assassination of the top British official in the Middle East, Lord Moyne, in November, 1944. According to Hoffman, “The main reason that Lehi targeted Moyne [and other senior officials] was simply” the offices they held and the British rule they represented. “It was known that Moyne acted aggressively to send Jewish refugees back to Hitler’s Europe and even delivered a derogatory speech to the House of Lords in1942.

Chapter 9 Page 162 The Deed; Churchill in the House of Commons, “mournfully observed,”—only to die at the hands of foul assassins in Cairo last night.[Page 170].

Weizmann [Chapter 9 Page 171] “ I can hardly find words adequate to express the deep moral indignation and horror which I feel  at the murder of  Lord Moyne.” He also opposed suspending immigration in that it would “play into the hands of the extremists and would undermine the efforts being made by the Jews themselves to suppress the terrorist organizations.” Lehi’s response:  “The reason for killing Lord Moyne is that it is a step forwards towards forcing the British Government to leave Palestine.”

Ben Gurion opened an emergency joint session of the Jewish Agency and Vaad Le’umi Executives. “The situation is getting worse and we are facing the future in which our name will be execrated” [Chapter 9 Page 174].

Churchill after the King David bombing [Page 177]  “This shameful crime, has shocked the world. If there is to be any hope of a peaceful and successful future for Zionism, these wicked activities must cease, and those responsible for them must be destroyed root and branch.”

Chapter 14 Page 311 Defense and Conquest: Abba Eban, “The episode may have been small in itself—but it did much to illustrate how untenable British rule in Palestine had become.”[Page 312].

Chapter 14 Page 313: Churchill addressing the House of Commons following the King David Hotel bombing agreed with both Conservative and Liberal MP’s that Britain’s assumption of the League of Nations Mandate had proven to be a “thankless, painful, costly, laborious, inconvenient task”

Chapter 17 Page 385: An Instrument of Death.  Hailed by Begin as” amongst the most daring attacks of the Hebrew underground and possibly of any underground,” the raid like the King David  Hotel bombing 10 months before – was incontestably audacious in planning but seriously flawed in execution.[May 4, 1947 Acre prison raid [Chapter 17  Page 412].

Chapter 19 Page 457: “We repaid our enemies in kind – We had warned him again and again. He callously disregarded our warnings. He forced to answer gallows with gallows.”

Bruce Hoffman’s given book differs greatly from other history books on the Irgun, Leci, Haganah, Palmach and the Yishuv in detailing the almost daily terrorist attacks.

Bruce Hoffman in answer to his introductory Preface, “Does terrorism work?” concludes “The Jewish terrorism played a salient role —–government’s decision to leave Palestine.”

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.