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Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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International Relations
in the Age of Empire

How Independent States Come into Being

"...Israel would have been killed at birth in the war of 1948 if it had not been armed by Stalin's Soviet Union against a British and American arms embargo.."

Why Stalin midwifed the birth of Israel - Lawrence Auster, 9 October 2003

In Which Camp Are You In? - David Hirsch 11 May 2006

[see also The Forgotten Friendship: Israel and the Soviet Bloc, 1947-53 Arnold Krammer]

Why Stalin midwifed the birth of Israel,
Lawrence Auster in View from the Right, 9 October 2003

"It's generally forgotten today that the Soviet Union played a key role in the birth of the state of Israel, by supporting the partition of Palestine and lending the Jewish state military and political support during the War of Independence. This policy represented a startling reversal of the Soviet Union's previous hardline stand against Zionism (which had been based on the notion that Zionism was a form of Western imperialism), and, not unlike the Hitler-Stalin pact, caused considerable upheaval within the Communist world. Why did Stalin so dramatically change course?... It had nothing to do with any belief in the Zionist cause, but with the Soviets' geopolitical aim to push Britain out of the Mideast while preventing the United States from replacing Britain as the dominant power there:

Probably the essential aim of Soviet foreign policy was to support Israel's struggle against British imperialism. Moscow hoped to boot the United Kingdom out of Palestine by backing the partition plan while seeking to prevent the USA from actively entering the area at Attlee's request. It was probably hoped that the small Jewish state would choose to be neutral and perhaps even afford a foothold in the Middle East to the USSR - the Kremlin may have cherished some illusions about the "progressive" inclinations of the Israeli leaders. In any case, the Soviet Union strongly opposed any attempt to prolong the British mandate or to institute a trusteeship which would have been placed in the hands of the Western states.

One fact alone demonstrates that the Russian position, rather than being inspired by any sort of sympathy for Zionism, simply expressed Stalin's desire to contribute to the collapse of the British Empire: Moscow also sent arms to Syria, which was at war with Israel at the time. Moreover, the USSR refused to recognise Transjordan's territorial conquests in Palestine, considering that the Hashemite state was no more than a cover for the maintenance of the British presence.

The unconditionally pro-Israeli position of the Soviet Union in 1947 was therefore part of a general opportunist line and undoubtedly revealed an underestimation of the ties between the Zionist leaders and the United States. It was followed blindly by the local Communist Parties, which discredited the Arab Communists among the masses. All the more so in that the Kremlin, with characteristic Stalinist cynicism, totally disregarded the interests of the Arab liberation movement. Thus the Soviet delegate Jacob Malik, speaking in the Security Council on March 4th, 1949 (in the debate on Israel's admission to the United Nations), flatly denied Israel's responsibility for the tragedy of the refugees. It has to be said in this respect that the USSR was not content with noting the practical impossibility of Arab-Jewish coexistence in 1947-48 in the framework of a Palestinian state. It chose, in the words of Boris Eliacheff, the role of "Israel's godmother", with everything such a policy implies ... "

I publish this information because it shows how, just as the independence of the United States was made possible by the help of the kingdom of France, a power that for ideological reasons should have totally opposed an American republic, the birth of the Jewish state was made possible by a Communist power which should have totally opposed the appearance of a Western-style democracy in the Mideast... "

David Hirsh in Which Camp Are You In? 11 May 2006

Many on the contemporary left split the world into camps. In one camp is Imperialism that is bad. In the other camp there are the oppressed, who we should support, irrespective of the politics under which they organise and irrespective of what kind of society they propose to replace "imperialism" with. I touched on this topic here.

The preponderance of this world-view goes some way to explaining why there is so much visceral hatred of Israel on the left, while there is little anger caused by much greater human rights abuses perpetrated by regimes that are not Israeli.

The story goes that Israel is a creature of imperialism or a client state of the USA. (Lets not even consider, for the moment, the stories that say Israel controls global imperialism and the USA.) What makes Israel so demonic is an explosive mixture of racism, human rights abuses, and imperialism. Some on the left are not interested in much greater racism and human rights abuses committed by states that are not also "imperialist".

There are many problems with this worldview. One problem is that Israel would have been killed at birth in the war of 1948 if it had not been armed by Stalin's Soviet Union against a British and American arms embargo.

Now clearly the Soviet Union was also imperialist, I hear you say, so it is after all true, that Israel was helped into existence by "imperialism". And a Stalinist Jew-hating imperialism at that.

Except that the Czechoslovakian weapons that were smuggled to the Jews in Palestine in 1948 were sent in the name of anti-imperialism by the "Communists", who always denied that they were imperialists. In fact they claimed to be part of the "oppressed" that opposed global imperialism.

In Prague, a major exhibit has just opened at the Military Museum, run by the Czech Ministry of Defence, to display pictures and documents that tell the story of Czechoslovakia's military aid to Israel in 1948. Interestingly, the current Czech government is trying to show with this exhibition that the Czech Republic, now a member of the European Union, is a good pro-western state. For this reason, it is very much downplaying the fact that this Czech military aid was sent by Stalin through its Czechoslovakian colony, in order to consolidate an "anti-imperialist" Jewish state in the Middle East.

The leadership of the Jews fighting for a state in Palestine were nationalists - and nationalists tend to take help from wherever they can get it. And accepting help from the imperialist Soviet Union against the British Empire and in the face of an American arms embargo was nothing remarkable in the context of the history of nationalist struggles for independence.

In the 1950s the USSR realised that it could push its own imperialist ambitions in the Middle East more effectively by backing Arab nationalist regimes against Israel and the USA backed Israel against the Soviet backed Arab states. This was routine bloc politics of the Cold War.

What is remarkable is the myth that is currently believed by many on the left, that Israel is not at all a nation state like any other but is in fact an American military base. Israel was put there by Europe and America in order to facilitate the imperialist domination of the Middle East.

Never mind the fact that when the US wants to organise military adventures in the Middle East Israel is absolutely no use to it, and it has to rely on Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other oppressive regimes for air-bases.

Never mind the fact that Europe in the 1940s had attempted to kill all the Jews, and the idea that its plan was really to send the Jews to live in the Middle East as ambassadors of European racism and colonialism is just offensive rubbish.

Never mind the fact that if it had not been for Stalinist guns, Israel would have been defeated at birth.

This article in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, gives fascinating details of the military help that flowed from Czechoslovakia to the Jews in Palestine.

"The first arms deal with Czechoslovakia was signed in January 1948 - less than two months after the UN resolution creating Israel and four months before the state was actually established. Immediately after the Partition Plan was passed, Ben-Gurion began searching for sources to supply arms to the Israeli defense forces, but found that the legal sources in the United States and most European countries were closed off to the institutions of the Jewish state in formation. The only alternative seemed to be illegal arms acquisitions and an appeal to the Soviet bloc.

As part of the deal signed in January, Czechoslovakia supplied some 50,000 rifles (that remained in use in the IDF for around 30 years), some 6,000 machine guns and around 90 million bullets. But the most important contracts were signed in late April and early May. They promised to supply 25 Messerschmitt fighter planes and arranged for the training - on Czech soil and in Czech military facilities - of Israeli pilots and technicians who would fly and maintain them. The planes, which were disassembled and flown to Israel on large transport planes, after their reassembly played a very important role in halting the Egypt Army's advance south of Ashdod, at a place now called the Ad Halom Junction.

The assistance to the air force continued to flow in during the second half of 1948 - when it consisted of 56 Spitfire fighter planes. These were flown to Israel, some of them by Israeli pilots.

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