Waters Flowing Eastward
It has frequently been observed that Europe, whether considered as a whole or as so many separate countries, lost rather than benefited by the world war: the victorious allies, with a huge burden of debt, came off hardly better than the vanquished. But to Zionism, the war brought untold wealth and the complete realization of an immediate aim.
" The present war ", wrote Sokolov at the time, 1 " has not affected the unity of the Zionist organization. As the latter was established on the federal principle, it was found possible to continue the essential work of the movement by utilizing the separate organizations of the different countries. The work of propaganda and the collection of funds... actually made great progress."
It may therefore be interesting to trace its activities in four capitals, Berlin, Petrograd, London and New York, during this period.
At the outbreak of the war, Zionism had its headquarters in Berlin. 2 There also were the headquarters of the moderate party, represented by the society, Hilfsverein der deutschen Juden. This society had built in the Holy Land a number of schools, seminaries, and other institutions, superior to those of the Alliance Israelite Universelle and the Zionists. On this account, Germany had promised the society control over Palestine, as soon as she had completed the Berlin-Bagdad railway. But as such an eventuality would not have suited Zionist plans, they looked to a different solution.3 "The inner actions committee," we learn,1 "which met regularly in Berlin and transacted all international business between congresses, was composed of members dispersed in various countries. Dr. Schmaryar Levin had come to America to attend the Zionist Convention in June (1914). His presence in America during the war was valuable both for American Zionism and the international cause. Warburg and Hantke, two Gentfan members, were in Berlin where they remained practically throughout the war; Jacobson, another German member, was then in Constantinople."
The strength of this Zionist international chain of communication did not escape the notice of the German government, which sought its support in addition to that of the Hilfsverein. In June 1915, an appeal was sent out from Berlin to all Zionists "asking for sympathy with Germany".* The Zionists, however, were too shrewd to commit themselves while the issue of the war was still doubtful; at the same time, they wished to keep Germany's confidence, which they subsequently exploited in connection with Russia. They therefore refused the request with the ironical explanation that "the Zionist movement could not be involved in world politics".
The following year, they secretly transferred their support from the central powers to the allies, and their headquarters from Berlin to London.6 From then on, their influence was felt more and more in political circles in Europe and America. In particular the Zionist Transfer Department, as it was called, was in a position to transmit funds and information to subversive elements in enemy countries. In this connection, Jacobson, seeing that "Constantinople could no longer be the centre of Zionist politics, left for Copenhagen, where, in a neutral country, he could be of practical use to the Zionists by transmitting information and funds. There he established a Zionist bureau. Chlenov, one of the Russian members, went back and forth between Russia and Denmark, and eventually went to England. Another Russian member, Nahum Sokolov, moved about freely in the allied countries ".7 Rudolf Steiner, occult adviser to the Kaiser, passed freely between Germany and England during the whole period of hostilities, in spite of police regulations. " By its dependable financial methods, it established what was practically a Zionist credit throughout the world. This had no small share in bringing about that attitude on the part of the allied governments which later resulted in their recognition of the Zionist organization as the official representative of the Jewish people."8
The chief task which engaged the Zionists at this time (1916) was the revolutionary movement in Russia. The body of professional revolutionaries which had prepared and directed the outbreak of 1905, had continued its subversive work through congresses held in the different capitals of Europe with undiminished zeal.9 Lenin had become the acknowledged leader of the bolsheviks: with him on the central committee (elected in 1912) and later prominent among those who took over the control of Russia were: Zinoviev (Jew), Ordzhonikidze (Georgian), Schwarzmann (Jew), Spandarian (Armenian), and later Stalin (Georgian), and Belostolskii (Jew).io Outside of it, Trotski (Jew) was active both in New York and London.
Since 1914, these and other professional agitators had been carrying on, principally in Switzerland, a campaign against the war, which they hoped to turn into a class struggle.11 Under wartime conditions, however, a well organized revolutionary movement was difficult to effect. In 1905 the party in Russia had counted three million adherents, in 1906 one million, in 1907 three-quarters of a million, in 1908 only 174,000, and in 1910 just 46,000. In April 1917, a congress of the party claimed to represent 76,000 organized workers. It would be idle to fancy that this minute body was in any sense representative of the 'proletariat', or that it could become a welcome ruler, seven months later, over millions of people.12 But the Zionist task was facilitated by a clever exploitation of the German general staff in the beginning of 1917. The latter, in order to render Russia impotent and thus free troops for use on the western front, staked more on the use of subversives and thus played the Zionist game. " Some man in Germany ", writes General von Hoffmann, then chief of the German staff on the Russian front, 13 " who had connections with the Russian revolutionaries exiled in Switzerland, came upon the idea of employing some of them in order to hasten the undermining and poisoning of the morale of the Russian army. He applied to the deputy Erzberger and the deputy of the foreign office. And thus it came about that Lenin was conveyed through Germany to Petersburg in the manner that afterward transpired ". On May 10, 1917, shortly after his arrival in Russia from the sealed German railway car, Lenin spoke at the Petrograd conference of his party against the provisional government.14 He wanted to destroy at the roots every reminder of Russia's Slavic past. He feared that a " bourgeois government would make the Soviets unnecessary ",15
How, in the course of the ten months following, the bolsheviks replaced the provisional government, and, by preventing the constituent assembly from meeting, remained the absolute masters of Russia; how, faithful to their Zionist patrons, they manifested the strength of Zionism by subjecting the Tsar's empire to a " reign of terror, violence, and crime ",16 is common knowledge and cannot be treated here. Suffice it to say that they justified the judgment of the Austrian foreign minister, Count Czernin, who wrote (Nov. 17, 1917):"
Zionism gained immeasurably by this success in both money and influence. Crown jewels and possessions, millions of paper rubles put into circulation, art treasures in museums, churches, and private houses, all have been turned to its account. Besides, the dramatic triumph of the ruthless methods advocated by Ginzberg did much to overawe the opposition to Zionism among the Jews. As a leading Zionist said:19
While these events were taking place in Petrograd, Zionists in London were not idle. " London from the beginning was the financial centre of the Zionist organization ";20 for, while the rival banking firm of Bleichroeder Mendelssohn in Berlin continued their support of the moderates, Rothschild had been won to the new movement. Nahum Sokolov had, during his frequent visits as member of the inner actions committee, been impressed with the opportunities offered for establishing a centre there:21 since 1914, he and Chaim Weizmann had been actively working to bring its political problems to the fore in England. To this end, Weizmann had entered into intimate " relations with the house of Rothschild and done much to make this family more closely acquainted with Zionism."22
Among the non-Jews, an invaluable friend was found in Sir Mark Sykes. How he was won to the cause is not clear:23 before the war he disliked it as " bad cosmopolitanism and finance," but, in the middle of the war, came to the decision which he announced in Hull, that " It would mean that every Jew throughout the world would be made more valuable to the state which he had chosen for himself."24 However that may be, from the beginning of 1917, Sykes devoted himself heart and soul to the movement, and his house at No. 9 Buckingham Gate, " equipped with all such materials as correspondence files and telegraphic communications, became a Zionist centre."25 Collaborating with Sykes was another gentile, Georges Picot.
The first official meeting of what was known as the " Political Committee " took place on February 7, 1917, at the house of Dr. Moses Gaster. There were present (besides Gaster) Lord Rothschild, James de Rothschild, Sir Mark Sykes, Sir Herbert Samuel, Herbert Bentwich, Harry Sacker, Joseph Cowen, Chaim Weizmann, and Nahum Sokolov.26
The Zionist programme to serve as a basis for official negotiations, covering the future mandates of Palestine, Armenia, Mesopotamia, and a kingdom of the Hedjaz, was discussed in detail.27 On the following day (Feb. 8) there was a second, smaller conference, with Georges Picot, at Sykes' house: the result was a plan known as the Sykes-Picot agreement, which was then put into execution.
Sokolov left for Paris to negotiate with the French government. On March 22, 1917, he was received at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he " outlined the principles of the Zionist programme. He received the assurance that the French government regarded the programme very favorably and was authorized to inform the Zionist organizations of Russia and America of this result by telegraph."28 Sykes left for Rome, and thence for Port Said and Cairo; then to Jeddah to negotiate with King Hussein, returning on June 14 to London, where he was occupied until November 1917, arranging the preliminaries for the Balfour declaration.29
One must not suppose that this was all done on the sole initiative of the London group; on the contrary," every idea born in London was tested by the Zionist organization in America, and every suggestion from America received the most careful attention in London."Ã§Ã®
The details of the diplomatic conversations in London which led to the declaration have not yet been made public; but, of the British cabinet besides Sir Herbert Samuel, Lloyd George, if not already a Zionist, was easily won to the cause;31 while Sir Arthur Balfour and other members who had the good of the nation at heart, were yet inclined to view it favourably from the following considerations:
a) The financial support of the Rothschilds, at a time when the country had to float loan after loan, would be lost, if the Zionist request were refused.
b) If granted, it would ensure Jewish co-operation throughout the empire and in other countries, both during the war and in the future.
c) The Palestine mandate, coupled with that of Mesopo tamia, was the gateway to India: by calling it " a national home for the Jews", England would lull French and Italian jealousy.
As against these, the mandate constituted a breach of England's promise made to the Arabs in 1915 in return for their support in fighting Turkey. To offset this objection, the Zionists generously proposed to give the Arabs what they already owned, but with the new title of " Kingdom of the Hedjaz ".
Moreover the cabinet could count on a number of Zionist votes in the House, notably Sir Alfred Mond (the late Lord Melchett)32 and Sir Philip Sassoon among the Conservatives, and more among Lloyd George's following. The shrewder members of the cabinet realized that they would eventually have to reckon with the British taxpayer, and the commercial advantages33 of Palestine lost nothing in Zionist exposition. But the great plea was that the English and the Jews, the two great trading races of the world, should unite forces and take over the trade routes between Europe and Asia.34
Although the Zionists had made all preliminary arrangements with the allied governments and the cabinet as a whole was desirous of complying with every point, yet some over-scrupulous member,35 with (the Zionists thought) undue regard for the actual inhabitants of Palestine, altered the text Weizmann's committee had prepared.36 Instead of the words, " The reconstitution of Palestine as the national home of the Jewish people ", at the last minute were substituted the words, " The establishment of a national home in Palestine ".
It does not seem, however, that Ginzberg advocated the Jews withdrawing from the rich lands of Europe and America, on the ground that they have there " wrongly established their national home on a land not their own."
The Balfour declaration was issued on November 2, 1917, and transmitted to Lord Rothschild on behalf of the Zionist federation.38 Its endorsement by the other allies was a small matter between Nahum Sokolov and the two representatives, Pichon for France, Imperial! for Italy. From the debates in the French senate, April 5, 6, 1921, following the interpellation of Senator Dominique Delahaye, it subsequently appeared that neither the Chamber of Deputies nor the Senate had ever had the question of ratification put to them.
To those active in Zionist circles, the declaration was no surprise: among the leaders it had been expected for many months. It was, however, made the occasion for public rejoicing in the Jewish and Jew-controlled gentile press,39 and mass meetings were held in London and addressed by Sir Mark Sykes,40 Sir Herbert Samuel,41 and others prominent in politics. But the Jewish moderates, headed by Claude G. Montefiore and David L. Alexander, raised a dissentient voice: they feared, as at the Basle congress,42 that the new nationalism would injure their social rights as Englishmen. Even more they disliked being eclipsed by Ginzberg's satellites from the ghetto. They made, therefore, common cause with the anti-Zionists in America; and when anti-Zionism died out there, it disappeared in England.
Meantime, in New York, changes were taking place of much importance to Jewry. When the Kehillah was organized in 1909,43 the control rested with a group of German Jews, including Jacob Schiff, president of Kuhn, Loeb & Co, a branch of the Bleichroeder Mendelssohn bank,44 Isidor Strauss, Julius Sachs, David Philipson, who, through their affiliations in Germany, were anti-Zionists and favoured the international Jewish policy. They maintained a ministry for foreign affairs, at first composed of appointees of the union of American-Hebrew congregations. The latter, through its delegates, established an ambassadorship at Washington to act for the Jewish people on immigration and other political matters. Subsequently the union was given the support of the B'nai B'rith,45 whose leading member had been appointed ambassador. " For thirty years ", wrote an American Zionist,46 " our ambassador at Washington was the Hon. Simon Wolf. He informed the United States government what the Jews of this country wanted and what they were opposed to. In Simon Wolf's opinion, the Jews were not a nationality but a religious sect; they insisted upon being regarded solely as Americans. Mr. Wolf spoke in the name of assimilation on behalf of the Jews in America."
Later another more powerful group of Jews organized under the name of the American Jewish committee and took over the ministry of foreign affairs.47 During the Wilson administration certain Jews appointed to the highest posts exerted so much influence on the chief executive and members of congress as almost to control the national policy: in particular the Zionist Louis Brandeis of the supreme court, Bernard Baruch, chairman of the war industries board,48 Felix and Paul Warburg of the federal reserve, Julius Klein of the department of commerce, and Eugene F. Meyer.49
Under Zionist influence, the Yiddish newspapers, edited by radicals, started a campaign against the American Jewish committee on the grounds that it was autocratic, and demanded an American Jewish congress, elected by and responsible to the people. " As Zionism moved forward," continues the article quoted above, " the opposition had to recede. When the congress is not in session, the affairs of the Jewish nation are regulated  by the inner actions committee50 and the greater actions committee, two executive bodies the members of which are elected by the Zionist congress."
Thus Zionism, by clever propaganda, gained the masses. But it did not neglect to win over certain leaders of American Jewry, by what means may be guessed. Jacob Schiff had long been interested in the revolutionary movement in Russia and had transferred large sums to support it through his bank, as far back as 1905. The success therefore of the revolution in 1917, engineered by the Zionists, could not fail to change his views. " I believe, " he wrote Rabbi Philipson in 1918,51 " I have heretofore explained to you the reasons which, soon after the outbreak of the Russian revolution, have induced me to change my former attitude towards the Zionist movement, and I have since become more and more convinced that it was in the best interests of our people that I did this."
Schiff had evidently shared the " blessings "52 of the Russian revolution and quite properly gave credit where it was due. The letter continues. " There can be no doubt that the success of these [Zionist] endeavours will have the most healthy and refreshing effect upon entire Israel, wherever in the world its members may be located, and the proposition you bring forward, to oppose these efforts, is, in my opinion, nothing less than preposterous."
When the opposition to Zionism came to a head in America, it found all the leading Jews on whose support it had counted either only nominally anti-Zionist, or frankly favourable. Rabbi David Philipson and Max Senior, who with others were attempting to call a conference to combat it in the autumn of 1918, met with little encouragement in New York. Oscar S. Strauss wrote:53
An exchange of letters between Max Senior and Louis Marshall54 is more instructive.
But, if Marshall pretended that the Jews should accept Zionism in order to comply with the " unanimous sentiment of the allied powers " who had determined to build a home for the Jews in Palestine, he was not blind to the real reason for Zionism. His letter continues:
Senior's reply is direct and fearless:57
Senior's fear that the " real danger to the Jews (in America) lay in silent acquiescence to Zionist claims" has proved justified. The tasks since set by the Zionists for American Jewry have been heavier by far than those set by the Egyptians.58 But the Zionists cleverly lulled any lurking suspicions in the minds of all but a very few (including Senior) by a fanatical appeal to nationalism and a romantic picture of the " land overflowing with milk and honey ". Anti-Zionism disappeared.
Then came the peace conference; the formation of the League of Nations at Geneva;59 and the British mandate for the holy land, over which the Jews exercised complete control in practice, leaving to the English taxpayer the expense of civil administration.60
Thus Zionism gained its ends: in Berlin and Petrograd by subversive activities, in London and New York mainly by diplomacy. Without the influence of Zionism in America during the Wilson administration, and American money, the Balfour declaration, obtained by the efforts of Weizmann and Sokolov, would have remained a dead letter.
1. Sokolov, History of Zionism, p. 21.
2. Jesse Sampler, Guide to Zionsm, p. 63.
3. Oscar S. Straus, in a letter to Rabbi Philipson, dated New York, Sept. 2,1918, alluding to this deal and writing in favour of Zionism asks, "Doyouwish Palestine to be under the tyranny of Germans, or of their brutalized tools, the Turks? ".
4. Sampter, op, cit., p. 63.
5. Ibid., p. 239.
6. Ibid., p. 63.
7. Ibid., p. 63.
8. Ibid., p. 63.
9. Supra, eh. IV.
10. Batsell, op. cit., p. 655.
11. In 1915 a conference of socialists opposed to war was held at Zimmerwald. Exponents of the programme of international revolution and class warfare were present in force. Ibid., p. 757. It was this year that Rosika Schwimmer (Jewess) induced Henry Ford to sail to Europe in the famous peace ship.
12. Ibid., p. 695. The population of Russia in 1917 was one hundred and thirty million.
13. The War of Lost Opportunities (New York, 1925), pp. 180-181.
14. Batsell, op. cit., p. 27.
15. 8 Speeches of Lenin (New York, 1928), pp. 19-26.
16. Protocol VII last par.
17. In the World War (London, 1919), pp. 216-217.
18. Cf. supra, ch. IV. Nordau's criticism: " He understands freedom as practised in the ghetto."
19. Sokolov, History of Zionism, p. 38.
20. Ibid., p. 43.
21. Ibid., p. 44.
22. Ibid., p. 8.
23. His biographer, Shane Leslie, says " it was his Catholicism that assisted Mark to understand the Jewish tragedy." Mark Sykes (London, 1923), p. 269.
24. Loc. cit.
25. Sokolov II, History of Zionism, p. 29.
26. Ibid., p. 52.
27. This programme had been drafted by Gaster, Weizmann, Bentwich, Cowen and Sokolov at the end of 1916: he. cit.
28. Ibid., p. 52.
29. Shane Leslie, p. 270.
30. Sokolov, p. 82.
31. Lloyd George's connection with the Jew Sir Basil Zaharoff (real name Zaccharia), large shareholder in Vickers, Maxim Ltd., munition works, should be kept in mind. For a statement on Zaharoff at this time see Boucard, Les dessous de I'espionnage anglais (Paris, 1929), pp. 228-234.
32. Vice-president (subsequently president) of one of the largest chemical firms, Brunner Mond & Co, in which Chaim Weizmann was also associated. Sassoon, another Jew, was closely connected with Mond in British politics.
33. The mineral deposits of the Jordan valley, for which Alfred Mond (the late Lord Melchett) obtained the monopoly in 1929.
34. " The geographical position of Palestine, as the connecting link between three continents, if held by the English and the Jews, both shopkeepers, offers the opportunity of making the land of Israel the great emporium of "East and West": Bernard Rosenblatt, Social Zionism, pp. 145, 146.
35. Presumably Sir Arthur J. Balfour himself.
36. The text was drafted under Ginzberg's directions by the Jewish political committee composed of: Sokolov (chairman), Weizmann, Leopold Kessler, Cowen, Bentwich, Albert M. Hyamson, Simon Marks (secretary), Sacher, Israel Sieff, Leon Simon, Ettinger and Folkpvskii.
37. Ahad-ha-am, Essays on Judaism and Zionism, tr. by Leon Simon, p. 15.
38. Supra, ch. I.
39. " But we all know how the declaration was interpreted at the time of its publication, and how much exaggeration many of our workers and writers have tried to introduce into it." Ahad-ha-am, loc. cit.
40. Shane Leslie, p. 270.
41. In his speech at the demonstration of Dec. 2,1917, at the London opera-house, Samuel said that he " had stood for Zionism not only in the cabinet, but outside it". Sokolov, p. 47.
42. Supra, ch. III. "
43. Supra, ch. II.
44. Affiliated with the big " D " banks in Germany: Deutsche Bank, Disconto Gesellschaft, Dresdener Bank, Darmstadter Bank.
45. Supra, ch. III.
46. Louis Lipsky: The Maccabean (New York, June, July, 1917), p. 276.
47. Loc. cit., Presumably at the beginning of the Wilson administra tion.
48. Baruch stated publicly that during the war in his official capacity he " probably exercised more power than any other man in the country ".
49. Present head of the Federal Reserve Board.
50. Supra, ch. V.
51. Letter of the late Jacob H. Schiff to Rabbi David Philipson, dated: Bar Harbor, Sept. 5,1918.
52. Supra, ch. V.
53. Letter of Oscar S. Strauss to Rabbi David Philipson, Beechwood, Avenue Avondale, Cincinnati, Ohio, dated New York, Sept. 2, 1918.
54. Born in Syracuse, N. Y., 1856; graduated from Columbia law school; became partner in law firm of Guggenheimer, Untermeyer & Marshall; appointed, in 1908, chairman of N. Y. state immigration commission; acted as counsel for Gov. Sulzer in his impeachment. For twenty years, chairman of the commission on amendment, N. Y. Bar Association. Brought influence to bear on President Taft and Senate to abrogate treaty with Russia, on account of treatment of Jews in Russia. President of Jewish delegation at the peace conference. Served on the board of arbitration (or beth-din) which settled the cloth
ing strike of 1919, in New York. Took a prominent part in Zionist movement; headed many Jewish charities, including the American Jewish relief commission which raised seventy-five million dollars " for Jewish war sufferers ". Trustee of Syracuse university; president of N. Y. state college of forestry. Died in Zurich, Sept. 11, 1929. (Extract from press obituary notices on day following his death).
55. Letter of Louis Marshall to Max Senior, dated New York, Sept. 26, 1918.
56. Italics are ours.
57. Letter of Max Senior to Louis Marshall, dated Washington, Sept. 30, 1918.
58. The taxes and "-contributions " for " rebuilding Palestine " have amounted to $100,000,000. Infra, ch. VI.
59. " The League of Nations is an old Jewish idea." Sampler, Guide to Zionism, p. 21. Leon Simon, in a draft for the Palestine mandate written in March 1918, said: " It is fitting that one of the powers should act for the League as sovereign of Palestine during the period that must elapse before the Jewish nation can grow to full maturity."
60. The construction of roads and the maintainance of an adequate police have been the two largest items.
· Previous · Contents · Next ·