Zionists and Nazis
Andrew Mathis responds:
I am one of the volunteers who answers questions for the Holocaust History Project.
There are several books that have dealt with this subject, most prominently The Seventh Million by Tom Segev and Jews for Sale? by Yehuda Bauer (both Israeli). Hannah Arendt has also written on this subject.
I think that here are a couple of things to keep in mind regarding Zionist "negotiations" with the Nazis. First, the Zionists involved in these negotiations were not representative of Zionism as a movement. Before the foundation of the state of Israel in May 1948, Zionism was a fractious movement with many groups operating in differing ways to achieve the same goal -- a Jewish state. The Zionists involved in negotiations with the Nazis were primarily from the "Revisionist" Zionist movement of Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky, who sought for all European Jews to settle in Palestine and for the 2000-year exile to end. Politically speaking, these Zionists were very right-wing. Moderate and left-wing Zionists like David Ben-Gurion were not involved in these negotations to the best of my knowledge.
What is most important to keep in mind, however, is that the Zionists who negotiated with the Nazis were doing so to try to save Jewish lives. Unfortunately, they were negotiating with people who had no regard for human life, and European Jewry suffered anyway.
Andrew E. Mathis, Ph.D.
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Last modified: August 5, 2000