Because of the ridiculously punitive Treaty of Versailles Germany’s economy had been skewed toward exports and was therefore vulnerable to economic retaliation. As Edwin Black recounts in his masterful book The Transfer Agreement, Hitler and the Nazi hierarchy feared the boycott intensely. Hitler had promised a better economic life for Germans and the boycott guaranteed he could not deliver.
No amount of bleating about “anti-Hitler propaganda” could prevent the truth of Nazi savagery from shaping world opinion. By early 1933, therefore, we have this remarkable sight—the world bringing down a criminal regime simply by collective free will and the free press.
On March 25 of that year, the Nazi regime was saved. Reichschancellor Herman Goering called the heads of Germany’s three Jewish organizations into his office and fulminated about their spreading anti-Nazi propaganda and plotting world domination. He demanded that they prevent a planned anti-Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden.
A fourth, uninvited, Jewish leader in the room was Kurt Blumenfeld, president of the German Zionist Federation. He persuaded Goering that only zionists had the organizational skill to stop the anti-Nazi movement. From that moment on, writes Black, zionists collaborated with the Nazis to rid Europe of Jews. Ultimately, the zionists would break the boycott by trading with the Reich, thus saving Hitler and causing the horrors to come.
Ironically, zionists constituted at most two percent of Germany’s Jewish population, and by no means spoke for them. In the U.S., the B’nai Brith and the American Jewish Committee did their part to spread pro-Nazi disinformation and sabotage the boycott.
I bring up this piece of history, which should be taught in our schools, because zionists have again sabotaged an anti-fascist boycott and stifled academic freedom.
On May 2 this year, the Association of University Teachers in Great Britain voted to institute a boycott of Israeli academics from Bar-Ilan and Haifa universities. In the former case, the motivating factor was the elevation of the Bar-Ilan’s College of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank colony of Ariel to full university status, thus deliberately inviting further colonization and Palestinian depopulation.
The need for a boycott was best expressed by University of Haifa Professor Ilan Pappé, an Israeli Jew who has been systematically harassed for his views:
“I appeal to you today to be part of a historical movement and moment that may bring an end to more than a century of colonization, occupation and dispossession of Palestinians… but after 37 years of endless brutal and callous oppression of the people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and after 57 years of colonization and dispossession of the Palestinians as a whole, I think this hope is unrealistic and other means have to be looked at to end a conflict that endangers peace in the world at large.…
“Neither the UN, nor the U.S. and European governments, and societies, have sent a message to Israel that these policies are unacceptable and have to be stopped. It is up to the civil societies, through organizations like yours, to send messages to Israeli academics, businessmen, artists, hi-tech industrialists and every other section in that society, that there is a price tag attached to such policies.” (Guardian, April 20, 2005).
Just as Nazi Germany persecuted and murdered Jews, Israelis are doing the same to Palestinians, and like the Nazis they and their agents resort to disreputable tactics to prevent the truth from getting out. Thus, we hear the tired whine of “anti-Israel bias,” “McCarthyism” and “assault on academic freedom.”
Of course, the Jews who make these absurd charges have nothing to say about zionist thugs like Daniel Pipes, whose campuswatch website attacks scholars who have the temerity to decry zionist atrocities and show sympathy for Palestinians. Now that’s McCarthyism!
Lamentably, the boycott lasted only three weeks, but others will follow; in fact, Professor Oren Ben-Dor writes that academic freedom in Israel requires it:
“The Holocaust (in Hebrew, ha-Shoah 'the catastrophe') has always had the monopoly on memory in Israel, leaving no room for al-nakba (Arabic, “the catastrophe”), the price that the Palestinians paid for the creation of the state. For my teachers, and for me, the 750,000 Palestinian refugees of 1948 were bitter enemies defeated in a war, not human beings with feelings, memories, lost lands and shattered self-respect….
“Final resolution of the crisis in Palestine requires Israelis to face up to their responsibility for the Palestinian nakba. It is primarily, if not exclusively, in the Israeli academy that the necessary debate must start.” (“Academic Freedom in Israel is Central to Resolving the Conflict, Counterpunch,” May 21–22, 2005.)
In the words of Pappé and Ben-Dor we can hear echoes of the passionate oratory of Rabbi Stephen Wise, who led the Madison Square Rally that so unnerved the Nazi leadership, but the task is tougher this time.
Israel has a propaganda and intimidation infrastructure far more sophisticated than Hitler's. All attempts to exercise academic freedom on the Middle East lead to a barrage of disinformation, lying and character assassination. Now as then, Jews take the lead in attacking unjust institutions, and other Jews rush to sabotage their efforts.
Ben-Dor wrote that a boycott is needed to create the academic freedom needed to overcome nakba-denial. Although he’s right, we can also work the other way by teaching our children how zionists betrayed European Jewry and how Israel represents the last manifestation of Hitler’s master race mentality.