Brief von L. Wagenaar an die Redaktion des amerikanischen Nachrichtenmagazins TIME
Der folgende Brief von L. Wagenaar bezieht sich auf einen Bericht im amerikanischen Nachrichtenmagazin TIME vom 10. Februar 1961. Am 31. Januar 1961 hatte in Montreal ein öffentliches Streitgespräch zwischen dem englischen Historiker Arnold J. Toynbee und dem israelischen Botschafter in Kanada, Jacob Herzog, stattgefunden. TIME schrieb darüber in der Rubrik Religion“ u. a.:
Toynbee reiterated two statements made in his monumental work „A Study of History“: 1) the Israeli treatment of Arabs during the war of 1948 is morally comparable to the Nazi treatment of the Jews; 2) the Jewish claim to Israel as a historic homeland is highly questionable, somewhat as if the Indians demanded the return of Canada … The right to Palestine, argued Herzog, has always been the central theme of Judaism, and three international actions (gemeint sind: Balfour-Erklärung, Völkerbundsmandat an England und UNO-Teilungsbeschluß) have upheld it. But Herzog’s main argument concerned the Israel-Nazi comparison. The Nazis deliberately killed 6 000 000 Jews, while the unfortunate uprooting of Arab communities was simply not a comparable event. Asked Herzog: „How can the two be mentioned in the same breath?“ Replied Toynbee: His original comparison between Nazis and Israelis had been moral, not numerical. „It is impossible to be wicked more than 100%. For example, I don’t have to kill more than one man to be a murderer.“ Toynbee expressed surprise at the vehement reaction to his remarks. „To borrow a psychiatric phrase, I feel I have given the Jewish people a bit of a shock treatment. I have said something each of your consciences is saying to you. I would listen to your inner voice. I don’t believe any person of Jewish faith can ever escape from his conscience, or indeed wishes to… I leave you with your own consciences, and with these Arab refugees, who now number 800 000. Jewish people have suffered murder, robbery, expulsion from their homes for 2 500 years. The more experience one has of these things, the more moral duty there is to resist the temptation to work it off.“ Commented Protestant Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr: „As I wrote three or four years ago, I can’t escape the feeling that, in spite of his best efforts at objectivity, Toynbee has a deep-set prejudice against the Jews.“
February 20, 1961
TIME, The Weekly Magazine
For some years I have followed utterances and writings by Professor Toynbee. I never found with him what Reinhold Niebuhr calls a „deep-set prejudice against the Jews“, nor indeed so much as a trace of antisemitism. He certainly is an ardent and outspoken antizionist. So what? Quite a majority of Jews all the world over, including in this country, are. After all zionists are but a very small fraction of the Jewish nation, although of course the most vociferous group, and practically the only one having at its disposal a world wide public addressing system network installed for the philanthropical account of American Jewry.
Hundreds of thousands of Arabs have left this country under circumstances that were the principal subject of the Toynbee-Herzog debate. In their stead hundreds of thousands of Jews were brought in, mainly from areas where zionism had stirred-up anti-jewish sentiment of the ‚Zydy do Palestyny’ kind. In this way, and with the financial help of primarily American Jews with the US Bureau of Internal Revenue a benevolent onlooker, a Jewish majority has materialized. This, however, hasn’t made, nor can ever make, Israel a Jewish state.
Zionism is a political movement, another word for Jew-centered nationalism (which is but enlarged egotism). Judaism as a faith has nothing to do with this movement, and I wonder what did you insert the Toynbee-Herzog debate item under „Religion“.
Ambassador Herzog told his vis-à-vis, and the world at large, that the right to Palestine has always been the central theme of Judaism. This is simply not true. It has never been more than the aim of the World Zionist Organization, and for that matter only since the VI. Zionist Congress, 1903. Judaism as a faith forbids to set up a Jewish state as a political entity until apocryphical times.
Ever since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and the eradication of Jewish statehood, nearly two millennia back, Jews all the world over have prayed daily for the return to Zion of the Redeemer of Israel and Builder of Jerusalem; no Jewish marriage was consecrated without such prayer; yea, no Jew gave thanks for meal without such supplication. The return to Jewish statehood has at all times been Godcentered, never a political design.
Throughout the ages, and especially during the last two hundred years, Jews came to this country and have lived here without the slightest aspiration to political independence. They travelled, often for months on foot, so as to be able to abide by certain religious precepts the observance of which is bound up with actually living on the ancient soil (e. g. sabbatical year, tithes), and to live a life of piety and modesty. The indigenous population never objected to the presence amongst them of these Jews, and the relationship between the latter and their gentile surroundings were as hearty as can be between cousins. The Balfour Declaration put an end to all this.
Since Rameses II the Children of Israel have had no feud with Egypt, and since Cyrus there has never been any serious quarrel between the Jewish und Arab peoples. The nearly one million refugees on the Israel borders bear a testimony of hate not towards the Jewish nation or towards Judaism, but towards zionism alone. Even when, in some miraculous way, the refugee problem would become solved, peaceful coexistence between the Arabs and a zionist state in their midst will forever remain inconceivable. The Israeli government is, of course, well aware of the uselessness of even the biggest of concessions for the appeasement of the Arabs, and for that reason will keep a stiff upper lip whenever the refugee problem is brought to the fore. „Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.“