The immediate precursor to today’s pro-Israel lobby began in 1939 under the leadership of Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, originally from Lithuania. He created the American Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC), which by 1943 had acquired a budget of half a million dollars at a time when a nickel bought a loaf of bread.
In addition to this money, Zionists [adherents of “political Zionism,” a movement to create a Jewish state in Palestine] had become influential in creating a fundraising umbrella organization, the United Jewish Appeal, in 1939, giving them access to the organization’s gargantuan financial resources: $14 million in 1941, $150 million by 1948. This was four times more than Americans contributed to the Red Cross and was the equivalent of approximately $1.5 billion today.
With its extraordinary funding, AZEC embarked on a campaign to target every sector of American society, ordering that local committees be set up in every Jewish community in the nation [for decades the larger majority of Jewish Americans had been either non-Zionits or actively anti-Zionist]. In the words of AZEC organizer Sy Kenen, it launched “a political and public relations offensive to capture the support of Congressmen, clergy, editors, professors, business and labor.”
AZEC instructed activists to “make direct contact with your local Congressman or Senator“ and to go after union members, wives and parents of servicemen, and Jewish war veterans. AZEC provided activists with form letters to use and schedules of anti-Zionist lecture tours to oppose and disrupt.
A measure of its power came in 1945 when Silver disliked a British move that would be harmful to Zionists. AZEC booked Madison Square Garden, ordered advertisements, and mailed 250,000 announcements – the first day. By the second day they had organized demonstrations in 30 cities, a letter-writing campaign, and convinced 27 U.S. Senators to give speeches.
Grassroots Zionist action groups were organized with more than 400 local committees under 76 state and regional branches. AZEC funded books, articles and academic studies; millions of pamphlets were distributed. There were massive petition and letter writing campaigns. AZEC targeted college presidents and deans, managing to get more than 150 to sign one petition.
Rabbi Elmer Berger, executive director of the American Council for Judaism, which opposed Zionism in the 1940s and ‘50s, writes in his memoirs that there was a “ubiquitous propaganda campaign reaching just about every point of political leverage in the country.”
The Zionist Organization of America bragged of the “immensity of our operations and their diversity” in its 48th Annual Report, stating, “We reach into every department of American life…”
Berger and other anti-Zionist Jewish Americans tried to organize against “the deception and cynicism with which the Zionist machine operated,” but failed to obtain anywhere near their level of funding. Among other things, would-be dissenters were afraid of “the savagery of personal attacks” anti-Zionists endured.
Berger writes that when he and a colleague opposed a Zionist resolution in Congress, Emanuel Celler, a New York Democrat who was to serve in Congress for almost 50 years, told them: “They ought to take you b…s out and shoot you.”
When it was unclear that President Harry Truman would support Zionism, Cellar and a committee of Zionists told him that they had persuaded Dewey to support the Zionist policy and demanded that Truman also take this stand. Cellar reportedly pounded on Truman‘s table and said that if Truman did not do so, “We’ll run you out of town.
Jacob Javits, another well-known senator, this time Republican, told a Zionist women’s group: “We’ll fight to death and make a Jewish State in Palestine if it’s the last thing that we do.”
Richard Stevens, author of American Zionism and U.S. Foreign Policy, 1942-1947, reports that Zionists infiltrated the boards of several Jewish schools that they felt didn’t sufficiently promote the Zionist cause. When this didn’t work, Stevens writes, they would start their own pro-Zionist schools.
Stevens writes that in 1943-44 the ZOA distributed over a million leaflets and pamphlets to public libraries, chaplains, community centers, educators, ministers, writers and “others who might further the Zionist cause.”
Alfred Lilienthal, who had worked in the State Department, served in the U.S. Army in the Middle East from 1943-45, and became a member of the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism, reports that Zionist monthly sales of books totaled between 3,000 and 4,000 throughout 1944-45.
Richard Stevens reports that Zionists subsidized books by non-Jewish authors that supported the Zionist agenda. They would then promote these books jointly with commercial publishers. Several of them became best sellers.
Zionists manufacture Christian support
AZEC founder Silver and other Zionists played a significant role in creating Christian support for Zionism.
Secret Zionist funds, eventually reaching $150,000 in 1946, were used to revive an elitist Protestant group, the American Palestine Committee. This group had originally been founded in 1932 by Emanuel Neumann, a member of the Executive of the Zionist Organization. The objective was to organize a group of prominent (mainly non-Jewish) Americans in moral and political support of Zionism. Frankfurter was one of the main speakers at its launch.
Silver‘s headquarters issued a directive saying, “In every community an American Christian Palestine Committee must be immediately organized.”
Author Peter Grose reports that the Christian committee’s operations “were hardly autonomous. Zionist headquarters thought nothing of placing newspaper advertisements on the clergymen’s behalf without bothering to consult them in advance, until one of the committee’s leaders meekly asked at least for prior notice before public statements were made in their name.”
AZEC formed another group among clergymen, the Christian Council on Palestine. An internal AZEC memo stated that the aim of both groups was to “crystallize the sympathy of Christian America for our cause.”
By the end of World War II the Christian Council on Palestine had grown to 3,000 members and the American Palestine Committee boasted a membership of 6,500 public figures, including senators, congressmen, cabinet members, governors, state officers, mayors, jurists, clergymen, educators, writers, publishers, and civic and industrial leaders.
Historian Richard Stevens explains that Christian support was largely gained by exploiting their wish to help people in need. Steven writes that Zionists would proclaim “the tragic plight of refugees fleeing from persecution and finding no home,” thus linking the refugee problem with Palestine as allegedly the only solution.
Stevens writes that the reason for this strategy was clear: “…while many Americans might not support the creation of a Jewish state, traditional American humanitarianism could be exploited in favor of the Zionist cause through the refugee problems.”
Few if any of these Christian supporters had any idea that the creation of the Jewish state would entail a massive expulsion of hundreds of thousands of non-Jews, who made up the large majority of Palestine‘s population, creating a new and much longer lasting refugee problem.
(Republished from Counterpunch
by permission of author or representative)