The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong … survive – Benjamin Netanyahu1Tweeted by the official account of the Israeli Prime Minister on 29 August 2018.
We have seen it … Zionism is fascism … exactly – George Habash2‘PLO 2nd-in-command, Dr. George Habash says he “regrets very much the split of the PLO”’, 27 November 1984, Damascus, Syria, Associated Press Archive. Accessed on YouTube, 10 July 2023.
Published by the Palestine Research Center3The research centre of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, established in 1965. in Beirut in 1978, just four years before it was looted and later bombed by Zionist forces during their occupation of Lebanon, Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany is a neglected study of a topic that has been suppressed in the mainstream to such an extent it has become virtually a taboo.4It is telling that the veteran anti-Zionist and Palestine solidarity activist, Tony Greenstein, was recently forced to self-publish his book Zionism During the Holocaust: The Weaponization of Memory in the Service of State and Nation (2022) after a number of left-wing publishers had turned him down, with one describing the book as “incendiary”. Glubb himself faced similar issues when he attempted to publish an expanded version of Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, which eventually was released only in Arabic as Najmat Dāwūd wa-al-ṣalīb al-maʻqūf (Sharq Press, Cyprus, 1989). It is equally telling that in an interview to promote his book in November 2022, Greenstein claimed “the first book about Zionist collaboration with the Nazis was nearly 40 years ago by Lenni Brenner [a reference to Brenner’s 1983 work Zionism in the Age of Dictators]. And there has been nothing since”. Of course, Glubb’s neglected study was released five years before Brenner’s, so it appears even those invested in the same historical project, like Greenstein, have overlooked it.
Over four decades have passed since the publication of this concise and powerful book and it has remained mostly unnoticed, uncited, and unknown. Yet it should be essential reading, since it provides crucial historical context on Zionism and its relationship with European fascism. This historical context shows Zionism to be an ideology and movement that is indisputably fascist in character, from the time of its collaboration with European fascist forces right up to the present moment, and for the duration of its ongoing campaign of genocidal violence against the Palestinian people, which began more than 75 years ago. Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany can therefore be read in two interlinked ways: 1) for its historical evidence about the Zionist movement’s repressed history and 2) as a study that engages in the ideological battle against Zionism, confronting its racist and false self-representation as a movement for the salvation of all Jewish people.
The book’s front cover gives its author as Faris Yahya, but an insert glued inside reveals this to be a pen name of Faris Glubb, a fascinating but little known revolutionary figure whose life and work have been similarly overlooked.
Faris Glubb – A Short Biography
Born Godfrey Glubb in Jerusalem in 1939, Faris was the son of John Bagot Glubb – better known as Glubb Pasha – and Murial Rosemary Forbes. His father, a renowned British military officer, served as Commander of the Arab Legion, the military force of the British Protectorate of Transjordan (the Kingdom of Jordan from 1946 onwards) from 1939 until his dismissal in 1956.5For a detailed study of Glubb Pasha, his beliefs and his role in Jordan, see Joseph Massad, Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan (New York, 2001). An Evangelical Christian and committed servant of the British Empire, Glubb Senior named his son after Godfrey of Bouillon, the first ruler of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. But his life was to follow a very different trajectory to that of both his father and his namesake: one dedicated to the Palestinian cause and anti-imperialist struggle.
A complete biography of Glubb’s multifaceted life falls beyond the scope of this review, but some knowledge of how he became committed to the Palestinian cause despite his imperial upbringing is necessary to fully understand the book’s context and its author’s motivations. Born in Palestine, raised in Jordan and heavily immersed in the Arabic language from birth, Godfrey became known as Faris from a young age. This name, meaning knight in Arabic, was given to him by Abdullah I, the Emir of Transjordan, with whom his father worked closely for many years.6Massad, Colonial Effects, 130-131. Raised in a militaristic environment surrounded by the largely bedouin troops of the Arab Legion, Glubb was often found in his father’s company wearing a specially made replica of the force’s uniform, “complete with shamagh”.7Trevor Royle, Glubb Pasha (London, 1992), 322.
As a young boy in 1947–48, Glubb witnessed first hand the impact of the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine, or the Nakba, when Palestinian orphans were left at his family’s residence by refugees expelled by Zionist militias. Two of these children were adopted and raised by Glubb’s parents as his siblings. His own son, Mark Glubb, believes that witnessing the devastating human impact of the Nakba directly in this way sparked Glubb’s deeply held and lifelong commitment to the Palestinian cause.8Interview with Louis Allday, London, November 2022.
As fluent in Arabic as he was English,9According to Adnan al-Ghoul, a contemporary of Glubb’s from 1970s Beirut, he was fluent in both formal written Arabic and Palestinian dialect and from his speech, “you could not tell he was not Palestinian”. Phone interview with Louis Allday, August 2022. Glubb struggled to adapt when he was sent to boarding school in Britain and ran away from Wellington College to the Jordanian Military Delegation in London. His arrival in Britain in 1951 was covered in the local press. In the illustrated London newspaper The Sphere, under the heading “The Arab Legion Commander’s Son Arrives in London”, a young Glubb was depicted “wearing Arab head-dress as he leaves his plane at London Airport”.10The Sphere, 29 September 1951. The cutting states that “the young man prefers that [Faris] to the English name” and claims incorrectly that “Faris is the Arabic equivalent of Godfrey”. He converted to Islam aged 18, but according to his son Mark, Glubb had felt Muslim long before his official conversion took place at al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo.11“Faris Glubb, Jerusalem to Amman, an epic journey”, The Star (Amman, Jordan), 19 April 2004. After enrolling and then dropping out of the University of Oxford’s Exeter College,12A contemporary at Oxford recalled “he used to dress in Arab gear quite frequently and at parties in dark rooms he looked rather intimidating” Glubb studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London where he became involved in pro-Palestine organising.13An article from 1961 mentions a pro-Arab motion “placed before the debating society” at SOAS that Glubb himself proposed, and “that deplored the existence of Israel in Palestine.” The Indiana Jewish Post and Opinion, 22 December 1961.
After his studies, Glubb remained in London and continued to be active in political writing and organising. By 1966, he had become Secretary of the Movement for Colonial Freedom, a prominent anti-imperialist advocacy group established in 1954 by a number of Labour MPs who, unlike the majority of their party and its leadership, supported independence for Britain’s colonies.14Faris Glubb, “Britain and the Colonies”, Tribune, 11 February 1966. Glubb was especially active in support of anti-imperialist resistance to the British presence in Oman and the Persian Gulf as a whole. He became Secretary of the Committee for the Rights of Oman and spoke out publicly against British imperialist violence in the Gulf, including at the UN General Assembly in New York. This was very much to the consternation of British officials, who were perplexed that the son of Glubb Pasha would take such positions.15A British official reporting to his superiors on Glubb’s testimony at the UN was concerned that his “evidence, backed by a virulently anti-British memorandum, appears to have had considerable effect on uncommitted delegations”. TNA, FO 371/179820, Political relations: Discussions at UN about Oman. Indeed, it is evident from Foreign Office files that Glubb’s activities were of serious concern to the British state and, during questioning at the UN General Assembly in 1965, Glubb claimed that the Committee had been subject to harassment by the UK authorities and that he possessed evidence its mail had been opened.
Glubb edited and published the Committee’s periodical Free Oman for several years and took a resolutely anti-imperialist and revolutionary position in its pages, drawing links between oppression at home and abroad. Despite the importance and relative prominence of his activities at the time, Glubb is a neglected figure and those few mentions of him that do appear in the public domain are frequently negative or patronising, a fate often suffered by those who dare to go against the imperialist grain in the West. In a sneering 1963 profile of Glubb and the Committee, The Guardian dismissed Free Oman as an “Egyptian propaganda sheet” for its support of Egyptian President Nasser, and while it stressed Glubb’s “personal integrity” was not in question, it belittled him as a “pale, threadbare and slightly bearded young man” who though he espoused “the cause with evident sincerity”, had never been to Oman.16“A Glubb Battles On”, David Holden, The Guardian, 1963. The report’s author, David Holden, was murdered in Cairo in 1977, possibly at the behest of the CIA, with whom it has been alleged he had become entangled.
In addition to his interest in Oman and the Gulf, Glubb was also active in Palestine solidarity circles. In May 1966, he delivered a rousing speech at the Palestine Day Conference in London convened by the General Union of Arab Students in the UK and Ireland. Introduced by the Union’s Chairman as a “person who is well-known and loved throughout the Middle East … who has, for 11 years, served Arab liberation movements”, Glubb situated Palestine clearly within an anti-imperialist framework, arguing it could not be viewed in isolation, but rather as “part of the anti-imperialist struggle, both in the Arab world and in the wider context of the whole human race against imperialism, led by the most dangerous enemy of mankind, US Imperialism”.17Palestine Day Conference 1966, General Union of Arab Students in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The conference was held at Conway Hall in London on 15 May 1966. The full text of Glubb’s speech can be read in the appendix below.. Glubb stressed too that while he deplored the “barbarous treatment” that European countries had inflicted on the Jews in Europe, it must be stated clearly that “the Arab people are not responsible for the crimes committed by European barbarism and compensation to the victims … should be made by European nations themselves and not by the Arab people”.18According to a declassified CIA document, at the same event Glubb claimed that the CIA had taken part in the abduction of Moroccan revolutionary leader, Mehdi Ben Barka. However, the Movement for Colonial Freedom had “prevented him from mentioning this fact in a letter of protest,” leading him to resign from his position as secretary. The document also adds that Glubb said “that the Palestine question was never one of the issues which the movement for the liberation of the British colonies had ever sponsored.” “CIA Role Seen in the Abduction of Ben Barka,” 15 May 1966. The document incorrectly refers to the movement as the Movement for the Liberation of the British Colonies.
Following the Six Day War (or the Naksa as it is known in Arabic) in June 1967, Glubb left Tunisia, where he had spent some time teaching and broadcasting after leaving London, and returned to his childhood home, Jordan.19Peter Clark, “A change in faith, but always a fighter for justice”, The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 May 2004. A scathing profile of Glubb published in The Detroit Jewish News the following year quotes him explaining that: “the June War between the Arabs and the Israelis had a big effect on me. I have always felt the Arabs were my people. When I saw the pictures of Jordanians charred by Israeli bombs and refugees pouring over Allenby bridge, I knew my place is here!”20“Another Glubb has come to Judgement”, The Detroit Jewish News, 2 February 1968. A similarly uncomplimentary report in the right-wing tabloid The News of the World later the same year reported that Glubb had become a “shill propagandist” on Amman radio and was “more Arab than the Arabs”.21As quoted in a bulletin of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 20 May 1968. In actual fact, in addition to journalistic work, while back in Jordan, Glubb taught at a school for Palestinian refugees and increased his connections to the burgeoning Palestinian revolutionary movement based there. Following the events of Black September in 1970, when, after their military defeat by the Jordanian state in collaboration with Western imperialism, the PLO and other Palestinian groups were forced to leave for Lebanon, Glubb went with them and headed for Beirut.
In the Lebanese capital, Glubb threw himself deeper into the struggle. He continued his journalistic work for the Western press, often writing under the pseudonym Michael O’Sullivan, and also wrote for a number of Arabic newspapers. Beyond his journalism, he fostered close relations with several of the Palestinian factions who had decamped to Lebanon, providing his services as an aid worker, writer, editor, translator, interpreter, greeter of international delegations and, according to several Arabic-language accounts: a fighter. Indeed, one former comrade recalls Faris being active militarily with more than one faction and recounted one of his commanders saying, half in jest, “we always sent him [Faris] to the most dangerous situations and he returned safely. We needed an English martyr!”22Hassan al-Batl, “Hal Inta Ibn Glubb Basha?” al-Ayyam, 23 September 2014. Another reminiscence from a former comrade reveals Glubb’s nom de guerre was Abu al-Fida’ and that he ran revolutionary security training for new cadres and participated in many missions.
It was in these years that Glubb formed a close association with the PLO’s Palestine Research Center, with whom he published the text under review here. In addition to this work, Glubb published a number of others in this period including The Palestine Question in International Law (1970) and Zionism, is it Racist? (1975). He also translated a number of works including Sadat: From Fascism to Zionism (1979) and Stars in the Sky of Palestine (1978), a collection of short stories by Palestinian writers which he edited, as well as contributed to.
It is evident that Glubb did not see himself as merely an ally or sympathiser with the cause, but in fact considered himself to be Palestinian. When asked by a journalist during the Civil War why, despite being British, he was fighting in defence of Beirut and the Palestinians, Glubb is said to have responded “I am a Palestinian, and I was born in Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine. My roots also go back to Ireland, but my flesh and blood are Palestinian”.23Nidal Hamad, “Abu al-Fida’, Faris Glubb”, al-Safsaf, 18 February 2021. This was confirmed by Adnan al-Ghoul, a friend of Glubb’s from this period who stated that he always felt he was a Palestinian from Jerusalem, refused to identify in any other way, and was wholeheartedly committed to the cause.24Phone Interview with Louis Allday, August 2022. Or in the words of another former comrade, Hassan al-Batl, Glubb was “truly Palestinian, by birth and affiliation”.25Hassan al-Batl, “Hal Inta Ibn Glubb Basha?” al-Ayyam, 23 September 2014.
The Ideological Battle Against Zionism
With a deep affinity to the Palestinian cause, Glubb produced research and writing that aimed to support the struggle and engaged in the ideological battles that confronted it. His Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany was written at a moment when the historical record of collaboration between Nazi Germany and the Zionist movement was obscured and suppressed by the latter, indicating “how successful the Zionist movement has been in the art of propaganda”.26Faris Yahya Glubb, Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany (Beirut, 1982), 82. Twenty-five years after its publication, two Israeli-Zionist authors included Glubb’s Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany in their article titled “Perceptions of the Holocaust in Palestinian Public Discourse”27Meir Litvak and Esther Webman, “Perceptions of the Holocaust in Palestinian Public Discourse”, Israel Studies. Volume 8, Number 3, 2003. and reduced his argument to mere allegations, painting a racist image of Palestinians and their supporters as anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers. Their position is illustrative of how any attempt by those within the Palestinian national liberation movement to delineate and explain the historical reality of Zionism is routinely met with accusations of bigotry and anti-Semitism. Glubb knew well that this tactic, including repression of historical knowledge, had resulted in “widespread public ignorance” of the history of Nazi-Zionist collaboration, or what he otherwise terms as the Nazi-Zionist “alliance of convenience”.28Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 31. Pointing to the “Zionist tendency to brand any non-Zionist or anti-Zionist viewpoint as ‘anti-Semitic’”, and in a clear attempt to pre-empt such accusations, Glubb opted to use material for his study “taken exclusively from Jewish sources”.29Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 7. Further historical work has been written on the Nazi-Zionist relationship in the decades since Glubb wrote his study, including by Lenni Brenner and Joseph Massad, yet generally it remains on the margins of public knowledge and consciousness.
Glubb dedicates his first chapter to establishing “the philosophical common ground between Zionism and anti-Semitism”, namely, their shared premise that Jewish people are unassimilable into non-Jewish societies and constitute an exclusive racial grouping.30Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 9. This philosophical common ground between Zionism and anti-Semitism unfolded concretely in history as the Zionist movement openly collaborated with and sought support from racist forces in Europe from its inception. For Glubb, this is demonstrated in one of Zionism’s foundational texts, The Jewish State (1896), wherein Theodor Herzl declares that “the governments of all countries scourged by anti-Semitism will be keenly interested in assisting us to obtain the sovereignty we want”.31Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 9.
With Herzl’s diplomatic objectives to obtain support for the Zionist movement, Glubb shows how he appealed to leading anti-Semitic figures across Europe, from Czarist Russia to Britain. In Russia, Herzl appealed to anti-Semitic politicians such as Wenzel von Plehve who “favoured the Zionist plan to remove the Jews from Europe”. Still, “the most important foundations laid by Herzl for Zionism’s future successes were anti-Semitic circles in Britain,” where he supported and encouraged right-wing British efforts to prohibit Jewish immigration into the country. Glubb draws from the anti-Zionist Jewish thinker Moshe Menuhin, who argued that “for the whole crowd of blackguards and reactionaries who ruled Europe, Herzl had a favourite promise: Zionism would dissolve all revolutionary and socialist elements among the Jews”.32Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 10. Zionism began and developed as a reactionary political ideology, one that aligned itself with and secured the interests of Europe’s ruling class.
After Herzl died in 1904, his efforts were continued by Chaim Weizmann, whose campaigning for the Zionist movement was likewise based on a political ideology that was both imperialist and anti-semitic. On the former point, the imposition of a Zionist state – or what the first British governor of Jerusalem described as “a little loyal Jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism” – was seen by British officials as a way to secure their empire’s control of the region. And on the latter point, it “was a convenient way of ridding Europe of its Jews”.33Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 12. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 cemented Britain’s promise to establish a Zionist state in Palestine and “was thus motivated by a combination of imperial ambitions and anti-Semitic prejudices on the part of the right-wing politicians who issued it”.34Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 12. As Fayez Sayegh, the founder of Glubb’s publisher, the Palestine Research Center, had written in 1965, the alliance between British Imperialism and Zionist colonialism was one of “convenience and mutual need”.
The Historical Reality of Zionist-Nazi Relations
By establishing the philosophical and historical linkages between Zionism and anti-Semitism, Glubb sets the stage for the book’s inquiry into the relationship between the Zionist movement and Nazi Germany specifically. The rest of the book then looks at Zionism’s relationship with Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s, and is followed by an analysis of the Zionist entity’s attempt to erase this history from the 1950s up to the 1970s. The suppression of Zionism’s historical development was part of a broader campaign to rebrand Israel as a progressive, anti-fascist project representing an antithesis to Nazism. As a counter to this narrative, however, Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany suggests that Zionism’s collaboration with fascism was not accidental and momentary, but part of its very foundations.
In the chapter “The Common Ground Between Zionism and Nazism,” Glubb demonstrates that the Zionist movement, like Nazism, embraced dissimilation, the notion that Jews could not be assimilated into European societies. This shared philosophy of dissimilation explains how a “convinced Nazi like Adolf Eichmann was able to be on cordial terms with Zionists, and to describe himself as pro-Zionist, while remaining dedicated to the Nazi ideology”.35Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 15. As an SS intelligence officer wrote in a Nazi party newspaper in 1935, “the [Nazi] government finds itself in complete agreement with … Zionism [and] its .. rejection of all assimilationist ideas”.36Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (London, 1985), 57. As quoted in Asa Winstanley, Weaponising Anti-Semitism (New York, 2023), 153-154. Even prior to the Nazi takeover of Germany, Nazis were reported to have marched through Breslau (now Wroclaw) in 1932, terrorising the Jewish population, and yelling “[l]et the Jews go to Palestine”.37Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 16. For Glubb, the increasing strength of Zionism in the 1930s was part of a broader political struggle between forces of reaction and forces of progress: “Zionism certainly benefited from the fact that the rise of Hitler led to the crushing of its main rivals for ideological leadership of German Jewry”.38A reference to anti-Zionist Jewish forces, notably the communists, socialists and Bundists, all of which were assimilationist in nature. Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 16. Just months after Hitler had seized power, the head of Germany’s Zionist federation declared “there exists today a unique opportunity to win over the Jews of Germany to the Zionist idea”.39Francis R. Nicosia, The Third Reich and the Palestine Question (London, 1985), 42. As quoted in Asa Winstanley, Weaponising Anti-Semitism (New York, 2023), 150.
The next chapter of Glubb’s study looks at the establishment of economic relations between the Zionist movement and Nazi Germany through the Ha’avara Agreement in the 1930s. Through it, the Nazis allowed German Jews to transfer their capital to Palestine, resulting, according to Glubb, in the transfer of 140 million marks in total (equivalent to approximately $1.3 billion in 2021). These agreements both facilitated the colonisation of Palestine and undermined the global response to the Nazi regime’s boycott of Jewish businesses: “Jews in many parts of the world hoped that by retaliating with a boycott of German goods they could show solidarity with their oppressed co-religionists and perhaps pressure the Nazi regime into relaxing the persecution. The Zionists’ signature of the Ha’avara Agreement effectively sabotaged this hope”.40Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 21.
The Zionist Federation of Germany not only broke the anti-Nazi boycott by establishing economic relations with the Nazi regime, but “went so far as to reassure a senior Nazi official that ‘the propaganda which calls for boycotting Germany, in the manner it is frequently conducted today, is by its very essence completely un-Zionist.’” Through this relationship, the Nazis were able to achieve two objectives: first, weakening the impact of anti-fascist boycott on the German economy and second, “facilitating the departure of Jews from the Reich to Palestine”.41Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 22.
The Ha’avara Agreement “reached a record level in 1937, two years after the Nuremberg Laws were passed” with the transfer operations being 31,407,501 marks just that year. For Glubb, this illustrates the correlation between Zionist ascendancy and anti-Semitic onslaught: “ironically, the privileges which the Zionist movement had been gaining since Hitler came to power actually increased with the Nuremberg Laws, while the German Jews’ position continued to deteriorate”.42Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 23. Ultimately, these agreements set “the unfortunate precedent […] of sacrificing the interests of the Jewish masses in Europe for the sake of Zionist political ambitions”.43Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 22.
A defining feature of Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany is its focus on how the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazi regime at the expense of the majority of Jewish people. Instead of directing its resources to combat Nazism, Glubb argues that the Zionist movement was set on facilitating the colonial settlement project in Palestine whatever the human cost. To demonstrate this Glubb draws from the work of David Kimche, who, before becoming deputy director of the Mossad, co-wrote a book on the topic of illegal settlement in Palestine during the 1930s.44David Kimche and John Kimche, The Secret Roads : The “Illegal” Migration of a People, 1938-1948 (London, 1954). During that time, the Nazi party supported the Zionist movement in establishing special agricultural training schools for “Jewish pioneers,” in order to prepare Zionist colonial settlement in Palestine and Jewish emigration from Germany.45Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 28. These efforts were carried out by Zionist emissaries – official representatives of the “Union of Communal Settlements” – who established relations with the SS and the Gestapo. Citing Kimche, Glubb relates how one Zionist emissary even won material support from senior Nazi Adolf Eichmann who “supplied farms and farm equipment”.46Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 30. In fact, Kimche writes that “by the end of 1938 about a thousand young Jews were undergoing training in these Nazi-provided camps”. Of note here is Glubb’s point that the Union of Communal Settlements “carried out work for the establishment and strengthening of kibbutzim,” settlements in Palestine which were “ paramilitary in character”.47Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 30.
Furthermore, Glubb argues that the Zionist leadership of the Revisionist Irgun militia in Palestine also collaborated with European fascist forces by establishing “co-operation agreements, including training camps for Zionist pioneers, with the rabidly anti-Jewish regime in Poland”.48Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 75-6. Glubb does not suggest that such efforts of the Zionist movement were merely a means to an end. Instead, he writes:
[T]he two phenomena of anti-Semitism and the Zionists’ alliance of convenience with it, in the hope of using it as the “propelling force” they needed, cannot be separated completely. They reacted mutually on each other, as inevitably happens with any two political forces whose relationship is one of close contact, whether in confrontation or co-operation.
If anti-Semitism and fascism acted upon Zionism during this period, then nowhere was the fascistic character of Zionism more stark than in its approach to the Jewish resistance in Europe. In chapter five, “The Ghetto Revolts”, Glubb honours anti-fascist Jewish resistance. He looks to the Vilno Ghetto, one of the first places where Jewish captives became aware of the Nazi’s genocidal plan. Although they “carried out sabotage actions against the Nazis … their hopes for a mass uprising did not materialise,” in part due to Jacob Gens, a Revisionist Zionist and chief of a police force in the ghetto who played a central role in suppressing and undermining the Jewish resistance of Vilno. At the order of the Nazis, he used blackmail to coerce the communist leader of the resistance, Itzik Witenberg, to turn himself in to the Nazis. On Zionism’s opposition to militant resistance in the face of Nazism, Glubb adds: “[h]istory records no proclamation of revolt by the Zionist movement against Nazism in Europe”.49Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 37.
Glubb pays tribute to figures such as Witenberg, who gave their lives resisting fascism. He writes, “despite the help given by the Zionist leadership to Nazi efforts to smash any Jewish resistance, anti-racist Jews used great ingenuity to provide themselves with the means to defend themselves”.50Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 47. This remembrance of Jewish resistance to Nazism is a powerful aspect of Glubb’s study, as it honours the many victims of European fascism whose history and memory the Zionist project has so brazenly attempted to co-opt in support of colonial fascism.
The Zionist movement’s relationship to fascism is a point subject to much scepticism and controversy, a fact Glubb himself was aware of and which likely compelled him to bring forward the question: “were the numerous Zionist leaders who collaborated with Nazism in various ways acting as individuals, or as officials implementing Zionist policy?” To this question Glubb answers that although there were “individual Zionists who broke with Zionist traditional policy and participated in revolts against Nazis” such revolts never included “the co-operation of the Zionist movement on an international level”.51Here, Glubb does not paint a black-and-white picture of this co-operation. He acknowledges the history of individual Zionists who did resist fascism, such as Mordechai Anielewicz, who was a leader of the Jewish Fighting Organisation and was killed by the Nazis. Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 35. He writes that:
[I]n the higher echelons of the Zionist movement, notably in the Jewish Agency whose leaders sat out the war in safe havens to become the future Israeli Government, there was no division of opinion. No clarion call for a revolt against Nazism came from these leaders, nor is it recorded that they made any attempt, for instance, to smuggle in arms to the ghetto fighters who so desperately needed them.
Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany demystifies the claim that the Zionist movement was not aware of the extermination of the Jewish people. Moreover, it contests the claim that the movement did not have sufficient resources to help Jews facing Nazi extermination. As Glubb notes, the Zionist movement’s “one concern was securing their goal of a state in Palestine”.52Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 55.
Demonstrating these historical arguments, Glubb writes about the prominent Zionist leader Yitzhak Greenbaum who, during the Second World War, was placed as the head of a rescue committee to save European Jewry. Greenbaum later became the first interior minister of Israel. During the Holocaust, he proclaimed:
When they come to us with two plans – the rescue of the masses of Jews in Europe or the redemption of the land [in Palestine] – I vote, without a second thought, for the redemption of the land. The more said about the slaughter of our people, the greater the minimisation of our efforts to strengthen and promote the Hebraisation of the land. If there would be a possibility today of buying packages of food (for starving Jews under Nazi rule) with the money of the Keren Hayesod (United Jewish Appeal) to send it through Lisbon, would we do such a thing? No! And once again no!53Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 56.
Any demand for Jewish Agency funds to be sent to help Jews in Europe was, for Greenbaum, in fact an “anti-Zionist act”.54Tom Segev, The Seventh Million (New York, 1993), 102. Such genocidal sentiments are similarly present in Chaim Weizmann’s discussion of the Holocaust in which he described European Jewry as “dust, economic and moral dust in a cruel world”.55Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 55.
Greenbaum’s and Weizmann’s words and actions were no exception. In another example provided by Glubb, we learn of the sordid tale of Rudolf Kastner, head of the Jewish Agency’s rescue committee in Budapest, who forged secret agreements with the Nazis, such as Eichmann, and “helped them to exterminate the bulk of Hungarian Jewry in exchange for being allowed to save more than 600 prominent Zionists and take them to Palestine.” Kastner’s actions reflect what Solomon Shonfeld, quoted by Glubb, calls “a cornerstone of Zionist policy: Selectivity”.56Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 62. This characteristic persisted after the Zionist state was established and where, as of 2022, a third of Holocaust survivors live in poverty. As one interviewee said in 2014: “[w]e saw the Holocaust survivors as a very weak population… [w]e were very different from them. We were strong, and we were not going to allow ourselves to be in that position”.
The Kastner Trial and Israel’s Attempt to Erase History
By the early 1950s, Rudolf Kastner had become press spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Commerce and Industry and a senior member of the political party Mapai, so when his collaboration with the Nazis was exposed by the amateur journalist and hotelier, Malchiel Greenwald in 1952, the Israeli government accused Greenwald of libel and made efforts to suppress the case. The finding by the judge Benjamin Halevi, who cleared Greenwald of libel in 1955, is worth quoting at length:
The sacrifice of the vital interests of the majority of the Jews, in order to rescue the prominents, was the basic element in the agreement between Kastner and the Nazis. This agreement fixed the division of the nation into two unequal camps, a small fragment of prominents, whom the Nazis promised Kastner to save, on the one hand, and the great majority of Hungarian Jews whom the Nazis designated for death, on the other. An imperative condition for the rescue of the first camp by the Nazis was that Kastner [would] not interfere in the action of the Nazis against the other camp and [would] not hamper them in its extermination. Kastner fulfilled that condition. Collaboration between the Jewish Agency Rescue Committee and the exterminators of the Jews was solidified in Budapest and Vienna. Kastner’s duties were part and parcel of the SS. In addition to its Extermination Department and Looting Department, the Nazi SS opened a Rescue Department headed by Kastner.57Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 59.
Kastner even went so far as to defend the SS General Kurt Becher, Commissar of all Nazi concentration camps, from being charged with war crimes. He did so not as an individual but, in his own words, on “behalf of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish World Congress.” Becher was exonerated and released as a result of Kastner’s intervention.58Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 60. Citing Ben Hecht’s Perfidy, Glubb includes that Becher went on to become the president of various corporations, including his firm Cologne-Handel Gesellschaft, which did “a fine business with Israel’s government”.59Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 61.
Encouraged by his success in the libel trial, Greenwald’s lawyer, Shmuel Tamir, gathered new evidence against Kastner and sought to bring him to trial for collaboration with the Nazis. However, before this second trial could begin, Kastner was assassinated by Zeev Eckstein, a former “paid undercover agent of the Israeli government’s Intelligence Service”.60Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 59. For further detail on the Kastner trial and his eventual assassination, see Tony Greenstein, Zionism During the Holocaust (2022), 206-223. A similar fate then befell the journalist Moshe Keren who had written extensively about the Kastner case and called for him to be placed on trial: after flying to Germany to interview Becher, Keren was found dead in his hotel room, officially having died of a heart attack.
Glubb places these deaths in the broader context of the Israeli government’s earlier attempts to protect and exonerate Kastner, going so far as to appoint the Attorney-General to defend him. It was only when the libel trial against Greenwald was lost and another potentially even more damaging case lay on the horizon that Kastner, and the secrets that his further interrogation would likely reveal, became such a liability that he needed to be eliminated. Prior to Kastner’s killing, it was revealed that towards the end of the war he had arranged a deal for the escape of not only Becher, but also the notorious Adolf Eichmann. Glubb thus re-frames the famous capture, trial and subsequent execution of Eichmann in 1962 as a means for the Israeli government to bury “once again all the unpleasant things which the Kastner case had brought to light”61Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 70. – both as a public propaganda spectacle intended to reaffirm the official narrative of Zionism as a protector of all Jews, and as a direct means to ensure that Eichmann’s intimate knowledge of the Zionist movement’s relationship with the Nazis died with him.
Historical Research for Ideological Confrontation – Glubb’s Legacy
Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany is a short book, totalling just eighty-five pages. Given the complexity and sensitivity of the topic under discussion, Glubb does an impressive job of summarising his argument cogently, using a range of sources by Jewish authors such as the anti-Zionist Moshe Menuhin, whose perspectives had been – and remain – neglected and suppressed. What is equally important too is that while Glubb’s text is a searing historical indictment of the Zionist movement’s connections to Nazism, it is also a commemoration of Jewish anti-fascist resistance.
The book’s conclusion is illustrative of its contents overall. In a concise few pages Glubb re-emphasises his central arguments: that the fascist concept of a “superior race” is present in Zionist ideology, especially given the Zionist movement’s “neglect of the elderly who could not make such a contribution to building Zionist statehood”; that collaboration between Zionists and Nazis “was not an individual aberration but a reflection of official Zionist policy”; that the Zionist movement never organised sustained resistance to Nazism, as “it was the non-Zionist Jewish individuals and organisations who took the initiative and burden of that struggle on themselves”.62Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, 77.
In the face of Zionism’s deliberate concealment of its own history, Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany is both a historical corrective and a vitally important tool in the service of anti-Zionist and anti-fascist struggle. As a corrective, Glubb provides historical evidence about the Zionist movement’s history and by extension elucidates Zionism’s historical relationship to reactionary political forces across Europe. This historical clarity can work to inform and contextualise contemporary analysis of the Zionist project and its relationship with modern manifestations of fascism such as the neo-Nazi Azov movement in Ukraine, as well as highlight the extent to which Israel’s attempts to portray Hamas as the “new Nazis” are a clear case of psychological projection. As a political resource, Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany mobilises historical research for ideological confrontation with Israel and the Zionist movement as a whole, and in particular with Israel’s self-mythologising as a progressive force representing the interests of Jewish people worldwide.
What is perhaps most compelling about Glubb’s text is that its historical analysis opens up insight into Zionism and its fascist character in the present day. What we can deduce from his book is that Zionism was not a progressive movement that turned sour somewhere along the road. From its inception until the present day, the Zionist movement has been reactionary and has aligned itself with capitalist, imperialist, anti-semitic, right-wing, and fascist forces. It is through its relations with such forces that Zionism has sustained itself.
And it is through partnerships with reactionary forces today that the Zionist movement continues to sustain itself. At the time of writing, we are witnessing Israel and the US carry out a genocidal campaign against the Palestinian people in besieged Gaza that has so far murdered over 9,000 Palestinians, destroyed 50% of housing infrastructure, and displaced well over a million people. They dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza within 6 days, more bombs than the US dropped on Afghanistan in a year. For days on end they have killed a Palestinian child every 15 minutes. They have wiped entire families off of the face of the earth. And they have done this all under the banner of Zionism’s fascist mantra that “the weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history.”
So we have all seen it: “Zionism is fascism – exactly.” When opponents of Zionism proclaim that Israel is a fascist entity they are speaking a historical truth, one that Israel continues to display nakedly to the world. We find the roots of fascism within colonialism63Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism (New York, 1950) and Israel is the primary living example of this historical thesis.
In 2004, Glubb died tragically in a road accident in Kuwait, where he had lived and worked as a journalist for the Kuwait News Agency since 1994. Since then, his wide-ranging contributions to the Palestinian cause, in both word and deed, have remained largely unknown. In addition to paying tribute to Glubb by highlighting important works of his like Zionist Relations with Nazi Germany, the most appropriate way to honour him and his legacy is to use and build upon his work in the ongoing and urgent struggle he dedicated so much of his life towards: the righteous fight against Zionism and imperialism.
Samar al-Saleh is a PhD student in History and Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies at New York University.
Louis Allday is a writer and historian and the Founding Editor of Liberated Texts.
Appendix. Transcript of Faris Glubb’s speech at the 14th Palestine Day Conference of the General Union of Arab Students in the UK and Ireland, 1966.
Chairman (Mr. Fayed):
Your excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with a deep sense of honour on this occasion that I now take the chair at this, the 14th Palestine Day Conference on behalf of the General Union of Arab Students in the UK and Ireland.
Because of the time, I would like to now, straightaway, call upon Mr Faris Glubb, a person who is well-known and loved throughout the Middle East and a person who has, for 11 years, served Arab Liberation Movements throughout the Middle East and, who I know, you will all now welcome with your hearts … Mr Faris Glubb.
* * *
Brother Chairman, Brothers and Sisters, the problem of Palestine is not an isolated problem. It is part of the anti-imperialist struggle, both in the Arab world and in the wider context of the struggle of the whole human race against Imperialism, led by the most dangerous enemy of mankind, US Imperialism. You only have to look at a map in order to see this. If you look at a map, you will notice that in between Africa and Asia is a small piece of territory shaped roughly like a dagger. That is the Zionist-occupied area of Palestine. It is this small dagger-shaped territory that divides the two continents of Africa and Asia, and we have only to look at the history of the Palestine problem and to look at the reasoning of the Imperialist powers to understand the true nature of this problem as being one arising from Imperialism. We all know the history, how the Zionist state was imposed on Palestine as a result of the Balfour declaration, as a result of British Imperialism in the Middle East and the British general, Allenby, when he entered Jerusalem and occupied Palestine with the British army, he said ‘I have won the last battle of the crusades’. Allenby was speaking too soon, the last battle of the Crusades is still to be fought. But the battle that Allenby was referring to was one stage in a continuous process that has been going on since the time of [the] crusades, in which the European nations have attempted to impose their domination on the peoples of Asia and Africa. And let us examine now the sort of reasoning the Imperialist propaganda uses in regard to the Palestine problem. Those of us who read the British Press or the American Press will see continuously these words, that the Arabs should accept an accomplished fact, that the establishment of the Zionist occupation of Palestine is something that cannot be changed, is one of the facts of history that we should accept. But if we look into history, we will see many cases where peoples refused to accept such accomplished facts and, by refusing to accept these accomplished facts, managed to defeat them or to unaccomplish them. I quoted the Crusades from Allenby. The Crusaders themselves established an accomplished fact in Palestine by setting up a state there that lasted for over a century, but because the people of the area refused to accept this domination that accomplished fact is now wiped out. The Algerian people were told it was an accomplished fact that they were a part of France, this was something they refused to accept, and I am very privileged to say that some of the happiest times of my life have been spent in serving the noble Algerian people in their struggle to reverse this dogma that Algeria was part of France and that I was very honoured indeed to make a small contribution towards the Algerian struggle for independence. And we see now also, that the white settlers in South Africa are telling the African people to accept white domination as an accomplished fact and this is something that the African people are also refusing to do. Now why is it that this problem of Palestine, the Zionist occupation of Palestine, is something we should not accept as an accomplished fact? Let us look and see what the Imperialist powers are asking us to do in this instance. The Imperialist powers are not simply demanding that the Arab people should offer Jews hospitality. For centuries there have been Jewish communities living in the Arab world living under conditions of dignity and of equality, where Jewish people were able to attain the highest post, even to Cabinet rank in the Arab world, while the Europeans were organizing problems and herding the Jews into gas chambers in the name of superior European civilization. I would be the first to deplore, and I have deplored countless time, the barbarous treatment that the European countries have meated [sic] out to the Jews in Europe, but I say this, and I will go on saying it, that the Arab people are not responsible for the crimes committed by European barbarism and compensation to the victims of European barbarism should be made by the European nations themselves and not by the Arab people and that the European Imperialists and the US Imperialists, in attempting to impose this accomplished fact on the Arab people, are evading their responsibility for the massacres and inhumanities they have committed against the Jewish people in Europe. So let none of us be confused by this – the guilt is a European one, the price has been paid by one million, over one million, people in Palestine, who took no part in the crimes of Hitler or his predecessors throughout the history of European so-called civilisation.
The Arab people are not by nature prejudiced against Jews, and you only have to look to their history to see that, but there is one thing which the Arab people are prejudiced against, and that, I think, any human being is prejudiced against, and that is having a piece of his territory seized by an alien power and given to somebody else and the original inhabitants being driven out. This is something very different from what the propaganda services of the Imperialists would like you to believe. And why then do the Imperialists adopt these tactics, why are they concerned so much with the preservation of the Zionist State? I have already pointed out to you the Geographical factors of this – the fact that the Zionist State cuts off Asia from Africa and cuts the Arab world in two. The Zionist State is also of great use to Western Imperialism, as a bait for military and political subversion throughout the continents of Africa and Asia, and if you doubt this you have only to look back ten years to 1956 to see the role that was played by Zionism in the attempts by British and French Imperialism to regain their hold upon Egypt. The very courageous resistance which the people of Egypt, now the United Arab Republic, put up against this invasion is an example to all of us in anti-imperialist struggle and it shows very clearly the nature of imperialism’s aims throughout Africa and Asia. And now we must look to the future. We must consider where we go from now. At present we are faced with this situation of an Imperialist base in the heart of the Middle East, dividing Africa from Asia which is a threat not only to the Arab people but to every liberation struggle throughout the occupied world and to the people who are resisting Imperialism. And what we must work for clearly, is an overthrow of all imperialism, we must recognise very clearly what is our enemy. Our enemy is world imperialism led by US Imperialism and the Palestine problem clarifies this for us because this Zionist state has existed throughout its time since 1948 on money from the US, on support from the US – it is a child of the US that has been produced illegitimately in another person’s territory.
Let us therefore not consider this problem in isolation but recognise that the peoples of the world together, Arabs and non-Arabs, and those British people here who are awake to the realities of the situation must recognise very clearly who the enemy is and must wage a relentless war against him until Imperialism is defeated. And now, Brothers and Sisters, I have one word to say about peace, I love peace, but I love one kind of peace, I love the peace of dignity and freedom, the peace where a person knows that he can be safe, knows that his possessions are not threatened by someone stronger. I do not love the peace of the graveyard. But peace with dignity, peace with freedom, can only be achieved by removal of the cause of war which is Imperialism.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.