Fake zionist quotes 1: Ben Gurion and the german children (1938)
The fundamental aim of the Zionists was not to save Jewish lives but to create a Jewish state in Palestine. Ben Gurion, Israel’s first head of State, declared outright to the “Labor” Zionists on December 7th 1938 : “If I knew it was possible to save all the children in Germany by taking them to England, and only half of the children by taking them to Eretz Israel, I would choose the second solution. For we must take into account not only the lives of these children but also the history of the people of Israel.” (Source)
This quote is frequently used by anti-semites on the internet. You can see what the quote aims at. It wants to create the impression that the zionists in Palestine did not care about the victims of the Holocaust.
In this case the quote by Ben Gurion has already been exposed as false and Camera.org has written about it:
Ben Gurion and the Holocaust
• One of the particularly offensive canards long bandied about by so-called “post-Zionists” and anti-Zionist radicals is that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis to promote immigration to Palestine against overall Jewish interests and the survival of European Jews. Citing Lenni Brenner’s Zionists in the Age of the Dictators — which has been thoroughly discredited as an unscholarly combination of fabrication, exaggeration and quotations distorted through lack of context (Walter Laqueur, “The Anti-Zionism of Fools,” The New Republic, Nov. 1, 1987) — Ignatiev attempts to promote this disproved claim. He thus quotes Ben Gurion to support his allegation that the Israeli leader “attach[ed] more importance to the establishment of Israel than to the survival of the Jews,” collaborating with the Nazis to achieve this goal. The statement, as quoted by Ignatiev (via Brenner who, in turn, cites Yoav Gelber) is:
If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half by transporting to Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel], then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the People of Israel.
By cherry-picking a single comment, removing it from its context, and ignoring other comments made by Ben Gurion that directly contradict this interpretation, the author distorts history.
The Ben Gurion quote is taken from comments he made to Mapai’s central committee on December 7, 1938. This followed Britain’s decision to deny entrance into Palestine of 10,000 German Jewish orphans in the wake of Kristallnacht, instead offering them asylum within Great Britain. It was almost a year before the Nazis launched World War II and several years before the Final Solution (to annihilate the Jews) was methodically implemented. While Ben Gurion believed that Germany’s anti-Jewish policies would necessitate creating a safe haven for numerous Jewish refugees that no other country was willing to accept, he had no way of predicting the enormity of what was to follow.
The British offer to accept several thousand children appeared to be a gesture of conscience allowing Britain to close the doors of Palestine — not only to those German orphans, but to future refugees as well. Ben Gurion had recently witnessed the results of the international Evian conference, which had been convened in July 1938 to address the growing Jewish refugee problem, and knew that other countries were also unwilling to accept hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees. He believed that only a Jewish homeland would be able to properly absorb these Jews. Thus Ben Gurion stated that “our concern is not only the personal interest of these children, but the historic interest of the Jewish people” (translation from the stenographic records by Shabtai Teveth, Ben Gurion and the Holocaust, Harcourt Brace & Co. 1996, p. 47).
According to the records of the Mapai meeting, Yitzchak Ben Zvi immediately clarified Ben Gurion’s brusque remark, explaining “ten thousand children are a small part of Germany’s [Jewish] children…They [the British] don’t intend to save Germany’s Jews, and certainly not all of them. The moment the Jewish State Plan [the Peel plan] was shelved, the possibility of complete rescue of Germany’s Jews was shelved with it.” (ibid. p. 48)
There is ample evidence — ignored by Ignatiev — that Ben Gurion viewed the rescue of Jews as paramount. As early as 1936, Ben Gurion told Palestine’s high commissioner, Sir Arthur Wauchope, that “had there been the possiblity of bringing Poland’s Jews to the United States or Argentina, we would have done so regardless of our Zionist beliefs. But the world was closed to us. And had there also not been room for us in Palestine, our people would have had only one way out: to commit suicide” (Ben Gurion,Memoirs, p.3:105, cited in Shabtai Teveth, Ben Gurion and the Holocaust, pp xlix, 110). And in November 1941, Ben Gurion argued that “the supremely important thing now is salvage, and nation-building is incidental” (Teveth, ibid. p.xlviii).
It was only in November 1942 that the Yishuv became aware of the systematic slaughter of Jews. The Zionist leadership established a rescue committee and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the rescue mission. Ben Gurion made his priorities clear at a September 1943 fund-raising meeting of the Mobilization and Rescue Appeal in Jerusalem where he hailed the Allies’ invasion of Europe for “first of all, and foremost, the saving of Jews, then the saving of the Yishuv, and finally and thirdly the saving of Zionism” (cited in Teveth, p. 143). He emphasized the importance of funding the rescue mission, saying:
We must do whatever is humanly possible…to extend material aid to those working on rescue operations in order to save [those who] can still be saved, to delay the calamity as far as it can be delayed. [And we must] do it immediately, to the best of our ability. I hesitate to say – since the matter is so serious – that we shall do our utmost; we are flesh and blood and cannot do the maximum, but we shall do what we can. (quoted in Friling, Tuvia, Arrows in the Dark, University of Wisconsin Press 2003)