THE TRANSFER AGREEMENT -Part One
It has been called, along with Ben Hecht's Perfidy, the most
controversial book about Israel ever written. Unlike Perfidy, The Transfer
Agreement by Edwin Black (MacMillan, 1985) never had an audience. It was
taken off the shelves quickly and surreptiously and is almost impossible to
find. I thank David Perkins for travelling to Washington and making copies
at the Library of Congress.
What Black's book painstakingly proves is that in 1933, while the
rest of World Jewry was organizing an economic boycott of the new Nazi
regime in Germany in the hope of breaking it before it could mount the
Holocaust, the Mapai (Labour Party) faction of the Zionist Organization
based in Jerusalem decided to make Nazi Germany Palestine's chief trading
The vehicle for trade was The Transfer Agreement. The Nazis and
Labour Zionists had one very important thing in common: The Nazis wanted
Germany ridded of Jews and the socialist Zionists did too, so long as they
emigrated to Eretz Yisrael. To accomodate such a transfer of Jews, an
agreement was arranged whereby each Jew wishing to leave Germany for
Palestine would have to use his capital to purchase German goods there.
Thus, while world Jewry was busy fighting Nazi Germany economically, the
Mapai Zionists were saving Germany from financial ruin.
In short, the Labour Zionists assured the survival of the Nazis. To
do so, it was essential that their rivals, the Revisionist Zionists (Likud)
were eliminated from the power structure of the impending state of Israel.
The murder of Labour Zionist leader Chaim Arlozoroff, who was a chief
negotiator of the Transfer Agreement, was the means to totally discredit the
opposition and get on with the task of doing business with the Nazis and in
doing so, create a state in the socialist image.
I admit, Black does not paint things quite so black and white.
However, I'm certain most readers would be left with this impression. Black
does conclude, "Could the boycott really have overturned the Hitler regime?
I believe the answer is that for a short period of time, the anti-Nazi
boycott did have an excellent chance of toppling the Third Reich. The
boycott's greatest momentum occurred just after April 1, 1933. Had the
world's Jewish and Zionist organizations unified behind the boycott at that
point, they probably could have mobilized much of the Christian population
and many governments into joining...In their first few months of power, the
Nazis would not have been able to maintain control."
However, a veritable who's who of early Zionist heroes sabotaged the
boycott. In Part One of my review, I will follow the story of the secret
agreement in Black's own words. While I will not slow down the narrative
with explanations of every Jewish leader and organization, those fighting
the boycott allied themselves with the Labour Zionists of Palestine. In Part
Two, I will focus on the Arlosoroff murder and its more than coincidental
resemblance to the Rabin assassination just over fifty years later. Then,
instead of negotiating with the Jew-hating Nazis, the same Labour Zionists
exploited a political murder to promote their pacts with the Jew killers of
the PLO by eliminating Revisionist (Likud) objections through deliberate,
The Transfer Agreement, pp 107- Locker advised the Jewish Agency in
Jerusalem that for tactical reasons, Zionists in all countries should avoid
participating in the struggle against Hitler. Locker feared that open
criticism of Hitler would precipitate crackdowns on German Zionism...
Zionists were seeking detente with an enemy to achieve Jewish
nationalism...But the American Jewish Committee's antagonism to anti-Nazi
activity defied even their own definition of Jewish defense.
pp 127- By linking the purchase of German goods to the settling of German
Jews in Palestine...the Zionist movement would be obliged not only to
refrain from and oppose any boycott, they would be obliged to aggressively
sponsor German exports.
pp 134/135- The German government felt certain it had triggered the breakup
of the boycott because the Zionist movement would now be in the German
export business...The Jews of the world would now have to choose between
fighting Hitler and building Palestine...the plan was not a rescue or relief
project. If it was, the Zionists would have labored for an agreement for
Jews fleeing Germany without regard to where they sought refuge.
pp 201- Yet at a Mid-July rally held at the height on London's anti-Nazi
agitation, Nahum Sokolow, in his capacity as Federation president, advised
an anti-Nazi rally to forgo boycott plans. And Chaim Weizmann and other key
Zionist figures repeatedly advised the Deputies to persist in their
pp 293- Chaim Weizmann, a General Zionist, boycotted the session and
requested his name be removed from the Congress speaker list altogether
because the Revisionists had been allowed to participate.
pp 301- The same afternoon as Revisionist leader Jabotinsky was exhorting
his followers to postpone their political grievances in favor of the war
against Nazism, Labor leader David Ben Gurion, speaking to the Mapai
strategy conference, demanded that his followers do the opposite. The most
important task of the movement, Ben Gurion declared, was to cleanse the
movement of Revisionism and extend Mapai's political borders to cover the
entire Zionist Organization.
pp 306- Dr. Ruppin saw to it that most drafts of his speech deleted any
reference to the Transfer Agreement. Dr. Ruppin apparently preferred history
to believe he had never even metioned the subject.
pp 308- The Revisionist argument would never be heard. Motzkin announced
that after the resolutions were presented, there would be no debate, this by
the decision of the Mapai-dominated presidium...Nahum Goldmann urged that
the Congress show unity by considering only the Mapai-based resolution.
pp 310/311- Holders of German bonds, loans and investments around the world
had been implored to forgo the material gain of trafficking in Nazi
wares...But now the Zionist Organization was willing to betray the boycott
in exchange for the same economic stimulus many in the world were being
urged to relinquish.
pp 361- As such, leadership of the worldwide boycott was being consigned to
Zionist officials and Zionist organizations. This was the fate of the
international boycott nurtured by the Jews of the world. The boycott would
be led by the leaders who, in fact, opposed it.
pp 373- By 1935, Palestine's need to sell German merchandise to offset
Jewish deposits in transfer accounts became greater than anyone expected. So
the Zionist Organization established another transfer corporation (which)
operated a regional sales network in Iraq, Egypt, Syria and elsewhere in the
region. Mideast markets were opened for a vast array of German exports, from
Volkswagens to municipal bridgeworks.
pp 375- By 1936, the Jewish population had doubled...The town of Haifa had
grown into a bustling German immigrant city. Palstine was on its way to a
Jewish majority, on its way to Jewish statehood.
pp 382- The haunting question is: Was the continuing economic relationship
with Germany an indispensable factor in the creation of the State of Israel?
The answer to that is yes.
Thus ends Black's disturbing book. Labor Zionism got its way: it created
a state in its image. And the cost was only 6 million dead. The same state
could have been created by the Revisionists had they been allowed to fight.
And the price in dead would have been high but, in retrospect, far more
* * *
THE TRANSFER AGREEMENT - Part Two
I received numerous objections to the first part of my review of Edwin
Black's book, The Transfer Agreement. Two arguments were repeated. First,
who is Edwin Black and why should we trust him? Mr. Black was a longtime
reporter for the Chicago Tribune and the son of Holocaust survivors. His
book was published by no less than MacMillan and was delayed for many months
until its editor, Ned Chase was satisfied that every point was proved
The second objection is just as easy to answer. Numerous correspondents
complained about dredging up fifty year old history and asked what the point
of it is. The point is that the mentality of the socialist Zionists has not
changed and few Israelis learned the lesson the first time around.
In 1933, the vast majority of Palestinian Jews showed their righteous
anger at the Nazis by boycotting German goods. At the same time, the Labor
Zionist leadership scoffed at majority opinion and conducted secret
negotiations with Hitler's regime of terror which lead to a wide ranging
In 1993, the vast majority of Israeli Jews showed their righteous anger
at the PLO by refusing to recognize them as remotely potential diplomatic
partners. At the same time, the Labor Zionist leadership scoffed at majority
opinion and conducted secret negotiations with Arafat's regime of terror
which led to a wide ranging diplomatic pact.
In 1933, the chief negotiator with the Nazis, Chaim Arlosoroff was
murdered and though the perpetrators of the deed did not come from the
political opposition and the Labor Zionist leadership knew it, they
exploited the murder to push through their immoral pact when objections to
it became overwhelming.
In 1993, the chief negotiator with the PLO, Yitzhak Rabin...finish the
Now let Edwin Black tell the story with some commentary by me intruding
on his narrative.
pp 137- (The) first task was to circulate word that the official proposal of
Zionism was in the hands of Chaim Arlosoroff, head of the Political
Department of the Jewish Agency..."This leads me to a central question...the
liquidation of capital and holdings belonging to German Jewish emigrants,"
Arlosoroff explained..."It makes no sense to ignore it or think it can be
solved without an agreement with the German government."
pp 148- Chaim Arlosoroff was one of the most provocative thinkers of his
day...His Jewish friends began to fear and hate him. Arlosoroff was a top
Mapai (Labor) leader, but the Labor-aligned moderates could hardly contain
their fury that the prodigy of the Zionist movement was abandoning all
Zionist discipline. Unilaterally he was formulating and executing policy-
binational breakthroughs with the Arabs and controversial trade-offs with
the Nazis. Arlosoroff was by himself engineering the fate of societies and
nations, not in theoretical, discreet ways but by one stunning fait accompli
after another. He was giving away the Promised Land to the Arabs, and in
doing so giving away the Zionist elections to the Revisionists (Likud).
Arlosoroff would have to be stopped.
His enemies among the Jews were convinced there was no greater nemesis.
Arlosoroff was a special foe of Revisionism. It was Arlosoroff who in late
1931 conceived the decree against membership in Jabotinsky's Revisionist
Union. The calls for his assassination were so comonplace during early 1933
that it was rumored Revisionist circles were merely debating whether to kill
him before or after the Eighteenth Zionist Congress.
pp 150- On June 9, the Palestinian Revisionist newspaper Hazit Haam
declared, "At a time when the people of Israel in Palestine and abroad are
in a defensive war of honor against Germany...an official of the Jewish
Agency, (Arlosoroff) suggests not only a cancellation of the boycott but
also a promise of a market for German imports..." The animosity of the
Jewish masses... cast Arlosoroff in a deep depression.
pp 151- Arlosoroff at first refused protection saying, "No Jew would kill me."
pp 152- At the hospital, the doctors were ill prepared and
indecisive...there was no surgeon on duty...With the last air in his lungs
he turned toward the mayor of Tel Aviv and whispered, "Look what they have
done to me." And then he died.
pp 157- Quickly the Revisionists emerged as the logical, and to a larger
extent, the most suitable culprits. Police squads raided the apartments of
leading Revisionist figures, including Abba Achimeir, the editor of Hazit
Haam...There they found a Betar activist named Abraham Stavsky...Sima
Arlosoroff identified Stavsky as the man who held the flashlight and Polish
Revisionist Avi Rosenblatt as the one who fired the pistol. Some weeks later
Achimeir was accused of masterminding the plot.
Sima Arlosoroff was under tremendous pressure from Mapai leaders to maintain
her damaging testimony despite doubts. In the months that followed, the
murder investigation was beseiged by bought-and-paid-for Arab confessions,
false witnesses, manufactured evidence, bizarre theories, dramatic
revelations and unanswerable questions. Within a year Rosenblatt and
Achimeir were both acquitted due to conflicting evidence...Stavsky was
finally released on an evidence technicality...Mapai leaders, satisfied that
Revisionism was implicated- whether or not juridically guilty- would refuse
to discuss the case even decades later.
pp 158- Jabotinsky was often held personally responsible. Pamphlets call him
"a bloodthirsty beast." David Ben Gurion admitted he "was less interested in
whether Stavsky is the murderer than Jabotinsky." Ben Gurion declared that
Jabotinsky bore full responsibility because he was Revisionism's
"Commander,leader and mentor."
Hostilities continued as Mapai forces hammered away at Revisionism, labeling
it a Fascist misfit of Zionism, and harassing Jews who supported Jabotinsky.
Jabotinsky himself was portrayed as the Jewish Hitler, commanding forces
analogous to Nazi Storm Troopers. And yet in truth, it was not the stalwarts
of Jewish militancy, the Revisionists, who had constructed avenues of
commercial and political detente with the Third Reich. It was the forces of
The stage of the Rabin murder was constructed of precisely the same
material and starred the same actors. Sima Arlosoroff, like Leah Rabin knew
more than she was permitted to tell and under duress, blamed the political
opposition. Yigal and Hagai Amir, played Stavsky and Rosenblatt in the
latest production. Netanyahu made a fine Jabotinsky, Barak, a less
convincing Ben Gurion. Arafat played a most persuasive Hitler. The props
changed but almost no alterations were made in the script.
Now the scene changes to the 18th Zionist Congress in Prague. Word has
leaked about the secret Transfer Agreement. Labour Zionism must deflect
criticism of their immoral pact and to do so, they play the Arlosoroff card
just as effectively as today's Labor Party played the Rabin card to keep its
immoral deals with the PLO on track.
pp 314- When the session finally resumed, Revisionists were anxious to
demand more details of the Transfer Agreement. But the proceeding was
interrupted by what many believed was a staged emergency. Someone
dramatically handed Motzkin a telegram: Motzkin reacted with a look of
shock. The presidium passed the telegram around and announced this session
would be adjourned at once...word quickly spread that the cable had come
from Palestine. It claimed one of the Revisionists on trial for the murder
of Arlosoroff had confessed to the crime...The next day, the Congress
delegates quickly learned the "confession cable" was a fake. Still, the
false alarm had served to foreclose debate one more day on the truly
pressing issue: The Transfer Agreement.
pp 330/331- Now that representatives of all parties had heard Political
Committee testimony about at least the superficial aspects of the agreement,
the Revisionists believed they could appeal to the delegates for a
resolution of nullification. As expected, the only way Mapai could block
this was by intensifying their allegations that Revisionists killed
Arlosoroff...Hitting hard with the murder accusation, Katznelson cried,
"Only one of us has been slaughtered so far..." This is how it went. Hour
after hour, night after night. The crisis in Germany was omitted from the
agenda. The menace of Hitlerism was bypassed. The Nazis must have been smiling.
pp 334- Mapai had finally succeeded in scheduling a special session devoted
exclusively to the question of violence... The Actions Committee was then
empowered "in the most effective manner...to remove from the Zionist
Organization those elements responsible for violence."
It's as if whoever plotted the murder of Rabin said, "Let's do
Arlosoroff all over again." Once Rabin was out of the way, all debate about
the Oslo Accord was hushed in precisely the same manner. Anyone who dared
oppose the accord was labeled an assassin and that justified carrying on
with the nefarious agreement.
To my critics I say, read The Transfer Agreement by Edwin Black. Learn
from history. The same mentality of the same people is at work in our time.
We cannot allow them to lead us to slaughter again.