I Never Learned THAT in Hebrew School! Part 1

hebrew school 1Earlier this week, I posted about my religious education and its colorful, militaristic curriculum. Writing that essay got me thinking about what a crappy experience Hebrew school was: I had to go to more school after school AND I got fed a lot of misinformation by my Zionist instructors.

Thinking about that crappiness got me wondering: what kinds of Jewish history was I missing out on while Mr. Weinstein effused about the Israeli military’s ability to needlessly defile Islamic holy sites? So, this week I’m going to write about some little known tidbits from Jewish history that may be of great interest to others who suffered through an anti-historical Hebrew school curriculum– and to gentiles as well!

Today’s fun fact: Did you know that in their earliest days, Israeli military forces were partially funded by THE NAZI SS? This isn’t some wacko conspiracy theory: it’s been well documented by none other than the incomparable Christopher Simpson in his highly recommended and wonderfully titled book, Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and its Destructive Impact on our Domestic and Foreign Policy.

Simpson describes recovered SS records which document an agreement between the SS and the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary in British-controlled Palestine that later became the Israeli Defense Force: Israel’s military. Simpson writes (on page 253, if you’re curious):

Under the arrangement the Haganah was permitted to run training camps for Jewish youth inside Germany. These young people, as well as certain other Jews driven out of Germany by the Nazis, were encouraged to emigrate to Palestine. [Haganah Commander Feival] Polkes and the Haganah, in return, agreed to provide the SS with intelligence about British affairs in Palestine. Captured German records claim that Polkes believed the increasingly brutal Nazi persecution of the Jews could be turned to Zionist advantage–at least temporarily–by compelling Jewish immigration to Palestine, and that the Haganah commander’s sole source of income, moreover, was secret funds from the SS. (emphasis mine)

So, to recap, the forerunner to Israel’s military received funding from the SS– the Nazi Party’s “ideological executive force”–in exchange for providing the Nazis with intelligence about the British. According to Simpson’s account, the Haganah’s Nazi-funded activity took place between 1932-1939, the years when the Nazi party consolidated its control over Germany, passed the anti-semitic Nuremberg laws, and intensified its persecution of the Jews.

Pretty weird, huh? I never learned THAT in Hebrew school!