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Why Moscow championed the creation of Israel






The UN General Assembly vote on 29 November 1947 in favour of the partition of Palestine, which led to the creation of the state of Israel, would have never happened without strong Soviet advocacy. Moscow’s shift from blatant antagonism to Zionism as a national liberation movement to effusive support has puzzled historians for decades. The initial, significant encounter of the Zionist leadership with the Russians, which drew Soviet attention to the potential asset of the Zionist movement, took place before Germany’s invasion of Russia — paradoxically at the height of Soviet Russia’s collaboration with Nazi Germany under the aegis of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Joseph Stalin, wrongly assuming the end of the war was imminent following the fall of France, was eager to improve his political standing in a peace conference — which he expected to be convened in 1942 — to readdress the European balance of power. The future of the British Empire, which had been entrusted with the mandate over Palestine, assumed a special significance.

 1947年11月29日の国連総会でのパレスチナ分割賛成投票は、イスラエル国家の誕生につながったが、ソ連の強力な支持がなければ、決して実現しなかっただろう。国家解放運動としてのシオニズムに対するモスクワの露骨な反感から、熱弁をふるうような支持への転換は、何十年もの間、歴史家たちを困惑させてきました。シオニストの指導者とロシア人との最初の重要な出会いは、シオニスト運動の潜在的な資産にソビエトの注目を集めたが、それはドイツのロシア侵攻の前に行われた。ヨシフ・スターリンは「フランスの崩壊に続いて戦争の終結が迫っている」と誤って思い込んでいたが、ヨーロッパのパワーバランスを調整するために、1942 年に招集されると期待されていた和平会議で、自分の政治的地位を向上させようと躍起になっていたのである。パレスチナ統治権を託された大英帝国の将来は、特別な意味を持っていた。


Chaim Weizmann, an astute observer of international politics and president of the World Zionist Organisation, seems to have perceived Stalin’s objectives. His immediate concern was the fate of the Jews from Poland, the Baltic states and Bessarabia, which had just been absorbed by the Soviet Union. In February 1941 he opened up a channel of communication with Ivan Maisky, the influential Soviet ambassador in London (1), who recorded this meeting in his diary on 3 February 1941:

 国際政治の鋭い観察者であり、世界シオニスト組織の会長でもあるハイム・ヴァイツマン(訳注:イスラエル初代大統領)は、スターリンの目的を見抜いていたようである。彼の当面の関心事は、ポーランドバルト三国、そしてソビエト連邦に吸収されたばかりのベッサラビアからのユダヤ人の運命であった。1941 年 2 月、彼はロンドンの影響力のあるソビエト大使イワン・マイスキーと連絡を取り合った(1) 。ja.wikipedia.orgja.wikipedia.orgja.wikipedia.org

Weizmann came to discuss the following matter: at present Palestine has no market for her oranges — would the USSR take them in exchange for furs? It would be easy to sell the furs through Jewish firms in America.

 ヴァイツマンは、次の問題を議論するために来た:現在のパレスチナは、オレンジの市場を持っていない - ソ連は毛皮と引き換えにオレンジを受け取れるのか? アメリカのユダヤ人会社を通して毛皮を売るのは簡単でしょう。


I answered Weizmann by saying that offhand I could not say anything definite, but I promised to make enquiries. However, as a preliminary reply, I said that the Palestinian Jews should not place any great hopes on us: we do not, as a rule, import fruit from abroad. I was proved right. Moscow turned down Weizmann’s proposal, and I sent him a letter to that effect today.



n the course of the conversation about oranges, Weizmann talked about Palestinian affairs in general. Furthermore, he spoke about the present situation and the prospects for world Jewry. Weizmann takes a very pessimistic view. According to his calculations there are about 17 million Jews in the world today. Of these, 10-11 million live in comparatively tolerable conditions: at any rate, they are not threatened with physical extermination. These are the Jews who live in the US, the British Empire and the USSR. [...]



“Soviet Jews will gradually merge with the general current of Russian life, as an inalienable part of it. I may not like this, but I’m ready to accept it: at least Soviet Jews are on firm ground, and their fate does not make me shudder. But I cannot think without horror about the fate of the 6-7 million Jews who live in central or southeastern Europe — in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Balkans and especially Poland. What’s going to happen to them? Where will they go?”



Weizmann sighed deeply and continued: “If Germany wins the war they will all simply perish. However, I don’t believe that the Germans will win. But even if England wins the war, what will happen then?”



Here he began to set out his fears. The English — and especially their colonial administrators — don’t like Jews. This is particularly noticeable in Palestine, which is inhabited by both Jews and Arabs. Here the British “high commissioners” undoubtedly prefer the Arabs to the Jews. [...] These places have a well-defined pattern of rule: a few roads, some courts, a little missionary activity, a little medical care for the population. It’s all so simple, so straightforward, so calm. No serious problems, and no complaints on the part of the governed. The English administrator likes this, and gets used to it. But in Palestine?

 ここで彼は「彼が恐れていること」を話し始めた。「イギリス人、特に植民地時代の支配者たちはユダヤ人が嫌いなのです。これはユダヤ人とアラブ人の両方が住んでいるパレスチナで特に顕著である。ここでイギリスの "高等弁務官 "は間違いなくユダヤ人よりアラブ人を好む。[...] これらの場所には、いくつかの道路、いくつかの裁判所、少しの布教活動、人口のための少しの医療ケアなど、明確に定義されたルールのパターンがあります。それはすべてがとてもシンプルで、素直で、とても穏やかです。深刻な問題もなく、統治者側からの不満もありません。イギリスの管理者はこれが好きで、それに慣れている。しかし、パレスチナでは?」


Growing more animated, Weizmann continued: “You won’t get very far with a programme like that here. Here there are big and complex problems. It’s true that the Palestinian Arabs are the kind of guinea pigs the administrator is used to, but the Jews reduce him to despair. They are dissatisfied with everything, they ask questions, they demand answers — and sometimes these answers are not easily supplied. The administrator begins to get angry and to see the Jews as a nuisance. But the main thing is that the administrator constantly feels that the Jew is looking at him and thinking to himself: ‘Are you intelligent? But maybe I’m twice as intelligent as you.’ This turns the administrator against the Jews for good, and he begins to praise the Arabs. Things are quite different with them: they don’t want anything and don’t bother anyone.”



And then, taking all these circumstances into account, Weizmann anxiously asks himself: “What has a British victory to offer the Jews?” The question leads him to some uncomfortable conclusions. For the only “plan” which Weizmann can think of to save central European Jewry (and in the first place Polish Jewry) is this: to move a million Arabs now living in Palestine to Iraq, and to settle four or five million Jews from Poland and other countries on the land which the Arabs had been occupying. The British are hardly likely to agree to this. And if they don’t agree, what will happen?



I expressed some surprise about how Weizmann hoped to settle five million Jews on territory occupied by one million Arabs. “Oh, don’t worry,” Weizmann burst out laughing. “The Arab is often called the son of the desert. It would be truer to call him the father of the desert. His laziness and primitivism turn a flourishing garden into a desert. Give me the land occupied by a million Arabs, and I will easily settle five times that number of Jews on it.”



Weizmann shook his head sadly and concluded: “The only thing is, how do we obtain this land?”



There are no further entries in Maisky’s diary describing his flurry of activity to do with Palestine. But the Israeli archives reveal that both Weizmann and David Ben Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Agency Organisation in Palestine, continued to pursue Maisky. They went out of their way to impress on him that although Zionism was “a matter of life and death” for the movement, they were also “most serious” about their socialist aims, and the proof was the successful construction in Palestine of a “nucleus of a socialist commonwealth”. But behind the ideological lip service, Ben Gurion tried to enlist Maisky’s support for Zionist political aspirations in Palestine, hailing the role of the Soviet Union as “at the least one of the three leading powers which would determine the fate of the new world.”



When he was recalled to Moscow in the summer of 1943, Maisky hoped to soften the blow by returning with tangible political achievements concerning post-war collaboration and the definition of European borders. To that end he conducted a series of lightning unauthorised negotiations with Churchill and Eden before leaving Britain. He intended to exploit his presence in the Middle East en route to Moscow to make a bold move aimed at drawing the Zionist yishuv into the Soviet orbit.

 1943 年夏にモスクワに召還されたメイスキーは「戦後の協力と欧州の国境の定義に関する具体的な政治的成果を挙げて帰国し、打撃を和らげたい」と考えていた。そのために、彼はイギリスを離れる前に、チャーチルイーデン(訳注:イギリスの政治家、外務・英連邦大臣、首相を歴任)との間で一連の無許可の交渉を行った。彼はモスクワに向かう途中、中東での彼の存在感を利用して、シオニストイシューブ(訳注:イスラエル建国前のパレスチナ地域におけるユダヤ人の共同体)をソビエトの軌道に引き込むことを目的とした大胆な動きをすることを意図した。

ja.wikipedia.org ja.wikipedia.org


Maisky’s three days in Palestine in October 1943 gave him a unique opportunity to gain a first-hand impression of the viability of the Zionist movement in Palestine, and of the country’s ability to absorb considerable Jewish immigration. He conducted extensive negotiations with Ben Gurion, Golda Meirson (better known as Meir) and other leaders of the Jewish yishuv in the exemplary kibbutz of Ma’ale HaHamisha near Jerusalem. Despite his lifelong effort to distance himself from his Jewish origins, the visit appears to have “captivated him”. The affinity was enhanced by the sense of familiarity Maisky must have felt in Palestine. Most of his interlocutors spoke fluent Russian, displayed confidence in the efficacy of the Zionist movement as a political force once the British left Palestine, and embraced genuine socialist ideas.




Anxious to play up his own standing in Moscow, Maisky misled Ben Gurion (and subsequent historians) into believing that he was conveying his government’s views. He was now, so he boasted, “number three in foreign affairs” — after Stalin and Molotov — and as the expert on Europe, it was “up to him” to deal with the future of the region. Unknown to the Jewish leaders, Maisky prepared a glowing report for Stalin on the visit, but found the doors to the Kremlin bolted upon his return and was confined to the foreign ministry, his activities limited to research work on reparations and post-war plans.



Though the Palestine issue was not raised officially at Yalta, unofficial talks led to an understanding that the British evacuation of Palestine would be preceded by some sort of international trusteeship. The Soviet perception of international affairs following the Yalta Conference was that allied unity should be preserved after the war. They anticipated that the “Big Three” would be able to work harmoniously as a global police force, operating within the framework of a peacetime Grand Alliance, demarcating Soviet and western spheres of influence.

 ヤルタではパレスチナ問題は公式には提起されなかったが、非公式な会談では、英国のパレスチナ退去には何らかの国際的な信託統治が先行するとの理解が得られた。ヤルタ会議後の国際情勢に対するソ連の認識は、戦後も同盟国の結束は維持されるべきだと いうものであった。彼らは、「ビッグ・スリー」が世界的な警察部隊として協調し、平時の大同盟の枠内で活動し、ソビエトと西欧の影響圏を区切ることができるだろうと予想していた。


However, in comments to the New York Times on 17 August 1945, in the wake of the Potsdam summit meeting, Truman admitted that the future of Palestine had been the subject of conversations with Churchill: “There was nothing that the Generalissimo could do about it anyway.” When, in early 1946, the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry for Palestine was set up, the Russians were excluded.

 しかし、1945 年 8 月 17 日のニューヨーク・タイムズ紙へのコメントでは、ポツダム首脳会談を受けて、トルーマンパレスチナの将来がチャーチルとの会話の対象となっていたことを認めている。「とにかくジェネラリッシモがそれについてできることは何もなかった」と。1946年初頭に、パレスチナのための調査の英米委員会が設立されたとき、ロシア人は除外されました。


To combat the British plot, the Kremlin adopted a four-point plan. Its core was an unequivocal call for the termination of the British Mandate and withdrawal of British troops from Palestine. This part of the policy had been a consistent feature of Soviet policy since 1941. The next two points were a striking novelty. For the first time the Soviet Union made a clear stand on the political future of Palestine and the Jewish question, to which it hoped to harness the support of the United States and perhaps Britain. The initial guideline advocated the creation of “a single, independent and democratic Palestine” where the Jews, who would be a minority, would “enjoy equal national and democratic rights”. The memorandum was adopted verbatim as the Kremlin’s policy, but its days were numbered.



On 12 March 1947 Truman gave a speech in Congress to raise financial aid for the Greek and Turkish governments, ostensibly under Soviet threat. The idea of a global defence against Soviet expansionism was taking shape. “The language of power and force,” Truman argued, “was the only language the Soviet leaders understood and responded to.”

 1947 年 3 月 12 日、トルーマンは議会で演説を行い、表向きはソ連の脅威にさらされていたギリシャ政府とトルコ政府への財政援助を募った。ソ連膨張主義に対する世界的な防衛のアイデアが形になりつつあった。「力と力の言語は、ソ連の指導者たちが理解し、対応する唯一の言語であった」とトルーマンは主張した。


Andrei Gromyko, 35, entered the UN’s preliminary procedural meetings in April, still armed with the March guidelines, which were a deathblow to Jewish aspiration. He suspected (as cabled to Stalin) that the US and Britain were using delaying tactics in order to “reach an amicable agreement between themselves about the fate of Palestine.” Truman’s containment policy was now examined in Moscow against the background of developments in New York.



On 28 April 1947, when the special session of the General Assembly convened, Gromyko received a completely new directive out of the blue. He was suddenly asked to change the line, and emphasise the “unparalleled disaster and suffering” inflicted on the Jewish people during the war. While the urge to terminate the Mandate remained the axis on which Soviet policy rotated, Gromyko was now instructed to “consider various projects for meeting Jewish needs, bearing in mind two possible alternatives: the first was the creation of a dual Arab-Jewish state with equal rights for Jews and Arabs.” The other, questioning the viability of the first, suggested that if Jewish-Arab relations deteriorated, a proposal should be put forward in support of “the partition of Palestine into two independent states — Jewish and Arab.”

 1947 年 4 月 28 日、特別総会が開かれたとき、グロミコは突然、まったく新しい指令を受けた。彼は突然、戦時中にユダヤ人に与えられた「比類のない災害と苦しみ」を強調するように路線変更を求められたのである。委任統治を終わらせたいという衝動がソ連の政策を回転させる軸となっていたが、グロミコは「ユダヤ人のニーズを満たすための様々なプロジェクトを検討し、2つの可能性を念頭に置いた上で、ユダヤ人とアラブ人の平等な権利を持つアラブとユダヤ人の二重国家の創設を検討するように」と指示された。もう一つは、第一の案の実行可能性を疑問視し、もしユダヤとアラブの関係が悪化した場合、「パレスチナユダヤとアラブの二つの独立国家に分割する」ことを支持する提案をするべきだと提案した。


A telegram from Molotov explained that the first proposal (of a dual state) was merely motivated by “tactical considerations”. Molotov wished to avoid giving the impression that Russia was now taking the initiative in the creation of a Jewish state — though that option, he stressed, “better conveys our position”. The change of heart is astounding. The implementation of the original agenda would not only have dealt a death-blow to Jewish aspirations, but would have entirely changed the Middle East as we know it.



The crucial vote of 29 November might have taken a completely different turn had the Russians not made their dramatic volte-face in the spring. Moscow’s immediate, and prime, incentive was an immediate end to the Mandate and presence of British troops. Yet there are many signs that the switch was designed to herald a long-term association with the new Jewish state. “Jewish opinion must be consulted on all important questions concerning Palestine,” the Soviet delegation in New York were told. “In particular, this must be done on the matter of Jerusalem.”





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