WSJ: What If Jews Had Followed the Palestinian Path?


yerushalayimBy Warren Kozak

It is doubtful that there has ever been a more miserable human refuse than Jewish survivors after World War II. Starving, emaciated, stateless-they were not welcomed back by countries where they had lived for generations as assimilated and educated citizens. Germany was no place to return to and in Kielce, Poland, 40 Jews who survived the Holocaust were killed in a pogrom one year after the war ended. The European Jew, circa 1945, quickly went from victim to international refugee disaster.

Yet within a very brief time, this epic calamity disappeared, so much so that few people today even remember the period. How did this happen in an era when Palestinian refugees have continued to be stateless for generations?

In 1945, there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors living in DP Camps (displaced persons) across Europe. They were fed and clothed by Jewish and international relief organizations. Had the world’s Jewish population played this situation as the Arabs and Palestinians have, everything would look very different today.

To begin with, the Jews would all still be living in these DP camps, only now the camps would have become squalid ghettos throughout Europe. The refugees would continue to be fed and clothed by a committee similar to UNRWA-the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (paid for mostly by the U.S. since 1948). Blessed with one of the world’s highest birth rates, they would now number in the many millions. And 66 years later, new generations, fed on a mixture of hate and lies against the Europeans, would now seethe with anger.

Sometime in the early 1960s, the Jewish leadership of these refugee camps, having been trained in Moscow to wreak havoc on the West (as Yassir Arafat was) would have started to employ terrorism to shake down governments. Airplane hijackings in the 1970s would have been followed by passenger killings. There would have been attacks on high-profile targets as well-say, the German or Polish Olympic teams.

By the 1990s, the real mayhem would have begun. Raised on victimhood and used as cannon fodder by corrupt leaders, a generation of younger Jews would be blowing up buses, restaurants and themselves. The billions of dollars extorted from various governments would not have gone to the inhabitants of the camps. The money would be in the Swiss bank accounts of the refugees’ famous and flamboyant leaders and their lackies.

So now it’s the present, generations past the end of World War II, and the festering Jewish refugee problem throughout Europe has absolutely no end in sight. The worst part of this story would be the wasted lives of millions of human beings in the camps-inventions not invented, illnesses not cured, high-tech startups not started up, symphonies and books not written-a real cultural and spiritual desert.

None of this happened, of course. Instead, the Jewish refugees returned to their ancestral homeland. They left everything they had in Europe and turned their backs on the Continent-no “right of return” requested. They were welcomed by the 650,000 Jewish residents of Israel.

An additional 700,000 Jewish refugees flooded into the new state from Arab lands after they were summarily kicked out. Again losing everything after generations in one place; again welcomed in their new home.

In Israel, they did it all the hard way. They built a new country from scratch with roads, housing and schools. They created agricultural collectives to feed their people. They created a successful economy without domestic oil, and they built one of the world’s most vibrant democracies in a region sadly devoid of free thought.

Yes, the Israelis did all this with the financial assistance of Jews around the world and others who helped get them on their feet so they could take care of themselves. These outsiders did not ignore them, or demean them, or use them as pawns in their own political schemes-as the Arab nations have done with the Palestinians.

I imagine the argument will be made that while the Jews may have achieved all this, they did not have their land stolen from them.

This is, of course, a canard, another convenient lie. They did lose property all over Europe and the Mideast. And there was never an independent Palestine run by Palestinian Arabs. Ever. Jews and Arabs lived in this area controlled first by the Turks and then by the British. The U.N. offered the two-state solution that we hear so much about in 1947. The problem then, and now, is that it was accepted by only one party, Israel. No doubt, the situation of Arab residents of the Middle East back then may have been difficult, but it is incomprehensible that their lot was worse than that of the Jews at the end of World War II.

We don’t hear about any of this because giving human beings hope and purpose doesn’t make great copy. Squalor, victimhood and terror are always more exciting. Perhaps in the end, the greatest crime of the Jews was that they quietly created something from nothing. And in the process, they transformed themselves.

Golda Meir is credited with having said that if the Jews had not fought back against the Arab armies and had been destroyed in 1948, they would have received the most beautiful eulogies throughout the world. Instead, they chose to stand their ground and defend themselves. And in winning, they received the world’s condemnation. Meir said she would take the condemnation over the eulogies.

Mr. Kozak is the author of the book “LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay” (Regnery, 2009).

{The Wall Street Journal/ Newscenter}


  1. The ONE inherent difference between Arab and Jew, Arabs celebrate death and jihad, while Jews celebrate LIFE and doing chesed.

    Almost every major city in the Western world has a Jewish Hospital. Did you ever see anywhere in the western world a “Muslim General Hospital”?

  2. This is one of the silliest articles I have ever read. If this guy is a historian, then I am a professor of quantum mechanics.

    There is a fashion now for “counterfactual history” – saying “what if” – for example, what if England and France had lost World War I? It’s a cute idea, but hard to bring off. In this case, it falls flat. You can’t compare a group of literate, educated, mostly-urban refugees with a strong international community behind them with a group of mostly-illiterate subsistence farmers who were being used as political pawns.

    The article isn’t even controversial – it’s just plain nonsense.

  3. The whole argument is built on a false premise. The argument regarding the so-call “right of return” is based on the idea that the self-identified “Palestinian” wants to return to their homes in Israel. The post-Holocaust Yiddin mostly did not want to return to their former homes. They wanted to go to America or Eretz Yisroel. The fact is that there were some Yidden who chose to stay in Europe and were welcomed back, thus invalidated this whole ridiculous article.

  4. # 5 and 6, the same person who posted just two minutes apart:

    The Jewish survivors were also illiterate in English etc.
    They did try to return to their homes and were murdered for it.

    The only thing that is silly is your argument that this article is silly.

  5. some fine points are made, but how could he say that we are the same as the arabs and if those circumstances which Mr. Kozak says would have happend we too would respond with “a generation of younger Jews would be blowing up buses, restaurants and themselves.” chas v’shalom we should be compared to such people and even thought that those acts would be mentioned with our names. I did however think that the second half of the article made some good points, but I found the first half quite shocking.

  6. You see Mr Kozak, had even a single Jew blown up anything besides himself for the sake of Jews, the entire Jewish population would’ve been mowed down by the goyim.
    You see Mr Kozak, if a Jew is killed, it’s because he did something to deserve it. It’s HIS fault. If an Arab (or chritian) is killed, well who’s fault is it? Of course: the Jew. Haven’t you ever gone to a matza factory and seen the goyishe blood to be mixed in with the flower…
    No, it wouldn’t have happened. But it’s a nice ‘what could have’ just to teach us about antisemitism!

  7. I can’t believe the petty comments of the earlier posts.

    You people don’t seem to get it.

    Mr. Kozak was not suggesting that Jews would stoop to the “Palestinian” tactics.

    He was using their behavior as a backdrop to the Jewish excellence that built the State of Israel after the Holocaust.

    I am far from a Zionist, but despite the fact that the Medinah was built by a bunch of heretics and anti-religious AND that some of their tactics were questionable -the “civilized” world should take into consideration how RIDICULOUS the “Palestinian” claims are, and start asking the hard questions raised ingeniously by this wonderful article…

  8. # 7 – unfortunately I’m a half-century too old to be a “bocher.”

    And please pay attention – the refugees were not going to an English-speaking country. You’re confusing them with the refugees who came to the US. The official language of the Yishuv in EY was Hebrew, with many people still also speaking Yiddish.

    Yes, some people tried to return to their homes, and some were murdered, but the majority of survivors I knew had no desire to return to the places where their families had been murdered. They wanted just to go somewhere that didn’t have Jewish blood soaking the ground, and in addition many were Zionists.

    Please read some history. And if your English skills aren’t good enough, go to night school and learn them. How will you ever get a job in the US if you can’t read English well?