Another 32 years passed, when the famous Russian Jewish writer Leonid Mlychin published a book in Moscow in 2005, entitled “Why did Stalin create Israel?” And in it Melchian said, “Israel would not have existed if Stalin had not wanted it.”
Who contributed more to the establishment of Israel?
The Egyptian writer Sami Emara, an expert in Russian affairs, has recently published a book that seeks to answer this question.
The importance of the book is due to its being the first Arab publication to record, with an unprecedented number of documents, two important periods in the history of the modern Middle East, the first of which relates to the establishment of Israel, and the second of which relates to Arab-Soviet relations.
Amer Sultan of BBC News Arabic read the book, “Moscow-Tel Aviv: Documents and Secrets”, and spoke to the author.
Amara says his goal is to “reconsider popular ideas about the importance of the Balfour Declaration in the creation of Israel.”
The writer, who has lived and worked in Moscow as a press correspondent for more than 50 years, relies on documents of the Russian Foreign Ministry, and testimonies of prominent Soviet personalities, in documenting the role of the Soviet Union in establishing and supporting Israel.
And those official documents reveal that “the effort and assistance provided by the Soviet Union was the main factor in establishing the feet of the State of Israel, in contrast to the common belief that the British promise issued in November 1917 was the most important factor in establishing the state.”
The book, issued by the Egyptian Renaissance House, details the testimonies of influential figures, such as Mikhail Bolturanin, the first information minister to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, regarding Stalin’s personal role in the establishment of Israel.
The book includes “the hidden steps taken by the former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, in order to establish this state, which he wanted as a prelude to building the first socialist state in the Middle East, and supporting it with money, people and weapons.”
Amara tries to prove that these steps “are in essence more effective and far-reaching than the British promise”.
The testimonies, based on the files of the Soviet State Security Service “KGB”, confirm that the late Soviet leader threw his weight behind the efforts to implement the Balfour Declaration to the Jews to establish a homeland for them in Palestine in order to save the strategic Crimea peninsula, south of the Soviet Union, from a Jewish-American plan aimed at The establishment of this home in it.
The agreed homeland was the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as the price of a financial settlement in which Stalin mortgaged the island to guarantee the payment of debts to the Jews of the amount of 20 million dollars owed by his regime.
According to Poltoranin, who was the head of the KGB documents disclosure committee, the documents say that Stalin “changed his mind when the Crimean Tatars rose up in defiance of the Soviet power and attacked trains carrying Jews to the regional capital Simferopol, and forced them to return without any disembarkation.” its passengers to the Crimean lands.
The documents say that at this moment, “Stalin realized the seriousness of the situation … and decided to back down from implementing the idea of establishing a national home for the Jews in Crimea, stressing that continuing to do so could undermine the stability achieved in terms of coexistence of various nationalities in the Soviet Union, especially after the continuous uprisings by the people of Crimea.
With the continuation of American-Jewish financial pressures and taking advantage of Russias need for loans to rebuild after World War II, “the Soviets turned to Palestine.”
The documents confirm that Stalin “was aware that the pressure of the Americans was not aimed at the interests of the Soviet Jews who were trying to settle them in Crimea, as much as it was aimed at serving American geopolitical interests, which required Stalin the greatest amount of cunning and maneuvering.”
Amara quotes Poltoranin as saying, “As soon as the Americans began to ask Stalin to pay the value of the financial instruments, he told them that he was ready to fulfill his obligations towards the establishment of a national home for the Jews…but in Palestine, not in Crimea.”
He also declared, “his agreement to deport the largest number of Jews there and to arm them with all the German weapons he gained, which were presented to the Jews of Palestine as a deduction from the Soviet Union’s debts owed to the American Jewish Agency.”
More than recognition
Emara notes that the actual Soviet military support for Israel “began even three months before the declaration of the state.”
The book quotes the famous Jewish writer Leonid Milchin as confirming that this support was decided in February 1948.
The documents confirm what Milchin said: “Stalin ordered the Palestinian Jews to be armed in order to create their state. So (Andrei) Gromyko (Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister), practically lacking in diplomacy, was quick to express his concern about whether the Jews had the ability to secure an evacuation The director of the political department of the Jewish Agency in Palestine (Moshe) Shertok (Moshe Sharett, who later became Israel’s foreign minister) quickly sent a telegram to Ben Gurion (the Zionist leader and the first prime minister of Israel) asking if he could confirm that The Jews will take it upon themselves to carry out this mission, for which I got the positive response. ”
The book indicates that the Soviet Union not only preceded the United States in recognizing Israel, but also expressed strong support for it.
This was stated in a letter from Vyacheslav Molotov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the fledgling country.
In the letter, Molotov said, “The Soviet government hopes that the establishment of a sovereign state by the Jewish people will serve the cause of strengthening peace and freedom in Palestine and the Middle East, and expresses its confidence in the successful development of friendly relations between the Soviet Union and the State of Israel.”
On the political and diplomatic level, Moscow played a vital role in supporting the position of the Jews in the United Nations when discussing the Middle East issue after the declaration of the establishment of Israel.
The book reveals a report written by the Israeli Foreign Minister after his return from the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, in which he said that “the mutual relations with the Soviet Union seem very good on most issues. The Russians want to understand our positions in all their details. They work in the Security Council not as mere They are our allies, but as envoys who represent us. They take on any task. Russia and its allies have six votes in the United Nations (meaning the Soviet Union, Belarus, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland).”
Another document reveals that the Soviets considered it “favorable to provide aid to representatives of the State of Israel for the purchase of artillery and aircraft and for sending them to Palestine.”
This was on June 5, 1948, less than a month after the start of the 1948 war between nascent Israel and the Arabs.
While the war was going on, instructions were given to the Soviet mission to the United Nations, as one of the documents says, “to uphold the interests of the people of Israel.”
After nearly three months, Israel, the book reveals, gained even stronger support from Moscow.
On September 7 of the same year, Golda Meir, Israel’s first ambassador to Moscow, met with Molotov.
According to the meeting minutes, Molotov “said that there are many serious issues facing Israel. But he believes that the future of this state will be good. Now there is no force that can seriously assert that it will not allow the existence of the State of Israel, because its existence has become a fait accompli.”
Amara gives an example of this, as “as soon as Golda Meir (who later became Prime Minister of the Israeli government) arrived in Moscow, she found herself in the arms of her family and her relatives from the Soviet Jews who provided her, and those with her in the Israeli diplomatic mission all forms of support.”
This is one of the reasons for the author’s belief that “Moscow remains at the forefront of those responsible for the establishment of Israel.”
As for the year 1953, it marked the beginning of a shift in the relationship between the Soviet Union and Israel.
The documents say that in early January of that year, David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of Israel, sent a letter to members of his cabinet describing the Bolshevik regime in Moscow in derogatory terms.
“I absolutely do not accept the Bolshevik regime,” he said. “It has nothing to do with the socialist state. Rather, it is a slave fold. It is a regime based on killing, lying, stifling the human spirit, robbing workers and peasants of freedom. It is a continuation more stringent and extreme than imperial tsarism.”
According to their documents, the Soviets felt “hostile campaigns to the Soviet Union” in Israel, seeing them as a prelude to a “terrorist bombing” of their embassy in Tel Aviv. Moscow cut off relations expelling the Israeli embassy, and closing its embassy in Tel Aviv.
Although relations were restored nearly six months later, the improvement in the atmosphere lasted only a few years.
After nearly three years, the tripartite (British-French-Israeli) aggression against Egypt in 1956, after its nationalization of the Suez Canal, constituted a separating event between a stage of solid Soviet support for Israel and another that was characterized by a tendency towards the Arab side, and the Egyptian side in particular, but without retreating from what Moscow and the Israelis really saw Israel has not only presence in the region, but also the use of the Suez Canal.
At this stage, the relationship between the Nasser regime in Egypt, after the revolution of July 23, 1952, and the Soviet Union, which saw Egypt at the time as an arena for confronting Western influence, in general, and Britain in particular, in the Middle East, was strengthened.
One of the telegrams included in the book reveals a Soviet objection to Israel’s behavior after the aggression, which was also known historically as the Suez Crisis.
The level of objection reached the point of refusing to supply it with weapons and considering this behavior “destabilizing in the entire region.”
In mid-1958, Ben-Gurion, as revealed by Soviet documents, asked Moscow to sell arms to Israel.
However, Vasily Kuznetsov, the first deputy foreign minister of the Soviet Union, told the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party that his ministry “considers that it is better not to respond to Ben-Gurion’s requests. In the event of a repeated request by the Israeli government, it can be answered that the policy pursued by the Israeli government in recent times The current situation does not help support peace in the Middle East, and therefore Israel’s acquisition of additional quantities of weapons can only contribute to increasing the tension in the region.”
The documents say the Central Committee responded to the recommendation.
Amara describes this telegram as “important in monitoring the change in the Soviet position on Israel.”
The June 5, 1967 war came to crystallize the Soviet position on the Arab-Israeli conflict, as Moscow considered the Israeli attack a “treacherous aggression against the Arab neighbors.”
And the head of the Soviet government, Alexei Kosygin, sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, in which he said, “The Soviet government expresses its resolute condemnation of that brutal aggression by Israel against the neighboring Arab state – the United Arab Republic. This adventurous act is a direct violation of the Charter and principles of nations. This attack clearly illustrates the essence of the policies of the ruling circles in Israel, which play with the fate of peace in order to achieve their narrow interests.”
Soviet anger reached the point of warning Israel of the consequences of not withdrawing from the territories it occupied in the Six Day War.
Kosygin’s letter said, “While the Soviet government holds the Israeli government responsible for its attack on the United Arab Republic, it insists on a complete ceasefire, and the evacuation of Israeli forces from the lands of neighboring Arab countries… If the Israeli government does not listen to reason, and if it does not stop the bloodshed, it will You will bear all responsibility for what happens, and for the possible consequences that may result.”
Tensions between Israel and the Soviet Union continued for a short period after the war, until Anwar Sadat took over the presidency of Egypt, succeeding Abdel Nasser in 1970. Egypt’s policy changed radically, with a break with the Soviet Union and an alliance with the United States, which resulted in the start of the settlement process with Israel.