Saturday, October 03, 2009

“Remember them all. . . their faces, their names.”

Anti-fascist hero Marek Edelman is dead.

Ben Cohen reports: For Edelman himself, the struggle against totalitarian rule did not end with the defeat of the Nazis. After the war, with Poland under a communist regime, he established himself as a cardiologist in Lodz. In 1968, when the communist regime embarked on a campaign of antisemitic persecution officially dressed as “anti-Zionism,” Edelman’s wife and son fled the purges for Paris. Edelman could not abandon Poland though: he stayed put. In the 1980s, he became an activist with the Solidarity movement and was imprisoned when the regime of General Jaruzelski imposed martial law.

Remember them all.


Blogger Patrick Ross said...

The world hasn't seen nearly enough people like Marek Edelman.

1:18 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Moshe Arens in Haaretz:

"Many of the survivors of the uprising who settled in Israel could not forgive Edelman for his frequent criticism of Israel. When on my return from Warsaw I tried to convince a number of Israeli universities to award Edelman an honorary doctorate in recognition of his role in the Warsaw ghetto uprising, I ran into stubborn opposition led by Holocaust historians in Israel. He had received Poland's highest honor, and at the 65th commemoration of the Warsaw ghetto uprising he was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal. He died not having received the recognition from Israel that he so richly deserved. "

6:16 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Mercedes Sosa died yesterday too.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What's interesting about the coverage of Edelman is that it has almost unanimously omitted a couple of very important facts about his life. Kind of an astounding thing given the detail that NYT obits go into. Why arent we also discussing these very relavant points?

1. Edelman remained a socialist until the day he died.

2. Edelman, a Jew, protested Israeli policy towards the Palestinians (and likewise criticized Palestinian suicide bombings of Jews) and voiced resentment at the official Zionist establishment for turning commemorations of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising into pro-Israeli events.

In fact, he went further and said the Palestinians had now become the true inheritors of the spirit of the Warsaw Ghetto fighters. Not surprisingly all the other mainstream media I checked, Huffington Post, Washington Post, even Wikipedia, all left out the above facts. This is from a far more honest bio, in the Socialist Worker

In the summer of 2002, Edelman, still going strong, intervened in Israel’s show trial of the now jailed Palestinian resistance leader, Marwan Barghouti.

He wrote a letter of solidarity to the Palestinian movement, and though he criticised the suicide bombers, its tone infuriated the Israeli government and its press. Edelman had always resented Israel’s claim on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising as a symbol of Jewish liberation.

Now he said this belonged to the Palestinians. He addressed his letter to “commanders of the Palestinian military, paramilitary and partisan operations — to all the soldiers of the Palestinian fighting organisations”.

The old Jewish anti-Nazi Ghetto fighter had placed his immense moral authority at the disposal of the only side he deemed worthy of it.

10:24 AM  
Blogger The Plump said...

He was a Bundist and never changed his views.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Thank you, Plump and Bold Ryley, for making that necessary point.

As for you Mikeal, your disgraceful attempt to marshall the memory of a dead hero to the moral exhibitionism you imagine to be your cause, please do remember that Comrade Edelamn also supported the Ango-American overthrow of Saddam Hussein, which I am sure you would be quick to dismiss as some sort of imperialist ass-kissing.

Marek Edelman would have been no less heroic regardless of his position on the Palestinian cause for freedom, which you so disgracefully misprepresent in the first place.

To be clear about Edelman's position on the Palestinian struggle, let's let him speak for himself:

"To all the leaders of Palestinian military, paramilitary and guerilla
organizations To all the soldiers of Palestinian militant groups:

"My name is Marek Edelman, I am a former Deputy Commander of the Jewish Military organization in Poland, one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Insurrection, In the memorable year of the insurrection - 1943 - we were fighting for the survival of the Jewish community in Warsaw. We were fighting for mere life, not for territory, nor for a national identity. We
were fighting with a hopeless determination, but our weapons were never directed against the defenseless civilian populations, we never killed women and children, In a world devoid of principles and values, despite a constant danger of death, we did remain faithful to these values and moral principles.

"We were isolated in our fight, and yet the powerful opposing army was not able to destroy these barely armed boys and girls.

"Our fight in Warsaw lasted several weeks, later we fought in the Underground and in the Warsaw insurrection of 1944.

"Yet nowhere in the world can a guerilla force bring conclusive victory, nowhere can it be defeated by weapon-full armies, Neither can your war attain any resolution. Blood will be spilled in vain and lives will be lost on both sides.

"We have never been careless with life. We have never sent our soldiers to certain death. Life is one for eternity. Nobody has the right to mindlessly take it away. It is high time for everybody to understand just that.

"Just look around you, Look at Ireland. After 50 years of bloody war, peace has arrived. Formerly deadly enemies have set down at a common table. Look at Poland at Wales and Kuron, Without a shot being fired, the criminal communist system has been defeated. Both You and the State of Israel have to radically change your attitude. You have to want peace in order to save the lives of hundreds and perhaps thousands of people, and to create a better future for your loved ones, for your children. I know from my own experience that the current unfolding of events depends on you, the Military Leaders. The Influence of political and civilian actors is much smaller. Some of you studied at the university in my town . . . some of you know me. You are wise and intelligent enough to understand that without peace there is no future for Palestine, and that peace can be attained only at the cost of both sides agreeing to some concessions."

- Zurich, 10 August 2002.

Fuck off, Mikeal.

2:58 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Here's Mikey: All Israel, all bad, all the time. Is anything else going on in his head at all? You have to wonder...

Incidentally, Mikey, i can find 500 holocaust survivors who don't share Marek Eldeman's views on Israel (not that that detracts in any way from his views). Further, his desire to stay in Poland, which he did until 1968, indicates how far from the mainstream Polish Jew he was on lots of issues, not just Israel. 99% of the remnant of Polish Jewry left as quickly as they could, reinforced by the Kielce Pogrom of 1946. Edelman thought otherwise, and that's ok too, but it's clear he wasn't predisposed to supporting Western countries, including Israel. As noted previously, his fellow survivors, including Warsaw Ghetto survivors like him, think entirely differently.

And by the way, I did read about his views on Israel in an obit, so even your main premise, ie. how the apparently zionist controlled media is suppressing key facts, is bullshit. As usual.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

tired of the graffiti.

lowers the value of the place.


3:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:27 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Terry: I knew, as soon as I read Mikeal's indirect account of what Edelman said that he was trying to fudge things. Thank you for setting the record straight by simply providing the quote. I have no bones to pick with the principles of what Edelman is saying and you know me. Mikeal should also take note that Moshe Arens, as firm a Likudnik as ever was, wanted Edelman to be awarded an honorary doctorate in recognition of his role in the Warsaw ghetto uprising.

I consider it another morally-disgusting attempt at appropriating Holocaust events and heroes for the Palestinian cause, an attempt to erase, discard the Jews in the service of implacable Palestinian nationalism. I often ask, what is the value, the rightness, of a cause if it has to rely on lies, distortions and memory theft. How can I maintain respect for the Palestinian claims when their advocates shamelessly misrepresent history and Jewish suffering.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Aye and aye, Contentious.

But this: "How can I maintain respect for the Palestinian claims when their advocates shamelessly misrepresent history and Jewish suffering?"

We find a way, somehow, I guess. That's how the light gets in.

4:09 PM  
Blogger RadicalOmnivore said...

Take heart.
Future heroes were born today.

8:47 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

Just a bit of bold clarification after the debate wandered off onto the paths of partisanship. The Bund was anti-Zionist. It was for Jewish (secular) cultural self-determination within a socialist commonwealth. It was anti-Zionist because it was anti-nationalist. Edelman held to that position.

After the Holocaust it virtually disappeared as did other movements opposed to political Zionism.

Edelman's support for the Palestians was as one with this viewpoint and, as Terry rightly points out, was as opposed to Palestinian terrorism as to Israeli oppression of Palestinians.


I often ask, what is the value, the rightness, of a cause if it has to rely on lies, distortions and memory theft. How can I maintain respect for the Palestinian claims when their advocates shamelessly misrepresent history and Jewish suffering.

These distortions happen on both sides. There are a huge range of Israeli generated historical myths as well. And the answer to your rhetorical question is simple. Ignore the advocates and read good, scholarly and respectable history rather than partisan sources, whatever their provenance.

1:31 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"There are a huge range of Israeli generated historical myths as well."


4:48 AM  
Blogger Dave Zeglen said...

"Ignore the advocates and read good, scholarly and respectable history rather than partisan sources, whatever their provenance."

Plump, can you recommend anything from your own library that you'd dub 'required reading?'

Thanks in advance.

5:31 AM  
Blogger The Plump said...

CC - I was about to start to list a number of myths, evasions, misinterpretations and equivocations, from the supposed Arab broadcasts of 48, that ludicrous book of Joan Peters, through the work of Efraim Karsh and so on. Then I realised that if you have to ask the question it assumes that you might not have questioned the Israeli account. My argument is against the misuse of history for partisanship. So I am going to leave you with two quotes and invite you to explore a wider literature.

From Uri Avneri (former Irgun Fighter and now a peace activist), this one is long:

The goals of each of the two sides emanated from their basic national interests. They were shaped by their historical narratives, by their disparate views of the conflict over the last 120 years. The Israeli national historical version and the Palestinian national historical version are entirely contradictory, both in general and in every single detail.

The negotiators and the decision-makers on the Israeli side were completely oblivious of the Palestinian national narrative. Even when they sincerely wished to reach a solution, their efforts were doomed to fail as they could not understand the national desires, traumas, fears and hopes of the Palestinian people. While there is no symmetry between the two sides, the Palestinian attitude was similar.

Resolution of such a long historical conflict is possible only if each side is capable of understanding the other’s spiritual-national world and willing to approach it as an equal. An insensitive, condescending and overbearing attitude precludes any possibility of an agreed solution.

And a proverb:

The believer is happy; the doubter is wise.

11:31 AM  
Blogger The Plump said...


I am never wholly satisfied by the literature as much is tainted by partisanship. However, if there is one general history that I have a lot of respect for it is Benny Morris' Righteous Victims. I notice that is on your blog (and incidentally I think that Chomsky's Fateful Triangle is dreadful!)

11:36 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

The Plump condescendingly assumes that because I ask for proof of knowledge of HIM I must be unaware. Which goes to show the extent of his own blind belief in the infallibility of his own understanding.


"...from the supposed Arab broadcasts of 48"

"It is true, as Erskine Childers pointed out long ago, that there were no Arab radio broadcasts urging the Arabs to flee en masse; indeed, there were broadcasts by several Arab radio stations urging them to stay put. But, on the local level, in dozens of localities around Palestine, Arab leaders advised or ordered the evacuation of women and children or whole communities, as occurred in Haifa in late April, 1948. And Haifa's Jewish mayor, Shabtai Levy, did, on April 22nd, plead with them to stay, to no avail.

Most of Palestine's 700,000 "refugees" fled their homes because of the flail of war (and in the expectation that they would shortly return to their homes on the backs of victorious Arab invaders). But it is also true that there were several dozen sites, including Lydda and Ramla, from which Arab communities were expelled by Jewish troops.

The displacement of the 700,000 Arabs who became "refugees" - and I put the term in inverted commas, as two-thirds of them were displaced from one part of Palestine to another and not from their country (which is the usual definition of a refugee) - was not a "racist crime" (David Landy, January 24th) but the result of a national conflict and a war, with religious overtones, from the Muslim perspective, launched by the Arabs themselves."

""The radio stations of the Arab regimes kept repeating to us: ‘Get away from the battle lines. It's a matter of ten days or two weeks at the most, and we'll bring you back to Ein-Kerem.’ And we said to ourselves, ‘That's a very long time. What is this? Two weeks? That's a lot!’ That's what we thought [then]. And now 50 years have gone by." [PATV, July 7, 2009]

BTW, the first stickable memory I have of Uri Avnery is the fact that he was the editor of a magazine called "HaOlam Hazeh" which used to display naked women on its covers. As a child, I saw those covers myself, on magazine stands, and who was buying them. It is hardly the sort of publication that inspires credibility.

And speaking of myths, the second stickable memory of Uri Avnery is that he wrote the lyrics to the a song that became the very popular anthem of "Samson's Foxes", an Israeli commando unit during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

If you want to speak of myths you had better stick to Biblical promises and such; they are easier to discard as myths. You cannot possibly prove that God actually said it to Abraham. Unlike Zionist myths which somehow always contain large chunks of actual, verifiable, recorded truths in them, despite Joan Peters, Efraim Karsh and so on.

8:03 AM  
Blogger The Plump said...

became "refugees" - and I put the term in inverted commas, as two-thirds of them were displaced from one part of Palestine to another

This is what Avnery and I mean. You are denying that people who have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their heritage, their lands and are dumped in refugee camps in places that were then annexed by Jordan and Egypt, were not refugees on the technicality that where they ended up was once part of a Palestine that no longer existed, have not experienced dispossession, impoverishment,and of exile.

No peace process can ever work where one side denies the experience of the other. And I include Palestinian apologists in that.

Now I NEVER said it was a racist crime as you infer. To assert that the conflict was started purely by the Arabs is totally ahistorical. To say that the displacements were part of a national conflict, both the civil war and the national war that followed it, is totally correct.

The trouble is that the consequences of that war have bred a long-term conflict and they need dealing with.

Now, on figures, and because I am moving and my copy is packed these figures come from Wikipedia, sorry but they seem about right to me.

This is from Benny Morris' first book:

228 empty Palestinian villages, and attempts to explain why the villagers left. In 41 villages, he writes, the inhabitants were expelled by the IDF; in another 90, residents fled because of attacks on other villages; and in six, they left under instructions from local Palestinian authorities. He was unable to find out why another 46 villages were abandoned.

I haven't read his subsequent book, but I believe that he found the incidences of BOTH Israeli expulsion and Palestinian actions were worse than he first thought.

The answer to this is not to quote from partisan sources which will inevitably focus on the particular reason that supports their position, rather than the totality.

Though the causes of exile were multiple the experience of it was the same. If you want peace then all parties have to recognise the real situations of real people. The pain, the poverty and the dispossession have to be recognised rather than excused. Truth is the handmaiden of reconciliation. Apologism is the enemy of of justice.


Avnery's publication of a scurrilous and salacious magazine, which also included serious journalism, is in the grand tradition of the radical press. If you think that was bad, look at some of the 18th and 19th Century stuff. At times it was as brilliant as it was racy.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I dont see things from entirely the same perspective as Plumb but his responses to CC have been totally sound. Let's just say Im enjoying the smackdown

5:37 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"Now I NEVER said it was a racist crime as you infer."

I do not know whom you are speaking to. Where did I even suggest a racist interpretation to your various barkings? Don’t you think after a few years of reading the Trots I would learn something about your “even-handed” attitudes? I did not infer anything from what you said except an accusation that Israelis have not dealt with their mythologies. I think my quote has proven that they have. I fail to understand how my quoting Benny Morris is somehow inferior to your quotes from him. Either he is a serious historian whose interpretation is authoritative, or he is not.

Would you extract from Israel an admission of guilt, an acceptance of responsibility for the Palestinian refugee problem while Arab countries reject theirs?

Isn't that what you are getting at, when you speak to Israelis of the need to acknowledge their "original sins"?

I'm sure you know, or should know, that most Israelis are perfectly willing to suffer painful compromises, including giving up the dream of living at their historical heartland, from which the last remnants were massacred and expelled in 1947. I will quote here Orly Azulai, an Israeli journalist for Yediot Aharonot:

“When Obama raised a hammer over Israel and demanded a total settlement freeze, without signaling what is the onus on the other party and when, he failed to get Israelis to see things his way, even those Israelis who basically agree with his policies and habitually raise an automatic cheer to any peace plan.

The greater the pressure exerted upon Israelis, the more they will resist "being duped" and will insist on showing you "what's what". They know their neighborhood. Israeli abrasiveness can easily be transformed into a sweeping willingness to deal with any challenge even if it comes with a steep price. But they want to know there is something to work for”

Let me repeat for those hard of understanding: “But they want to know there is something to work for”

Mr. Plump, You can yell and scream at me until you are blue in the face. Nothing, but absolutely nothing, will budge until Israelis see some substantial movement towards an acceptance of the idea of compromise with Israel, as a JEWISH STATE, from the Palestinians.

AS for “the grand tradition of the radical press” what can I say? Your pompous explanation has just added an unexpected dimension to the term “Indecent Left”. I am always happy to learn from those who know better

8:22 PM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

This is related to the issue of mythologies:

8:36 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Oh well.

For a while there I thought I might read some respectful exchanges in differences of opinion.

More fool me.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


The Bold Riley is as decent a person of the left as you're likely to find on this particular subject.


11:58 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

For God's sake Terry, throw up a post about cats :-)

2:26 AM  
Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

"The Bold Riley is as decent a person of the left as you're likely to find on this particular subject."

I'm sure he is. It's just that he is so susceptible to the mythologies of the left, the stereotyping of anyone who disagrees with his opinions, the relentless need, impulse even, to prove he is equally scathing towards Israelis as he is towards Palestinians (I have not seen the latter I'm willing to take his word for it).

And never mind that Israelis have already complied with most of his moral "demands".

"We are drowsily accustomed, by now, to the fetishisation of “balance”, the ground rule of “moral equivalence” in all conflicts between West and East, the 100-per-cent and 360-degree inability to pass judgment on any ethnicity other than our own (except in the case of Israel)." (Martin Amis)

4:49 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It takes longer than one thinks to get the nitty gritty details of what transpired up to and including the war of 1947-49.

For example, it is not widely known that Jews in Mandate Palestine were also made refugees by events of that war, including by forced expulsion (which is why UNSC resolutions in the war's aftermath and including resolutions in the aftermath of the 1967 war never referred specifically to Arab refugees, but to refugees in general).

Nor is it widely known that Arab armies were responsible in some instances for forcibly expelling entire populations of Arab villages that opposed having their villages used as strategic military outposts and deployments. For example, the village of Mal'ul which was one of many villages that refused entry to Arab combatants had its population expelled by the Arab Liberation Army* [*see Cohen, Hillel, 'Army of Shadows' (2008) pg. 233]

I am not quite sure what exactly denigrates Efraim Karsh's historical scholarship according to The Plump, especially with regard to his meticulous fact checking of sources and citations Benny Morris provided in the early editions of his books on the 1948 war.

In fact, not only did Morris accede to some of Karsh's criticisms, the fact that Morris continues to update and rewrite the history of the 1948 war in later editions, more often reaffirming the veracity of what he would have labeled as Zionist myth in the 1980's, than as The Plump would have it, he "he found the incidences of BOTH Israeli expulsion and Palestinian actions were worse than he first thought", attests not only to the caliber of Morris as a serious, truth-seeking historian (as opposed to the ideological 'praxis' historiography of Ilan Pappe, or Avi Schlaim), but also points to the fact that since the government archives of Arab states involved in that war are still off limits to historians, we still are not privy to a more complete picture of what transpired as we are with regards to wars like WW1 and WW2.

As far as Joan Peters goes, The Plump is correct to point out that 'From Time Immemorial' is flawed. However, the principle critique of that book that is widely accepted among serious historians is that the population figures she offers for the different confessional communities in the Ottoman administrative districts that were to become Mandate Palestine are untrustworthy as she relied on dodgy Ottoman census data.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Finally, a word about Uri Avneri (formerly Helmut Osterman). Not only did he edit the tabloid soft porn magazine Ha'olam Hazeh in the 1960's, prior to that he began his political career as an out and out fascist, and over the course of his life, changed his political ideology from fascism to right wing revisionist Zionism, moved from revisionist Zionism to a bizarre movement called Cana'anism which called for a new post-Judaic, post-Arab and post Christian, Druze and Muslim, Israeli identity to supplant all confessional identities, which attracted a few Jewish intellectuals in the 1950's, but never managed to recruit a single Arab, from there moved to the far left and more recently has defended Hamas.

[For Avnery's misogynist and racist, anti-Roma views see:; For Avnery's fascism see: (in Hebrew)]

Summarizing Alon Dahan's Hebrew language article (link above):

In 1941, Avnery wrote a pro-Nazi article in the Paris journal "Shem", whose contents were later revealed by the Hebrew University Prof. Yehoshua Porat in his book "Shelach V'At B'yado", page 182.

Avnery was fond of using the concept of "Hebrew Blood" in a racial sense, in the same way as Hitler spoke of German Aryan Blood. In those days he was anti-Marxist. Back then he repeatedly expressed admiration for the great job Hitler was doing in remolding and renewing the German nation.

Avnery was an open admirer of Nazi propagandist Alfred Rosenberg, adopted the latter's rhetoric, and repeatedly declared that he saw himself as the Hebrew Alfred Rosenberg.

Avnery ran a tiny "journal" called The Struggle, an obvious imitation of the name "Mein Kampf". He ran his own one-man party, whose official salute was a Nazi raised hand."

6:57 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

More evidence that The Plump has entirely misconstrued Benny Morris' more recent works:

12:27 PM  

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