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Could many of the Jewish deaths in the Nazi concentration camps have been averted if the World Jewish Congress had acted differently in 1905? That was the year they rejected a British offer of about 15,500 square kilometres for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Uganda. In the event the WJC held out for Israel and Jerusalem and refused the offer.
But what if they had taken up the deal? The German Jews would have had a land willing to accept all who could leave or were forced out. After all up almost to the outbreak of war, the deciding factor was whether another country was willing to accept them as immigrants. The USA effectively closed the door to new arrivals and the UK required that they get a sponsor so the would be "no burden". Some of you might have seen the film "The Voyage of the Damned" which explored this dilema.
Without the deaths in the Holocaust, the impetus to establish a "safe haven" would have been eliminated. Religious Jews will still have wanted to settle near the holy sites but the large numbers of mostly secular refugees would be living in the African homeland with their relatives whose pitiful belongings now remain in museums as mute but eloquent witness of human bestiality. A tanned Anne Frank might today be making a nostalgic visit to show her grandchildren round her birthplace.
Instead of being forced out of Palestine by a combination of violent muslim demonstrations and terrorist attacks from the Jewish Stern Gang, the British might have made an orderly hand-over to a predominantly muslim secular state. Surrounding muslim states would not have abandonded the traditional tolerance of their fellow "people of the book" and there would be thriving Jewish communities throughout the Middle East. The USA would not have the stigma of "The Great Satan" for their support of Israel. 9/11 would never have happened and Osama Bin Laden might be on the lecture circuit explaining to his adoring American public how he helped bring down the Soviet Union. Lebanon would be the exclusive holiday resort destination of the eastern Mediterrean and a more stable example of a secular multi-cultural but predominantly muslim country than Turkey. With all its traditional trading skills it would be the economic power house of the Middle East, its ports carrying the oil from the blossoming Iraqi oil fields.
Of course their is the possibility that Idi Amin would have attacked the Homeland and expelled the Jews in the same way as the Ugandan Asians were. Would Britain have had to absorb perhaps millions of Homeland Jews rather than the thousands of Asians? Would there actually have been that many living there - after all the fear of returning to their original homelands from the temporary haven might well have been attractive after WWII. Would indeed WWII have happened if many of the European Jews had emigrated by the 1930s? Without the myth of a Jewish conspiracy would his hatred have resonated with the German people? Could ironically the decision of the WJC in 1905 have resulted in the rise of the Nazis? Probably not as the impetus to emigrate would have been caused by the oppressive laws.
Jerusalem would be quite different. The area in front of the Western Wall would still be full of the shops and stalls cleared away after 1967. They would be run by muslims selling souvenirs to the Jewish pilgrims. Jewish tourists would be welcomed to casually visit the area on the top of the Temple mound, providing they were appropriately dressed. A visit there by the Prime Minister of the African Homeland would be the excuse of much hospitality rather than the cause of the second Intifada.
Does the 1905 decision mean the Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves? Emphatically no. Would more have survived the Holocaust? Probably. Might the world be a lot more stable and peaceful than it is today? Possibly, but unfortunately we will never know.
Further, as far as the ideological foundation of Nazism goes, it would have made no difference. The very nature of national socialism implies the elimination of certain human groups.
1922: Britain gives The World Zionist organization the mandate to administer Jewish immigration and settlement in Palestine. This immigration and settlement was funded by American Jews
This page explains some of the problems of the accuracy of the figures but censuses in 1922 and 1931 show a more than doubling of the Jewish population of Palestine albeit from 84 to 175 thousands (round up slightly) Estimates for 1937 show a further doubling to 386k.
Of course these figures do not include those Jews who left continental Europe for Britain, the USA or other countries. Quite possibly they would have been refused entry and directed to Uganda - or rather "Israel in Africa" which would have been a separate state. The figures for Palestine do howver make my point that there was some emigration before the Nazis came to power but it vastly increased once they had.
Without the restrictions put on by the UK, US and other countries, more would have been able to leave for Africa than managed to get out before September 1939. The industrialisation of death came fairly late, well into the war and with all the intelligence about the camps it might have been possible for the WJC to persude the Germans to see expulsion to Africa, under the neutral flag of say Spain or Portugal, as the "final solution".
Now the additional numbers surviving might not have been that great but as the saying goes, "he who saves one man saves the world".
Part of the reason I raised this is that there seems to be a sort of common ground in that the WJC in 1905 and Hamas today officially reject anything other than dominion over the land and holy sites and are/were unwilling to compromise their aspirations for shorter term solutions.
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