Last updated on: 2/4/2009 8:01:00 AM PST
Did the Holocaust Justify the Creation of a Jewish State?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)



German soldiers of the Waffen-SS and the Reich Labor Service look on as a member of Einsatzgruppe D
prepares to shoot a Ukrainian Jew kneeling on the edge of a mass grave filled with corpses




PRO (yes)

The 1948 Israeli Declaration of Statehood, included the following statement:

"The catastrophe which recently befell the Jewish people - the massacre of millions of Jews in Europe - was another clear demonstration of the urgency of solving the problem of its homelessness by re-establishing in Eretz-Israel the Jewish State, which would open the gates of the homeland wide to every Jew and confer upon the Jewish people the status of a fully privileged member of the comity of nations.

Survivors of the Nazi holocaust in Europe, as well as Jews from other parts of the world, continued to migrate to Eretz-Israel, undaunted by difficulties, restrictions and dangers, and never ceased to assert their right to a life of dignity, freedom and honest toil in their national homeland."

May 14, 1948 - Israeli Decalaration of Statehood (18 KB)  



Avi Shlaim, PhD, Professor of International Relations at St. Antony's College, Oxford, in his 2001 book The Iron Wall, wrote:

"The tragedy of European Jewry became a source of strength for Zionism. The moral case for a home for the Jewish people in Palestine was widely accepted from the beginning; after the Holocaust it became unassailable. The poet Robert Frost defined a home as the place where, if you have to go there, they have to let you in. Few people disputed the right of the Jews to a home after the trauma to which they had been subjected in Central Europe...

On the one hand, the Holocaust confirmed the conviction of the Zionists that they had justice on their side in the struggle for Palestine; on the other, it converted international public opinion to the idea of an independent Jewish state."

2001 - Avi Shlaim, PhD 



David K. Shipler, MA, author and journalist, in his 2002 book Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, wrote:

"The [Jewish] migration [to Palestine] gained urgency as Hitler came to power, promulgated anti-Jewish laws in Germany in the 1930s, then rounded up Jews in Germany and in the expanding sphere of German-occupied countries, restricted them to ghettos, shot them, deported them to concentration camps, and exterminated an estimated 6 million of them in the cause of racial purity. Out of this Holocaust grew the international compassion for the purpose of a new Israel as a sanctuary for the Jews."

2002 - David K. Shipler, MA 



Burt Neuborne, Inez Milholland Professor of Civil Liberties at NYU Law School, wrote in a letter published in the Oct. 23, 2000 issue of The Nation:

"There has for years been an unfortunate strain of radical left-wing thought that has equated Israel with colonialism and has viewed the Israeli state as a pretext for the Western theft of Palestinian land. Since the memory of the Holocaust provides moral justification for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, even at the expense of the Palestinians, people like [Norman] Finkelstein find the Holocaust an obstacle to their political views."

Oct. 23, 2000 - Burt Neuborne 



The US Library of Congress Country Studies, in a 1988 entry on "Israel and the Holocaust," contained the following:

"For much of world Jewry that had suffered centuries of persecution, Zionism and its call for a Jewish national home and for the radical transformation of the Jew from passive victim to self-sufficient citizen residing in his own homeland became the only possible positive response to the Holocaust."

1988 - Country Studies / Area Handbooks Program 



CON (no)

John Spritzler, ScD, Research Scientist in the Department of Biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health, in an Aug., 2002 letter posted on the New Democracy World website, wrote (accessed on Mar. 26, 2007):

"Zionists claim that the Holocaust demonstrates what they have asserted since 1896 - that non-Jews are innately anti-Semitic and that, to survive in a hostile world, Jews need a state of their own. But the real history of the Holocaust demonstrates no such thing...

The Holocaust does not demonstrate that non-Jews are innately anti-Semitic any more than slavery demonstrates that whites are innately racist against blacks...The Holocaust is no more a reason for Jews to have a state of their own than slavery is a reason for African-Americans to have a pure 'Black state' of their own."

Aug. 2002 - John Spritzler, Sc.D 



Joseph Massad, PhD, Assistant Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University, wrote the following in an article published in the Aug., 2000 issue of Journal of Palestine Studies:

"Events in Jewish history that Zionism appropriated became perforce connected to Palestinian history. Paramount among such events is the Jewish holocaust during World War II, which Zionists used for propagandistic purposes to assert their 'right' to Palestine to which they had laid their suspect colonial claim half a century earlier. In appropriating the holocaust and its victims, Zionism and Israel asserted that any acknowledgement of Israel's 'right to exist,' and conversely that any attempt to deny Israel its alleged right to exist was perforce a denial of the holocaust."

Aug. 2002 - Joseph Massad, PhD 



Evyatar Friesel, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Jewish history at Hebrew University, Israel, in his 1996 paper "The Holocaust: Factor in the Birth of Israel?" wrote:

"Is it possible that the emergence of the Jewish state was unrelated to the terrible disaster of the Jewish people and to the remorse of the nations of the world?

Regarding the deliberations of the United Nations and its bodies in 1947-1948, it is difficult to find evidence that the Holocaust played a decisive or even significant role. No bloc of nations proclaimed during the UN discussions on Palestine that its foremost aim was the creation of a Jewish state. (On the other hand, an important group of countries did favor the transformation of Palestine into an Arab state.)"

1996 - Evyatar Friesel, PhD 



Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, PhD, Iranian President, at a Dec. 14, 2005 speech in Zahedan, Iran, said:

"Today, they have created a myth in the name of the Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets. If you [Western nations] committed this big crime, then why should the oppressed Palestinian nation pay the price? This is our proposal: If you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country."

Dec. 14, 2005 - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, PhD 



Ran Baratz, MA, Adjunct Fellow at the Shalem Center's Institute for Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Jerusalem, in a Feb. 25, 2007 article posted on Omedia.org entitled "A State Even Without the Holocaust," wrote:

"[T]he Iranian president is right when he says that if the Jews should have a state because the Europeans tried to exterminate them, then by the simplest rules of justice, the Europeans should pay the price (which he openly threatens them with).

Thus, in the medium term and within the neo-Liberal discourse, the Holocaust doesn't grant Israel a right to exist. Using the Holocaust as an argument doesn't work because it is intellectually weak, historically problematic, and conditional on a post-national world view (not infrequently lacking in self-awareness)."

Feb. 25, 2007 - Ran Baratz