The Lion of Zion

A new book focuses on the lifelong loyalty and admiration that Winston Churchill, whom I consider one of the very greatest men in all of Western history, held for the Jews. I’ve just heard about it today, in a Wall Street Journal opinion-page item, but I’m sure I’ll be getting a copy. The article itself is worth a look too. An excerpt:

After the war, Churchill felt that the most fitting response to the Holocaust would be to punish those guilty of the most horrific crimes against the Jews and to fulfill the promise of a Jewish homeland that he and Britain had made almost 30 years earlier. When Ernest Bevin, Britain’s Labour Party foreign minister, hesitated to recognize Israel nine months after its founding, for fear of inflaming Arab opinion, Churchill swung back hard: “Whether the Right Honorable Gentleman likes it or not, the coming into being of a Jewish State in Palestine is an event in world history to be viewed in the perspective, not of a generation or a century, but in the perspective of a thousand, two thousand, or even three thousand years.” Israel was just recompense, Churchill felt, not only for what the Jews of Europe had lost but for what they had given to civilization over the centuries.

This view, of course, no longer prevails. Today the existence of Israel is apparently something to be regretted, even deplored, not only in Arab capitals but in European ones and on American university campuses. Paradoxically, such feelings intensified after 9/11, an event that should have made us all aware of who the friends of Western civilization really are–and who its enemies. Martin Gilbert’s book reminds us that anti-Semitism is the dark turn of the modern mind against itself, and a form of cultural patricide.

You can read the whole piece here.

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6 Comments

  1. Thanks for calling attention to this, Malcolm.

    Jeffery Hodges

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    Posted November 8, 2007 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  2. I am currently reading Indian Summer — a book I recommend to one and all — regarding the partition of India/Pakistan in 1948 and the end of the British Empire.

    One of the many surprising things in the book was the role Churchill — an implacable enemy of Gandhi — played in delaying the transfer of power to India. Another surprising thing was the role which Gandhi himself played — the author speculates that India would have been liberated from British rule a decade or more earlier were it not for Gandhi’s intransigence. A third surprising thing: Pakistan is an acronym for the various territories it encompasses or wished to encompass (P for Punjab, A for Afghania, etc.)

    We view Churchill as a hero due to his role in World War II — hey, anybody who can drink a quart of liquor every day and be as quick-witted as Winston is my hero — but he is by no means a saint.

    Posted November 8, 2007 at 9:24 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    You’re most welcome, Jeffery!

    Peter, you are right that Churchill was no saint. Probably he’d be the first to admit it; in fact I think he’d bristle at the very notion.

    I do view him as a hero for his role in WWII, but for many other things besides: his wisdom, his integrity, his steadfastness, his indomitable sprit, his oratory, his prescience — and, very high on the list, his style — but perhaps most of all, for his writing.

    Posted November 8, 2007 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
  4. “Churchill was no saint”, but, as you say, what a character!

    Posted November 9, 2007 at 5:12 am | Permalink
  5. bob koepp says

    I agree with Malcolm that Churchill was a very good writer. His History of the English Speaking Peoples as well as his history of WW II are not to be missed. I’m not sure, though, that he was all that good as a political leader. It seems to me that throughout his career he relied more on bluster than statecraft. Bluster turned out to be more important during the Nazi era, but being in the right place at the right time is an accident of history, not a laudable character trait.

    Posted November 9, 2007 at 4:04 pm | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    Well, Bob, I’ll disagree with that; I think Churchill had a great many talents as a political leader.

    He was an extraordinary executive: seemingly indefatigable, and able to hold a great many threads in his mind at once, delegating as needed, but also “drilling down” as necessary, and always making sure that people were doing what needed doing. (He was also exceptional in his ability to learn, when he had to, about all manner of technical arcana).

    He had an uncanny ability to find the right person for the job, and to get his subordinates to set aside their differences and work together.

    He was also expert at forming diplomatic relations, and persuading allies as needed. His relationship with FDR, and his personal appeals to the US Congress, were essential in rousing US sentiment to support the war effort. I doubt that anyone else, for example, would have got Lend-Lease to happen.

    Finally, his leadership of the English people in their hour of despair, when Britain stood alone against the Nazi juggernaut, almost single-handedly saved them from defeat. His ringing oratory — no mere “bluster”, as the genuineness of his resolve was apparent to all — rallied them to fight on when things looked very black indeed, and Hitler was offering terms of surrender.

    Posted November 9, 2007 at 4:35 pm | Permalink