Thursday, May 11, 2006

Thank you, Klement Gottwald

One of the less-known facts about the Israeli war of independence was that only one country was willing to give arms to the struggling Jewish state -- Czechoslovakia. We remember President Truman's almost immediate recognition of Israel's independence, but we forget the arms embargo that he slapped on it -- not until after the Six Day War did Israel become an American ally. It was Czechoslovakia that provided the essential armaments so that the new Jewish state could survive against the combined armies of six Arab countries (some of them newly independent themselves):

The time of the first agreement in January 1948 was before the communist takeover in February, but the communist leader Klement Gottwald was the Prime Minister as a result of the communists having taken the largest share of the vote in the 1946 elections. Even the non-communist President, Eduard Benes, was sympathetic to the Soviet Union rather than the western democracies, possibly as a result of having been betrayed at Munich in 1938. Gottwald is that rarity -- a true rasha who nevertheless did good things for Jews:

I have met many who fled the communists of Czechoslovakia. Particularly during Gottwald's five years of uncontested power, the repression was horrific -- and remember that Czechoslovakia was the one country in Eastern Europe that had been democratic the entire period from the end of World War I until 1938, so the shock of totalitarianism must have been even more difficult for its citizens.

It is clear that Gottwald would never have sent aid to the struggling Zionists without Stalin's ok. Why Stalin, a rasha even worse than Gottwald and one almost unparalled in history, did so, is a good topic for historians. But nevertheless we can be thankful that this happened. Israel's survival might be one of the very few good things attributable to communism. (Maybe the only thing?)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're forgetting the marvellous Cuban health care system ...

Sorry. Couldn't help myself. Do you have an available email address?

- Moishe Potemkin

5:47 AM  

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