I’d recently mentioned that although I’ve encountered a multitude of so-called “conspiracy theories” on the Internet over the years, I’ve concluded that around 90-95% of them were false or at least unsubstantiated. However, the residual 5-10% were sufficiently well-documented and important that they had served as the basis for the lengthy American Pravda series I’d produced over the last decade, now numbering many dozens of articles and totaling well over a half-million words.
- American Pravda Series
Ron Unz • The Unz Review • 557,000 Words
Unfortunately, the vast profusion of exciting but incorrect theories can often lead people astray. Sometimes a mainstream individual is so shocked to discover the reality of one or two stories he’d always seen dismissed by the media that he loses his bearings and begins carelessly swallowing many others as well, failing to properly separate the wheat from the chaff.
Consider the case of Tucker Carlson, who for many years had been host of the most popular news show on television. A few months before he was purged from FoxNews, he declared to his national audience that JFK had probably been killed in a conspiracy that very likely involved elements of the CIA, a segment that attracted millions of viewers on his regular live broadcast and additional millions on Youtube.
This led Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a scion of the Kennedy family and the slain President’s own nephew, to praise Carlson for the most courageous television broadcast in the last sixty years.
So far, so good. Although people might still hotly dispute many of the details, the “JFK Conspiracy” has been massively documented over the decades, including by scholars and journalists of the highest reputation. But generations of a near-total media blockade meant that Carlson’s show probably reached more Americans with those important facts than anything since Oliver Stone’s Oscar-winning film was playing in the theaters more than thirty years ago.
Unfortunately, Carlson later followed up that bold triumph by doing several segments on alleged space-aliens, endorsing the claims that UFOs had been captured and secretly hidden for many years by the American government, which then used the advanced alien technology to develop some of our leading military weaponry. Or at least that’s what I think he said, since I never watched any of that ridiculous nonsense, which was also widely promoted by other FoxNews hosts and apparently turned out to be based upon the revelations of a single government “whistleblower” with a history of psychiatric problems. The story provoked a flurry of media headlines, then quickly disappeared.
Decades of massive, detailed research by top experts should not be put in the same category as Alex Jones-type conspiracy-nonsense, and the former stories can be discredited by their association with the latter. Perhaps this might even be the nefarious purpose of promoting such disreputable leaks.
This particular example came to my mind last week when I published a long article on the surprising and controversial history of Zionism, the ideological movement that led to the creation of the State of Israel, highlighting some of the thoroughly-documented but little known elements of the story. Co-founder Max Nordau was much better known as a founding father of European racialism and the Nazi-Zionist economic partnership of the 1930s had been absolutely crucial in Israel’s creation. None of these historical facts are subject to much serious dispute, but for various reasons they have remained almost totally ignored by our mainstream media and history textbooks, so that today very few Americans are aware of them.
- Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and Racialism
Ron Unz • The Unz Review • November 13, 2023 • 7,600 Words
In my discussion, I mentioned the famous Balfour Declaration issued by the British government in 1917, a landmark Zionist political triumph that somewhat ambiguously promised the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. That agreement facilitated both the heavy Jewish immigration and the political momentum that eventually created Israel more than three decades later. My few words were not at all controversial.
Our very lightly-moderated website naturally attracts a host of highly-opinionated individuals who embrace a wide range of controversial views generally excluded from more mainstream venues. So that casual reference eventually touched off a heated debate in the comments on a notorious “conspiracy theory” very widespread among anti-Zionists.
Over the decades, many such activists have become firmly convinced that the powerful Zionist movement made a political bargain with Britain, using its political clout to drive America into the First World War in exchange for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, with the Balfour Declaration merely formalizing the deal. The arrival of large, fresh armies saved the Allies from looming defeat and tipped the balance against Germany in that colossal conflict, but also cost our country well over 100,000 lives. So the claim that the American decision for war was due to Zionist manipulation is completely incendiary. When I expressed my very strong skepticism regarding this historical scenario, I was harshly insulted and vilified, with most of the adherents being firmly convinced that the Zionists had secretly orchestrated America’s declaration of war as a crucial means of achieving their goal of a Jewish State.
A perfect example of such beliefs appeared in the 1981 memoirs of far right academic Revilo Oliver, who so fully accepted this conspiratorial narrative that he casually summarized it without argument in just a single sentence, writing that:
“…the Jews preferred to wait until the desperate British bought American troops with the Balfour Declaration, promising Palestine as the future capital of the International Empire.”
Veterans Day came a week ago, marking the 105th anniversary of the end of the Great War, once optimistically known as “the war to end all wars.” Perhaps twenty million died in that unfortunate conflict, which sparked the Bolshevik Revolution and also set the stage for its even greater sequel two decades later that laid the basis for our modern world at the cost of many tens of millions of lives and the destruction of most of Europe. As I discussed in a long article last November, I think a strong case can be made that without American intervention, a stalemate and negotiated peace would have resulted, probably producing a far better outcome for the world.
- American Pravda: Lost Histories of the Great War
Ron Unz • The Unz Review • November 28, 2022 • 8,100 Words
Since I hadn’t regarded the Balfour Declaration as relevant to the war, I’d never even mentioned it, but others had strongly disputed my views at that time, and if my critics are correct and America entered the war due to hidden Zionist machinations, my silence was a serious lapse. So with the origins of the State of Israel now very much in the headlines and the same controversy revived in stronger fashion, I’ve decided to take some time to carefully analyze and address it.
The Wikipedia entry on the controversial Balfour Declaration and its origins is exceptionally long and detailed, running more than 30,000 words—considerably longer than the entry for World War I itself!—and includes nearly 500 excerpted quotes, endnotes, and footnotes, laying out the standard account in great detail. As might be expected, it provides no mention of the conspiratorial case, but that sort of glaring omission would only be expected in such an establishmentarian source.
Meanwhile, probably the most widely cited evidence on the other side comes from a 1961 public speech by Benjamin H. Freedman, a well-connected Jewish political activist and businessman who later converted to Christianity and became a militant anti-Zionist, strongly supporting the Palestinian cause after World War II. In a few sentences, he claimed that during the First World War the Zionists had struck a bargain with the British government, agreeing to use their influence to bring America into the war on the Allied side in exchange for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. The text of his remarks is conveniently available online, while the recording is also available on SoundCloud.
A somewhat similar story was told at far greater length by Douglas Reed, who had spent most of the 1930s and 1940s first as a leading international journalist at the prestigious Times of London and then as a highly-successful author, with numerous international best-sellers to his credit. However, following World War II, he became very critical of Jewish activities and Zionism, losing his mainstream publishing foothold as a consequence, and then spent several years in the early 1950s researching and writing his exhaustive, highly conspiratorial work The Controversy of Zion. This unpublished manuscript, which ran nearly 300,000 words, was found among his personal effects after his death in 1976, and released a couple of years later, eventually becoming quite influential in anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist circles.
- The Controversy of Zion
Douglas Reed • 1978 • 286,000 words
When I first encountered these claims a year or two ago, they hardly inspired a great deal of confidence. Freedman was in his 70s at the time of his speech, recounting events that had transpired 45 years earlier, and recollections can easily grow garbled over the decades, with many of his other statements about the First World War being factually incorrect. Furthermore, the core of his presentation was his warning that newly-inaugurated President John F. Kennedy had made a firm, secret commitment to his Zionist backers to immediately invade the Middle East on behalf of Israel, an action that was likely to touch off World War III with the Russians and the Chinese. If Freedman’s explicit factual statements on contemporary events were so totally erroneous, should we really trust his casual memories from nearly a half-century earlier?
Meanwhile, Reed’s long, rambling text was filled with an abundance of extremely conspiratorial claims, almost none of which were documented and many quite outlandish.
If this constituted the central evidence for the Balfour theory, few outside the narrow fringe of anti-Zionist conspiracy-activists would probably have taken it seriously.
However, as I eventually discovered, there is also a great deal of evidence from leading Zionist and British sources that tell essentially the same story.
For example, Samuel Landman was a high-ranking Zionist leader in Britain, and in 1935 and 1936 he published various articles and pamphlets describing how the Zionists had secretly arranged to bring America into the war on the Allied side in exchange for receiving Palestine as a Jewish homeland, with the Balfour Declaration merely constituting the formalization of this bargain. He explained that during 1916 the Zionist leaders convinced the government of Britain
that the best and perhaps the only way (which proved so to be) to induce the American President to come into the War was to secure the co-operation of Zionist Jews by promising them Palestine, and thus enlist and mobilise the hitherto unsuspectedly powerful forces of Zionist Jews in America and elsewhere in favour of the Allies on a quid pro quo contract basis.
- Great Britain, the Jews and Palestine
Samuel Landman • 1936 • 6,800 words
Chaim Weizmann was the top Zionist leader who had personally played a central role in negotiating the Balfour Declaration, later becoming the first president of the State of Israel. Someone brought to my attention his 1941 letter to Winston Churchill, who had been a member of the British Cabinet at the time, which contained a key sentence seemingly supporting that story. Although the Weizmann letter is available on scribd.com, that crucial sentence was rather suspiciously censored, but fortunately the unexpurgated text is available on British Historian David Irving’s website.
It has been repeatedly acknowledged by British Statesmen that it was the Jews who, in the last war, effectively helped to tip the scales in America in favour of Great Britain.
Furthermore, in a 1923 memorandum to the British Cabinet, Colonial Secretary Lord Cavendish wrote:
The object [of the Balfour Declaration] was to enlist the sympathies on the Allied side of influential Jews and Jewish organizations all over the world… [and] it is arguable that the negotiations with the Zionists…did in fact have considerable effect in advancing the date at which the United States government intervened in the war.
David Lloyd George had been the British Prime Minister at the time, and his later private correspondence and statements seemed to support this interpretation, as do a number of other mentions or apparent allusions to the agreement that can be found in the writings and private papers of other prominent Zionists and British officials.
Although for more than a century this explosive story has been completely excluded from almost all our media accounts and academic histories, as well as the exhaustive Wikipedia entry, the apparent agreement on its reality between Zionist, anti-Zionist, and British sources had naturally persuaded quite a few writers to take it seriously over the years.
Prof. John Beaty had held an important position in our Military Intelligence during World War II and his 1951 bestseller Iron Curtain Over America focused upon the nefarious role of Jewish influence. In that work, he devoted several paragraphs to this version of the Balfour story, relying heavily upon Landman’s writings and those of various other Zionist figures. Although he wasn’t fully convinced it was true, he regarded the account as quite credible and plausible.
In 2014, Alison Weir, a journalist and anti-Zionist activist, published Against Our Better Judgment, a short book summarizing the suppressed history of Israel’s creation, and she devoted a chapter to presenting this account of the Balfour Declaration, which she fully accepted as real, gathering together and referencing the numerous strands of documentary evidence that supported it, including some of those discussed above. In general, I’ve found Weir to be a very careful writer, and though I had considerable doubts about her conclusions on this particular issue, nearly everything else in her book seemed quite solid and reliable.
Taken together, this corpus of material seems to be very substantial, and its total exclusion from the exhaustive Wikipedia entry merely provides yet another example of the total unreliability of that website on any controversial topic.
Nonetheless, Wikipedia remains an invaluable resource for those careful to use it properly, and in reading the short and rather hostile entry for Freedman, I came across a reference to a very long and comprehensive analysis of the issue by Robert John, a diplomatic historian, published in 1985 by the revisionist Institute for Historical Review, and fortunately available online. In John’s Acknowledgements, he thanked Freedman for encouraging his research and providing him some of the crucial underlying materials:
- Behind the Balfour Declaration
Britain’s Great War Pledge To Lord Rothschild
Robert John • The Journal of Historical Review • Winter 1985 • 28,000 words
So on the face of it, there does seem to be a considerable amount of historical evidence that America’s involvement in World War I had been instigated by the Zionists in exchange for providing Palestine as a Jewish homeland, a conclusion that would drastically reshape our understanding both of the First World War and the creation of Israel. Indeed that historical scenario might possibly be true, and I’ve provided links to most of the crucial sources of information, allowing those so interested to review all the details and decide for themselves. But after carefully reading and evaluating all this material, I still think that the weight of evidence is very much on the other side.
First, for those unfamiliar with the political landscape of a century ago, certain important points should be emphasized. Then as now, Jews were a very powerful and influential group both in Britain and in America, but Zionism—support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine—was endorsed by merely a tiny sliver of Jewry, with the overwhelming majority being either non-Zionists or anti-Zionists. As our sources explain, at the time of the Balfour Declaration there were some 3,000,000 American Jews but only 12,000, or about 1 in 250, were members of any Zionist organization.
Furthermore, as the Zionist leaders regularly complained, a very large majority of the wealthier, more powerful Jews were opposed to their agenda, notably including Jacob Schiff, the leading Jewish banker on Wall Street, and Adolph Ochs, owner of the influential New York Times. Elected officials from the President on down naturally paid a great deal of attention to the views of Jews who commanded money or media, but few of those individuals were Zionists. The situation in Britain was very similar, and during the Cabinet debate over the Balfour Declaration, the only Jewish member, Edwin Montagu, strongly opposed the proposal.
The broader American political alignment with regard to great European war that had broken out in 1914 might also surprise many readers. A large majority of American wealth and media was still in the hands of the traditional WASP elite, many of whom had strong cultural ties to their ancestral Britain, so American support for the Allies was overwhelming from the very beginning, and this certainly included President Woodrow Wilson himself. J.P. Morgan and the other large WASP firms on Wall Street provided huge war loans to the Allies, while our previously-depressed industrial companies experienced a major economic boom as they ramped up the production of Allied munitions. Most of these groups began pressing the American government to enter the war on Britain’s side from the early days, and this pressure grew more and more intense as they realized that only an Allied victory would ensure that the huge banking loans they had extended would ever be repaid.
However, some other large and powerful American groups were strongly opposed to the Allied cause and had successfully blocked American intervention. This included the millions of Irish-Americans, who dominated the politics of many of our major cities and bitterly resented the continuing British colonial rule of their homeland, as well as very numerous German-Americans, most of whom were still first- or second-generation immigrants. But this very sizable “peace camp” also included American Jews, who were totally opposed to military intervention or even favored a German victory.
This was partly because most of the wealthier, more powerful Jews were relatively recent immigrants from Germany, and still often had close family ties. For example, immigrant banker Paul Warburg had helped establish the Federal Reserve, while his brother Max Warburg had remained back home and become a leading banker and important wartime official in his native Germany.
But an even larger factor was the fierce hostility of nearly all Jews, whether Wall Street bankers or Marxists, towards Czarist Russia, which they demonized as their anti-Semitic nemesis, with Jacob Schiff having spent decades and vast sums of money working towards Russia’s defeat and downfall. Russia was one of the top Allied powers, so Jewish bankers refused to make any Allied loans, and many American Jews were widely suspected of quietly hoping for a German victory.
Indeed, the private correspondence of the WASP bankers desperately pressing for America to enter the war sometimes angrily denounced American Jews as their leading political opponents in that effort. To some extent, this was true of British Jews as well, many of whom also had close family ties to Germany and were deeply hostile towards Russia, so they were sometimes accused of favoring a negotiated peace.
Much of this standard history of the political battle over American intervention was told in Road to War: America 1914-1917, a classic 1935 account by journalist and historian Walter Millis. This work was widely praised at the time by Harry Elmer Barnes and other leading revisionist historians, who strongly opposed our decision to go to war, and I found it quite impressively detailed when I read it earlier this year.
Based upon these facts, let us now consider the claim that Zionist Jews were responsible for American intervention in the First World War. American Jews were overwhelmingly opposed to such military involvement and only a small fraction of them supported Zionism, being far outnumbered by anti-Zionist Jews, an imbalance that was especially pronounced among the wealthier, more influential Jews who played an important role in politics. Obviously, a small, weak political faction is sometimes fortunate enough to win a major political victory over a large, powerful one, but not very often.
When we consider the testimonial evidence that the Zionists had pulled the strings behind President Wilson’s decision to enter the war, we discover that the bulk of it comes from Zionist sources, with Landman’s writings in the mid-1930s being perhaps the earliest example. But political power is largely based upon the perception of political power, so ideological movements always have an obvious incentive to exaggerate their influence and past successes. After every election, lobbyists are always sending letters to politicians claiming that their support had been absolutely crucial to his victory and he should therefore listen carefully to their demands. Just because someone says something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.
Furthermore, by the mid-1930s the British were under strong Arab pressure to sharply restrict Jewish immigration into Palestine, and this was probably the reason for the sudden appearance of those published claims that powerful Zionist influence in America had been responsible for the Allied victory in the world war, influence that Britain might once again need to draw upon if a new war broke out.
These Zionist claims first appeared only many, many years after the events described, and given this analysis, they count for very little. Meanwhile, the scattered supporting statements of a small number of British officials are much less specific, and may have constituted self-justification as the Balfour Agreement began causing their country serious problems in its Middle Eastern holdings.
Meanwhile, what I found most striking in reviewing all of this material was the total lack of any supporting evidence from the American side. Surely if the nefarious Zionists had somehow managed to manipulate America into declaring war against Germany at least some Americans would have become aware of that fact and mentioned it in their writings or private diaries. Yet I found absolutely nothing.
The explosive story was hardly complex and could be summarized in Oliver’s mere handful of words—“the desperate British bought American troops with the Balfour Declaration”—yet for decades not a single American figure seems to have mentioned it, including a legion of anti-war and anti-Zionist writers.
The articles in Henry Ford’s series The International Jew were published from 1920 to 1922 and then collected together into four volumes that ran well over 300,000 words, which I discussed in a long 2018 article. The work provided an enormously comprehensive recitation of perceived Jewish misbehavior and hardly shied away from “conspiratorial” themes given that it fully endorsed the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
- The International Jew
The World’s Foremost Problem
Henry Ford • 1920 • 323,000 Words
When I searched through the volumes, I found numerous references to the Balfour Declaration and extensive coverage of Zionism, which was strongly criticized, while Ford himself had vehemently opposed our entry into the First World War. Yet the author provided not the slightest hint that either he or anyone else suspected that the Balfour Declaration or the Zionists had been a significant factor in that decision. In fact, he was probably well aware that most of the powerful American Jews had been very strongly opposed to the war, while the Zionist Jews in this country were just too unimportant to have had any impact.
A critical commenter cited Hitler’s accusations that “the Jews stabbed Germany in the back” during World War I, claiming that this represented the German dictator’s awareness that the Zionists had arranged American involvement in the war, thereby leading to an Allied victory. But when I checked Mein Kampf, I found no mention anywhere of the Balfour Declaration and only a handful of minor references to Zionists or Zionism, so apparently no one in Germany regarded those particular Jews as having played any significant role in their country’s defeat. Instead, Hitler’s focus was entirely on the German Jews whom he accused of having damaged the national morale, led various Communist and Socialist uprisings, and then negotiated the disastrous Versailles Treaty.
During the late 1920s and 1930s, there was an enormous American political backlash against our participation in the First World War, which was widely regarded as a disastrous decision, brought about by secret manipulations. Numerous books and waves of articles were written on the subject and Congressional hearings were held. During those same years, the Ku Klux Klan and various right-wing, anti-Jewish political movements were widely popular and usually unrestrained in their denunciations. Yet as far as I can tell, none of them ever blamed our wartime involvement upon Jews, let alone Zionist Jews.
While it’s certainly possible that the Zionist Jews manipulated America into the war without anyone in America ever being aware of what had happened, that seems a bit unlikely. Instead, I think that the most plausible explanation of such total silence was that in 1917 the clever Zionists sold the Brooklyn Bridge to the gullible British without the actual owners of that landmark ever becoming aware of that transaction.
All of that changed after the end of World War II and especially following the creation of Israel, as Zionism became vastly more influential and soon captured the allegiance of a large majority of American Jews. At this point, anti-Zionists became aware of the Balfour claims that had been made a decade earlier by Landman and others, and began taking them seriously, with Douglas Reed’s unpublished 1956 manuscript and Benjamin Freedman’s 1961 speech being among the earliest examples of this new anti-Zionist historical narrative.
Wilmot Robertson was a well-connected East Coast WASP and exhaustive researcher, and in 1972 he published The Dispossessed Majority, a lengthy volume that became the ur-text of modern American White Nationalism, focusing overwhelmingly upon the perceived political threat of organized American Jewry. But although he allocated a couple of pages to the Balfour Declaration, citing all the Zionist sources boasting of their central role in America’s decision for war, he was quite cautious in his appraisal, describing the evidence as “sketchy and circumstantial” and reasonably concluding that “it will probably never be ascertained if Zionism was the blast of wind that knocked the teetering United States off the tightrope of neutrality.” Obviously, the enthusiastic support of the small Zionist faction might have contributed to the American decision for war, but that’s very different from assigning it any sort of central role.
Robertson soon launched Instauration, a White Nationalist publication with strong anti-Jewish themes, and from 1972 to 1974 it ran a very lengthy series described as “a dramatized rendering of the secret history of the United States (1912-1960),” strongly focused on conspiratorial plots by Jews and others. But no mention of the Balfour Declaration appeared anywhere in the 100,000 words of text.
Aside from any other factors, the matter of dates and timing raises further huge doubts in my mind. As Robert John emphasized in his lengthy monograph, although the Balfour Declaration was not released until November 1917, the crucial negotiations between the Zionist leadership and the British officials over the exact terms of their Palestine deal actually began nine months before on February 7, 1917. However, almost a week earlier on February 1st, Germany had already abandoned its hopes of retaining Washington’s neutrality and announced that it was resuming unrestricted submarine warfare, a decision that contemporary observers agreed virtually assured that America would soon enter the war on the Allied side.
Indeed, the Germans had already recognized the near-inevitability of war a couple of weeks prior to that when they sent the notorious Zimmermann Telegram to the Mexican government, offering a potential war-time alliance and military assistance for any Mexican attempt to recover Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. In one of its greatest triumphs, British intelligence managed to intercept and decode the communication, and its publication totally outraged the American public, making the decision for war a much easier one.
However, I should also mention that over the last couple of decades, the anti-Zionist Washington Report on Middle East Affairs has published a series of very interesting but extremely speculative articles arguing that the Zionists might have played a crucial role in providing Britain with the Zimmermann Telegram, and that this service had actually constituted the true quid pro quo responsible for the later issuance of the Balfour Declaration.
- The Balfour Declaration and the Zimmermann Note
John Cornelius • WRMEA • August/September 1997 • 2,800 Words
- Answering Critics of the Theory That Balfour Declaration Was Payoff for Zionist Services in WWI
More on the Zimmermann Telegram
John Cornelius • WRMEA • September 1998 • 2,300 Words
- Palestine, the Balfour Declaration and Why America Entered the Great War
The Zimmermann Telegram
John Cornelius • WRMEA • October/November 1999 • 2,700 Words
- The Hidden History of the Balfour Declaration
John Cornelius • WRMEA • November 2005 • 7,400 Words
Although the reconstruction is fascinating, I do think the evidence is far too thin to support such a dramatic conclusion. But even so, this hypothesis seems far more plausible than the possibility that the Zionists lobbied the American government into declaring war without anyone in America being aware of what had happened.