Israel's flag at the Kotel
Israel's flag at the Kotel iStock

"Mr. President, in the USA, there are a number of towns whose names derive from the Bible. There are so many places named Hebron and places called Shiloh and other places known as Bethlehem. Would it occur to you to prevent any anybody from settling in one of those places? Have you the authority to do so? In the same way the Government of Israel cannot forbid a Jew to settle in the original Hebron or the original Bethlehem."

The forgoing confrontation was recalled by Shmuel Katz in his book "The Hollow Peace" [1981] and occurred when Prime Minister Menachem Begin first met President Jimmy Carter, who had expressed "his reservations about the establishment of Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. [July 19, 1977]."

Recorded in the Jewish Virtual Library on the same meeting, were the thoughtful words spoken by Shmuel Katz himself. He commences as follows:

"Let me show you another map. The Prime Minister referred to the Yom Kippur War. There were errors made then. We were fearful for our existence." Katz then demonstrated the issues by displaying a larger map showing all the Arab countries in red surrounding tiny Israel in blue. At present, in all the Arab states, he explained, school children are taught that the single Arab world must be unified by closing the little gap of Israel.

He further pointed out that 21 sovereign Arab countries existed, occupying 12 million square kilometers. Despite this, an Arab grows up with the belief that Israel has no place and that it is his patriotic duty and his moral imperative to destroy Israel. The purposes of the Arab nations are those referred to in the PLO charter."They want to expel Israel from the great Arab homeland and then to purge Zionism from Palestine. It is important to the Arab nations as a whole."

He quotes from an Arab journal al-Mussawar, of December, 1968. "The expulsion of our Palestinian brethren from their homes is no cause for anxiety, because they are now in Arab counties, but for the world to accept our struggle against Israel, it must be portrayed as the uprooted Palestinians against Israel."

This shows that the Palestinian state is a recent idea added to the idea of homeless refugees. Katz speaks about it being a "...total contrast to the facts." He talks about American context and suggests reading Mark Twain's "Innocents Abroad" where he writes of a trip to Palestine one hundred and ten years ago in which he describes it as a desert country of weeds, mournful expanses, and desolation.

Shmuel Katz stressed the fact that only the Jewish people ever claimed the regioin of Palestine as a homeland or ever tried to build it up and develop it. Those who are described as 'Palestinian' Arabs,he said, are in fact new immigrants for the most part It is our belief that those Arabs who did not flee in 1948, were probably the only ones who had deep roots in the country. Undoubtedly, the largest Arab immigration to Palestine came after the Zionist revival of the country. The 'Palestinian='" Arabs were told by their leaders to leave during Israel's War of Independence, and were promised the Jews' homes once the war was won.

Katz continues: In 1919, Faisal agreed with President Weizmann in a document that was signed between the Arab state and the "representatives of 'Palestine ', which meant "the Jews'. After the Mandate, the Arabs actually objected to the word 'Palestine', preferring the words, "South Syria."

At the time, President Assad of Syria referred to "Palestine" as Southern Syria. Due to British perfidy, by 1922 the Arabs had gained three quarters of the country when the British created Trans-Jordan, thus removing it from The Balfour Declaration's terms. This became possible by the French giving up some of their claims to the West of Jordan.

The PLO claims both sides of the Jordan, and the "Palestinians" therefore already have a homeland on the east bank of Jordan, Katz said. On another point, although the PLO is organized and armed and trained by the Arab states, today it is also getting Soviet support. Arms reach the PLO through Iraq and Syria. There are some 30 to 36 training courses in the Soviet Union for the PLO.

Not much has changed and today's youth may well ask who is this remarkable Shmuel Katz?

Shmuel [Samuel] "Mookie" Katz, Irgun commander, writer, historian and journalist, also known for his research on Jewish leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky, was born on 9 Dec, 1914 in Johannesburg, South Africa.and died in Israel on 9 May, 2009 [age 93]. He founded the revisionist publication "The Jewish Standard" and was its editor during 1939-1941, and again in 1945. He was a comrade in arms with Menachem Begin in the 1940's and appointed by him to the 1st Knesset. Katz opposed Begin's peace agreement with Egypt and resigned from the Knesset after 1 year.

In 1930 Katz joined the Betar movement. In 1936, he immigrated to Mandate Palestine and joined the Irgun. In 1939, he was sent to London by Ze'ev Jabotinsky to speak on issues concerning Palestine.

In 1946 Katz returned to Mandate Palestine and joined the HQ of the Irgun where he was active in the aspect of foreign relations. He was one of the 7 members of the high command of the Irgun, as well as a spokesman of the organization.

As an author, Katz established himself as a reputable writer on Israel's history. In fact his prolific writing skills were sought by many newspapers and magazines.

An indication of Katz's scholarship, was recognized by former US Ambassador to the UN, Jeane J.Kirkpatrick, whose endorsement is as follows; "Reading BATTLEGROUND [1973] is an eye-opener, well written, informative, fast-paced and debunks some carefully cultivated myths concerning Israel and the Middle East."

Likewise, the acclamation of historian Martin Gilbert who called him a "'champion among writers' who has succeeded with his commanding style and sense of the intense drama of his subject, creating in the 2 volume 'Lone Wolf"'993] a scholarly work that reads like a novel."

Among his other equally outstanding books are "Days of Fire"[1966] and his last, "The Aaronson Saga" [2007].

In "Days of Fire," we find perhaps the first solid overall history of the Irgun's revolt against the British. Katz was a direct participant in many of the events he writes about and this, along his unique access of other Irgun veterans, makes Katz's perspective on the topic, hard to match. The inspiring stories of the valor of the Irgun soldiers and the goals they fought for are just as relevant today as they were in the 1940's.

The Aaronsohn Saga [2007], Katz's last book, is about the NILI intelligence network that aided the British against the Ottomans during WW1. This remarkable story of these Zionist heroes and their pure sacrifices is exiting as well as emotional. Most of the young group lost their lives. Here, Katz allowed a nearly 100 year old story of bravery to be accessed by today's readers. A comprehensive history of Nili had never been written and Katz's final years were occupied with this noble deed.

Edward Alexander, Douglas Faith, Yisrael Medad, William Mehlman, William Van Cleave, and Herbert Zweibon contributed to a publication entitled "Shmuel Katz - An Israeli Prophet." It is a testament to how Katz was viewed by significant colleagues. Some excerpts:

"Underground leader, member of the first Knesset, publisher, historian, biographer. essayist, , Shmuel Katz, born Samuel Katz, was above all the most trenchant political thinker modern Israel has produced. His career was marked by a selfless political integrity. Indifferent to personal advantage, Katz sought only to promote the welfare of Israel of Israel and the Jewish people.

"Katz was best known as a writer. Jabotinsky said of his articles: 'I must very earnestly congratulate you on the perfect clarity, the forcible simplicity, the sachlichkeit [matter of fact, to the point] with which you present the most complicated situations.'"

Evidential truth was the hallmark of all his writings. Nothing before or since his classic, "Battleground: fact and Fantasy in Palestine" has come near matching the effectiveness of his assault on the "...fog of fantasy and dissimulation" surrounding the Arab-Israel conflict - not least the hoax of forced Arab displacement in 1948 at the hands of the fledging Jewish state.

Like prophets generally, Katz has been ignored, sidelined, heard by many, hearkened to by few. History will pay tribute to his prescience. We, his disciples, are proud to pay tribute to him now.


Alex Rose, alexrenee.rose@gmail.com, was born in South Africa in 1935, moved to the USA in 1977 and lived there forr 26 years. He is an engineering consultant who worked for Westinghouse for 18 years and then became self-employed. He was on the Executive of AFSI and a founding member of CAMERA, today one of the major forces monitoring media balance and accuracy in reportage on Israel. He made aliya with his wife in 2003 and lives in Ashkelon. He attended Shmuel Katz's funeral.