Posted Thursday, November 29, 2001

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 If I were to create a new identity for myself, it would not be as an Israeli. I would make out that I was a distant relative of Mother Teresa, God rest her soul, and that I was carrying out a secret legacy for Albert Schweitzer, may his bones rest in peace.





Sunday, December 2, 2001
(Key West, Florida, USA)

TWO nights ago I phoned Walt M. in Philadelphia, as I had heard rumors that he had had problems with the Kempner collection since I visited him. He has sent me copies of the main items, including the long missing, handwritten 1941 war diary of the Nazi High Command's Sonderstab Oldenburg.

I had in the meantime written to various universities in Germany and the USA about this priceless collection, the residue of the collection of wartime Nazi documents which he had rescued from a dumpster outside the late Robert M W Kempner's home; and I had concluded after discussion that it should properly go eventually to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) archives with the rest of the Kempner papers.

The USHMM officials who had scavenged through the Kempner home last year, in line with his testament, had overlooked these papers; the papers had legally been acquired by M, an antique-dealer, who makes a living from purchasing the secondary rights to clean out people's homes, and sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Alfred RosenbergBefore I saw him and inventoried these fifteen footlockers full of files, the USHMM had also visited him in the person of a Dr Meyer; and there had been talk between them of paying M around two million dollars for his historic windfall. That was the figure mentioned -- Meyer had said, "I don't see any problem there," -- but I had warned M that this figure was unrealistic, particularly as the diaries of Alfred Rosenberg (left) are seemingly still missing.

Soon after my visit in mid September, says M, a few weeks ago, he was visited again by a top Jewish archive official from the US Holocaust museum, and they agreed, after inspecting what he had, on a handshake, to pay him a purchase price of 150,000 dollars.

For a few days he heard no more but then, so M confirms on the phone to me, last week the story took an unexpected turn. He was visited by an agent from the Philadelphia FBI. The agent declared the whole collection confiscated, and removed it from his home.

He seems to have been in cohorts with the USHMM, because the announced intention now was to turn these files -- although they are still legally M's property -- over to the US Holocaust Museum for no reward whatever; but M seems to be made of sterner stuff, and he has forced a hearing before a federal judge next month, to confirm that he is legally entitled to the papers, having purchased them after the USHMM missed out. He has wisely made several copies of his purchase receipt, in case it "goes missing".

Phoning M, I fear that he will curse the Jews for their underhand ways and wiles, but he does not. He seems confident that in the long run he will win, though he reflects ruefully that now he is being forced to pay for expensive lawyers -- the kind of cash which his opponents of course can afford much more easily than he.

I know the feeling.


AROUND the world, they have a reputation, brought upon them by the actions of a few, which they must find hard to live down. No sooner do their community leaders achieve minor successes, like having the archaic verb "to jew" removed from printed dictionaries, than something else arises to cause these sensitive folks offence.

FoxmanEvery time I drive down the Florida Keys, I wonder how long it will be before that nice Mr Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (friend and benefactor of billionaire tax-fraudster Marc Rich) succeeds in getting Jewfish Creek renamed to something else.

Look for it the next time you drive down the Overseas Highway, Mr Foxman -- the bridge comes just after a yellow traffic sign reading CROCODILES CROSSING NEXT 8 MILES; but that is a sign that casual visitors like you will see only when you are heading back north, and not as you are driving south down into the Keys.

The reputation of the Israelis is even less appetising right now than that of Captain Hook, what with having that nice philanthropist Mr Sharon as their prime minister. Small wonder that so few people inhabiting the World Trade Center towers, at least on the fateful morning of September 11, had willingly identified themselves as Israelis (in fact only one of those thousands caught in the upper, no-hope floors, to judge by the latest statistics; other Israelis had been warned in time).

Mexican newspaperWhich makes it all the more puzzling to me, as an outsider, that the two visitors to San Lázaro, the Mexican government's Chamber of Deputies -- Pakistanis, to judge by the passports found on them along with the guns, grenades, and explosives in their attaché cases -- should have blurted out that they were actually Israelis.

In fact one of them claimed to be a colonel in the Israeli secret service, no less. That really is throwing dust in the eyes of the authorities to an unnecessary degree.

What right-minded world citizen would claim to be an Israeli right now, if his passport establishes him as a Pakistani (because heaven forefend that it was the other way around)?

It seems to have become something of a fashion. Those five young men tastelessly roaring with laughter as they videoed the blazing Twin Towers from various vantage points on the Jersey Turnpike (they had box-cutters with them, because they were after all furniture packers): they too immediately claimed to be Israelis, which only resulted in their being deported to Israel, after several weeks spent languishing in prison.

Come to think of it, those six other gentlemen travelling in three large white sedans which were stopped by police in the American mid-West, also carrying box-cutters and other strange paraphernalia, including sketch maps of Florida nuclear power stations -- they also were clearly of Middle Eastern origin, according to the police (which was why they were stopped); and yet they too claimed to be Israelis, and produced passports to support their claim. Whereupon thease lucky folks were allowed to vanish without trace.


ODD behaviour indeed. Did these folks not realise that by claiming to be Israelis they were exposing themselves to hatred and vituperation on a villainous scale? To anti-Semitism? Have they not read that the world's most civilised governments, like that in Berlin, have had to mobilise police forces and pass special laws in an attempt to stamp out these unreasonable and monstrous hatreds?

It is all a mystery to me, and I am glad I have no cause to delve more deeply. I sympathise wholeheartedly with Brent Ashcroft in his task.

If I were to create a new identity for myself, an alter ego, it would not be as an Israeli. It would be at the other end of the humanitarian spectrum. I would make out that I was a distant relative of Mother Teresa, God rest her soul, and that I was carrying out a secret legacy for Albert Schweitzer, may his bones rest in peace. I might even claim to be purveying Christian Bibles to the starved and under-privileged folks of Afghanistan. Anything but an Israeli.

Over the years I have always advised that if somebody has an unfortunate name -- we had a brave young Bottom-Whettam at our school fifty years ago -- he should change it not once, but twice: first to Nelson, for example, and then to Wellington (just in case any inquirer should chance to ask what his name was before).

Equally, if I were to have been born an Israeli, I would now be inclined to seek first English, and then perhaps United State citizenship, just in case anybody should cotton on to the idea that I might have originally come from the land of Ariel Sharon, Menachem Begin, Binjamin Netanyahu, Yitzhak Shamir, and the rest of that unappetising gang.

I am evidently not alone in having this idea; this must surely be the very reason why these latest misfits in Mexico City and the mid-West had so many different brands of passport concealed about their persons. Or perhaps not. Only time will show. Or perhaps not.

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