Israel, the UN and the assassination of Count Bernadotte


Richard Moore

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Date: Sat, 29 Jul 2006 16:08:59 -0400 (EST)

Subject: [mgp] Israel, the UN and the assassination of Count Bernadotte

Israel, the UN and the assassination of Count Bernadotte
By David Walsh
29 July 2006

On July 25, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched a sustained attack on a 
United Nations outpost in southern Lebanon. Over the course of six hours, the 
UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization‹established in 1948) post 
was hit at least 16 times, according to press reports, including five direct 
hits on the base. The unarmed staff, assert UN officials, repeatedly contacted 
the Israeli military and begged them to stop.

The Los Angeles Times reports: ³UN officials who briefed reporters here said the
attack began at around 1:20 p.m. Radio contact with the post was lost around 
7:30 that evening. During those hours, UN officials made at least a half-dozen 
calls to the Israeli mission to the UN to seek an end to the attack, a senior UN
official said. Additional calls were made to the Israeli military by UN generals
on the ground demanding that the Israelis hold fire.² The calls went unheeded, 
and finally, the IDF managed to score a direct hit on the well-marked building, 
leveling it and killing four observers, from Canada, Finland, Austria and China.
The bodies of three of the observers in Khiam have been recovered, but the 
fourth corpse is buried in the rubble. Heavy equipment cannot reach the site due
to continued Israeli bombardment, UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in 
Lebanon‹established in 1978)‹which generally works with UNTSO‹has said.

In the wake of the killings, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan¹s statement of 
the obvious, that the attack could only have been purposeful, the Israeli 
government, along with perfunctory statements of regret, self-righteously 
defended itself against Annan¹s accusations. Israeli foreign ministry spokesman 
Yigal Palmor sounded a common theme: ³Why on earth would we deliberately target 
UN observers? What good would that do either on the military or the political 
level, because it is obvious that this would be harmful.²

The Jerusalem Post, one of the noxious mouthpieces of the Israeli political 
establishment, echoed Palmor¹s comments: ³And why, pray tell, would Israel 
target UNIFIL [actually UNTSO]? Is Annan suggesting some sort of Israeli anti-UN
sadism, or that Israel would have some reason to target UNIFIL in its war with 

The argument that such an attack would ³not do any good² for Israel is 
preposterous on its face. The attack on Lebanon, the deaths of hundreds of 
civilians, the wounding of thousands, the displacement of nearly a million and 
the destruction of that country¹s infrastructure has also ³not done Israel any 
good² in the eyes of world public opinion, but that has not restrained the Tel 
Aviv regime and its murderous IDF.

As for ³why on earth² the Israeli military would attack UNTSO or UNIFIL, one can
think of a number of excellent reasons.

Apologists for the Zionist regime always overplay their cards when they comment 
on this question. Rejecting even the possibility that Israel might be guilty of 
such a horrendous crime, they invariably go on to display their utter hostility 
to the UN force, arguing that the international observers have been more or less
a shield for, if not a direct accomplice of Hezbollah activity. Thus the 
Jerusalem Post editors, in the aforementioned piece, demand an investigation 
that would determine how ³UNIFIL stood by without a murmur as a terrorist 
organization amassed thousands upon thousands of rockets whose unprovoked use 
has killed and wounded dozens of Israelis and precipitated the current war.... 
We are owed more than that: an independent, blue-ribbon investigation into how 
UNIFIL forces became human shields for the terrorist army they should have been 
fighting to dismantle.²

Dan Gillerman, Israeli ambassador to the UN, went farther, claiming that the UN 
peacekeeping force¹s facilities ³had sometimes been used for cover by Hezbollah 
militants,² according to the Associated Press. ³It has never been able to 
prevent any shelling of Israel, any terrorist attack, any kidnappings,² he 
commented in New York. ³They either didn¹t see or didn¹t know or didn¹t want to 
see, but they have been hopeless,² Gillerman said.

Given that a leading Israeli diplomat accuses the UN observers of witting or 
unwitting collaboration with Hezbollah, why should anyone be astonished by a 
deliberate IDF assault on the UN outpost? According to Gillerman¹s logic, such 
an assault would be entirely legitimate. There is a history of such attacks. In 
1996, the Israelis massacred more than 100 civilians attempting to seek refuge 
at a UNIFIL facility in Qana, southeast of Tyre. The IDF claimed that was a 
mistake, too.

In any event, the Israelis have quite practical reasons for attacking the UN 
observers. First, to remove witnesses to their invasion of Lebanon and the war 
crimes they are committing against the Lebanese civilian population. Second, to 
make a point about their attitude toward any international interference in their
operations. The Israelis have rejected the UN, the victimized party, playing any
role in the investigation of the destruction of the UNTSO outpost. In all this, 
they are sending a message that any ³peacekeeping² force sent to the region must
be entirely under Tel Aviv¹s thumb.

This attitude is nothing new. The Israeli record is one of gangster-like 
defiance, not only of the United Nations, but more generally, of international 
law. The Zionists have consistently rejected any suggestion that the state of 
Israel should be constrained in its choice of methods, no matter how violent, 
for pursuing its interests. On its official web site, the Permanent Mission of 
Israel to the UN has a document, ³Israel and the UN‹An Uneasy Relationship,² 
which accuses the General Assembly of ³a long-standing tradition of singling out
Israel² for its human rights abuses against the Palestinians. Indeed, the 
various Arab regimes have a history of grandstanding at the UN, loudly 
denouncing the crimes of the Zionist regime, even as they yield all along the 
line to the continued oppression of the Palestinian people.

Although the Israeli Declaration of Independence in May 1948 was officially made
possible by a UN General Assembly resolution the previous November, the Zionist 
leaders came into conflict with their international sponsors from the outset. 
They were dissatisfied with the partition proposed by the UN and were guided by 
far greater ambitions, which the world has seen unfold over the past nearly 60 

The killing of Count Bernadotte

When United Nations plans and concerns conflicted with the Zionists¹ ambitions, 
the latter were prepared to resort to violence and terrorism to gain their aims.
One of the first criminal acts committed against the UN by the Zionist movement 
was the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte on September 17, 1948.

Bernadotte (born 1895) was a Swedish diplomat, the nephew of King Gustavus V, 
who gained recognition as the head of the Swedish Red Cross during World War II.
He used that position to negotiate with Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler and save 
15,000-20,000 Jews and others, mostly Scandinavians, from concentration camps. 
Near the end of the war, Bernadotte received Himmler¹s offer of Germany¹s 
surrender to the US and Britain on condition that it could continue its war 
against the USSR.

On May 20, 1948 (six days after Israel declared independence), Bernadotte was 
appointed the United Nations¹ mediator in Palestine. He was mandated to ³promote
a peaceful adjustment of the future situation in Palestine² and allowed to 
negotiate beyond the terms of the Partition Plan.

In the summer of 1948, he was sent by the UN to arrange a truce between Israel 
and the Arab countries that had attacked it. On June 11, he succeeded in 
organizing a 30-day truce. During the lull in the fighting, Bernadotte ³put 
forward his first proposal for solving the conflict. Instead, it was to seal his
fate. Bernadotte¹s transgression, in the view of Jewish zealots, was to include 
in his June 28 proposal the suggestion that Jerusalem be placed under Jordanian 
rule, since all the area around the city was designated for the Arab state² 
(Donald Neff, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs [WRMEA]).

Other eventual proposals by Bernadotte, published after his death, included 
granting the Negev desert to the proposed Arab state and the Galilee to the 
Jewish state; granting control over the Arab sections of Palestine to the Arab 
states (in effect, Transjordan); ensuring that the port in Haifa and the airport
in Lydda served both the Arab and Jewish portions of the country, as well as the
neighboring Arab states; returning Arab refugees to their homes; establishing a 
Reconciliation Committee as the first step toward achieving a lasting peace in 
the region.

The reaction of the Zionist organizations to Bernadotte¹s suggestion about 
Jerusalem was predictable.

³The UN partition plan had declared Jerusalem an international city that was to 
be ruled by neither Arab nor Jew. But the Jewish terrorists, including [future 
Israeli prime ministers Yitzhak] Shamir [member of LEHI, known as the Stern 
Gang] and Menachem Begin, the leader of the largest terrorist group, Irgun Zvai 
Leumi‹National Military Organization, also known by the Hebrew acronym 
‘Etzel¹‹had rejected partition and claimed all of Palestine and Jordan for the 
Jewish state. These Jewish extremists were horrified at Bernadotte¹s suggestion.

³By July Sternists were already threatening Bernadotte¹s assassination. New York
Times columnist C.L. Sulzberger reported meeting with two Stern members on July 
24, who stated: ‘We intend to kill Bernadotte and any other uniformed United 
Nations observers who come to Jerusalem.¹ Asked why, ‘They replied that their 
organization was determined to seize all of Jerusalem for the state of Israel 
and would brook no interference by any national or international body¹ ² (Neff, 

LEHI (Lohamei Herut Yisrael‹Fighters for the Freedom of Israel), the Stern Gang 
(named after Avraham ³Yair² Stern), was a nationalist-fascistic outfit, which 
called for the establishment of a ³Hebrew kingdom from the Euphrates to the 
Nile.² Following Stern¹s death at the hands of the British police in February 
1942, the group created a new command structure, but ³Terrorism continued to be 
the organization¹s guideline² ( It came into 
conflict with more mainstream organizations, including the Haganah, the Zionist 
underground military outfit from 1920 to 1948. On November 6, 1944, two Stern 
Gang members assassinated Lord Moyne, the British Minister for Middle East 
Affairs in Cairo. LEHI also bombed the Haifa railroad workshops in June 1946. In
December 1947, Begin¹s movement, Etzel, threw bombs from a car into a crowd of 
several hundred Arabs, killing six and wounding 42. In the subsequent 
communalist violence, 42 Jewish workers at the refinery were killed and 49 
injured. Emulating Etzel the next day, Haganah carried out a similar attack in a
town where Arab refinery workers lived, killing some 60 men, women and children.

Bernadotte¹s assassination was decided upon and planned by three leaders of the 
Stern Gang, including Shamir, who would become prime minister of Israel in 1983.
Although LEHI had officially disbanded and dissolved itself into the Israeli 
Defense Forces at the end of May 1948, the Jerusalem Stern Gang group remained 
an independent organization, insisting that the fate of that city had not yet 
been settled.

LEHI called Bernadotte a British agent and a collaborator with the Nazis. (They 
apparently drew a veil over the fact that the Zionist organizations had 
extensive dealings with the Nazis, including Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, during 
World War II.) ³The organization considered his plan to be a threat to its goal 
of an independent Israel with expanded territory on both sides of the Jordan 
River² (

On September 17, 1948, Bernadotte¹s three-car convoy was stopped at a small 
roadblock in Jewish-controlled West Jerusalem. Two gunmen shot out the tires of 
the automobiles and a third gunman fired a pistol through the open back window 
of Bernadotte¹s vehicle. The UN mediator was struck by six bullets and died 
instantly, along with a French officer seated next to him. No one was ever 
charged for the murders, although those ultimately responsible were well known. 
Natan Yellin-Mor and Mattityahu Shmuelevitz, Stern Gang leaders, were charged 
with belonging to a terrorist organization. Found guilty, they were immediately 
released and pardoned‹Yellin-Mor had meanwhile been elected to the Israeli 
parliament. Shamir was never tried for his role in the killing.

The actual assassin of Bernadotte, Yehoshua Cohen, went on to become a bodyguard
for Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The first public admission of the Stern 
Gang¹s role in the murder was not made until 1977. The attack on the UN outpost 
earlier this week, in other words, was entirely in keeping with the origins and 
traditions of the Zionist state, whose ³birth pangs² involved terrorism and 
contempt for international law.

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