Common Grounds

Count Folke Bernadotte: His Mediations, Peace Proposals, and Brutal Assassination…

November 20, 2017

Adapted from: Menuhin, Moshe. "Not by Might, Nor by Power": The Zionist Betrayal of Judaism (Forbidden Bookshelf) (Kindle Locations 9406-9410). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.


Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen

Count Folke Bernadotte: His Mediations, Peace Proposals, and Brutal Assassination…

Pro-Palestine activist Benjamin Ladraa is walking from Sweden to Palestine to raise awareness of the Palestinian cause and mark the centennial of the Balfour agreement.

Watch the video here


Here is a quick summary of Count Folke Bernadotte’s life and work triggering his death warrant. Count Folke Bernadotte, a member of the Royal Family of Sweden, was the first martyr in the service of the United Nations’ reconciliation efforts in bloody Palestine. Dr Ralph Bunche, deputy Mediator, and successor said: “I really loved Count Folke Bernadotte. He was the greatest man I ever met!”


Yet few people know of the murder of this outstanding man, and rarely will one find a book in any library, book-store, or antiquarian store about the life of this unique humanitarian.


The purpose of Count Folke Bernadotte’s United Nations’ service in Palestine was to uphold Resolution 194 (III) Par. 11, of December 11, 1948, of the General Assembly of the United Nations: 

  • Resolve that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date,
  • and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under the principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.…
  • To establish a truce, to bring about peace, and above all, to help the refugees return to their homes and farms … 

Count Bernadotte was indisputably non-political and was moved by exclusively humanitarian ideals. Nephew of a king, he had no name to make, no titles to win and was married into a wealthy family. He was above sordid considerations of gain. He was deeply religious and had schooled himself for years in the organization of the Swedish boy scouts.


When he had won his spurs, he threw himself whole-heartedly into the perfection of the Swedish Red Cross organization.


When the Second World War broke out, the International Red Cross entrusted Count Bernadotte with the first exchange of allied and disabled enemy prisoners. Such was his integrity and indisputable impartiality that the Allies and Germans alike gave him free passage on his work of mercy. At the end of the war, on his own initiative, he rescued thousands of Jews from liquidation in German concentration camps.  Altogether Bernadotte rescued 40,000 lives, irrespective of race or creed.


The new Civilian Convention, which was passed by the Seventeenth Red Cross Conference in Stockholm, was his inspiration and largely his work. He was just returning home from Greece where he had visited the homes and camps for rebel refugee children from the fighting in Greece, where he founded a Swedish Home for 200 children and arranged for 24,000 tons of Swedish food to be distributed monthly among the needy Greeks. At that time, he received a telegram from his fellow Scandinavian Trygve Lie, the Norwegian Secretary-General of the United Nations, asking him to serve as Mediator in Palestine.


Though he knew the chances were slim, he accepted the challenge.


Highlights of His Work cited from his book ‘To Jerusalem’:


“As I sat talking (to the Arab Governments), I could not help saying to myself: This man realises deep down that the Arab world cannot any longer hope for a Palestine in which there will not be an independent Jewish state.… (But, they) called my attention to the miserable conditions in which the Arab refugees were living. It was particularly the case of the refugees from Jaffa and Haifa whose plight was heart-rending.…” (page 186)


On the same page, he states: “A talk with the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Lebanon … confirmed my impression that the Arab Countries now realised the necessity of, even though unwillingly, recognising an independent Jewish state in Palestine.”


And on page 201, he says: “I described my view of the situation, in the same way as I had previously in both Beirut and Amman.… The Prime Minister of Egypt realised, he said, that the Arab hope of preventing the emergence of an independent Jewish state had been crushed.…”


On pages 208– 209, we read this: “I had to have a private conversation with Mr. Moshe Shertock (Prime Minister of Israel) … I began the discussion by saying that in my opinion the international position of the government of Israel was worse than it had been only a few weeks before. It no longer enjoyed the goodwill it had previously. The reason was, I said, that the government had expressed itself on various occasions in such a way that people could only draw the conclusion that it was well on the way towards losing its head.


It seemed as though Jewish demands would never cease.… It was my definite impression, I continued, that the Jews now felt they had two enemies. The Arabs were still enemy No. 1. But I and the United Nations observers ran them a close second.… I knew from my own experience (and that of my own officers), that when they first arrived, they would be very sympathetic towards the Jewish cause; but I also knew that they would soon find themselves compelled by force of circumstances to revise their attitude.…


The Israeli government had had a very great opportunity in connection with the Arab refugee question. It had missed that opportunity. It had shown nothing but hardness and obduracy towards these refugees. If instead of that it had shown a magnanimous spirit, if it had declared that the Jewish people, which itself had suffered so much, understood the feelings of the refugees and did not wish to treat them in the same way as it itself had been treated, its prestige in the world at large would have been immeasurably increased.…”


PM Shertock’s reply was:


“The Jewish government could under present conditions in no circumstances permit the return of the Arabs who had fled or been driven from their homes during the war …”


“I observed that I was surprised that the representatives of the Jewish people in particular should look at this problem from such a narrow point of view, that they should regard it purely as a political question without taking into account the humanitarian side of the matter” …


Count Bernadotte continues: “Nothing that I could propose aroused any response; I got nowhere. It was significant to read later in the Jewish newspaper ‘Palestine Post:’ ‘Count Bernadotte has had a fruitless meeting with the Foreign Minister of Israel.’ That was evidently regarded as a great triumph for the Jews.… Their military success during the ten days war had gone to their heads.… Whatever questions came up, we were always met with the same passive resistance, and the same lack of will to cooperate.…” (pp. 199– 200)


Count Bernadotte goes on: “When Shertock and I passed on to the question of the future of Palestine, Shertock agreed I had been right in that the three alternatives I had suggested for the Arab part of Palestine doubtless exhausted the possibilities. (But) he hinted that there might possibly be a fourth alternative, namely that the whole of Palestine should belong to Israel.…”


The germ of the old chronic “fixed idea” was incubating and flourishing; the destructive (the Zionists naturally called them constructive) deeds it called for required a longer duration of the disease, and there was no cure for it, alas.


The ‘fixed idea’ — the ‘Ingathering of the Exiles’ (ingathering of all the Jews of the world into ‘their’ ‘Jewish Homeland’) became a Territorial Imperative. The ‘evolved idea of Prophetic Judaism’ that ‘God did ‘Tsdakah’’ (justice, salvation, charity) to Israel (the Jews) by dispersing them among the nations of the world and that the core of their religion was universalism, humanity, ethics above all, was discarded in favor of a new religion, newly learned from the European political nationalists,— Lebensraum, statism, expansion, and thus a Greater Eretz Israel was what the Shertocks, Ben Gurions, Moshe Dayans and the rest of the military junta of Israel insisted on, cost what may to themselves and to their victims, the Arabs of Palestine.…


All this will explain the. Big Wars (1948, 1956, 1967) and the many “Little Wars” which have taken place from 1948 to this day, wars of “Redemption” and Expansion to satisfy the demands of the “fixed idea.”


The Israeli government always called them “retaliatory” wars, sometimes “preventive” wars, but underlying all the wars was this driving, irrevocable, ruthless firmness and resoluteness of the “fixed idea.”


Count Bernadotte and his wife faced the fact frankly together that Mediation in Palestine would be dangerous. With her he made detailed arrangements for his funeral in the event of his sudden death, and he made his last will and testament.


He flew from Stockholm, via Paris and Cairo, to Tel Aviv, where he arrived on May 24, 1948. From the very beginning he realized that the Israelis considered him partial, and were going to treat him as an enemy. On arrival in Jerusalem, broad banners hoisted above jeeps were circulated through the streets by ‘Fighters for the Freedom of Israel’ reading: “Stockholm is yours. Jerusalem is ours. You work in vain.


We are here.… So long as there is a single enemy of our cause, we shall have a bullet in the magazine for him.…” From the start, the Stern Gang let it be known that they regarded Bernadotte as their enemy. From June 1 to 11, Bernadotte worked untiringly for a truce.


The principle of the truce was that neither side should gain any military advantage thereby. The Israeli government insisted that Jewish immigration must continue. The Arabs objected. On the evening of June 9, one of Bernadotte’s staff accidentally caught him praying alone in his room.


That same night, his prayers were answered. From both Arabs and Israelis he received an answer that they unconditionally accepted his armistice proposal. In ‘Instead of Arms’, he writes: “With that, however, my task was not finished. The negotiations now had to be continued in order to reach, if possible, a final peace in Palestine.…”


Alas, the truce or truces arranged by Bernadotte were not honoured. The Arab governments were engaged in activities against one another, while the Israelis were steadily building up their forces. An airlift was working constantly between Czechoslovakia and Israel bringing in more arms from behind the Iron Curtain.


The upper hand of the Israeli armies was shown when, in between truces, they captured Ramlah, Lydda, Nazareth, and many other Arab towns and villages. Bernadotte was convinced that if the United Nations Security Council could make a quick and effective decision, it had a good chance of inducing both parties to adopt a more sensible attitude.


So he flew to New York (Lake Success). On July 13, Bernadotte confronted the Security Council for the first time. He did not hesitate to tell the Security Council frankly that their immediate decisions would be decisive.


He made seven points:

  1. Both parties must be made to realize that the use of force would not be tolerated.
  2. The first step must be an unequivocal order to cease fire.
  3. To prevent destruction, the demilitarization of Jerusalem must be ordered, and supported by 1,000 to 2,000 United Nations guards.
  4. The United Nations must be prepared to resort to Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter (sanctions) should the cease-fire be disobeyed.
  5. The cease-fire could be expected to lead to an armistice and so pave the way for further mediation of a peaceful settlement.
  6. Special attention should be given to urgent questions of refugees.
  7. Responsibility for the next step rested exclusively upon the Security Council.


Bernadotte’s Peace Plans, as well as his recommendations to the Security Council, made him a marked man in Israel. His serious endeavours for peace caused consternation in Israel. We must now go on to the date that will live for ever in infamy, September 17, 1948, when that incredible crime was committed by militant, inhumane, insane, political nationalists who worship a State that will expand their Lebensraum, in Nazi fashion.


On September 17, at noon, Bernadotte’s peace plane, the “Whirlwind” flew to Jerusalem from Damascus. Through the blue sky above, a radio message reached him. It read: “Urgent. Inform all aircraft against landing Kalandia airport. They will be fired upon.”


That was the welcome back to the United Nations Mediator. “Do you want to jump now or be fired upon with us?,” the Count with a wry smile asked one of the newspapermen attached to him.


“This is an obvious attempt to frighten me. If so, someone is mistaken. I will not be frightened,” the Count added. The plane landed without incident. He continued to Ramallah, outside Jerusalem, and then proceeded to Jerusalem. As he drove around Mount Scopus, a bullet from what seemed the direction of the Hebrew University and the Jewish-held Hadassah hospital hit the running board of his car and entered the left rear wheel.


He drove on. “Good Luck!,” a newsman shouted. The Count answered, “I’ll need it!.…” Then he drove in his grey United Nations car to Government House. Bernadotte and his companions were arranged thus— two United Nations cars led the way, and in the third and last car, the former Connecticut State policeman, Colonel Frank Begley, who was head of the Mediator’s Security Force, drove with another American, Commander Cox, beside him on the front seat.


The French Observer, Colonel André Sérot, sat in the middle of the back seat with Folke Bernadotte to the right, and his Chief of Staff, General Aage Lundström, to the left. The first two cars carried the Red Cross flag, while the third carried the blue and white United Nations flag depicting a globe.


The three vehicles had just passed a road barrier, when they were suddenly halted by four men (possibly five or six) in an Israeli army-type jeep. Two men in Israeli Army uniforms and carrying Sten guns strode along the stalled cars. As Colonel Begley afterwards stated, they were “snarling.”


He got out and grappled with one of the men as he ineffectually fired a shot into the front seat of Bernadotte’s car. A second man thrust his Sten gun through a window ventilator and fired a burst at the back seat. Lundström was uninjured. Sérot, the Truce Observer loaned by the French Air Force, was killed.


“Are you hurt, Folke?” asked Lundström. The Count appeared to nod. Then Lundström saw that Bernadotte’s rows of decorations were torn by bullets. But he was still alive. Begley jumped back into the car and drove to the Hadassah hospital. “There is a chance,” said a doctor after a superficial examination. But before Bernadotte could be carried inside, he was dead. The time was 5 p.m.


The murderers sent a letter to the correspondent of Agence France-Presse in Tel Aviv on September 20, expressing regret at the murder of Sérot owing to a ‘fatal mistake.’ The letter read as follows: “Although in our opinion all United Nations Observers in Palestine are members of foreign occupation forces, which have no right to be on our territory, the murder of the French Colonel Sérot was due to a fatal mistake: our men thought that the officer sitting beside Count Bernadotte was the British agent and anti-Semite, General Lundström.…”


The United Nations passed one resolution after another demanding that the Provisional Government of Israel report to the Security Council about the “cowardly act.” Finally, after two months, the Israeli government’s atrophied conscience was awakened by world consternation and indignation over the crime.


The principal Stern Gangster, Nathan Friedman-Yellin and his aide, Matityahu Shmulevitz, were arrested. In December, Yellin and Shmulevitz were brought to “trial” in an Israeli court at Acre. They posed smilingly for photographers and their ‘guard’ laughed brazenly.


At his “trial” in Acre, Yellin whitewashed himself by delivering a harangue in which he attacked Count Bernadotte as an enemy of Israel. One of his condemnations of Bernadotte was this: “He stood in the way of Jewish absorption of the Kindgom of Transjordan as well as the whole of Palestine.…”


Murderer Nathan Friedman-Yellin was soon amnestied, and in 1950, the Israeli Government allowed the murderer to stand for election to the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) of which he became a member.


In closing, here are a few words out of a long Letter-to-the-Editor which appeared in the London Times on September 23, 1948, written by Rabbi Harold Rein-hart, Senior Minister of the West London Synagogue, in response to a Letter-to-the-Editor written on September 21, by Ralph Hewins, author of the book, ‘Count Folke Bernadotte, His Life and Work’: “We are indebted to Mr Hewins for emphasizing for us vividly the crushing magnitude of our Jewish responsibility in the face of the foul murder of Count Bernadotte, for which, as Mr Hewins says, there is “no vestige of excuse … “


“Only madness can explain the murder of Count Bernadotte … but, as is well known and was incontrovertibly demonstrated by the Nazis on a gigantic scale, the borderline between madness and unbridled nationalism is uncertain. Naked nationalism knows no law except necessity. Its passion for Lebensraum is beyond the spheres of reason and compassion. Bred on despair and disillusion, a naked nationalism— contrary to the whole Jewish tradition— finds some expression among Jews today.…”


Adapted from: Menuhin, Moshe. "Not by Might, Nor by Power": The Zionist Betrayal of Judaism (Forbidden Bookshelf) (Kindle Locations 9562-9566). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.






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