Flight Into the Maelstrom: Soviet Immigration to Israel
and Middle East Peace
By John Quigley, Ithaca Press, 1997, 256 pp. List: $40;
Reviewed by Michael S. Lee
April/May 1999, pages 122-124
Beginning in the late 1980s, as the Soviet Union weakened and then collapsed, large numbers of Jews began to leave the several Soviet republics for various locales, chief among them, Israel. The consequences were
far-reaching. Many of these new arrivals to the Jewish state came to feel that they were being used as
pawns by those within Israel who wanted to tip the demographic balance within the West Bank decisively in favor of the Jews at the expense of the Palestinian population.
John Quigley addresses this complex topic in a very unique and engrossing style in Flight Into The Maelstrom. The book allows the reader to see the problems which developed within both Israel and the occupied territories through the eyes of a fictional Palestinian couple and a Soviet-Jewish immigrant family, both living in East Jerusalem, and the people who interact with them. Quigley notes that he based these characters on real people and their actual experiences, and that he employed this method to protect the identities of those who have suffered much pain and hardship over the years on both sides.
Quigley also writes in detail on the history of the Zionist conquest of Palestine from the late 19th century up until the present. He makes the case that the settling of Soviet immigrants in the West Bank at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian population was simply the latest in a long history of activities intended to solidify the hold of Zionist Jews on the homeland of the Palestinian people, and to make it increasingly difficult for any Israeli government to relinquish any part of that homeland to form a Palestinian state.
Documenting this case, Quigley quotes New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, who stated at the end of World War II that the Jews of Europe were "helpless hostages for whom statehood has been made the only ransom," by efforts of the Jewish Agency to limit their migration to any place but Palestine.
Support by the United States during the late 1980s and early 1990s for this policy by restricting the number of Soviet Jews who could immigrate into the U.S., which was actually the first choice of virtually all of them,
is also documented in Quigley’s book. On the whole, it is a very damning piece of scholarship, which makes no bones about the fact that Israel forced unwilling Soviet Jews to come to Israel in order to drive even more Palestinians from their land.
Quigley also recounts how this policy kept many Palestinian refugees from being able to re-enter the land of their birth. Such is the plight of a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon who asks, "Under what justice can a Russian Jew go to a Palestine he has never seen, while we who were born there must remain as refugees?"
For anyone who seeks proof of Zionism’s ruthless efforts to rid the Holy Land of as many Palestinians as possible so that Jews might have it all, Flight Into the Maelstrom is indispensable.
Michael S. Lee is the director of the AET Book Club