Saturday, April 18, 2009

Watch On

From a review of Why We Watched, Theodore S. Hamerow's new book on why American Jews were relatively silent during the Holocaust:
After America declared war on Germany, the Jews' caution became even stronger. They had to convince their neighbors that this was not "a Jewish war." Jews felt vulnerable, exposed to the Big Lie that they wanted the war as part of a secret plot for world domination.

Endangering the lives of Allied soldiers would spread anti-Semitism still further. The war was to be won quickly, and the war effort was everyone's concern. It was only within this framework that America's Jews could offer their European brothers any assistance. This was done, but with very limited success. Many efforts failed. One attempt to send food to the Warsaw Ghetto succeeded only after the ghetto had been destroyed.

As the truth about the genocide became known, a resolution was introduced in Congress in November 1943 urging the creation of a commission "to formulate and execute a plan of immediate action designed to save the surviving people of Europe from execution at the hands of Nazi Germany." This failed after Karl Mundt of South Dakota expressed doubts as to whether a precedent could be established for "a single people."

The first paragraph really stuck with me. Anti-Semitism constrains Jewish political action in so many ways. The Holocaust is unique because it prevented Jews from stopping their own mass murder. But even on more mundane topics of foreign policy, I feel the pressure to step lightly, knowing that taking the "wrong" position becomes a data point for Jewish domination and hyperpower.

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