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The Jews Who Fought Hitler, and the Jewish Army That Wasn’t

Jan. 31 2018

In Sons and Soldiers, Bruce Henderson tells the story of young Jewish refugees from the Third Reich who joined the U.S. Army after Pearl Harbor, and whose familiarity with Germany and the German language was put to use by military intelligence. In Racing against History, Rick Richman explains the unsuccessful attempts of three Zionist leaders—Chaim Weizmann, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and David Ben-Gurion—in 1940 to raise a Jewish army in America to fight the Nazis. Reviewing the two books, Matti Friedman finds some familiar themes:

Of the three leaders in Racing against History, Weizmann, [then the head of the Zionist Organization and later the first president of Israel], was the most careful in his public utterances. He grasped the danger of the perception that world war was being waged for Jewish interests and preferred the quiet maneuver. . . . In America, he wrote, even mentioning what was happening to Jews in Europe might be “associated with warmongering.” . . .

[The Revisionist Zionist leader] Jabotinsky, [by contrast], wanted a Jewish army raised immediately and said so, even though the mainstream American Jewish leadership called him a “militarist” and published a pamphlet warning against his views. In the pages of the Forward, its editor Abraham Cahan mocked him as a “naïve person and a great fantasizer.” There was no need for Jabotinsky’s Jewish army, Cahan thought, and the Jewish problem would be solved not by a Jewish state but by an Allied victory and democracy. “If true democracy exists,” [wrote Cahan], “there is no place for anti-Semitism.” In other words, the way forward was to be American citizens and soldiers, like [those described by Henderson].

Recent events in Europe and America would seem to suggest that anti-Semitism does, in fact have a place in democracy. . . . The old idea of “Jewish warmongering,” about which Weizmann was so careful in 1940, is still current, as evidenced by the flap in September over a tweet by Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent, suggesting just that. And though the Zionist plan succeeded and there is a Jewish army, the normalization of the Jews has failed to materialize and their existential fears continue.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Abraham Cahan, Anti-Semitism, Chaim Weizmann, History & Ideas, World War II, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, Zionism

 

Mahmoud Abbas Comes to the UN to Walk away from the Negotiating Table

Feb. 22 2018

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the United Nations Security Council during one of its regular discussions of the “Palestine question.” He used the opportunity to elaborate on the Palestinians’ “5,000-year history” in the land of Israel, after which he moved on to demand—among other things—that the U.S. reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The editors of the Weekly Standard comment:

It’s convenient for Abbas to suggest a condition to which he knows the United States won’t accede. It allows him to do what he does best—walk away from the table. Which is what he did on Tuesday, literally. After his speech, Abbas and his coterie of bureaucrats walked out of the council chamber, snubbing the next two speakers, the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon and the U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, . . . [in order to have his] photograph taken with the Belgian foreign minister.

Abbas has neither the power nor the will to make peace. It’s the perennial problem afflicting Palestinian leadership. If he compromises on the alleged “right of return”—the chimerical idea that Palestinians can re-occupy the lands from which they [or their ancestors] fled, in effect obliterating the Israeli state—he will be deposed by political adversaries. Thus his contradictory strategy: to prolong his pageantry in international forums such as the UN, and to fashion himself a “moderate” even as he finances and incites terror. He seems to believe time is on his side. But it’s not. He’s eighty-two. While he continues his performative intransigence, he further immiserates the people he claims to represent.

In a sense, it was entirely appropriate that Abbas walked out. In that sullen act, he [exemplified] his own approach to peacemaking: when difficulties arise, vacate the premises and seek out photographers.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Nikki Haley, Politics & Current Affairs, United Nations