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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

 

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen