A Holocaust Museum Exhibit Goes Out of Its Way to Defend FDR

According to its curator, a new exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum titled Americans and the Holocaust aims to show—among other things—that “even the U.S. president faces constraints.” Yet to Rafael Medoff, the exhibit goes one step further and seems to exonerate Franklin D. Roosevelt for his indifference to the plight of Jews in Hitler’s Europe:

The exhibit defends FDR’s refusal, from 1933 to 1938, to criticize Hitler’s persecution of the Jews publicly. A text panel claims that “the accepted rules of international diplomacy obliged [the U.S. government] to respect Germany’s right to govern its own citizens and not intervene on behalf of those being targeted.” [But] Presidents Martin Van Buren, James Buchanan, and Ulysses S. Grant protested the mistreatment of Jews in Syria, Switzerland, and Romania, respectively. Theodore Roosevelt protested the persecution of Jews in Romania. The U.S. government, under President William Taft, canceled a Russo-American treaty to protest Russia’s oppression of Jews. Woodrow Wilson inserted clauses protecting minorities in the Paris Peace Conference agreements [following World War I]. There was ample precedent for Franklin D. Roosevelt to speak out; he chose not to. . . .

In any event, the president could have aided Jews [trying to escape Europe] without provoking a public controversy by quietly allowing the existing quota [for immigrants from Germany] to be filled. However, FDR permitted that quota to be fully utilized in only one of his twelve years in office, and in most of those years it was less than 25-percent filled. More than 190,000 quota places from Germany and Axis-occupied countries were left unused from 1933 to 1945. . . .

The exhibit [also] does not mention that clergy, professors, and students could have been admitted without regard to number. Nor is there any mention of the proposals for admitting refugees temporarily to U.S. territories such as Alaska or the Virgin Islands.

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More about: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Holocaust, Holocaust Museums, Refugees

Yasir Arafat’s Decades-Long Alliance with Iran and Its Consequences for Both Palestinians and Iranians

Jan. 18 2019

In 2002—at the height of the second intifada—the Israeli navy intercepted the Karina A, a Lebanese vessel carrying 50 tons of Iranian arms to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). But Yasir Arafat’s relationship with the Islamic Republic goes much farther back, to before its founding in 1979. The terrorist leader had forged ties with followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that grew especially strong in the years when Lebanon became a base of operations both for Iranian opponents of the shah and for the PLO itself. Tony Badran writes:

The relationship between the Iranian revolutionary factions and the Palestinians began in the late 1960s, in parallel with Arafat’s own rise in preeminence within the PLO. . . . [D]uring the 1970s, Lebanon became the site where the major part of the Iranian revolutionaries’ encounter with the Palestinians played out. . . .

The number of guerrillas that trained in Lebanon with the Palestinians was not particularly large. But the Iranian cadres in Lebanon learned useful skills and procured weapons and equipment, which they smuggled back into Iran. . . . The PLO established close working ties with the Khomeinist faction. . . . [W]orking [especially] closely with the PLO [was] Mohammad Montazeri, son of the senior cleric Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri and a militant who had a leading role in developing the idea of establishing the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) once the revolution was won.

The Lebanese terrorist and PLO operative Anis Naccache, who coordinated with [the] Iranian revolutionaries, . . . takes personal credit for the idea. Naccache claims that Jalaleddin Farsi, [a leading Iranian revolutionary], approached him specifically and asked him directly to draft the plan to form the main pillar of the Khomeinist regime. The formation of the IRGC may well be the greatest single contribution that the PLO made to the Iranian revolution. . . .

Arafat’s fantasy of pulling the strings and balancing the Iranians and the Arabs in a grand anti-Israel camp of regional states never stood much of a chance. However, his wish to see Iran back the Palestinian armed struggle is now a fact, as Tehran has effectively become the principal, if not the only, sponsor of the Palestinian military option though its direct sponsorship of Islamic Jihad and its sustaining strategic and organizational ties with Hamas. By forging ties with the Khomeinists, Arafat unwittingly helped to achieve the very opposite of his dream. Iran has turned [two] Palestinian factions into its proxies, and the PLO has been relegated to the regional sidelines.

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More about: Hamas, History & Ideas, Iran, Lebanon, PLO, Yasir Arafat