Franklin Roosevelt’s Plan for Ensuring the Jews Were “Spread Thin All over the World”

Anticipating that World War II would leave in its wake millions of refugees, among them no small number of Jews, FDR in 1942 ordered his confidant John Franklin Carter to devise a top-secret plan to distribute these refugees across the globe, informing him that anyone who leaked information about the plan would “suffer guillotinally.” Steve Usdin explains how this endeavor, known as the “M Project,” developed:

Carter was a journalist, novelist, and former diplomat who ran an informal secret intelligence service for Roosevelt. . . . Roosevelt’s first choice to head the M Project was Aleš Hrdlička, curator of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The two men had carried on a lively correspondence for over a decade and the president had absorbed the scientist’s theories about racial mixtures and eugenics. Roosevelt, the scion of two families that considered themselves American aristocrats, was especially attracted to Hrdlička’s notions of human racial “stock.”

A prominent public intellectual who had dominated American physical anthropology for decades, Hrdlička was convinced of the superiority of the white race and obsessed with racial identity. . . . Roosevelt had asked Carter to recruit Hrdlička, and to tell him his task would be to head up a secret international committee of anthropologists to study the “ethnological problems anticipated in post-war population movements.” . . .

Hrdlička ultimately refused to participate in the M Project because Roosevelt wouldn’t give him absolute control. Isaiah Bowman, the president of Johns Hopkins University and a geographer, was promoted from his role as a member of the committee to the head of the project. Roosevelt knew Bowman well and so was presumably aware of his anti-Semitic views. . . .

Settlement contingencies for a wide range of peoples were studied, but when Roosevelt described the M Project to Churchill during a lunch at the White House in May 1943, he focused on one particular group. FDR described it as a study about “the problem of working out the best way to settle the Jewish question,” Vice-President Henry Wallace, who attended the meeting, recorded in his diary. The solution, which the president endorsed, “essentially is to spread the Jews thin all over the world” rather than allowing them to congregate anywhere in large numbers.

President Truman would shut down the initiative as soon as he learned of its existence.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, History & Ideas, Racism, World War II

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf