Setting the Record Straight about Orthodox Rabbis’ Appeal to Hitler

In 1928, the Polish branch of Agudath Israel—the leading Orthodox organization at the time—aligned itself with the ex-socialist Jozef Pilsudski’s authoritarian and nationalist ruling coalition. Now a recent article, ignoring the fact that the Pilsudski regime kept the ferocious anti-Semites of the major opposition party out of power, has drawn a parallel between this decision by Agudath Israel and a letter sent to Adolf Hitler by German Orthodox rabbis in 1933, and sees in both a parallel to current Orthodox support for Donald Trump and an alleged Orthodox tolerance for “white nationalism.” Moshe Grussgott refutes this argument:

German Orthodox leaders appealed [in a letter] to Hitler that Communist Jews didn’t represent true Jewry, and that traditional/Orthodox Judaism actually shared certain values with Nazism. . . . As [the historian of Orthodoxy Marc] Shapiro points out, this letter is obviously a sad and desperate attempt by a persecuted people to appease a strongman and to spare European Jews from persecution and murder. . . . [T]o take this letter as . . . an expression of genuine Orthodox values is akin to a journalist visiting a plantation in the American South in 1860, being told by the black slaves how much they loved their master and how they identified with white supremacy over blacks, and then reporting this conversation at face value as evidence of some sort of genuine sense of affinity and identification. . . .

As for the present Orthodox leadership, and the allegation that it did not properly stand up to the ideology motivating the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue:

[I]n August of 2017—a mere fourteen months before the Pittsburgh shooting—the RCA, the largest group of Orthodox rabbis in North America, strongly and unequivocally condemned white nationalism and took what they called the unusual step of denouncing President Trump for equivocating on this matter. . . . [Furthermore], a simple Google search reveals the following about the various Jewish communal statements in the wake of [the Pittsburgh] shooting: the statement of the Conservative movement does not mention white nationalism; the statement of the Reform movement does not mention white nationalism; the statement of the Jewish Federations of North America does not mention white nationalism. [And so forth]. . . .

These statements do all condemn hatred, bigotry, and anti-Semitism in general terms, to be sure; just as the [equivalent] Orthodox statements do. But none of them specifically denounces “white nationalism.” Do all of these organizations have a tolerance for white nationalism? Perhaps what really accounts for this is that the main purpose of major communal statements in the immediate wake of such an internal communal tragedy is to express empathy for the victims and to condemn the act of violence in a concise and general manner, without delving into too much commentary.

Read more at Torah Musings

More about: Adolf Hitler, Anti-Semitism, Donald Trump, History & Ideas, Orthodoxy, Politics & Current Affairs

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy