A Jewish Scholar, an Isolationist Senator, and a Mysterious Quotation from George Washington

Oct. 13 2020

To this day, the first American president’s valedictory warning against “foreign entanglements” is well known, and often cited for purposes both good and ill. But in 1934, Senator William Borah read a Washington Post editorial critical of himself that quoted Washington as having also said, “When, our institutions being firmly consolidated and working with complete success, we might safely and perhaps beneficially take part in the consultations held by foreign states for the advantage of the nations.”

An enraged Borah, the leader of the Republican party’s isolationist wing, instructed his staff to find the source of the quotation, which they traced to the Jewish scholar Horace Kallen, who was, in Esther Schor’s words, “an ardent Zionist, a prominent internationalist, and the leading advocate of what he called ‘cultural pluralism.’” As for Borah, who would denounce the quotation as a forgery, and condemn Kallen for it, Schor writes:

Having lost his 1936 bid for the Republican nomination, Borah spent the late 1930s pressing the case for American neutrality. He habitually blamed the Versailles Treaty for Hitler’s aggression. Privately, Borah also lamented Nazi persecution of “those poor people” and criticized Germany for financing insurgents in the United States. But he made no secret of his admiration for Hitler, imagining that a personal conversation with the Führer just might set things to right: “There are so many great sides to [Hitler], I believe I might accomplish something.” In 1938, he sought, through the German ambassador, an invitation to Berlin. But when the Foreign Office cabled the invitation to meet with both Hitler and Ribbentrop, Borah declined; he was ill, relations between the United States and Germany were deteriorating, and he suspected FDR would block his journey.

Upon learning that Germany had just invaded Poland, Borah told a journalist, “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler—all this might have been averted.” Meanwhile, despite [the prominent rabbi and Jewish leader] Stephen Wise’s personal appeals, Borah refused to speak out against the Nazi persecution of Jews.

By this time, Kallen had embarked on a quest for the origins of the quotation, which Schor recounts alongside a historical quest of her own regarding Kallen’s efforts to defend himself.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Adolf Hitler, American Jewish History, George Washington, Isolationism

Iran’s Responsibility for West Bank Terror

On Friday, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer and was then shot by another officer after trying to grab his rifle. Commenting on the many similar instances of West Bank-based terror during the past several months, Amit Saar, a senior IDF intelligence officer, predicted that the violence will likely grow worse in the coming year. Yoni Ben Menachem explains the Islamic Republic’s role in fueling this wave of terrorism:

The escape of six terrorists from Gilboa prison in September 2021 was the catalyst for the establishment of new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank, according to senior Islamic Jihad officials. The initiative to establish new armed groups was undertaken by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in coordination with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, implementing the strategy of Qassem Suleimani—the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who was assassinated in Iraq by the U.S.—of using proxies to achieve the goals of expansion of the Iranian regime.

After arming Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Iran moved in the last year to support the new terrorist groups in the northern West Bank. Iran has been pouring money into the Islamic Jihad organization, which began to establish new armed groups under the name of “Battalions,” which also include terrorists from other organizations such as Fatah, Hamas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. First, the “Jenin Battalion” was established in the city of Jenin, followed the “Nablus Battalion.”

Despite large-scale arrest operation by the IDF and the Shin Bet in the West Bank, Islamic Jihad continues to form new terrorist groups, including the “Tulkarem Battalion,” the “Tubas Battalion,” and the “Balata Battalion” in the Balata refugee camp.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Palestinian terror, West Bank