How a Poker Club Rescued Hundreds of German Jews from the Nazis

When 28 German Jewish refugees arrived in Manila via Shanghai in 1937, Alex and Philip Frieder—Jews who owned a local cigar-manufacturing business—decided to do something to bring more of their brethren to the Philippines, then an American territory. To this end, they enlisted their poker buddies. Robert Rockaway and Maya Guez write:

These poker buddies included [the American high commissioner Paul V.] McNutt, Manuel L. Quezon, president of the Philippine Commonwealth, and a young Army colonel named Dwight D. Eisenhower, then an aide to Douglas MacArthur, field marshal of the Philippines. At the late-night card games, these friends devised a rescue plan eventually to bring as many as 10,000 German Jews to the Philippines.

Although American immigration laws applied to the Philippines, the country had no quota system. A financial guarantee from a resident sufficed to obtain an entry visa. If a Jewish refugee who arrived in the Philippines was able to find employment, he met an important provision of U.S. immigration policy: that he not become a burden on the state. McNutt, the Frieder brothers, and Quezon became the active movers of the plan; Eisenhower played no ongoing role in the rescue but served as the group’s liaison to the U.S. Army, which oversaw the Philippines. . . .

After America entered the war and Japan invaded and occupied the islands, the granting of visas to Jews ended. Ironically, the Japanese treated the German Jewish refugees considerably better than the British, American, and other enemy nationals residing in Manila. Because Germany was Japan’s ally, they thought of the German Jews as Germans and did not put them in internment camps. . . .

When the U.S. began to reconquer the Philippines, conditions for Jews quickly deteriorated. As the Japanese suffered defeat, their troops in Manila went on a rampage. They committed widespread atrocities against everyone, including the Jews, before they retreated from the city. . . . Despite all they endured, [however], the hundreds of surviving Jews and their children remained forever thankful that the Manila poker players saved them from certain death in the Holocaust.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Dwight D. Eisenhower, History & Idea, Holocaust, Southeast Asia, World War II

Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden