Monday, October 01, 2012

A Jew thinks the unthinkable

In addition to the history outlined below,  see the scenario I  have suggested here

There is a sense of déjà vu, a parallelism between America’s ten years and counting policy “containing” Iran, and America having ignored Germany’s emergence as a military power; Hitler’s graduated policy of isolating, then murdering the Jews.

All agree that antisemitism in 1933 was intense in both Germany and the United States. What lessons have we taken away from the fact that in the course of less than a decade Germany transformed from “merely” racist to homicidal so, while the United States remained “traditionally” antisemitic? Is 2012 safer for the Jewish people than we were in 1932, the year Germany voted for a Nazi-led government, and Hitler became the country’s chancellor?

There is, of course, no simple answer. First, we already know that ten years after that election Auschwitz was operational and had adapted 20th century technology to assembly-line mass murder. So, while we can know what occurred in the past, we cannot predict definitively the future. But we can, based on history, make an educated guess.

Holocaust Denial is typically assumed to be a product of non-Jews, its motive somewhere between serving as defense of Christianity, to inciting anti-Jewish violence. But Holocaust denial also takes a Jewishform. According to this narrative the Holocaust happened “over there” and not “here.” Reasons proffered are both social acceptance and our system of legal protections. For more than a century Jews have considered America our Diaspora’s long-sought Exception, our Goldene Medina.

But this posits the United States as “exceptional.” On what do we base this assumption; how do we come by our faith that the colonial description of America as the “city on the hill,” the “New Jerusalem” extends also to ourselves? Just how secure, how accepted are Jews in the United States?

For three hundred years Jew, Muslim and Christian participated in Spain’s Golden Age: before Islam was forced back across the Straight of Gibraltar. Five hundred years later King Boleslav of Poland invited Jewish settlement, guaranteed their security resulting on the next Golden Age for Jews. And even Lithuania rose to that description as Vilnius was called the “Jerusalem of Lithuania.”

On the eve of the Shoah the Jewish community of Vilna [Vilnius] was the spiritual centre of Eastern European Jewry, the centre of enlightenment and Jewish political life, of Jewish creativity and the experience of daily Jewish life…”  On 24 June, 1941 Germany, until 1933 also considered “exceptional” by its Jews, arrived at Vilna.

Since there were so many past “exceptions” in the history of our experience in the Diaspora, some spanning several centuries, American Jewry’s claims regarding our homeland deserve closer examination.

One clear argument is the number of Jews who achieved high government office. As far back as the Civil War a Jew was appointed Attorney General for the Confederacy; during the Vietnam war Richard Nixon, whose White House tapes demonstrate strong antipathy towards Jew, appointed a Jew as his Secretary of State. Since 1916 eight Jews were appointed to the US Supreme Court. And in 2000 presidential candidate Al Gore selected a Jew for his running mate. These and other such facts inspire pride, reassure of our acceptance as “Americans.”

And our sense of comfort and acceptance is reflected in our high rate of intermarriage. In 2001 the rate was 47%; today the rate is higher. And while many factors determine choice of a mate, I suggest that one of the most salient and perhaps least acknowledged (at least by ourselves) is our long history of persecution in the Diaspora: we yearn for acceptance, to belong. According to Alan Dershowitz,

American Jewish life is in danger of disappearing, just as most American Jews have achieved everything we ever wanted: acceptance, influence, affluence, equality.”

The German comparison: I wrote above that Germany, at least until 1933, was also considered “exceptional” by that Jewish community. How does the American model compare to pre-Holocaust Germany?

For me the comparison is very uncomfortable. In Germany as in the US Jews were over-represented among the elites, also rose to high levels of government and politics. A Jew wrote the constitution for Germany’s first venture into democracy; another Jew served as foreign minister in the Weimar government. Jews were prominent in the arts and the sciences: numbering fewer than .08% of the population, Jews represented 24% of Germany’s Nobel recipients.

In an effort to explain, to comprehend how their beloved fatherland, their German identity evaporated so quickly, women survivors almost mantra-like repeatedly told interviewers, “We were so German… so assimilated!”

During the Weimar Republic, strictly religious education and practices were on the decline and mixed marriages on the rise. In the large cities, marriage to Christians was becoming so common – especially among Jewish men – that some Jewish leaders actually feared the complete fusion of their community into German society by the end of the twentieth century.”

“[I]n 1927, 54% of all marriages of Jews were contracted with non-Jews,” a statistic even greater than the American 47% in 2001! If, as I suggest, intermarriage correlates to “level of comfort” in our respective communities, German Jewry in the years immediately before the rise of Hitler were more comfortable, more assimilated than are we in America today.

There is no evidence to suggest that either president, Obama or Roosevelt, pursue(d) policies intentionally intended to harm the Jews. Yet by the passivity of their responses to global challenges Jewish lives were placed at risk and lost. Obama’s failure to date to more assertively block Iranian hegemonic ambitions, including its nuclear weapons program, has placed America’s interests in the Middle East (the oil monarchies, the Suez Canal, etc) at risk; it also placed at risk the security of our traditional dependencies and allies, including Israel.

By failing to stand by Israel in face of Turkey’s support of the Mavi Marmara provocation Obama allowed to fester a rupture in relations between two of America’s most important allies protecting American interests in the Middle East.

The president’s intervention to remove Hosni Mubarak as president of Egypt as well as numerous other policy decisions, whether intended or not, contributed to regional instability, harmed America’s standing in the region and in the world and, most importantly for this discussion, materially contributed to Israel’s present state of isolation and threat.

There is a sense of déjà vu, a parallelism between America’s ten years and counting policy towards containing Iranian ambitions, and Roosevelt passively standing by as the Third Reich publicly and determinedly grew its armed forces in violation of Versailles; failed to forcefully respond to Germany’s hegemonic ambitions, its emergence as a military power. His failure also to confront Hitler’s graduated policy of isolating, then murdering the Jews.

Like Obama, there is no evidence that Roosevelt pursued a “policy” tointentionally harm Jews. But neither does his response to the escalating persecution indicate any intention to materially interfere with that persecution. This detached attitude is evident in his unwavering adherence to the 1924 Immigration Restriction Act as “response” to the 1935 Nuremberg Laws; to the 1938 Krystallnacht pogrom; even to early and persistent reports of einsatsgruppen massacres two years before the US entered the war.

Before 1941 Roosevelt insisted the US does not interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation; after that date the excuse was that the victims were citizens of an “enemy” nation! Each of these situations were given extensive coverage in the US press, so the president could not claim absence of intelligence.

While America’s response to each of these may not rise to the level of apolicy of antisemitism, neither did they demonstrate concern for the fate of the Jews, or America’s claim to be haven to the oppressed. Even today Roosevelt apologists insist he was no antisemite, that the president’s “hands were tied” by the 1924 Law!

Whatever the reason, clearly his hands were not tied when, with daily newspaper headlines reporting on the unfolding Final Solution the president steadfastly refused to halt or even slow the slaughter of the still living dead by ordering a few bombs be dropped on killing centers as American aircraft overflew them en route to industrial targets. And were his “hands tied” when he denied refuge to Jewish children made homeless by the Krystallnacht pogrom? He even defended not doing so in a radio address, “that [refuge] is not in contemplation, we have the [1924] quota system.” But when Britain appealed for refuge for London children facing the Battle of Britain, children who could as well have found refuge in the countryside, they were immediately welcomed. Even London’s “threatened” dogs were more acceptable for refuge than Jews!  In fact in no year during this horrible period did Roosevelt’s State Department even fill allowable quotas for Jews.

If American policy in general was passively complicit in the Holocaust, Roosevelt’s State Department was actively supportive in the murder of Europe’s Jews.

With this background to the question (and I’ve limited the discussion to government policy, not popular antisemitism) how secure are America’s Jews today, how likely that the Holocaust was just the single and unique occurrence we like to believe, that such recurring is rarely even considered, at least not, “over here”? Is Never Again more than just a rhetorical flourish, a palliative the sole purpose of which is our desire for self-reassurance?

Put another way, will Denial preserve us if we are living but a reassuring lie?



Benghazi-gate – Obama Knew

In the days following the assassination attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 that left Ambassador Chris Stevens and three aides dead it was appalling to watch the Obama Administration's painstaking efforts to deny any connection to radical Islamic terror.   A week later, the White House was forced to admit a connection to al Qaeda after the Director of the National Counterterrrorism Center, Matthew Olsen, testified to a Senate Committee that Benghazi was indeed a "terrorist attack on our embassy" with likely "connections to al Qaeda."

The week long contortions and denials by the Administration became even more befuddling when Eli Lake at the Daily Beast raised the stakes with this bombshell disclosure on September 26:

"Within 24 hours of the 9-11 anniversary attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, U.S. intelligence agencies had strong indications al Qaeda–affiliated operatives were behind the attack, and had even pinpointed the location of one of those attackers. Three separate U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said the early information was enough to show that the attack was planned and the work of al Qaeda affiliates operating in Eastern Libya."

Anderson Cooper at CNN disclosed on September 23 that Ambassador Steven's journal indicated he believed he was targeted by al Qaeda, yet apparently the State Department took no steps to protect his safety.  That added to the questions….why?

Instead of coming clean, the State Department attacked CNN calling the disclosure "disgusting" and "not a proud moment in CNN's history."  Again, raising more questions.

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) was the first to mention the "c" word -  cover up.  "There has to be something they're trying to hide or cover up," he said.  "We just want answers."

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) gave the growing scandal a name; Benghazi-gate.

Lake's newest revelation raises the stakes yet again.  Jennifer Rubin in her "Right Turn" column in the Washington Post today asks the newest most obvious question – "Did Obama lie?"

"Obviously the report (Eli Lake's in the Daily Beast), if true, suggests that the White House lied to the American people by insisting for over a week that this was a spontaneous attack. It is one thing for the president to be so benighted as to think a video sets off multiple attacks on Sept. 11. It is quite another to send out his advisers, including his own spokesman, to mislead voters."



Obama's snub of Netanyahu speaks louder than words

    Thomas Sowell

During the same week when the American ambassador to Libya was murdered and his dead body dragged through the streets by celebrating mobs, the President of the United States found time to go on the David Letterman show to demonstrate his sense of humor and how cool he is.

But Barack Obama did not have time to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of a nation repeatedly threatened with annihilation by Iranian leaders, who are working feverishly toward the creation of nuclear bombs.

This was an extraordinary thing in itself, something that probably no other President of the United States could have gotten away with, without raising a firestorm of criticisms and denunciations. But much of the media sees no evil, hears no evil and speaks no evil when it comes to Barack Obama -- especially during an election year.

Nor was this public rebuff of a publicly requested meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu unique in its expression of disrespect, if not contempt, for both the man and his country. Despite his glowing assertions of his commitment to Israel, especially in speeches to American Jewish groups, Barack Obama has been working against Israel's interests from his first day in the White House. As in many other contexts, Barack Obama 1 speaks but Barack Obama 2 acts -- often in the opposite direction.

The vision in which Obama has been steeped is one in which white Western nations have oppressed and exploited non-white, non-Western nations, becoming rich and arrogant at other people's expense. It is a vision that calls out, not for justice, but for payback.

When Jeremiah Wright said, "white folks' greed runs a world in need" -- and Obama, by his own account, was moved to tears -- this captured in a few melodramatic words what a whole series of Obama's mentors and allies had been saying for decades. No wonder it resonated with him.

Despite hopes that Barack Obama's election as President of the United States would mark the beginning of a post-racial era in America, no hope was ever so completely doomed from the outset. Anyone who looks beyond Obama's soothing words about race to his record, from his joining self-segregated black students in college to his appointing Al Sharpton as a White House adviser, can see the contrast between rhetoric and reality.

Barack Obama is not the first leader of a nation whose actions reflected some half-baked vision, enveloped in lofty rhetoric and spiced with a huge dose of ego. Nor would he be the first such leader to steer his nation into a historic catastrophe.

In Barack Obama's case, the potential for catastrophe is international in scope, and perhaps irretrievable in its consequences, as he stalls with feckless gestures as terrorist-sponsoring Iran moves toward the production of nuclear bombs.

The rhetoric of Obama 1 says that he will protect Israel but the actions of Obama 2 have in fact protected Iran from an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities -- until now it is questionable whether Iran's deeply buried nuclear facilities can be destroyed by the Israelis.

Those deeply buried facilities took time to build, and Obama's policies gave them that time, with his lackadaisical approach of seeking United Nations resolutions and international sanctions that never had any serious chance of stopping Iran's movement toward becoming a nuclear power. And Barack Obama had to know that.

In March, "Foreign Policy" magazine reported that "several high-level sources" in the Obama administration had revealed Israel's secret relationship with Azerbaijan, where Israeli planes could refuel to or from an air strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

The administration feared "the risks of an Israeli strike on Iran," according to these "high-level sources." Apparently the risks of an Iranian nuclear strike on Israel are not so much feared.

This leak was one of the historic and unconscionable betrayals of an ally whose very existence is threatened. But the media still saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke no evil.

The only question now is whether the American voters will wake up before it is too late -- not just for Israel, but for America.




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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist.  It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day.  It was only to the Right of  Stalin's Communism.  The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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