web analytics
July 6, 2015 / 19 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


FDR And The Jews – Time For Reconciliation?


Front-Page-041213

Dark and overpowering gets attention, especially when the historical reputation of an American icon is being taken down a peg. Subtle and complex may have more long term appeal but can prove dissatisfying, especially to Jews, whose experiences in the mid-20th century were anything but subtle.

FDR and the Jews divides FDR into four different shape-shifting presidents. In his first term, FDR was a “bystander to Nazi persecution” of the Jews while he dealt with the Great Depression. The second, more empathetic FDR emerged after his 1936 reelection when he eased immigration barriers, supported the resettlement of European Jews in other countries, and “publicly backed a Jewish homeland in Palestine.” But after the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939, a third FDR “put internal security, foreign policy and military concerns” ahead of Jewish issues. The fourth and final FDR took shape in early 1944, when he created the War Refugee Board and denounced anti-Semitism as “an integral part of Hitler’s brutal attempt to rule Europe and the Western World.”

Fair enough. But as far as European Jews were concerned, wasn’t the most critical FDR the third one? In that period the Nazis implemented a plan to murder every Jewish man, woman and child on the European continent within their grasp using every 20th century industrial and scientific means at their disposal. By the time the fourth FDR emerged to create the War Refugee Board, the Nazis had already killed millions of Jews. As these historians acknowledge, “The president and his administration did not forthrightly inform the American public of Hitler’s grisly ‘Final Solution’ or respond decisively to his crimes.”

The FDR critics would hardly disagree. At its core, then, the dispute among these historians is not over what FDR objectively did or did not do. What they really disagree about is understanding and forgiveness.

* * * * *

The critics cut FDR no slack – of course he had other concerns on his mind but he could have found the time to do more to save Jews. FDR and the Jews is all about context and understanding; for example, explaining that the first FDR paid little, if any, attention to the Nazis’ persecution of German Jews because he was grappling in his first term with the crisis of the Great Depression.

“Much like Lincoln facing the political need to hold the Union together while wrestling with the humanitarian imperative to abolish slavery,” FDR in his first term refused to jeopardize his domestic agenda by stoking domestic “ethnic antagonism,” i.e., anti-Semitism, over the Third Reich’s Jewish policies.

But in at least one crucial sense, the third Roosevelt was responding “decisively” to Hitler’s crimes by devoting every human and physical resource at his command to Hitler’s destruction. In July 1942, while the battle for North Africa between British and German armies hung in the balance, a German force called Einsatzkommando Egypt was assembled in Athens, awaiting word that Cairo had fallen. In that event, the Einsatzkommando Egypt – effectively, a mobile Auschwitz – would land and start slaughtering Jews in Egypt and Palestine, where 500,000 Jews lived.

That the Einsatzkommando Egypt did not wipe out the Jews of Palestine (and dynamite any physical evidence, especially the Western Wall, that the Jewish people ever existed there), was, according to FDR and the Jews, due in part to FDR, who diverted American A-20 bombers and 300 Sherman tanks to the British armies, which may have tipped the balance at the crucial November 1942 battle of El Alamein.

FDR and the Jews doesn’t directly mention the reason the British were able to fight at all in North Africa – FDR’s Lend-Lease policy, which he single-handedly conceived in late 1940 when Britain stood alone against Germany and had run out of cash to buy American arms.

FDR didn’t create Lend-Lease or ship Sherman tanks to North Africa to save the Yishuv. He did it to remove a mortal threat to the United States. But unquestionably his wartime leadership saved the Palestinian Jews, the seed of the state of Israel. FDR and the Jews argues that FDR did “more good for the Jews there [in North Africa and Palestine] than his inconsistency and dissembling did harm.” By this logic, FDR – and the 400,000 American soldiers who died in the war – saved the approximately two million Jews in Europe still alive when Germany surrendered.

About the Author: Gregory J. Wallance is a lawyer and writer in New York City and the author of “America's Soul In The Balance: The Holocaust, FDR's State Department And The Moral Disgrace Of An American Aristocracy.” He is currently working on a book about three women spies in World War I, one of whom is Sarah Aaronsohn.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “FDR And The Jews – Time For Reconciliation?”

  1. Gil Gilman says:

    An outstanding article. I for one have purchased Mr. Wallance's book, which has been available since April 17, 2012…so just a little factual error by the editors.

  2. He was a heartless person.

  3. Why couldn't he use any of his enormous influence to get the British to stop their violation of the Mandate for Palestine? At a minimum hundreds of thousands would have been saved and it would cost the US nothing whatsoever.

  4. Ltc Howard says:

    The Jewish community should learn a lesson from this. Had they pressured Roosevelt many more Jews would be alive today. The lesson is don't roll over and play dead for Obama ,,, Or you and Israel will wind up dead.

  5. Subject: Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg's Holocaust speech.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Future guard? Arab child with Hamas headband aims toy rifle on the Temple Mount after prayers in the Al Aqsa mosque.
CNN Promotes Old City on Verge of Extinction Due to ‘Political Tension’
Latest Indepth Stories
Obama was all smiles for Israel's Ambassador Oren when they met in the White House.

US Jews prefer to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends complaining about “settlements” and Bibi

New Israel Fund and the UN

New Israel Fund & its supporters must be countered; Israel’s in the midst of an unprecedented storm

An ISIS Gaza rocket launcher.

PM Netanyahu this week identified ISIS and Iran as Israel’s primary threat. It is a planetary threat that carries the promise of peace.

U.S. postage stamp honoring Haym Solomon.

Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”

Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive

There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN

Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly

What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?

Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach

The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi

The president described the attack as “an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…”

“The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me,” said the 69-year-old Trump.

More Articles from Gregory J. Wallance
Sarah Aaronsohn

The Turks, believing Absalom was a spy, tortured him but he did not give them any information.

Wallance-070513

How did we move so quickly from complacency to last-minute weapons deliveries and a possible no-fly zone?

A just-released Israeli commission report vehemently disputes the France 2 video made in 2000 of a Palestinian father and his son crouching for shelter from bullets allegedly fired by Israeli soldiers. This is a media controversy but it parallels the decades-long dispute between Israel and the human rights organizations that have issued reports on violent clashes in the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon. Simply, the reporting process on these confrontations has broken down.

The debate in the Jewish community over Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his response to the Holocaust has been bitter and emotional, a family divided against itself. On the one hand, FDR was the polio-stricken man who, after being knocked flat on his back, rose and revived an America that had been knocked flat on its back and then led it to wartime triumph over Hitler and to global destiny.

During a recent trip to Rwanda, former president Bill Clinton lamented his failure in 1994 to intervene in that country’s genocidal massacres. “I don’t think we could have ended the violence, but I think we could have cut it down. And I regret it.”

This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is the anniversary of two starkly contrasting events of April 19, 1943 – the first day of the gallant but doomed Warsaw Ghetto uprising and of the ignominious Anglo-American Bermuda Conference on the Refugee Problem, which State Department diplomats organized to deflect pressure to rescue Jews from the Nazi death machine.

Recently, the Romanian government unveiled a long overdue memorial to the 300,000 Romanian Jews and Roma who perished in World War II at the hands of their own government and the Nazis. Unfortunately, the U.S. State Department, whose wartime diplomats doomed tens of thousands of the Romanian Jews commemorated by the memorial, has yet to acknowledge its own role in the Romanian Holocaust.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/fdr-and-the-jews-time-for-reconciliation/2013/04/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: