web analytics
April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Obama, Libya And The Holocaust


Share Button

President Obama and his supporters have defended U.S. military action in Libya by invoking America’s failure to respond to mass murder in Rwanda, Bosnia and even the Holocaust. Do those experiences indeed offer useful lessons for the current crisis?

In his national address on March 28, the president pointed out that “when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians.”

White House Middle East adviser Dennis Ross reportedly said at a briefing for foreign policy experts on March 23 that there was a danger in Libya of a “Srebrenica on steroids” – referring to the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Serb militiamen.

National Security Council official Samantha Power, who reportedly played a major role in the U.S. decision to intervene in Libya, has described her unsuccessful attempt as a young journalist to alert the world about the imminent attack on Srebrenica as one of the formative events in her life.

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen cited the Evian conference, in 1938, at which the United States and other countries refused to open their doors to Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.

“Lives were clearly at stake [in Libya] and something had to be done,” Cohen wrote. “The world could not simply shove its hands in its pockets and stand by as some madman had his way with people in his grip – in spirit, a reprise of the Evian conference.”

“We learned a lot in the 1990s,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said in her comments on the Libya action, referring to the importance of not repeating the world’s slow response to the killings in Bosnia and Rwanda.

The people of Libya undoubtedly appreciate that they are the beneficiaries of the current administration’s effort to learn from America’s past mistakes. Of course, the people of Bahrain or Syria may be wondering what disqualifies them from U.S. military support.

Clinton’s explanation on “Face the Nation” that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, unlike Moammar Khaddafi, is “a reformer,” probably will not impress many of Assad’s victims. Chinese dissidents, for their part, have been questioning Clinton’s judgment ever since her assertion, during her February 2009 visit to China, that human rights issues “can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis” that she was discussing with Beijing’s leaders.

Still, there can be no denying the fact that America’s action in Libya constitutes a significant change from the policies of some previous presidents.

It was not so long ago, after all, that another secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, was telling the president that “if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.”

And Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was president during the years when Jews from the (Nazi-occupied) Soviet Union were indeed put into gas chambers, likewise thought it was not an American concern.

Today, by contrast, America’s president has declared that the United States has “responsibilities to our fellow human beings.” That “preventing genocide” is “important to us” and one of our “core principles.” And that “some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries, [but] the United States of America is different.”

The people of Libya are not comparable to the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust. Neither are the people of Syria or Bahrain. There is no danger of genocide in those countries. On the other hand, based on the historical record in that part of the world, we know the possibility of a dictator massacring thousands of his own citizens is very real.

The fact that America’s current leaders recognize a role for historical lessons in shaping policy decisions is certainly a welcome change from the attitudes of some of their predecessors.

Rafael Medoff is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.

Share Button

About the Author: Dr. Rafael Medoff is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C., and author of 14 books about the Holocaust, Zionism, and American Jewish history. His latest book is 'FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith,' available from Amazon.


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.

No Responses to “Obama, Libya And The Holocaust”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arab rioters hurl objects at Israeli security personnel who use pepper spray to quell the violence emanating from the Al Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount.
Arab Violence Closes Temple Mount to Visitors Again
Latest Indepth Stories
Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

Dov Shurin

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

More Articles from Dr. Rafael Medoff
A group of Jewish partisans in the Rudniki forest, near Vilna, between 1942 and 1944. — US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

Arthur Hays Sulzberger

Sulzberger, one of the most famous “religious Jews” who opposed Zionism did not change his mind even after the Holocaust.

Meryl Streep condemned Disney for associating with extremists while doing the very same thing.

In 1943, just before Yom Kippur, some 400 rabbis marched to the White House.

When Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September to make the case for U.S. intervention in Syria, he offered a historical analogy.

Numerous Danish Christian families hid Jews in their homes or farms, and then smuggled them to the seashore.

The outcry around the world against Nazi book burning included a moving letter from Helen Keller.

The Obama team included many outspoken advocates of U.S. action against the Bashir regime.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/obama-libya-and-the-holocaust/2011/04/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: