web analytics
September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Who Were The Real ‘Accomplices’?


According to a growing number of academics and political extremists, Jews have too much power in America.

This backlash against the so-called Israel Lobby has predictably caused many to wonder whether the assertive voice of contemporary Jewish political activism is too loud, too brash and, most of all, too pushy in making its case.

Those who wonder what the world would be like if only those pushy Jews listened to their critics need not engage in science fiction. All you need is a history lesson about how American Jewish organizations and leaders – the predecessors of the ones that are today considered the take-no-prisoners cornerstone of “the lobby” – acted during the Holocaust. And to do that, a visit to an off-Broadway theater this month will do nicely.

In Bernard Weinraub’s new play “The Accomplices” at the New Group’s Acorn Theater on Manhattan’s 42nd Street, the eminent Rabbi Stephen Wise is confronted by an obnoxious young foreigner. The young man, who goes by the name of Peter Bergson, is frustrated by the unwillingness of the most influential American Jew of his era to use his power to speak up to save European Jews slated for death by Hitler’s Nazis.

Explaining his reluctance to confront an American president whom he considers a “god,” Wise says that American Jews are just too scared to make a stink about rescue. “We don’t shout,” says Wise. “We work quietly. We don’t draw attention to ourselves.”

Bergson was the assumed name of Hillel Kook, a member of the Irgun Zvai Leumi, the pre-Israel underground resistance movement. And he’ll have none of it. A stranger to America, he was mystified by the supine attitude of an American Jewry living in comparative security.

He could not comprehend how deeply intimidated Jews and their leaders were by American anti-Semitism. While Bergson saw only a prosperous group who need not fear the assaults of Cossacks, even a powerful figure like Wise trembled at the thought of the hatred expressed by radio personality and anti-Semite Father Charles Coughlin.

“Don’t judge me!” Wise implores as Bergson prepares to launch a noisy public campaign.

Sadly, for Wise, posterity has done little but that ever since.

Weinraub, a longtime reporter for The New York Times who retired a few years ago to try his hand at playwriting, may be exploring familiar territory for those scholars who have been picking at this ugly scab on our communal conscience for decades, but his riveting play has the ability to tell this story for an audience that may never crack open a history book. In resurrecting this confrontation for the stage, he has tapped into a message that is as timely as it is dramatic.

Set in New York and Washington during the years of World War II, the action of “The Accomplices” switches back and forth between scenes in a small New York apartment and the corridors of power in the capital.

In New York, a couple of “nobodies from nowhere” – Bergson and his colleague, Samuel Merlin – try to organize a movement for rescue. At the same time, we see how President Franklin Roosevelt’s appointment of Undersecretary of State Breckenridge Long – a man hostile to Jews and opposed to any thought of allowing refugees into the United States – has made this country an “accomplice” in some ways to the desire of the Nazis to kill those who can’t escape their clutches.

But as much as the roles of FDR and Long in this scenario are central to understanding how events preceded, our attention is inevitably drawn elsewhere. It is the failure of Jewish leaders like Wise, the preeminent spokesman for Jewry of his era, and Jewish insiders like Samuel Rosenman, one of FDR’s top advisers, to risk their own standing in the president’s inner circle to advocate for rescue, that seems to constitute the most shameful aspect of the story.

The willingness of Bergson to go public with his frustration about indifference to the ongoing slaughter of Jews appalls Wise. He is willing to swallow any indignity and failure rather than challenge the president. Instead, he sees Bergson, the Jew who is willing to “shout,” as more of an enemy than even the Germans.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


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.

No Responses to “Who Were The Real ‘Accomplices’?”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Palestinian Authority child terrorist. "Don't shoot. I am a child."
Netanyahu May Allow Soldiers to Shoot at Terrorists
Latest Indepth Stories
Ronn Torossian

Many in the media impart bias in place of truth; convey personal prejudice over objective facts.

Israeli Apartheid Week at the University of California, Los Angeles campus.

A recent study found that 54% of Jewish college students experienced/witnessed anti-Semitism in 2014

The Palestinians have desecrated Joseph's Tomb on more than one occasion.

The purpose of an attack on Joseph’s Tomb is to murder Jews at prayer and destroy a Jewish holy site

Broken Telephone

A nuclear Khomenist Tehran will be a threat to Western democracies and to Jerusalem in particular

The MONSTERS of Nebi Saleh know well the damning, visceral impact of powerful, deceitful imagery.

Jewish Voice for Peace openly supports BDS movement against ALL of Israel & ending the Jewish State.

In recent years, there has been a big push to grow and develop American Football here in Israel.

Unlike Judaism & Christianity which honors “truth,” Islam pursues “Taqiyya,” strategic lying

Yashar Lachayal’s mission is to learn what IDF soldiers’ need and get it to them when they need it.

Corbyn leading the Britain’s Labour Party polls, describes Hamas & Hizbullah as England’s “friends.”

The convicted murderer was released from Israeli prison with more than two dozen other sociopaths

JCF is a donor/supporter of The New Israel Fund which supports BDS & wants IDF soldiers prosecuted

The ‘Peace Industry’ promotes its adherents; weak leaders, both military & political, is the result

The conundrum for US Labor Zionists: Lobbying for Iran deal while Israel’s Left lobby’s against it.

What does the Torah want from our small nation described as “they who struggle with God & with men”?

More Articles from Jonathan S. Tobin
Tobin-073115

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

President Barack Obama

Obama thought he could replace the Saudis with Iran as the new ME lynchpin without paying a price

The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]

How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.

Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/who-were-the-real-accomplices/2007/04/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: