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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’

German Jews Irate at Sale of Göring’s Silk Underpants

Friday, June 17th, 2016

The Central Council of Jews in Germany is protesting this weekend’s offering by the Hermann Historica auction house of Nazi memorabilia that includes Hermann Göring’s silk underpants. CCJG president Josef Schuster told DPA the idea of “making business, without any limits, with items of Hitler, Göring and Eva Braun” in the auction was “scandalous and disgusting.”

“Such items belong in museums or archives, they should not be sold for profit,” Schuster told DPA.

Titled “The John K. Lattimer Collection — Hitler and the Nazi Leaders — a unique insight into evil,” the auction, to be conducted this Saturday, “includes for the most part objects from the world-famous collection of John K. Lattimer,” who “as a young boy … started his collection with objects of naval and aviation interest and items relating to Native American culture. In later years he collected important historical objects associated with historical figures such as George Washington, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Lindbergh, John F. Kennedy etc.”

Talk about a brief history.

According to the auction house’s website, Dr. Lattimer served as a medical officer during the War Crimes Trials in Nuremberg, where he cared for the prisoners as well as members of the allied forces staff. His objective was to keep those accused of war crimes in good health for long enough to give them an irrefutably fair trial.

Then grab their intimate apparel.

Indeed, “some notable pieces of his collection originate from this period of his service. During this period he also made detailed observations on the men that he processed, which he later included in his book, ‘Hitler’s Fatal Sickness and other Secrets of the Nazi Leaders’ published in 1999 when he was Head Professor of Urology at Columbia University.”

Everyone would agree that Adolf Hitler was a stain on human history, but only an expert urologist can fully appreciate it.

German law prohibits the open display of Nazi memorabilia, but not their purchase or ownership by researchers, collectors, and folks who just wonder what it would be like to own the Reichsminister of Aviation’s silk shorts.

The auction also offers the brass container Göring used to kill himself with hydrogen cyanide just before his scheduled execution in Nuremberg in 1946.

According to the Hermann Historica website, “Also of historical importance are Hitler’s long black trousers whose pockets were leather lined so that he could carry a gun unobtrusively with him.”

Perhaps a lucky buyer could by both Hitler’s pants and Göring’s underpants for that complete Nazi experience.


Abraham Lincoln and Jewish Thought: A Union Made in Heaven

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

As we approach Presidents Day  as well as Lincoln’s birthday it is would be altogether fitting for Jews to consider the extraordinary special relationship that Abraham Lincoln shared with our people. Lincoln as many have accurately written was clearly by far the best friend of the Jews by any president in American history. However, what has gone largely unnoticed and covered here is the extent to which his ideas and thought processes mirror in vital content a range of Jewish perspectives.

 Among his final words were , “How I would so much like some day to visit Jerusalem.” These words were not  spoken by some longing Jew, but rather by Abraham Lincoln according to Mary Todd (as related in the film based book by Doris Kearns) before he was assassinated by the bullet that felled him by the infamous John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln as many have accurately written was clearly  by far  the best friend of the Jews by any president in American history.

The  extent to which Lincoln’s ideas and though processes is perhaps no accident in that certain Jews, particularly his good friend Abraham Jonas may have exerted a strong  influence on Lincoln. This may perhaps also be coupled with the great insights he held independently embodying God given insights of a truth seeker who before God sought wisdom with humility . This is not to regard Lincoln as prophet but rather as a  human agent  who through candor and commitment found himself embracing the same truths grasped by our rabbis and patriarchs.

In seeking the freedom of the Jews from enslavement there is an underlying recognition of a certain common value in the sanctity of humanity beyond any favorite status that  entitles one to freedom from enslavement . This is something that Lincoln also embodied in his striving to free the slaves of this country as is evident in his soundings  against slavery as well as certain emotional expressions disclosing this disposition. For example in a letter  to his good friend Benjamin Rush in 1855 Lincoln observes his torment when journeying upon a steamboat with about a dozen shackled slaves. He relates he found it a sight that was “a continued torment to me.”..I see something like it every time I look at the Ohio.” He further adds that as a nation we started out declaring all men are created equal and are now maintaining  all men are created equal except Negroes.” 

He adds this would later be extended by “Know Nothings”  to foreigners and Catholics,  and finally asserts that he is sometimes in desperation  inclined to prefer  living  in a place such as Russia where there is at least  no pretense to liberty. This sentiment of the universal rights of all persons is a sentiment that is found in the Torah itself where numerous times we are reminded there is one law for all (Exodus 12:49) and 36 times reminded  that the rights of the stranger are to be protected. Further the Talmud itself reminds us that in the Olam Ha-Ba (World to Come)  there is a place for the righteous of all nations.

Another area where we encounter a remarkable parallel with Jewish thought is with respect to some measure of uncertainty regarding the   correctness of our chosen courses, and to allow ourselves a certain openness for some shift in perspective.  This is strongly embodied in Lincoln’s second inaugural address and forcefully conveyed in his manuscript ” “Meditations on the Divine Will.”  In the address he asserts “in the present Civil War  it is somewhat possible that God’s purpose is somewhat different than the purpose of either party, and yet human instrumentalities  working as they do, are the best adaption to effect this. ” Here we find a sentiment most central to Jewish thought. It is reflected in the whole fabric of Talmudic thought where a cooperation and interaction of minds congregate to strive towards developing  eternal truths.. It is interesting that that in studying  the Gemara we are often not left with one definitive truth but rather  a spectrum of viewpoints without a decided outcome. Further the drive here is within “this world” and not the seeking of some afterlife knowledge or reassurance.

When Lincoln  was once in the midst of an audience of the  well known evangelist Cartwright  the latter howled to the crowd ” Who here would prefer to go to heaven upon his passing, please stand up? Lincoln conspicuously did not rise . This was followed by a second question , Who here would prefer to eternal damnation ? Again Lincoln  did not respond. The evangelist then focused his attention upon Lincoln and shouted. Mr Lincoln, you have not responded with an intention of going either to either  Heaven or eternal damnation . May I inquire where you intend to go ? Lincoln then responded,  “I did not wish to be singled out but since you ask, I will answer with equal candor, I intend to go  go straight to Congress.”

 In his response Lincoln exhibited a quality  that distinctly paralleled a Jewish perspective. One is reminded here of the midrash where in Pirkei  Avos,  Rabbi Eliezer  and his colleagues are arguing over a Talmudic fine point and the latter seeks out a miraculous intervention beyond this world to prove his point. Thereupon God responds by reminding the rabbis, Torah is no longer in Heaven, it is in the hands of humankind. Lincoln’s discerning response to Cartwright  was exactly in the same direction: he is seeking to the best of his capacity to promote God’s work within the framework of creation which in this case is the US Congress. This further underscores the aspect of  a “this world focus” where in the Talmud (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30a ) it is recounted that upon King  David’s passing , Solomon is on the verge of attending to his father’s deceased body but is told by God to first feed the hungry dogs. Again the affirmation of life and attending to this worlds needs occupies a sacred precedence .

The idea that this life presents us with God granted opportunities to act and  realize our purposes is a very deeply rooted Jewish notion and one that was continually intertwined in Lincoln’s outlook within the patterns of his life. This is not only mirrored in our reading of Torah even upon a pshat (plain language) reading, recalling Joseph’s comments to his brothers that a higher purpose has taken him to Egypt, but is also amplified in a most enlightening way through certain Kabbalistic content. Here we encounter the notion of tikkun olam entailing a human role in  repair of an intentionally flawed universe. It is further enhanced by the connection it proposes between individual destinies and the larger destiny of history  or as in the case of individual Jews the destiny of Israel. It is within such a context  we are struck by the phenomenally incredible circumstances leading to Lincoln’s nomination as president. Lincoln, an absolute nationally unknown, was in the early 1850’s not even remotely considered a presidential candidate until through his deep friendship with the orthodox Jew and fellow attorney Abraham Jonas. In meeting at the law firm of Ashley and Jonas the newly formed Republican party visited by the well known journalist Horace Greeley suddenly witnessed the isolated mention of Lincoln by Jonas partner Ashley. This was greeted with complete and  total silence until the charismatic Abraham Jonas stood behind the nomination and pursued it to fruition.  Earlier he arranged for the pivotal  Lincoln-Douglas debates. This incredible convergence of circumstances discloses the mentioned intersection of destinies and the rest became history.

 This is further illuminated by the notion of a healing balancing component contributed by the middle path allowed in the tenfold view of the  Sephirot, allowing an equilibrium between  between Din (justice in its severity) and Hesed  (mercy). Lincoln in viewing his role for bringing about a healing process within the fragmented Union is very much in tune with this God rooted world perspective. The Din here was reflected in Lincoln’s words of his second inaugural address that justice in the removal of slavery must be done  and remarkably the reference to the to the enslavement of the Jews  where he asserts “As was said 3,000 years ago , the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous.” The element of Hesed was then captured in the moving words “With malice towards none, and charity to all.”

Lincoln’s ties to the Jewish people may also be evident in this intersection when one considers the incredible benefits that he bestowed upon the small rising Jewish population. As well known one of his first acts upon request of  certain Jews of the time was to grant Jewish chaplans the right to  practice in the Union without any commitment to the Christian faith. Secondly his immediate  voiding, upon protest, of General Grant’s (later mending his ways) order that the Union not deal with Jewish merchants. Then there exists his appointment of Abraham Jonas as postmaster and later the unprecedented  act upon the latter’s death of appointing his wife. His removal of one of of the Jonas  sons who fought for the Confederacy from a union prison was one more such act. The close friendships including the ongoing advices of his Jewish friends are legion including Dr Isachar Zacharie, his podiatrist,  close friend and very active advisor as well Rabbi Issac Wise to whom he reportedly once confided that he felt there was something Jewish in his bones.

Finally the capacity for growth was another characteristic he shared with the Jewish people. This capacity was clearly embodied in our patriarchs as well as Joseph and Moses. This capacity is connoted  by the idea that humankind being  created in God’s tzelm or roughly translated “image.” Immediately  prior to his untimely death Lincoln make the remarkable suggestion that the former slaves may be considered for the right to vote.  Although this  did not appear universal, his growth was still a work in progress and it extended to black soldiers as well as the educated (the latter may appear somewhat regressive from a strictly contemporary outlook, but for that time was extremely revolutionary and his growth was continuing) . Moreover  the closing words of the mentioned second inaugural address represents an ethical development of the highest order and with a reference familiar to Jews worldwide: These words were: “We have to finish the work we are in…to care for him who have borne the battle , and for his widow and orphan , to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. ” Alav Ha- shalom.*

* May he rest in peace.

Howard Zik

Bar Refaeli – Accidental Star Trek Fan

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli had the best of intentions in mind when she tweeted the following, so we’ll give her credit for that:


there’s no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. there is nothing good in war, except its ending – Abraham Lincoln #stopterror

Except for one minor detail.

Abraham Lincoln never actually said it.

Well not exactly.

Abraham Lincoln did say it, but it was an Abraham Lincoln from a different universe. A Star Trek universe.

Stardate 5906.4

We’ll also give Bar credit for being a Trekkie too.

H/T Robert Klein

Jewish Press News Briefs

What is the Link between 17th of Tammuz, July 4th and Lincoln?

Friday, July 5th, 2013

A rabbi delivering a Shabbat sermon on the coincidental dates of the 17th of Tammuz and the Fourth of July in 1863 used the phrase “four score and seven years ago” before Abraham Lincoln made it famous, according to an historian.

British Prof. Marc Saperstein, who is a visiting professor of Judaic Studies at Yale, wrote in the Huffington Post  Wednesday that Rabbi Sabato Morais delivered his message in Philadelphia after the Battle of Gettysburg was fought but before its outcome was known.

“His sermon contains a phrase that might well have influenced the most celebrated speech in American history,” according to Prof. Saperstein.

The Fourth of July usually falls during the three-week period when Jews mourn the destruction of the First and Second Temples. On an average of about once every 10 years or so, Independence Day falls on the first day of the three weeks, the Fast Day of the 17th day of Tammuz and which also was on the Sabbath in 1863.

Without knowing whether the Confederate army had won in Gettysburg , a victory that would have allowed it to threaten Philadelphia, Rabbi Morais said in his sermon that he was asked to refer to Independence Day.

However, since it was the 17th day of Tammuz, even though the fast is postponed because of the Sabbath, Rabbi Morais explained he could not deliver an encouraging address that was recommended by the Union League. It suggested that clergy quote the uplifting verse form Leviticus that is inscribe on the Liberty Bell: “”Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.”

Instead, the rabbi chose the lament from King Hezekiah in Isaiah, “This is a day of trouble, of rebuke, and derision,” which he also meant as a reference to the Battle of Gettysburg before knowing the Union forces had won.

Rabbi Morais made sure to refer to Independence Day, 87 years after the United States was founded. “’I am not indifferent, my dear friends, to the event, which four score and seven years ago, brought to this new world light and joy,” he said in his sermon.

The King James translation of Psalms 90:10 translates a Hebrew in the psalm as “threescore and ten.”

Prof. Saperstein  explained that when Abraham Lincoln spoke to a small group of people three days later, he said that it was “eighty odd years” since the founding of the United States.

The professor wrote,  “Needless to say, some three months later, for the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery, Abraham Lincoln elevated the level of his discourse from ‘eighty odd years’ to “four score and seven years, our fathers brought forth to this continent,” possibly borrowing from the published text by the Philadelphia Sephardic preacher who, without knowing it, may have made a lasting contribution to American rhetorical history.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Abbas’ Gift to US: A ‘Childish” Portrait of Obama and Lincoln

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas gave visiting President Barack Obama a portrait of his guest with Abraham Lincoln, the quality of which was panned in a Tweet published by the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency.

“Oh. My. Lord what is that gift Abbas just gave Obama? Is that a painting of Obama and Lincoln? Looks like a 5-yr-old drew it,” stated the Tweet.

As Obama and Abbas talked in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority police fought off demonstrators who tried to break through five rows of armed security officers.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Lincoln as a Bleeding Heart Peacenik?

Monday, March 11th, 2013

An interesting trend has emerged in recent weeks. The Israeli Left, along with most of the world’s pseudo-intellectual classes, has suddenly discovered Abraham Lincoln, and is proclaiming him an honorary member of “Peace Now.” Obviously it is thanks to the new Hollywood movie. Columnists in the Israeli media are claiming that Israel needs to follow the ethical leadership of Lincoln. Just as Lincoln freed the slaves, or so their mantra goes, so Israel must “free” the Palestinians from “occupation.”

The Israeli Left has embraced Lincoln because it is convinced that, if Lincoln is regarded as a moral champion, identification with Lincoln must clearly lead one to support the political agenda of the Israeli Left. First and foremost this would mean supporting Palestinian demands and “resistance.”

So what should we make of this new “Lincoln as Leftist Pro-Palestinian” campaign?

Well, even someone with only the shallowest familiarity with American history would know that the two most important principles represented by Lincoln would make him for all intents and purposes the ethical analogue of the Jewish settler leaders in Judea and Samaria, and not a Peace Now whiner.

Lincoln fought the American Civil War first and foremost in to order to prevent the partition or division of his homeland, and he was fully prepared to use massive military force to achieve this goal. Lincoln was in favor of peace but not under all conditions or at any price. Those in Israel proposing such a “two-state solution” are the 21st century’s Copperheads.

Second, Lincoln had no reluctance about using the word “treason,” and throughout the Civil War he made it clear that he considered the Union war against the Confederacy and its supporters to be a campaign against treason. Those who supported secession or the Confederacy were engaging in treason, not academic debate. Lincoln did not mollycoddle traitors in the name of “understanding the Other.” He did not insist that those opposing national interests be allowed to control the universities and the courts and the media.

Those who are trying to deconstruct Lincoln as the ultimate opponent of “occupation” will have to explain why his party imposed a severely harsh occupation on the member states of the Confederacy, one that continued for years. The analogue to the PLO and Hamas in the occupied Confederacy was the Ku Klux Klan, and it was suppressed mercilessly in actions that included Union militias acting as anti-Klan death squads. There were thousands of arrests of KKK “militants” and “activists,” and martial law was imposed upon counties with Klan activities. No one proposed seeking peace by granting the Klan its own country.

Aside from the two most obvious characteristics of Lincoln, which make him the moral analogue of Jewish settler leaders, Lincoln had a few other features that will make the Left squirm. Lincoln abolished habeas corpus during wartime. He had traitors executed and deported, and had no hesitation about the use of capital punishment. Among those executed, William Bruce Mumford was convicted of treason and hanged in 1862 for tearing down a United States flag. Some 500 people were executed by hanging or by firing squad during the War, some for desertion. At least one of those hanged was a woman, Mary Surratt (executed for her role in the assassination of Lincoln).

Lincoln had no patience for terrorists, known in the Civil War as “bushwhackers,” and ordered them to be executed by firing squad. “Bridge burners” were given the same treatment. He believed there was ONLY a military solution to the problems of terrorism.Lincoln also imposed censorship on the press and suppressed treasonous journalism. Want to ponder how Lincoln would handle the pro-Hamas radical Left in Israel?Then in Sherman’s march to the sea, Lincoln conducted war against CIVILIANS, explicitly targeting and attacking the civilian population and its infrastructure to end rebellion and treason. With no Betselem and no Supreme Court interference.

Lincoln also sponsored the Homestead Act of 1862, perhaps the greatest settlements construction effort in history.

Perhaps most notably, Lincoln imposed an uncompromising blockade upon the entire Confederacy. The very same Israeli Leftists, who insist that lifting the “embargo” of Gaza is the highest form of humane morality so that the Hamas can more easily import weapons, will have a an interesting challenge explaining the blockade imposed by their new-found moral champion, Abraham Lincoln. It was a policy proudly described by Lincoln as “starving the South.” Food and civilian commodities were prevented from passing through the blockade. Guess how Lincoln would have dealt with “Gaza Flotilla” blockade runners?

Steven Plaut

Bayonets, Horses and Ships, Oh My

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

There are so many ways to criticize President Obama’s now-infamous “horses and bayonets” comment from the foreign policy debate that one hardly knows where to start.  The snarky attitude alone is worth a column.  What is Obama, a blog troll?  If he has a case to make about having a smaller Navy, he could surely have made it without being snide, specious and condescending.

At any rate, there are the obvious points, such as the fact that the U.S. military still uses bayonets.  Some of the first U.S. military and intelligence personnel into Afghanistan operated in the prohibitive mountainous terrain on horseback.  Horse cavalry may be a thing of the (recent) past for classic battlefield engagements, but terrain and local living patterns are dictatorial when it comes to military operations.  For some applications, you need a horse.

The key question implied in all this is what kind of operation you envision, as you consider which military forces to develop and buy. (In August 2011, no one envisioned the U.S. military needing horses for special operations in Afghanistan.)

The president’s statements about our inventory of naval combat ships imply much the same question.  Obama’s statement suggests that aircraft carriers and submarines (“ships that go underwater”) have made the surface combatant – the cruiser, destroyer, and frigate – less necessary.  If we have only as many of them as we had in 1916, that’s not a problem, in Obama’s formulation, because technology changes.

U.S. Policy

But what is it we are trying to do with these naval forces?  Mitt Romney’s approach is to assume that we intend to exercise control of our ocean bastions – the Atlantic and Pacific – and effectively resume our position as the primary naval influence on the world’s strategic chokepoints: the approaches to Central America; the maritime space of Northwestern Europe; the Mediterranean; the chokepoint-belt from the Suez Canal to the Strait of Hormuz; and the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea.  Being well briefed, Romney no doubt has in mind as well the increasingly maritime confrontation space of the Arctic, where Russia and Canada are competing, but the U.S. – with our own Arctic claims – has in recent years been passive.

Romney thus sees the Navy as a core element of our enduring strategic posture.  For national defense and for the protection of trade, the United States has from the beginning sought to operate in freedom on the seas, and, where necessary, to exercise control of them.  We are a maritime nation, with extremely long, shipping-friendly coastlines in the temperate zone and an unprecedented control of the world’s most traveled oceans, the Atlantic and Pacific.

We have also chosen, since our irruption on the world geopolitical stage a century or so ago, to project power abroad as much as possible through expeditionary operations and offshore influence.  Indeed, seeking the most effective balance between stand-off approaches, temporary incursions, and boots-on-the-ground combat and occupation has been a perennial tension in our national politics and our concepts of war throughout the life of our Republic.  We have always naturally favored offshore influence and quick-resolution campaigns, from which we can extricate ourselves just as quickly.

The character of these preferences and military problems has changed with the passage of time – but in comparison to the United States in 1916, they are all bigger today, as well as faster-moving and more likely to be our problem than, say, Great Britain’s.

In the modern world, America’s favored posture requires the sea services: the Navy and Marine Corps.  It also requires the Air Force, in virtually any theater where we might operate.  That said, in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom, the Navy was able to put strike-fighters into Afghanistan from carriers in the Arabian Sea, while the Air Force didn’t have a base close enough to get strike-fighters into the fight at the time.  That situation is rare, and was soon corrected, but it does highlight the point that the Navy can get tactical assets in, even where we have no bases close to the tactical battlespace.

For completeness, we should note that in addition to its greater depth of air assets, the Air Force can get long-range bombers into a fight anywhere from the continental United States.  For full effectiveness, that capability does depend on the ability to recover and refuel abroad (e.g., in Guam, Diego Garcia, the U.K.).  But the B-2 or B-52 strategic bomber brings a different order of combat power to a fight.  The differing capabilities of the Navy and Air Force are complementary, for the most part, rather than being in competition.

J. E. Dyer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/bayonets-horses-and-ships-oh-my/2012/10/24/

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