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January 23, 2017 / 25 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘grant’

Ulysses S. Grant and the Jews: A Fascinating Study in Repentance, Resistance and Overcoming Anti-Semitism

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

An extremely Illuminating incident in US history concerning anti-Semitism occurred during the Civil War meriting examination by anyone interested in understanding the roots and productive response to anti-Semitism. This incident pivoted upon the relationship that General Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War General and also the 18 th US president established with the Jews. It involves a special order issued by Grant which has become designated General Orders No. ll which entailed an outrageous expulsion of Jews from their homes in certain southern areas. Subsequently, however, Grant paradoxically developed an incredibly positive relationship with Jews inviting the question as to how these may be reconciled.

This order was issued under Grant’s name in response to the black market in cotton during the Civil War and explicitly forbade Jews from engaging in any market of such cotton. During the Civil War the Union

permitted trade of cotton between North and South under certain licensed arrangements. In many instances Union officers were bribed by alleged unlicensed traders which Grant found a distraction affecting his military campaign. Jews were involved in these business transactions along with others, however, Grant issued General Orders No. ll which shockingly singled out Jews as a class. It required the eviction of all of Jews in the affected areas

Most central in response was the action taken by Cesar Kaskel, Jewish immigrant from

Prussia who was a resident of Paducah, Kentucky and a prominent Union supporting citizen. Kaskel lived within the area affected by the order and included with residents mandated to leave. Kaskel’s response was most revealing by appealing directly to president of the United States Abraham Lincoln rather than any intermediary. Lincoln’s response was to immediately nullify the order in strong language. In support of this appeal Jewish fraternal organizations such as B’nai Brith geared its lobbying activities against Grants order.

It is significant that Grant’s issuance of the order had its roots in a personal episode involving a business relationship of his father Jessie Grant. Prior to the issuance of General Orders Number ll Grant was visited by his father with two Jewish business partners Henry and Simon Mack. The latter sought to obtain a license to sell cotton for a 25% share in profits. It is reported that Grant who had a troubled relationship with his father became enraged and may have taken out his animosity on Jews. Upon examining Grant’s relationship with the Jews subsequently during his presidential administration we could not encounter a more stark contrast. His appointment of Jews to significant positions of the time and use of his influence in quelling anti-Semitic activities abroad are unprecedented. When Grant decided to run for the presidency it was expected that an anti-Grant voting preference of Jews regarding General would cost him the election because of its closeness. Grant, however, in responding to a letter from B’nai Brith concerning the General order encouraged their leader Adolph Moses to maintain that that he made reparation.

Grant’s General Order and the ultimate transformation of Grant raises two issues, namely, whether Grant was truly repentant and secondly determining what lessons the response to the General Order hold for us today . Regarding the latter we may firstly note that there was no hesitation by Jews in its response. Further Kaskel and others addressed Lincoln without tapping intermediaries since they knew they had a friend in him so they focused upon his attention. Further that friendship was something that was developed by certain Jews especially Abraham Jonas who was a critical influence in securing Lincoln’s nomination. This is something that Jews would do well to recall in today’s times namely

involvement in affairs of the society in which they live and friendships with those who are ethical while capable of exerting some influence.

The issue over whether Grant was truly repentant about General Orders will ultimately remain speculative but the weight of evidence would be in in its favor. He indeed was highly pragmatically oriented and the possibility his actions were a combination of such considerations and moral ones remains real, however, the impact of the latter appears predominant. His position on a number of other issues such as the impeachment of Johnson also confirms a moral dimension in his character. Grant’s overall vote returns translated into a victory and here Jewish support was also strengthened by then Republican values being more consistent with Jewish values. This included former slave rights, women’s rights and separation of church and state.

Following Grant’s election were a series of administrative appointments far exceeding any other of that time. The first appointment was that of Simon Wolf an impoverished immigrant who worked his way towards becoming an influential lawyer in governmental circles. Grant appointed him Recorder of Deeds immediately after he assumed the presidency. Most importantly within that position Grant provided him more personal access to his attention than anyone outside his cabinet. Moreover Grant’s first choice for the cabinet post of Secretary of the Treasury was Joseph Seligman a prominent Jewish banker who declined the position at the insistence of his brothers wanting him to remain within the family business. Grant amazingly appointed 50 Jews to various positions. Further his action with regard to Russian policies against Jews is another confirmation of his actions sympathetic to Jews when B’nai Brith at that time was protesting the action. In 1869 a Tsarist edict in the wake of the Crimean war Russia’s borders were greatly extended and required that tens of thousands of Jews be evicted. B’nai Brith then under the leadership of Simon Wolf drew up a document opposing this catastrophe. Grant responded despite the risk of upsetting favorable relations with Russia (arising of the Alaskan purchase) with the bold move of contacting Russia stating he would take “ pleasure in being the medium to revoke the ukase” These actions received wide publicity leading the Russians to finally revoke the expulsion order.

This resulted in a wide publicized acclaim and promoted an exceedingly positive image of Grant as a force in achieving equal rights for people around the world. Additionally this was reinforced even further by Grants reaction to mistreatment of Jews in Romania. News of atrocities committed against Jews in Romania reached the press in the late 1860’s. Grant responded by the appointment of a Jew Benjamin Franklin Peixotto to the consulship in Bucharest. Peixotto then approached Grant and implored him to support the rights of the Romanian Jews. Grant then in an introductory letter to Peixoto confirmed this mission in words that Peixotto himself could have spoken. This was given extensive press coverage and ultimately served as a precedent for America standing up for human rights violations throughout the world and persists to this very day.

Grant re-election in 1872 disclosed the extent to which he won over the Jews in the contest against Horace Greeley. In Greeley’s resounding defeat even southern democratic Jews supported Grant.

Significantly the character of Balaam within the Torah provides an illuminating comparison with Grant’s conduct. Balaam at one point turns towards a universal God and the righteous path of the Israelites in blessing them. However he ultimately backslided and travelled a path designed for their annihilation upon returning to his people. In contrast Grant acted from a perspective consistent with supporting Jewish survival. Moreover he remained in contact with the Jews immersing himself in the Jewish community.

When we look at repentance from a Jewish perspective we may see how Grant fits the pattern required. The notion of Teshuvah according to the rabbis contains several stages. The first is recognition and remorse of the sin. This is followed by action showing an inclination to reverse behavior. All of these stages are exhibited in Grant’s behavior described.

Grant ultimately demonstrated his close ties to the Jewish community through a journey he made to Jerusalem shortly before his death. He simultaneously reinforced his ties to the Jewish community while ` in opposition proving successful and known as the Chickering Hall meeting. When Grant died not long after the mourning response at his funeral by Jews was immense. He passed away on Sabbath Nahamu the Sabbath of Consolation.

The transformation from the Grant of General Order No. 11 to the Grant as protector of the Jews was staggering. But it was a transformation resulting from Grant’s own choosing. As Rabbi Nachman Breslow poignantly expressed it “If you are not going to be any better tomorrow than you are today, then what need have you for tomorrow?” Grant’s vision and actions of a better tomorrow fulfilled this need as well as offering one of inspiring measure to which humans are capable of spiritual growth.

Howard Zik

Iran Seizes Chance to ‘Help’ Beirut, Shipping Arms to Lebanon

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Iran is making final preparations to send a large arms shipment intended for the Lebanese army, according to a report on the Hebrew-language NRG website.

The shipment is being sent by Iran to fill the vacuum created by Saudi Arabia, which pulled its economic aid to Beirut.

A senior official in Tehran said that Iran is waiting only for the approval of Beirut to finalize the shipment of the deadly supplies. Saudi Arabia announced its decision in February to reconsider a grant of $4 billion in military aid to the Lebanese Army and its security services.

The decision came after Beirut declined to condemn the assault by Shi’ite protesters against the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran. The demonstrators were protesting the execution of a Shi’ite cleric in Saudi Arabia. Lebanon is dominated by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization via cabinet ministers and parliamentarians who serve in a large percentage of the government.

Interestingly, the United States has also just announced the arrival of “an entire ship full of military equipment” at a port in Lebanon.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth H. Richard told reporters on Tuesday that Lebanon was the recipient of $50 million in military aid from Washington DC.

Among the items shipped to Beirut were 50 armored Humvees, 40 Howitzers and more than a thousand tons of ammunition.

Lebanon is the fifth largest recipient of U.S. foreign military financing in the world, Richard said.

The Israel Defense Forces have been preparing for the possibility of a new war with Hezbollah along Israel’s northern border.

The supply of new military hardware to an active Israeli enemy sworn to annihilate the Jewish State — one who is serving as a proxy for Iran — has raised red flags for the Jewish State, which is closely watching the border.

The Lebanese Army is closely entwined with Hezbollah and for all intents and purposes, a nation that once was called “the Riviera of the Middle East” has now become a satellite of jihadist Iran.

Hana Levi Julian

Family of “David “HaNachlawi” Adamov to Receive Cash Grant and Bravery Certificate

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Chairman of SOS-Israel, Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, will be awarding the family of the soldier “David HaNachlawi” Adamov, a NIS 1,800 grant, along with a “Hero of Israel” certificate, for what SOS-Israel describes as his courage and standing for the values ​​on which the Israel Defense Forces is established, which is “to protect Israel, in the Land of Israel, and fight off the enemies below us completely.”

Rabbi Shalom Wolpe says, “It’s precisely the behavior of this soldier in Hebron, based on the values ​​of the IDF, and not the defeatism and cowardice when they teach soldiers to flee from the battlefield, that makes David Adamov a hero in Israel, admirable and to be emulated by all soldiers.”

In the past, Rabbi Wolpe has awarded financial grants to civilians and soldiers who killed terrorists trying to carry out terror attacks.

Shalom Bear

Lakewood’s $10 Million Coup

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

This is one of those stories that worry me. VIN and NJ.com report that Lakewood Yeshiva (BMG) has been approved by the State of New Jersey for an over ten million dollar grant in what Governor Chris Christie is calling a “new era” for the state’s institutions of higher learning.

I’m sure that Lakewood applied for that grant legally and truthfully. I do not believe for a second that there was any fraud involved. And I congratulate them on a successful outcome. Lakewood certainly needs the money. But I remain with some serious concerns.

The grant was given for the construction of a library and research center. Governor Christie’s goal is “keeping New Jersey’s “best” and “brightest” in-state, while attracting new research and business partners who will bring new and better paying jobs.”

What worries me is that in spite of what I am sure was a completely honest presentation of Lakewood’s plans to the state; I am not convinced that the state’s purpose in granting them that money is even a dream in the back of the minds of Lakewood’s leaders. Nor do I believe for a minute that such a library will serve any other purpose than the stated mission of such an institution – Torah study. The kind of research that library will offer will no doubt be only in that vein. Neither am I convinced that it will result in anything near attracting new business partners.

This project will help to retain some of the finest minds in Torah Judaism. Lakewood is the premier “Torah Only” Yeshiva in the United States. It attracts the best and brightest among its constituents. Expansion means attracting more of the same. Some of whom may settle there and eventually have good jobs (and some – not such great jobs).

But even so, Lakewood cannot claim that as its goal. It can only say that this is a by-product of their ‘Torah Only” system. This is a yeshiva that forbids its students to take any secular courses while enrolled there and discourages it even after they leave. This is a yeshiva whose rosh yeshiva (dean) made disparaging remarks about someone who has been a pioneer in providing higher education for students of yeshivos like Lakewood so that they could get decent jobs… basically referring to him as a second class citizen (…full time students of Torah being first class citizens). One might even say that the rosh yeshiva would view someone like that as undermining the goals of Lakewood!

It is also no secret that Lakewood uses the welfare system legally for students who qualify for aid. Most of them probably do – since they do not have jobs but do have large families. Even those whose wives work (most of them, I’m sure) do not make enough money to disqualify them from some sort of government assistance. Again, nothing legally wrong with that.

I have to ask, is there not a moral or ethical issue of misrepresenting yourself to the world in this way – even if you qualify legally? Is there not something wrong with able bodied people choosing not to work and using the welfare system as a means of income?

And by the same token, is there not something wrong with taking over $10 million knowing what the government thinks you are going to do with that money – and using it for something else – even though it technically qualifies? A Beis HaMedrash may be a library. But is a $10 million Beis HaMedrash going to attract business partners who will bring new and better paying jobs?

Even if it truly a research library and not a Beis HaMedrash – it will certainly only contain Seforim – religious books – even if some of them will be in English. What kind of research will this foster – other than research in Torah studies?

I of course have no problem with such a library. I think it will be a valuable resource for student of Torah. But is this what the State of New Jersey had in mind in approving $10 million dollars to Lakewood?

Lakewood’s goal is not Governor Christie’s goal. Lakewood wants to expand its student base. The enormous growth in the numbers of Orthodox Jews, especially among Haredi Jews of the “Torah Only” persuasion, demands such an expansion. For some time now, Lakewood has been talking about doubling its capacity to over 10,000 students!

I guess they have found a way of doing that. But is it ethical? Will the state be happy with the results? And how will this be perceived by the secular public? Will they not see this as being unethical? Is this ultimately the wisest way of raising money for their cause? Will the potential negative fallout be worth it if it happens?

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/lakewoods-10-million-coup/2013/05/03/

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