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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Hero’

Conversations with Heroes – Is Donald Trump the Hero that the U.S. and Israel are Hoping for? [audio]

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Heather’s guest, Abe Katsman, counsel for Republicans Overseas: Israel, looks beyond the campaign promises of the Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates to their actual record when it comes to the United States’ relationship with Israel. He clarifies why the U.S. and Israel need each other, and how Iran and the rest of the Middle East fit into the picture. And why is Hillary Clinton’s physical health relevant to this election? Stay tuned for an insightful look at some of the key the issues of this election.

For more info, visit: http://republicansoverseas-israel.org/

Heather will also check in with frequent contributor, writer and businesswoman Andrea Simantov. A lifelong American voter and resident of Israel for over 20 years, Andrea reminds us that this election is more than just a battle of ideologies; it’s an opportunity for each of us to ask who our own personal hero beyond this election is.

Conversations with Heroes 14Sept2016 – PODCAST

Israel News Talk Radio

NY Times Blows Winds of Putsch for Israel & How President Truman Got Rid of an Insubordinate War Hero General

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

The New York Times has long been the mouthpiece of the US foreign policy Establishment. That the NYT is so hostile to Israel up to the point of crude lies demonstrates the deep rancor towards Israel of that Establishment.

We all know that the US and the other major WW2 allies were of little help to the victimized Jews during the Shoah, that is, during WW2. Whereas US warplanes bombed military targets near Auschwitz (Oswiecim) by 1944 –but not the gas chambers at Auschwitz nor the railroad tracks leading there– the United Kingdom prevented Jews from finding refuge in the internationally designated Jewish National Home, the Land of Israel.

During the 1967 Six Day War, the intelligence ship, USS Liberty, spied electronically on Israeli military moves and sent the information to Jordan and Egypt. A US army signal corps truck-mounted electronic intelligence station did the same on a smaller scale from the Jordanian-controlled “West Bank.” The truck had to pull back across the Jordan River with Jordan’s Arab Legion when Israel took the “West Bank.”

Now, the Establishment mouthpiece, the NYT, fans the flames of putsch, of a possible coup d’etat in Israel, publishing an article praising insubordinate Israeli senior army and intelligence officers for being “pro-peace” and “pro-human rights.” The author, Ronen Bergman, has excellent sources in Israeli intel, according to his own writings, and the NYT describes him as “a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine.” He is not a free-lancer but “a contributing writer.” That is a more permanent arrangement. Here are some putschist samples:

IN most countries, the political class supervises the defense establishment and restrains its leaders from violating human rights or pursuing dangerous, aggressive policies. In Israel, the opposite is happening. Here, politicians blatantly trample the state’s values and laws and seek belligerent solutions, while the chiefs of the Israel Defense Forces and the heads of the intelligence agencies try to calm and restrain them. [NYT 21 May 2016]

Now right here we have what would be seen in the USA as justification for a putsch against the democratically elected government of PM Netanyahu. The politicians violate “human rights.” See that buzz term, human rights? Now to another gem:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer last week of the post of defense minister to Avigdor Lieberman, a pugnacious ultranationalist politician, is the latest act in the war between Mr. Netanyahu and the military and intelligence leaders, a conflict that has no end in sight but could further erode the rule of law and human rights, or lead to a dangerous, superfluous military campaign.

Lieberman is a pugnacious ultra-nationalist. Obama is not a pugnacious ultra-nationalist. He only wants to give The Bomb to a pugnacious religiously fanatic regime in Iran that believes that it has the right to The Bomb, despite Iran being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. And we are warned of the further erosion of “the rule of law and human rights” as well as being threatened with “superfluous war.” Obama incidentally seems to be moving closer to sending ground troops to Syria on the pretext of fighting ISIL which Obama has tried hard not to interfere with over the past two years. Of course, for Bergman, the generals and intelligence honchos who have made mistake after mistake, especially starting with Oslo, are the good guys, whereas PM Netanyahu and his government are the bad guys.

An I.D.F. general told me that the top brass saw the telephone call [by Netanyahu to the father of a soldier who had violated army rules and was being investigated and charged, which treatment Netanyahu did not cancel] as a gross defiance of the military’s authority. The deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, chose one of the most sensitive dates on the Israeli calendar, Holocaust Memorial Eve, to react: He suggested that Israel today in some ways resembles Germany in the 1930s.

So the army has legitimate authority which the prime minister lacks, indeed its authority is superior to that of the elected leaders. Apparently the military is not supposed to be subordinate to the civilian government. And Israeli supposedly resembles Nazi Germany in some ways. I would say that Israel is more in the position of France in the 1930s pre-Vichyite period when “peace movements” in France and Britain were calling on their governments to make peace with Hitler, giving him what he wanted which also conformed to the principle of “self-determination”, some said, especially Communists.

Caroline Glick is one of the few to have seen this coming:

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon is openly supporting the growing insubordination of IDF generals. In a speech last night, he urged senior officers to publicly air their opposition to government policies. In so doing, he brought Israeli democracy into an unprecedented crisis.. . .  a regime where civilians are free to act in accordance with their conscience even when doing so places them in opposition to the government is a democracy.
A regime where military commanders are free to act in accordance with their conscience even when doing so places them in opposition of the government is a military dictatorship. [Caroline’s facebook page, 16 May 2016]

Also see her as follows:

For the Obama administration, Israel’s security brass is an alternative government. . . . , for the [US] administration, “Israeli democracy” means the Left is in charge [link here]

In other words, the Obama administration might not be averse to a military coup d’etat taking place in Israel, provided that the ensuing military government will follow Obama’s demands on Israel for concessions to the Nazi-like “Palestinian Authority.” Mahmoud Abbas is obviously, in the NY Times lexicon, not a pugnacious nationalist.
Defense Minister Yaalon’s public statements over the past year have too often been dishonest, if hesitant, attempts to smear Jewish inhabitants of Judea-Samaria and the Jewish public in general for crimes against Arabs, for violations of human rights, and so on. This appears to be a coordinated effort, what with the deputy chief of staff Yair Golan comparing Israel with Germany in the 1930s and other lies, totally overlooking the often Nazi nature of the content of Palestine Authority TV and radio programming, mosque preaching, newspaper articles, and so on. DM Yaalon’s first dishonest and improper transgression was to accuse Jews of firebombing last summer an Arab home in the village of Duma near the Shiloh and `Eli settlements in which three Dawabsha family members died. Certainly, this was a terrible act but it is hardly certain who did it and the evidence for Jewish participation is weak, just some Hebrew grafitti. But Arabs too can write Hebrew and even do Hebrew grafitti. The more likely explanation of the crime is that it was part of a family feud or clan vendetta, a common enough event in Arab society. Indeed, houses were attacked with firebombs in that village both before and after the  one that killed three persons.
Another one of Yaalon’s offenses was to intervene in the case of a soldier who killed an already disabled terrorist in Hebron. This was a violation of army rules for opening fire. However, it should be handled by the military justice system. It would have been one thing for Yaalon to say that such events are regrettable and against orders and the case must be investigated and prosecuted. However, it was wrong of Yaalon to accuse the soldier of murder. There is such a thing as due process, even in the army. 

Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan compared Israeli society  to the Nazis on Holocaust Remembrance Day. This was a direct assault on the government’s policy of fighting, rather than joining, Israel-bashers who deny the right of the Jewish state to exist. And his comrades in the General Staff and in the Left praised him for his appalling behavior. [Caroline Glick, here]

Then there is the late Maj.-Gen. Meir Dagan, the retired director of the Mossad. Last Thursday Channel 2’s investigative news program Uvda broadcast an interview with Dagan, conducted shortly before his death. Dagan told the host Ilana Dayan that in 2010, he committed espionage. Dagan revealed that in 2010, he went behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s back and informed then-CIA director Leon Panetta that Netanyahu

and then-defense minister Ehud Barak were about to order the security services to attack Iran’s nuclear installations. [Caroline Glick, here]

The US of course does not tolerate insubordination by high ranking officers. We will take up the case of war hero General Douglas MacArthur below. Now back to the NYT’s taste for a putsch in Israel, Ronen Bergman fills out the picture:

In some conversations I’ve had recently with high-ranking officers about Mr. Lieberman’s appointment as defense minister, the possibility of a military coup has been raised — but only with a smile. It remains unlikely.

So Bergman tells the NYT and its readers that the subject of a possible coup has been raised. But it is “unlikely.” It’s cute that the ever so democratic NYT is so interested in hearing about a possible coup in Israel that they publish a piece that transparently and implicitly justifies just that, if not going so far as to advocate a coup. But why is the NYT  pushing a putsch in Israel? The motive is obvious. They want Israel to bend to Washington’s dictates, which under Obama are more blatantly anti-Jewish than under previous presidents. That means Israel surrendering territory to fanatically hate ridden pan-Arabist and Islamist Arabs, obsessed with hatred for the Jews who have stepped out of the humiliated place of the dhimmi as decreed by Islamic law.

The NY Times continues with its buttering up of the army to the detriment of the elected civilian government. A piece by Isabel Kershner [NYT, 29 May 2016] makes ex-Defense Minister Ya`alon look good, democratic, whereas Netanyahu and Lieberman look bigoted and narrow, etc: “the generals . . . have spoken out against manifestations of extremism in the ranks and in broader society,” “shrill segment of the public,” “an aggressive segment of the public.”  The people who are fed up with murder and mass murder efforts are “aggressive,” “shrill,” “extremist,” etc. On the other hand, “Other Israelis want the military to remain a moderating force and a bulwark against extremism.” Are these “Other Israelis” the supposedly good folk who would welcome a military coup against “extremism”?

General Yair Golan, deputy chief of staff, sanctimoniously declaimed on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day:

“if there is one thing that is scary in remembering the Holocaust, it is noticing horrific processes which developed in Europe – particularly in Germany – 70, 80, and 90 years ago, and finding remnants of that here among us in the year 2016.” [here]

This is a Judeophobic accusation. An implicit assertion that the Israeli people are Nazi-like. That is another justification for a coup. After all, he is saying that the people are immoral. Their elected government is perforce immoral. No comment from Golan about the profound Nazi-like hatred of Jews and Israel fostered by the Palestinian Authority, by Hamas, by the press in various Arab countries, and in Western lands where the media habitually misrepresent what happens in Israel as well athe relevant history of Arab-Jewish relations.
The prime minister perceived the threat in Golan’s remarks: “Mr. Netanyahu rebuked General Golan, criticizing his remarks as outrageous, and said, “The I.D.F. is the people’s army and must remain out of political debates.”” [here]
On the other hand:

“While the controversial comments drew fire from many within the nationalist camp, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon defended Golan, arguing that criticism aimed at him was part of a larger “campaign to harm the IDF and its officers politically.”“The responsibilities of an army officer, especially a senior commander, are not limited to leading soldiers out to war, but also include charting out a path and ethical standards with the help of [his] moral compass,” said Yaalon.” [here]

Yaalon is speaking out of what he claims is higher morality. But since Golan’s comparison to Germany in the 1930s was false and ignorant at best, Ya`alon’s defense was also out of place. And the implicit support in his words for insubordination and possibly a putsch was obviously wrong.
Netanyahu properly rebuked Ya`alon:

Netanyahu reportedly called Yaalon, sharply criticizing him for defending Golan’s comments [here]

Looking back to 20th century history, we can see that the USA, both before and after WW2, rather often supported generals who overthrew legitimate governments abroad. In some cases this was justified as opposition to corrupt and tyrannical regimes, as in Egypt in 1952 and Iran/Persia in 1979. The problem is that corrupt and tyrannical regimes have often enough been replaced by regimes that were even worse by every measure. As in Egypt and Iran (Persia). Ask yourself if the present Islamic fanatic Khomeini regime of the ayatollahs in Iran now is any better than the Shah’s regime that it replaced, with the aid of the Carter Administration. Or is it even worse?

In any event, the powers that be in the United States do not like insubordinate generals who dispute the civilian leadership openly.

Douglas MacArthur was a hero in both world wars, I & II. He was the commander of American forces in the Korean War, starting in 1950. His brilliant Inchon landing behind North Korean Communist troops opened the way for American and allied forces to reach the Yalu River between North Korea and China. After China entered the war in late 1950, MacArthur

“wished to bomb Chinese bases in Manchuria and was prepared to risk a full-scale war with communist China. President Truman sought to hold him in check but MacArthur made public his advocacy of carrying the war into China. This defiance of official government policy led the President peremptorily to relieve him of his commands on 11 April 1952.” [Alan Palmer, The Penguin Dictionary of Twentieth Century History (New York: Penguin 1979), p242]

“When President Truman would not agree to his plan for an attack upon  Communist China, MacArthur made his opinions public and Truman responded by relieving the General of his command. . . . his action represented a challenge to civilian authority which the President did not hesitate to meet.” [Walter Laqueur et al., A Dictionary of Politics (rev ed; New York: The Free Press 1974), p307]

So we see that MacArthur openly defied the president of the time and his policy. He was insubordinate and was dismissed. The US government does not tolerate defiance of its policy by its own generals. But somehow such insubordination is OK when practiced against other governments and may even be encouraged by US government mouthpieces like the New York Times.

Eliyahu mTsiyon

The Execution of a True Palestinian Hero

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Shuafat is one of the tragedies of Jerusalem. Jerusalem ambulances, garbage trucks and fire trucks cannot enter the neighborhood without being stoned. Much of it is officially an UNRWA camp where services are supposed to be provided by that organization, but UNRWA all but ignores it as well. As a result, Shuafat is a crime-ridden, drug-infested, dangerous place with open sewers, huge piles of trash and little hope. While most of it is in the Jerusalem municipal boundary, it lies outside the separation barrier – it is a failure of Zionism as well that the Israeli authorities, after many years, simply gave up on trying to control this part of Jerusalem.

Into this vacuum stepped a young man, Baha Nababta.

By all accounts, Nababta worked tirelessly to help the residents of his neighborhood. He founded a number of social institutions in Shuafat to help troubled youth. Nababta was also the head of a local, volunteer fire department that worked with tools as crude as hammers to rescue people from burning houses. He created an emergency response team with over 50 volunteers to respond to all kinds of local emergencies from snowstorms to a team of motorcyclists who could protect Israeli emergency teams who must enter the camp. He helped pave roads, get rid of garbage – essentially every service taken for granted by residents of every other urban area

Nababta was not shy about asking for help from Jerusalem authorities or from liberal Israeli organizations, asking for basic medical and firefighting equipment. His local groups received training from Jerusalem municipal firefighters and from Jerusalem medics, and from all accounts they were happy to help. His main contact on the Israeli side was Dr. Meir Margalit, a Jewish member of the far left Meretz party.

This is probably the reason he is no longer alive.

Haaretz reported last week:

Baha Nababta, a well-known social activist in the Shoafat refugee camp in northern Jerusalem, was shot to death on Monday by an unknown assailant.

The murder occurred at about 11:30 P.M. on Monday, while Nababta stood with a large group of local residents near the paving work they had initiated. Witnesses said an unknown person riding a motorbike was looking for Nababta, and when he found him he shot 10 bullets at Nababta, seven of which hit him. Nababta was rushed to hospital but died a short time later.

Camp residents said on Tuesday that they did not know who the murderer was, but thought the murder was connected to his social activism.

We don’t know who executed Baha Nababta but it seems likely that Palestinians who are against “normalization” were behind the murder.

This is the one week anniversary of the murder. The story was covered, barely, in Israeli newspapers (Jerusalem Post buried it on page 10, for example.)

Palestinian media ignored the story completely. Outside of social media I couldn’t find one news story about this murder of a prominent social worker.

His death did not receive the headlines of those who are killed while trying to murder Jews. Nababta did not have a huge funeral. His Facebook page – which was quite active – does not have one person expressing condolences after his death.

I’m sure I wouldn’t have agreed with Baha Nababta’s politics, but he deserved a huge amount of respect for actually working to help his people instead of choosing to spend his life complaining and protesting. His work was heroic and his death is a tragedy by any measure for Arabs and Jews alike.

But perhaps the bigger tragedy is that his murder has been so roundly ignored by his own people.

The Palestinian leadership and media do not want to publicize anything that cannot be blamed on Israel, because their entire existence is based on “resistance,” not on doing anything positive for their people. Nababta was guilty of the cardinal crime of “normalization” with Jews who wanted to help him and his fellow Arabs, and to Palestinians, that is unforgivable – and his murder is understandable if embarrassing to mention.

The execution of Baha Nababta, and the silence about his murder from not only Palestinians but from so-called pro-Palestinian activists, sends a message to all Arabs that working even with left-wing Jews is an unforgivable crime.

A person who should be hailed as an example to all Palestinians has been relegated to one of the many piles of garbage that he worked hard to eradicate.

Peace is impossible with a society that treats a true hero like Baha Nababta as a villain.

Elder of Ziyon

Update: Woman Wounded in Second Jerusalem Stabbing, Suspect Captured [photos]

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

A woman was wounded on Shamgar Street in Jerusalem, near the Osher Ad supermarket, in a second terrorist stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, just after 10 AM.

Seeing the attack, a passing bus driver jumped from his bus, pulled the wounded woman onto his #418 bus and drove her away to safety.

The Arab terrorist then fled into a building construction site in the former Tnuva complex, in the Jerusalem Romema neighborhood, and security forces began searching the very large area.

Update: A suspect believed to be the terrorist has been captured in one of the building sites, after an hour long search.

The suspect, a 17.5 year-old-man from the PA territories has connected himself to the attack. Two additional Arabs from the PA were discovered in the building and also arrested.

The wounded woman, a foreign resident in her 30s, is in moderate condition with a knife wound in the back, and has been transported to Shaarei Tzedek hospital.

The suspected terrorist from the Shamgar St. attack - Nov. 29, 2015. Photo by TPS / Hillel Meir

The suspected terrorist from the Shamgar St. attack – Nov. 29, 2015.

Police search for the terrorist in the former Tnuva complex in Romema - Nov. 29, 2015. Photo by TPS / Hillel Meir

Police search for the terrorist in the former Tnuva complex in Romema – Nov. 29, 2015. Photo by TPS / Hillel Meir

Jewish Press News Briefs

Hareidi Bus Bomb Driver: “I’m No Hero”

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Michael Yoger, the bus driver who evacuated his bus before the bomb exploded on it today said that he is not a hero.

Yoger, a Haredi Jew with 35 years as a driver, was driving a Dan bus #240 from Bnei Brak to Bat Yam, when a passenger said she saw a suspicious bag at the back of the bus.

Yoger asked the passengers if the large black bag with wires hanging out belonged to anyone, when no one said it did, he pulled the bus over and made everyone get out, saving the lives of everyone on his bus.

Yoger was the last person to evacuate the bus.

A police car arrived, and 10 minutes later the bomb blew up the bus, injuring the police sapper who was approaching the bus at the time.




Jewish Press News Briefs

An American Hero of the Holocaust

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

Editor’s Note: The U.S. Postal Service recently issued a stamp honoring Hiram Bingham IV, a U.S. vice-consul in Vichy France, for his work with journalist Varian Fry in rescuing Jewish refugees from the Nazis during 1940-1941.

The Capitol Hill ceremony unveiling the stamp image was held under the auspices of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and Wally Findlay Galleries International, in cooperation with U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos. Keynote speakers included U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman and Dr. Bella Meyer, art historian and granddaughter of Marc Chagall, who was rescued by Fry And Bingham.


“To Harry Bingham, my partner in the ‘crime’ of saving lives. -Varian Fry”

That inscription appears in a tattered copy of Fry’s book, Surrender on Demand, which has sat for decades on a bookshelf in the Bingham home in Salem, Connecticut. The book recounts how Fry organized the rescue of more than 2,000 Jewish refugees from Vichy France in 1940-41.

What it does not describe is the role played in the rescue mission by U.S. diplomat Hiram (Harry) Bingham IV. Fry wrote the book in the early 1940’s, when Bingham was still serving in the diplomatic corps, and disclosure of what Bingham had done in France, in direct defiance of the U.S. government, would have endangered his career.

Even in later years, however, Bingham’s modest nature prevented him from speaking of his work with Fry, leaving his eleven children with little more than a puzzling inscription that seemed to having nothing to do with the father they knew. It was not until 1993, five years after Bingham’s death, that his youngest son, Bill, discovered a bundle of letters and other documents stashed away in an old cupboard behind a fireplace in the family home. Those papers revealed that their father was, in fact, one of the very few American heroes of the Holocaust.

* * *
Harry Bingham was born in 1903 to a family of wealth, power, and more than its share of fame. His father, Hiram Bingham III, was the archaeologist who in 1911 discovered the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu, in Peru. According to some reports, he was the inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s Hollywood hero Indiana Jones. Bingham III later served as governor of Connecticut and as United States Senator from the Nutmeg State. Harry’s cousinJonathan (Jack) Bingham was a United States Congressman.  Bingham III’s wife Alfreda was the granddaughter of Charles Tiffany, founder of the Tiffany jewelry dynasty.

Harry chose to enter the diplomatic service and in 1936 was posted as a U.S. vice consul in Marseille, France. There he would soon come face to face with the plight of Hitler’s Jewish victims.

Since the 1920’s, U.S. immigration policy had been governed by a strict quota system. The annual combined quota for Germany and Austria, for example, was just 27,370 persons, and for Poland just 6,542. Even those meager allotments were almost always under-filled, because American consular officials abroad were under instructions from the State Department to take the most cautious possible approach when they received requests for immigration visas from refugees seeking to flee the ravages of Nazism.

In one infamous memorandum spelling out this policy, Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long told the consuls to “postpone and postpone and postpone” approving visa applications from Jewish refugees. Long, an old friend and political ally of President Franklin Roosevelt, was appointed to his post by FDR and his actions regarding immigration were consistent with the president’s wishes.

Harry Bingham, though a State Department employee, was convinced this policy was immoral, and when the opportunity to aid Jewish refugees presented itself, he chose to follow his conscience, not Breckinridge Long.

* * *

During the months following the German conquest of France in June 1940, thousands of refugees, many of them Jews, fled to southern France to avoid capture by the Nazis, joining the many others who had fled to the area previously. Among the refugees were many prominent political dissidents, intellectuals, writers, and artists. On June 22, Marshal Petain’s Vichy regime signed an agreement with the Nazis, agreeing to “surrender on demand” anyone whom the Germans were pursuing.

Three days later, in New York City, American friends and colleagues of the refugees met to establish the Emergency Rescue Committee, with the hope of bringing the most prominent cultural figures among the refugees to the United States. With help from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the Emergency Rescue Committee secured the administration’s reluctant agreement to provide emergency visas to two hundred prominent artists and intellectuals and their families. Varian Fry, a Harvard-trained classics scholar and foreign affairs journalist, volunteered to travel to Vichy France to organize the exodus.

While stationed in Germany on a journalistic assignment in 1935, Fry had witnessed first-hand the Nazi mob violence against Berlin’s Jews. It was that experience which later led him to become involved with the Emergency Rescue Committee. In August 1940, he arrived in Vichy France with $3,000 taped to his leg to hide it from the Gestapo and a list of 200 endangered individuals.

It was not long before Fry and Bingham – the journalist on a mission and the consular officer with a conscience – began to collaborate. They were introduced by Frank Bohn, who had been sent to France by the American Federation of Labor to facilitate the escape of anti-Nazi European labor leaders. In defiance of the State Department, Bingham began providing Fry with documents needed to protect refugees, such as affidavits in lieu of passports and travel documents.
Bingham also knowingly granted visas to a number of women whom one of Fry’s associates, an American ambulance driver named Charles Fawcett, had fraudulently married so they would be released from Vichy concentration camps and qualify for residence in the United States. An official at the U.S. Consulate in Lisbon, through which many of the would-be immigrants passed, later recalled how puzzled she was at the number of “Mrs. Fawcetts” among the applications she processed.

In Surrender on Demand, which was published while Bingham was still in the diplomatic service, Fry tried to protect Bingham by quoting Frank Bohn as saying that Harry “does everything he can to help us, within American law.” Years later, when Bingham’s son Bill asked his mother about his father’s actions in France, she would likewise say, “Your father never broke the law.”

“But when I told this to Charles Fawcett,” Bill notes, “he laughed and laughed and said, ‘Your father broke every rule in the book.’ ”

Bingham was knowingly endangering himself. If the State Department discovered what he was doing, his career would be ruined. Physical danger was also a possibility; having diplomatic status was no guarantee of safety under the Nazis. The Czech consul in Marseilles, Vladimir Vochoc, was jailed by the Vichy authorities for helping anti-Nazi activists flee France, and spent two months in prison before he managed to escape. The Brazilian ambassador to France, Luis de Souza Dantas, was arrested by the Nazis in 1943 for issuing visas to refugees, and was deported to Germany. The Mexican consul-general in Paris, Gilberto Bosques, was placed under house arrest because of his efforts to help Jewish refugees.

Despite the dangers, Bingham played a critical role in the Fry rescue mission. He used his country villa for meetings of the rescue activists, and for hiding refugees, such as Golo Mann (Thomas Mann, Jr.) and Lion Feuchtwanger, the famous Czech-German Jewish novelist. Bingham arranged for Feuchtwanger to be smuggled out of an internment camp disguised in women’s clothing, and drove him past German checkpoints by saying he was Bingham’s mother-in-law from Germany. Bingham sheltered him in his home until he could smuggle him out of the country.

When Fry and a number of his coworkers were arrested by the Vichy authorities, Bingham personally intervened to secure their release.

Altogether, the rescue network helped save more than 2,000 refugees, most of them Jews, including such famous artists as Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Jacques Lipschitz, as well as Nobel Prize-winning scientist Otto Meyerhof, writers Franz Werfel and Arthur Koestler, architect Walter Gropius, philosopher Hannah Arendt, and Andre Breton, the founder of Surrealism.

The process of getting Chagall out of France exemplified the complications and hazards of what Fry and Bingham were doing. They met with Chagall in Bingham’s villa in December 1940 to plan his escape, and then escorted the painter to the U.S. Consulate in Marseille, where Bingham quickly granted him an immigration visa, even though Chagall did not possess the required affidavits.

Unbeknownst to Fry, the Museum of Modern Art had already asked the State Department to grant Chagall a visa back in November – but it took until February 1941 before it was processed.

“In other words,” Fry noted in his diary, “it took the Department three months to grant him an ’emergency’ visa, whereas [Bingham in] the Consulate only required a day or so to give him an ordinary immigration visa.”

In April, the Chagalls moved to a hotel in Marseille in preparation for their departure from France, but when the Vichy police swept through the city’s hotels, arresting all Jews, Chagall found himself in prison. Through sheer audacity, Fry and Bingham cajoled and threatened police officials to bring about the artist’s release. Chagall and his wife, Bella, reached Lisbon on May 11, but his paintings were held up by Spanish customs authorities, under pressure from the Gestapo.

While Chagall’s daughter Ida tried to secure the artwork, her husband Michel was arrested trying to cross the French border into Spain, and had to be smuggled out of prison. Ida, Michel, and the crates of artwork eventually made it across the Atlantic in a typhoid-ridden journey on a barely-seaworthy cargo ship that avoided German torpedoes on the way to America, though it was hit and sunk on the way back.

Bingham understood the importance to Western civilization of rescuing these cultural luminaries, and he did everything possible to assist Fry’s mission. But he also issued numerous visas to ordinary refugees who had no claim to fame, and who would have been turned away by other consular officials. He did so for one simple reason, as Fred Buch, a refugee whom Bingham rescued, put it: “He was a mensch.”

Gitta Schachter, a refugee in France who managed to gain entry to the U.S. Virgin Islands thanks to Bingham, said: “When he reaches Paradise, Mr. Bingham will find a multitude of greeters welcoming him and thanking him!” Her youngest son, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, became a prominent figure in the American Jewish Renewal movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. Another family Bingham rescued were the Leichters, Austrian refugees in France whose son Franz grew up to become a six-term New York State Senator.

* * *

As word spread of the Fry-Bingham rescue activity, furious German and French officials complained to the State Department (the U.S. was still officially neutral in World War II, prior to Pearl Harbor). Secretary of State Cordell Hull responded with a telegram, in September 1940, to the American ambassador in Paris, instructing him to “inform Dr. Bohn and Mr. Fry [that] this Government can not, repeat not, countenance the activities of Dr. Bohn and Mr. Fry and other persons, however well-meaning their motives may be, in carrying on activities evading the laws of countries with which the United States maintains friendly relations.”

The secretary of state also sent a telegram to Fry, pressing him to “return immediately” to the United States in view of “local developments,” meaning the opposition of the Germans and French. Fry soon discovered that Hull’s position had also been communicated to the Vichy police, and Fry believed a recent police raid on his office was the result of the French authorities concluding that they were free to act against him now that the Roosevelt administration had “disowned” Fry.

Instead of heeding Hull’s directive, Bingham arranged for Fry to meet an officer in the Marseilles police, Capt. DuBois, who was strongly anti-Nazi and became a major source of inside information about arrests of refugees and escape opportunities.

Time, however, was running out on the rescue activists. Determined to avoid irritating American-German relations, the State Department in early 1941 revoked Fry’s passport and shortly afterward transferred Bingham to Lisbon. It then moved him out of the European theater altogether, sending him far off to the U.S. embassy in Argentina.

But Bingham refused to be complacent, further jeopardizing his diplomatic career by challenging the State Department’s indifference to Argentine harboring of Nazi war criminals. Bingham believed that Nazi gold, loot, and personnel were being transferred to Argentina and Chile via submarine at the end of the war, in collusion with Nazi elements in Latin America. When the State Department shut down his efforts to investigate the matter, he resigned in protest, thereby losing his pension and sacrificing his career.

During the postwar years, Bingham lived a quiet, unassuming life in rural Connecticut, raising his family and struggling to manage as a small businessman. When he passed away in 1988, neither the public nor his own children knew of his lifesaving work in Vichy France.

An unknown hero of the Holocaust, Hiram Bingham IV was a man of unquenchable courage and conscience, whose noble deeds live on, in the lives of the people he saved, and as an inspiration for future generations.

Dr. Rafael Medoff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/an-american-hero-of-the-holocaust/2006/08/09/

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