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Posts Tagged ‘roosevelt’

At Any Price

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Over the past few days I’ve seen numerous articles, effectively open letters to Obama, suggesting courses of action while here in Israel. I believe it much more important, not to advise the President, rather to speak to Israeli leaders, those now holding the reins of power in our country.

Most groups that I guide here in Hebron visit, among other places, the museum in Beit Hadassah. This site allows people to receive, over a few minutes, a comprehensive education about the history of Jewish Hebron, over hundreds of years.

One of the most emotional places in the museum is the memorial room, dedicated to the memory of 67 Jews slaughtered in Hebron during the riots in August, 1929. In words and photos, people can understand, in a relatively short period of time, the background to the atrocities committed by their next door neighbors, and the subsequent consequences.

A day prior to the beginning of the massacre, Thursday, August 22, a group of Jews belonging to the Hagana, the Jewish defense organization, visited Hebron and met with the Jewish community leaders. They offered them weapons, saying that Mufti Haj Amin El Husseini was inciting and trouble was about to erupt. Hebron’s Jews refused to take the weapons, explaining that this would only act as a provocation, that they’d already met with the city’s Arab leadership, who promised to protect them. As a result, when, the next day, the rioting commenced, they had no means of protection. The results are history.

Upon conclusion of this explanation, I express two thoughts to my audience: First, in 1967, during the Six Day War, Israel did not conquer and occupy a foreign city when arriving in Hebron. Rather, they had come home. And second: We must be able to protect ourselves. Not only on an individual basis; rather on a national level. When Israel puts its security in the hands of others, the only thing we receive in return are dead Jews. Oslo left Israeli security with Arafat. The result: some 2,000 people killed by Arab terror. Israel abandoned Gaza to the Arabs and have paid a price of some 13,000 rockets and missiles shot into Israel from the land we gave them.

These are the same two thoughts which Israeli leaders must recite to themselves, as well as to their guests, in the coming days. Israel is our homeland. Hebron is the heart of Israel. Beit El is the path via which the Patriarch Abraham toured our land, and was literally a stairway to Heaven. Shilo was home to our most sacred sanctuary for hundreds of years. And of course, Jerusalem is our eternal capital.

Israel is facing a seemingly lethal threat from Iran. Syrian weapons of mass destruction may fall into the hands of Hizballah and Hamas. We cannot and must not allow responsibility for our security to be in the hands of anyone else but ourselves. Not at any time.

While speaking of ‘settlements’ in Judea and Samaria, while discussing Jerusalem and the other holy cities in our Land, our leaders can pose simple questions to Obama and Kerry: ‘Would you, in return for a peace accord with Al-Qaeda, give them Boston or Philadelphia?” “Would you grant them total autonomy or sovereignty in a section of Washington D.C.?”

And while discussing Syria’s chemical weapons, and Iran’s nuclear weapons program, “would you allow Canada to decide if and when the United States should attack and destroy North Korea’s nuclear weapons’ facilities?

Rafael Medoff, in an op-ed piece titled, Obama, FDR and Zionism in today’s Jerusalem Post, basically expresses the bottom line: 

By 1942, FDR was so averse to being seen as pro- Zionist that he rejected even a request to permit the Palestine (Jewish) Symphony Orchestra to name one of its theaters the “Roosevelt Amphitheatre… [We] asked the President about refugees, the White Paper, etc. What he proposed to do about these things. [We] made a number of suggestions to him as to what [we] thought he ought to do and the answer to all of these suggestions was ‘No’… David Niles, a close adviser to FDR, once remarked that if Roosevelt had lived (and thus Harry Truman remained vice president), he probably would not have supported the creation of Israel, and as a result the Jewish state might never have been established.

This was the ‘almighty FDR,’ who, in 1933 said:

The German authorities are treating the Jews shamefully and the Jews in this country are greatly excited. But this is also not a governmental affair. We can do nothing except for American citizens who happen to be made victims.

And what about the ‘almighty BHO’. How will he be quoted fifty or sixty years from now? “I really was very sorry, but there wasn’t anything we could do, it was too late…”

A Holocaust Pageant that Was too ‘Political’ for FDR

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Seventy years ago this week, 40,000 New Yorkers watched as Jewish activists and Hollywood celebrities joined hands to bring news of the Holocaust to the vaunted stage of Madison Square Garden. But a requested message of greeting from President Franklin D. Roosevelt never arrived, because the White House decided the mass murder of the Jews was too “political” to touch.

In January 1943, a Gallup poll asked Americans, “It is said that two million Jews have been killed in Europe since the war began. Do you think this is true or just a rumor?” Although the Allied leadership had publicly confirmed that two million Jews had been murdered, the poll found only 47 percent believed it was true, while 29 percent dismissed it as a rumor; the remaining 24 percent had no opinion.

The failure of the news media to treat the Nazi genocide as a serious issue contributed to the public’s skepticism. To some extent, editors were following the lead of the Roosevelt administration, which, after issuing a condemnation of the mass murder, made no effort to publicize the tragedy or aid Jewish refugees.

Ben Hecht, the newspaper columnist and Academy Award-winning screenwriter, responded in the way he knew best: he picked up his pen and began to write.

With his outsized dramatic sense in high gear, Hecht authored a full-scale pageant called “We Will Never Die.” On a stage featuring forty-foot-high tablets of the Ten Commandments, it would survey Jewish contributions to civilization throughout history, describe the Nazi slaughter of the Jews, and culminate in an emotional recitation of Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer for the dead, by a group of elderly rabbis.

“Will it save the four million [Jews still alive in Europe]?” Hecht wrote on the eve of the opening. “I don’t know. Maybe we can awaken some of the vacationing hearts in our government.”

Hecht was involved with a small group of Jewish activists led by Hillel Kook, a Zionist emissary from Palestine who operated under the pseudonym Peter Bergson. The Bergson Group booked Madison Square Garden for the evening of March 9 and set about trying to convince the established Jewish organizations to cosponsor “We Will Never Die.”

Bergson’s well-meaning attempt at Jewish unity flopped. A meeting of representatives of several dozen Jewish groups, hosted by Hecht, deteriorated into shouting matches. It was an example of what the historian Henry Feingold has described as the sad tendency of some Jewish organizations to “allow themselves the luxury of fiddling while Jews burned.”

Hecht succeeded, however, in persuading some of Hollywood’s most prominent Jews to volunteer their services. Actors Edward G. Robinson, Paul Muni, Sylvia Sydney and Stella Adler assumed the lead roles; Kurt Weill composed an original score; Moss Hart agreed to serve as director, and famed impresario Billy Rose signed on as producer.

It was Rose who decided to approach Roosevelt. Through White House adviser David Niles, Rose asked the president for a “brief message” that could be read aloud at the pageant. Nothing bold or controversial, of course – something that would say “only that the Jews of Europe will be remembered when the time comes to make the peace.”

Rose assured the White House, “There is no political color to our Memorial Service.”

But apparently even the very mention of the Jews was “political” in the eyes of official Washington. White House aides warned the president that sending the requested message would be “a mistake.” Despite Rose’s assurance, “it is a fact that such a message would raise a political question,” Henry Pringle of the Office of War Information advised.

What Pringle meant was that publicizing the slaughter could raise the “political question” of how America was going to respond to the Nazi genocide. And since Roosevelt had decided the U.S. was not going to take any specific steps to aid the Jews, raising that question would be embarrassing. Hence Rose was informed that the “stress and pressure” of the president’s schedule made it impossible for FDR to provide the few words of comfort and consolation the Bergson Group sought.

None of this deterred the irrepressible Ben Hecht and his comrades from making sure the show would go on. More than 20,000 people jammed Madison Square Garden on the frigid evening of March 9. Since there were so many people gathered on the sidewalks outside who were unable to enter the packed hall, the cast decided to do a second performance immediately after the first. The second show, too, filled the Garden.

Ed Koch, FDR, and the Holocaust

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

“Mayor Koch last night took on the ghost of President Franklin D. Roosevelt,” an item in the New York Daily News in 1988 began, which probably surprised no one, since Ed Koch had spent a lifetime taking on everybody who deserved to be taken on, whether they were alive or dead. Indeed, his willingness to vigorously battle for what he believed and let the chips fall where they may was precisely what endeared Koch to so many people across the political spectrum.

As a historian who has written about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s response to the Holocaust, what intrigued me about that 1988 speech was the unique way in which the New York City mayor framed his criticism of FDR: “I will never forgive him for closing the doors to Jews who could have left Germany. Never will I forgive him. If you believe in purgatory – and I don’t even know what it is – that’s where he is, for that sin.”

In the years to follow, as Mayor Koch and I became friends and then coauthors, I had the opportunity to speak with him about that “purgatory” remark. And when a reporter from Italian National Television who was scheduled to interview Koch on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz asked me what topics I thought he should raise, I suggested bringing up the purgatory issue.

“I think it’s a Catholic expression,” Koch told him. “I’m not Catholic, I’m Jewish. I don’t think Jews have purgatory. I’m not really sure, I’m not religious myself, although I believe in God. But ‘purgatory’ [means] that you have an opportunity to deal with your sinful life and ultimately get to Heaven…you have to spend a time in purgatory, winning the right to enter Heaven.”

President Roosevelt “did many, many good things,” Koch emphasized, recalling FDR’s role in “saving the United States from the Depression” and leading America against Hitler in World War II. But FDR “also had an opportunity to save Jews before World War II,” and his failure to do is what landed him in purgatory, Koch explained. He cited Roosevelt’s decision to turn away the refugee ship St. Louis; his refusal to instruct the State Department to permit Jewish immigration up to the maximum allowed by law (the quotas were woefully under-filled); and the sham Evian Conference of 1938, which the Roosevelt administration convened to give the impression of concern for the Jewish refugees, without actually doing anything to aid them.

For me, however, perhaps the most significant part of the interview was Koch’s analysis of anti-Semitism in the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s. Given the public mood in those days, was it politically possible for FDR to have done much for the Jews? Scholars looking at this issue tend to rely on newspaper reports, public opinion polls about prejudice, and statistics about the size of anti-Semitic organizations. But an eyewitness account can be very revealing. And Koch, having grown up in hardscrabble neighborhoods in Newark and Brooklyn in the 1930s and 1940s, had much to say about the subject.

“Yes, there was a lot of anti-Semitism in America in those years, but that is no excuse for Roosevelt’s inaction, which was vile,” Koch asserted. “A leader has to lead. He has to try to change minds.”

What about claims that helping the Jews would have undermined Roosevelt’s ability to convince the public to fight Hitler? “I don’t accept that,” Koch said. “I believe that the American public could have accepted saving Jews.” He wasn’t a sociologist. He just knew what he had experienced among the people he met in the neighborhoods where he lived and worked. Some were bigots. But most weren’t.

Koch wasn’t just speculating when he expressed his faith in the basic decency of most Americans. In April 1944 – while the Holocaust still raged, and before the deportations of Hungarian Jews began – the White House quietly commissioned a Gallup Poll on the subject. It asked the public about offering “temporary protection” to Jews fleeing Hitler. The supposedly anti-Semitic American public supported the idea by a margin of seventy percent to twenty-three percent. Despite that overwhelming public sentiment, President Roosevelt agreed to create just one refugee camp – in upstate New York, where some nine hundred eighty-two refugees were brought in the summer of 1944.

We’ll Keep the Red Flag Flying Here and Other Jingles

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

Ever since FDR made it his campaign song in 1932 while running for office during the Great Depression, the unofficial anthem of the Democratic Party has been that Tin Pan Alley classic, “Happy Days are Here Again.” But no matter how often the old Victor spun, it would not be until well after Roosevelt’s death that happy days would be here again.

Like Hope and Change, Happy Days are Here Again was a blandly optimistic and non-specific promise that good times were coming. Someday the happy days would arrive, an appropriate enough sentiment for a song whose pivotal moment came in the movie “Chasing Rainbows” where it was sung to reassure a cuckolded husband who is threatening to kill himself. And in an even more appropriate bit of symbolism, the actual movie footage of that moment is as lost as the happy times.

No matter how often the Democratic Party cheats on the American people, it can always break out a new rendition of “Happy Days are Here Again” to win them back. And even if the happy days never seem to actually arrive, the promise of “So long sad times” and “Howdy gay times” where “your troubles and cares are gone” is always a winner.

While the American Democratic Party may not have an official anthem, the British Labour Party does and its anthem, “The Red Flag” would be entirely appropriate for the new Democratic Party that no longer has anything in common with Thomas Jefferson or Andrew Jackson.

It might be awkward to imagine Harry Reid or Joe Manchin trying to make it through verses like, “The people’s flag is deepest red” and the sonorous chorus, “Then raise the scarlet standard high /Within its shade we live and die/Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer/We’ll keep the red flag flying here.”

They would probably look almost as awkward singing it as Labour Party leader Ed Milliband does, but you could easily imagine Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett belting it out. And that would be only right because while The Red Flag never gets around to mentioning Manchester, despite its popularity there, it does namecheck two cities. “In Moscow’s vaults its hymns were sung/Chicago swells the surging throng.”

These days red flag songs, once mandatory, are confined to all sorts of vaults in Moscow. The new Russian anthem is Putin’s redress of the old Soviet one, with lyrics by the same composer. And the Soviet National Anthem, that secular hymn, has a familiar pedigree going back to the Anthem of the Bolshevik Party in 1938, which took its melody from “Life is better, Life is fun.”

You might be forgiven for thinking that the Bolshevik Party had borrowed its melody from some Moscow musical, but that wasn’t the case. “Life is better, Life is fun” was based on a statement by Stalin: “Life has become better, comrades. Life has become more fun.” The year was 1935 and while it is impossible to know whether Comrade Stalin had decided to crib from the Democratic campaign of 1932, the theme was the same. So long sad times. Happy days were here again.

And just to remind everyone that happy days really were here again, Stalin began another round of brutal purges. A year earlier, Uncle Joe, as the Fireside Chatter liked to refer to one of the world’s bloodiest mass murderers, had arranged for the murder of Sergei Kirov, who was everything that Stalin wasn’t, and used the murder to begin a purge of anyone more popular than him, with the support of red flag wavers in Chicago, New York, London and Los Angeles.

Unlike Franklin, Stalin’s idea of a campaign involved a lot of firing squads to properly soak the red flag in the deepest red, while the band played, “Life is better, Life is fun.” After the purges were wrapped up, Stalin signed a pact with another red flag waver from Berlin. The Nazis and Communists might have disagreed on any number of things, but both of them had inherited the Jacobin fetish for painting a flag red with blood and then waving it while calling for more death.

While Moscow might have turned in its red card, Chicago’s “surging throng” is still swelling the polls, and even though their shirts are purple, their fingers are red from the strain of repeat voting. If there is anywhere in the United States that the red flag has gone on flying, outside of Marin County, it’s Chicago. In its shade, generations have lived and died, and now generations have begun living and dying in its shade across the country as the red flag keeps flying for another four years over D.C.

The red flags of the post-modern, post-American, post-British, post-everything revolutionaries aren’t usually as obvious as a gang of wealthy politicians staggering to a microphone once a year and belting out, “We’ll keep the red flag flying here.” It usually sounds more like the parody of that anthem, known somewhat sarcastically as  the “Battle Hymn of the New Socialist Party,”

“White collar workers stand and cheer/The Labour government is here/We’ll change the country bit by bit/So nobody will notice it.” A policy of changing the country bit by bit so none of the workers who want their benefits notices that everything else they value is being dragged away to the rubbish heap while they sleep may be sneered at by the real reds, but it’s worked quite effectively.

Tony Blair did a masterful job of changing Britain, leaving behind Neil Kinnock’s threats to take the workers into the streets if the election did not go his way. (It did not. He did not.) Kinnock proved good enough for Joe Biden to plagiarize his biography from, but the future rested with a sensible left. A New Labour that would talk like technocrats while importing unprecedented number of immigrants to change the electoral balance of the country, so that the red flag would go on flying here, even if it was green and had a crescent and a pair of crossed swords in the middle.

Instead of the flying red flag, Tony Blair’s New Labour used D:ream’s “Things can only get better” as its election anthem, which despite a title that made it sound like another, “Happy Days are Here” or “Life is better, Life is fun” was more of a love song to a Labour messiah promising to cure “prejudice and greed”.

“Walk my path/Wear my shoes/Talk like me/I’ll be an angel,” New Labour voters were promised and they fell for it. The age of the Me Generation PM was here and the new egotism resounded in lyrics like “Things can only get better/Can only get better/Now I’ve found you/(That means me)” that took both self-help and self-involvement to a whole new level. But British voters probably should have paid more attention to warning lyrics like, “I sometimes lose myself in me.”

Bill Clinton was America’s Tony Blair, but with enough Good Old Boy charm to leaven the false earnestness that led so many to hate Blair. If Blair was a liar pretending to be an honest man, Clinton was a liar pretending to be an honest man pretending to be a liar, a rotten sandwich of a paradox that you have to be a politician or an observer of them to properly appreciate. Like Blair, Clinton worked to change the country bit by bit, appealing to white collar workers and leaving the red flag in the trunk next to the road flares and the dynamite.

It’s Chicago time now and the red flag is back. Talk of changing the country bit by bit is done. Now the country is being changed aggressively, every change a finger poke in the eye of the people who don’t notice right what is in front of their faces. The cuckolding is no longer subtle. It’s more out in the open than ever and the country is being bankrupted and the middle class is being wiped out to a rousing chorus of “Happy Days are Here Again”, when an entire generation has come of age never knowing a time when happy days prevailed.

Whatever faults Kinnock and old Labour had, losing himself in himself wasn’t one of them. But the Baby Boomer and Generation X leaders had the narcissistic habit of doing just that. Clinton and Blair both lost themselves in themselves and since then never appear to have found themselves again. And Barack Obama never lost himself in himself because he never stepped out of himself to begin with.

Obama marries the red flag radicalism of the old left with generational egotism to show us the spoiled brat as leader, the tyke born with a set of silver spoons in his mouth who not only waves the red flag, but who mistakes his shamelessness for political genius. Where Clinton limited his shamelessness to his personal life, for his Democratic successor, in the tradition of both the hard left and the fellowship of mirror gazers, the personal has always been political. To the Hope and Changer, the man is the office, the state is the man, and the whim is the national agenda.

Stalin famously told his mother that he was the new Czar, transmuting collectivist revolution into the egotistical authoritarianism of one man. Obama has managed the same trick, merging revolutionary politics with his own brand until there is no longer a difference between the man and his revolution. FDR only promised happy days, but Obama has become the actual incarnation of hope, which may explain why there is no longer any hope to go around.

There is a flag flying over Washington and it’s no longer the stars and stripes, but the same red flag that flies over Chicago. It’s the red flag under whose shade misery and tyranny spreads while the band strikes up the same anthem over and over again. “Happy days are here again.” Life is better, life is fun.” “Things can only get better” and of course Obama’s victory speech promise; “The best is yet to come.”

It might have been more honest if he had instead admitted, “We’ll keep the red flag flying here.”

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

December 31st, 1912

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

The next year  sweeps around the earth like the hand of a clock, from Australia to Europe and across the great stretch of the Atlantic it rides the darkness to America. And then around and around again, each passing day marking another sweep of the hours.

In Times Square crowds of tourists gather in clumps behind police barricades, clutching corporate swag beneath video billboards shifting and humming in the cool air. And the same scene repeats in other squares and other places even if it doesn’t feel like there is a great deal to celebrate.

While the year makes its first pass around the world, let us leave it behind, open a door in time and step back to another year, a century past.

December 31, 1912. The crowds are just as large, though the men wear hats. People use the word gay with no touch of irony. Liquor is harder to come by because the end of the year, one hundred years ago, has fallen on a Sunday.  There are more dances and fewer corporate brands. Horns are blown, and the occasional revolver fired into the air, a sight unimaginable in the controlled celebrations of today’s urban metropolis.

The Hotel Workers Union strike fizzled out on Broadway though a volley of bricks was hurled at the Hotel Astor during the celebrations. New York’s finest spent the evening outside the Rockefeller mansion waiting to subpoena the tycoon in the money trust investigation. And the Postmaster General inaugurated the new parcel service by shipping a silver loving cup from Washington to New York.

On Ellis Island, Castro, a bitter enemy of the United States, and the former president of Venezuela, had been arrested for trying to sneak into the country while the customs officers had their guard down. Gazing at the Statue of Liberty, Castro denied that he was a revolutionary and bitterly urged the American masses to rise up and tear down the statue in the name of freedom.

Times Square has far fewer billboards and no videos, but it does have the giant Horn and Hardart Automat which opened just that year, where food comes from banks of vending machines giving celebrating crowds a view of the amazing world of tomorrow for the world of 1912 is after all like our own. We can open a door into the past, but we cannot escape the present.

The Presidential election of 1912, like that of 2012, ended in disaster. Both Taft and Roosevelt lost and Woodrow Wilson won. In the White House, President Taft met with cabinet members and diplomats for a final reception.

Woodrow Wilson, who would lead America into a bloody and senseless war, subvert its Constitution, and begin the process of making global government and statism into the national religion of his party, was optimistic about the new year. “Thirteen is my lucky number,” he said. “It is curious how the number 13 has figured in my life and never with bad fortune.”

Americans of 2013 face the light bulb ban. Americans of 1913 were confronted with the matchstick ban as the Esch bill in Congress outlawed phosphorus “strike ‘em on your pants” matches by imposing a $1,000 tax on them. This was deemed to be Constitutional. In Indianapolis, the train carrying union leaders guilty of the dynamite plot was making its secret way to Federal prison even while the lawyers of the dynamiters vowed to appeal.

The passing year, a century past, had its distinct echoes in our own time. There had been, what the men of the time, thought of as wars, yet they could not even conceive of the wars shortly to come. There were the usual dry news items about the collapse of the government in Spain, a war and an economic crisis in distant parts of the world that did not concern them.

A recession was here, after several panics, and though there was plenty of cheer, there was also plenty of worry. The Federal Reserve Act would be signed at the end of 1913, partly in response to the economic crisis.

Socialism was on the march with the Socialist Party having doubled its votes in the national election.  All three major candidates, Wilson, Roosevelt and Taft, had warned that the country was drifting toward Socialism and that they were the only ones who could stop it. The influence of corporations was heatedly debated and the Catholic Church clashed with Socialists.

A Leading Democrat’s Secret Advice On ‘The Jewish Vote’

Friday, September 21st, 2012

A senior member of President Harry Truman’s own administration secretly gave American Zionist lobbyists advice in 1946 on how to pressure Truman to support creating a Jewish state.

According to a documents I recently found at the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem, when Zionist lobbyists needed advice on how to use the 1946 midterm elections as leverage on the White House, they turned to Truman’s own Solicitor General (the official who represents the administration before the Supreme Court), J. Howard McGrath.

A lawyer by profession, McGrath rose quickly in the ranks of the Democratic Party in his native Rhode Island. He was vice-chairman of the state party by 1928 and chairman two years later. After a four-year stint as U.S. district attorney in Providence, McGrath was elected governor in 1940. In 1944, he was one of the organizers of the Democratic National Convention and helped line up the votes to replace Vice President Harry Wallace with Senator Harry Truman. In the process, McGrath forged close ties with both Truman and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Yet at the same time, he was straying far from the party line on Jewish issues. Starting in 1942, McGrath’s name began appearing among the endorsers listed on newspaper ads by the Bergson Group, a political action committee that criticized the Roosevelt administration on the issues of Jewish refugees and creating a Jewish state. He also served as a sponsor of Bergson’s 1943 Emergency Conference to Save the Jewish People of Europe.

Associating with Jewish critics of President Roosevelt was a risky move for a rising Democratic politician. Certainly McGrath would need to maintain good relations with the White House to advance his political career.

Why McGrath took an interest in Jewish affairs is not clear. Perhaps his Irish heritage and resentment of British control of Ireland created a sense of solidarity with the Jewish struggle to oust the British from Palestine. Other Irish-Americans who were active in the Bergson Group, such as attorney Paul O’Dwyer and Congressman Andrew Somers of Brooklyn, cited their resentment of the British as a factor. The feeling was mutual: in one internal British government memo I located, a Foreign Office staffer slurred Somers as “the less happy type of Irish-American Catholic demagogue.”

It is unlikely McGrath was motivated by pursuit of Jewish votes, since Jews comprised barely three percent of Rhode Island’s population. But McGrath had plenty to say on the subject when Benjamin Akzin, a senior lobbyist for the American Zionist Emergency Council (precursor of AIPAC), came seeking advice on “the Jewish vote.”

Akzin, who in later years would found and chair Hebrew University’s political science department and would serve as president of Haifa University, met with McGrath on March 14, 1946. He began by expressing his distress at “the lag between promise and performance” in the Truman administration’s Palestine policy. “Friendly statements” about Zionism were not matched with deeds.

“I came to ask what he could advise,” Akzin reported afterward to his colleagues, “and what he could do to help us in order to obtain some action.”

McGrath responded that “not being in the Cabinet, he could not raise the Palestine issue.” Moreover, “he has to stick to his own job, and any attempt by him to influence the policy of other Departments would be strongly resented.”

Then he turned around and proceeded to advise Akzin on how best to influence those other departments.

The Zionists’ “technical arguments” about rights and history would not succeed, McGrath said. They needed to adopt “a political approach” that would highlight the likelihood that Jewish voters would turn away from the Democrats in the upcoming midterm congressional elections. “He was very emphatic on this point.”

McGrath suggested organizing “a group of Democratic congressmen in threatened areas” to “take up the [Palestine] matter collectively with the Administration…After all, the real issue in the coming elections concerns the control of the House, rather than that of the Senate.” The administration might take heed if warned that the Democrats could lose control of the House over the Palestine issue.

Another “effective means of pressure on the Palestine issue, McGrath said, would be for the Zionists to contact “the Democratic candidates for governorships and for the Senate in the key states with a considerable Jewish population.” Each of those candidates “is going to have several talks with the President, with [national Democratic Party chairman Robert] Hannegan, and with the other key persons of the Administration.”

Rubin Reports: The Government is Not a Magic Box

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2012/03/27/the-government-is-not-a-magic-box/

 

One of today’s biggest political and intellectual problems is the concept of “government” as an institution beyond human logic, society, and reality. We are told that more power to the government is a solution; that more money to the government is an absolute good; that more regulation from the government is a font of virtue; and that the government is a knight in shining honor and protector of the downtrodden.

It is possible to show the flaw in this argument within sixty seconds. A number of great philosophers—including the founders of the United States—have done so. Here is the single paragraph necessary to understand the  issue:

“Government” is comprised of people. These human beings are oftentimes no better – and often worse – than average people. Government and its specific agencies have their own goals, and their way of functioning have built-in shortcomings (bureaucratic rigidity, indifference to the money and lives of others, lust for the accumulation of power, etc.). Thus, to say that government as a whole and in its parts have no interests of their own is not true. The government is not a solution to all things — a kind of secular god – but an entity with its own selfishness, goals, and negative aspects. Consequently, citizens must guard against its usurpation of their liberty, wealth, and objectives.

This issue is so important, yet does not receive the attention it deserves. Children are being systematically educated in ignorance on this point; about half the population never hears it nowadays.

The government is made up of people. Human beings are imperfect. They are subject to a range of behavior that includes ambition, arrogance, bullying, corruption, cravenness, dictatorial tendencies, greed, inability to understand others’ needs or viewpoints, lack of imagination, being controlled by a specific caste for that group’s own selfish interests, among many other traits.

Once when Lucy van Pelt handed Charlie Brown, of the “Peanuts” comic strip, a long list of his faults, Charlie replied, “These aren’t faults, this is my personality,” or something to that effect.

Government, then, is not a referee but just another special-interest group.

When people accumulate power and money they filter the resulting ability to shape events and force others to comply through these factors in their personalities.  The more powerful the government and the less answerable it is to others, the more the traits of those who run it are imposed on the people. When the personality of one human controls government, we call it a dictatorship. When the personality of a caste does so, the government becomes their instrument.

Yes, the same is true of any human institution. That’s why institutions should be in balance. But, of course, government controls the laws and so can compel the action of others to an extent that no one else can.  It has a monopoly on force and power to an extent far beyond any other institution. The Mafia can try to compel obedience but citizens can seek the protection of the law. In contrast, government makes the laws and sets the rules. It is like the casino in Las Vegas. To whom can a citizen flee against a government that is too powerful?

There’s more. The kinds of people who become politicians and government bureaucrats have specific and especially developed character traits. They are people who crave power—I know this first-hand from growing up and living in Washington DC in these circles—and who are prone to arrogance once they achieve that status. They do not like to be criticized and they are even more prone than most mortals to believe that they cannot be wrong.

Isolated largely in a single city, and even isolated within that city, they lose contact with ordinary people. Indeed, those contacts reinforce their sense of their own superiority. As revealed occasionally when a politician shoots off his mouth unwisely (Senator Harry Reid on how tourists “stink”), they have contempt for the actual people they rule, just as in some old European monarchy’s court.

They can’t help it. The disease is incurable but the patients must be restrained.

The more they talk about standing up for the little guy and promulgating social justice, the more likely these things are to be cynically manipulated instruments for their own empowerment.  They get more money to disperse, too.

Even when they are virtuous—and many originally take up their political or bureaucratic careers out of a belief they want to help others—they are limited by their own lack of knowledge and experience. They have followed very specific courses in life, nowadays mainly a long period of formal education followed by either government service or law; concentration in a relatively few geographical locations; and socializing with each other.

They honestly don’t know much about the real lives of those they rule.  Their desire to help often becomes harmful. And even beyond this, they are focused on a narrow sliver of reality. If your job is to save endangered species or environmental purity, you don’t think too much about how fanatical focus on the issue impacts other people’s livelihoods.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/rubin-reports-the-government-is-not-a-magic-box/2012/03/27/

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