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August 4, 2015 / 19 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’

LBJ and Israel

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Lyndon Baines Johnson, born 100 years ago this week, came from a part of the country where Jews were about as common as a herd of cattle in Manhattan.

But in 1939, while still a young and relatively powerless congressman, Johnson was moved enough by reports of Jewish suffering in Europe to begin raising money and pulling whatever strings were necessary – not all of them legal – to save as many Jews as he could from the Nazis. Over the next few years, hundreds of Jews were issued counterfeit passports and visas and brought to Johnson’s home state of Texas, where they began new lives in the safety and security of America.

Two decades later, in December 1963, shortly after he became president, Johnson was in Austin to dedicate a new synagogue. Many of the Jews he saved during the war were on hand, and time had not dimmed their gratitude. Dry eyes were scarce that day, and Mrs. Johnson proudly recorded in her diary that “Person after person plucked at my sleeve and said, ‘I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for him. He helped me get out.'”

Johnson’s affinity for Jews stemmed from early familial influences – his paternal grandfather and a number of other relatives were members of the Christadelphian movement, a group of fundamentalist Christians who believed the Jews would one day return to Palestine and create a new Jewish state. His grandfather would admonish young Lyndon to “Take care of the Jews. Consider them your friends and help them any way you can.”

To a Jewish group in 1968, Johnson said: “Most if not all of you have very deep ties with the land and the people of Israel, as I do. The Bible stories are woven into my childhood memories as the gallant struggle of modern Jews to be free of persecution is also woven into our souls.”

Johnson’s rise to prominence in Washington – he went on from the House to the Senate where in 1955 he became the youngest majority leader in history – coincided with Israel’s birth and early years. Johnson was one of Israel’s strongest backers in Congress, never more so than during the Suez crisis and its aftermath in late 1956 and early 1957, when President Eisenhower distanced himself from Israel and demanded that it immediately return the just-captured Sinai to Egypt.

Though the prevailing mood in Washington favored a bipartisan foreign policy – as a popular adage had it, “politics stops at the water’s edge” – Johnson fought the administration from day one of the crisis, and soon others in Congress, Republicans as well as Democrats, followed his lead. Ultimately, Eisenhower prevailed and Israel withdrew from the Sinai. There soon followed, however, a distinct softening in the administration’s public demeanor toward Israel – a change many believe attributable, at least in part, to Eisenhower’s desire to avoid another bruising battle with Johnson over Middle East policy.

Jews active on behalf of Israel in those years, particularly the Washington-based lobbyists, valued Johnson’s outspokenness and consistency. Si Kennen, director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) during that period, echoed the sentiments of his colleagues when he offered this succinct evaluation of Johnson: “Front-rank, pro-Israel.”

* * * * *

The Kennedy-Johnson Democratic presidential ticket of 1960 was purely a marriage of convenience. Merely disliked by President Kennedy, Johnson was despised by the president’s brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Convinced of their cultural superiority, the Ivy League types in the Kennedy inner circle laughed at everything from Johnson’s Texas accent to the schools he’d attended to his wheeler-dealer persona – and thought it just terribly gauche and lowbrow that his wife, born Claudia Alta Taylor, was known to one and all as Lady Bird.

Behind the condescension, however, was a very real sense of insecurity. The Kennedy brothers feared Johnson for his political acumen and his intimate relationship with Washington’s movers and shakers, particularly FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who knew all the secrets and scandals that lurked beneath the capital’s pristine fa?ade, including the very dark side of John Kennedy that would remain hidden from the public for years after Kennedy’s death.

In its Middle East policy the Kennedy administration made little effort to change the evenhanded approach pursued by its predecessors. As part of an all-out effort to win the affections of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kennedy pushed hard for large increases in aid to Egypt and, in early 1962, following an Israeli retaliatory strike in Syria, instructed his UN ambassador to vote to condemn Israel in the Security Council.

Kennedy also constantly prodded Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on the issue of Arab refugees – Secretary of State Dean Rusk wanted Israel to agree to take back at least 10 percent of the total number of Arabs who had left Israel since 1948 – and even more so on Israel’s nuclear ambitions.

The true scope of Israel’s nuclear program was far greater than Ben-Gurion was prepared to let on, and the Israeli government had its hands full as it tried to allay the Kennedy administration’s growing unease. When, after much wrangling and delay, the White House finally agreed to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Israel – the first arms deal between the two countries – one of the conditions the U.S. insisted on was that it be allowed to conduct a close inspection of Israel’s nuclear facility at Dimona.

The Israeli government finally acquiesced, but inspection of the actual plant was avoided by an elaborate – and costly – sleight of hand. As Israeli journalists Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman describe it, “False walls were erected, doorways and elevators hidden, and dummy installations were built to show the Americans, who found no evidence of the weapons program secreted underground.”

* * * * *

Once the trauma of Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963 began to wear off and Johnson settled in as president, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel quickly soared to new heights. In The Bomb in the Basement, his history of Israel’s procurement of nuclear weapons, Israeli author Michael Karpin writes that “as soon as [Johnson] entered the White House the pressure on Israel on the Dimona issue ceased.”

And while Kennedy’s final budget, for fiscal year 1964, allocated $40 million in aid to Israel, Johnson’s first budget, for fiscal year 1965, set aside $71 million – an extraordinary increase of 75 percent. The amount nearly doubled in 1966, to $130 million.

Beyond the numbers, the precise nature and terms of the aid signaled a dramatic break with past American policy. Development loans and surplus food had constituted the extent of U.S. aid under Eisenhower and Kennedy, and the anti-aircraft missiles sold to Israel by the Kennedy administration required a cash payment. Johnson changed all that: Not only did he become the first American president to sell offensive weapons to Israel (the missiles from Kennedy were defensive), but from now on the Israelis would be permitted to buy American arms with American aid money, which meant no funds would have to leave Israel’s hard-pressed government coffers.

As a result of the new arrangement, the percentage of American aid to Israel earmarked for military expenditures rose dramatically, more than tripling between 1965 and 1967. By the middle of 1966, the Israelis were purchasing military hardware the type of which would have been unthinkable under prior administrations, including four-dozen Skyhawk bomber attack planes and more than 200 M-48 tanks (despite the objection of Pentagon officials, who told Johnson they’d prefer Israel buy its tanks from the British or the Germans).

Meanwhile, responding to a large increase of Russian military aid to the radical regimes in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, the Johnson administration armed what at the time were regarded as the more conservative, anti-Soviet Arab states in the region: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Morocco and Libya. Ironically, supplying arms to some Arab nations made it that much easier for Johnson to deal with those in the foreign policy and defense bureaucracies who objected to selling sophisticated weaponry to Israel. He would point out to them that he was simply maintaining the Arab-Israeli balance of power.

* * * * *

In mid-May 1967, as Israel marked its 19th anniversary, Nasser in quick succession massed the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula; demanded removal of the United Nations Emergency Force that since 1957 had kept the peace on the Egyptian-Israeli border; and blockaded the Straits of Tiran to ships bound to and from the Israeli port of Eilat.

The latter constituted a technical act of war and capped a period of increasing tension in the region as Johnson ordered the Sixth Fleet to the eastern Mediterranean. There followed two weeks of frenzied diplomatic maneuvering, with Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban hopscotching across Europe and the United States in an effort to diffuse the situation by diplomatic means.

Elected president in his own right by a historic margin in 1964, Johnson had seen his popularity and stature steadily diminish in the wake of his overreaching Great Society domestic programs and the widespread sense that America was mired in a no-win war in Vietnam. Now Johnson had to turn his attention from Southeast Asia to the Middle East and try to prevent a crisis from becoming a war.

The administration took pains to appear neutral. Johnson repeatedly warned the Israelis against striking first, but was unable to come up with a successful alternative strategy. Meanwhile, Israel had mobilized its reserves and each passing day took another devastating bite out of the country’s already precarious economy. The Arab world, for its part, was caught up in war fever as Jordan’s King Hussein, following the example set by Syria six months earlier, signed a mutual defense pact with Nasser

“Johnson,” said Ephraim Evron, the influential minister at the Israeli embassy in Washington, “tried to organize an international naval force [to break the blockade], but it didn’t work. He also sent letters and envoys to Cairo to persuade President Nasser to reduce the tension by returning to the status quo ante, but in vain. We knew that, in the end, we would have to shatter the blockade ourselves.”

What Johnson knew, thanks to highly classified CIA and armed-forces intelligence reports, was that U.S. defense experts were predicting a swift Israeli victory in the event of war. General Earle Wheeler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would later recall: “I told [Johnson] that our best estimate was that if there was a war, that the Israelis would win it in five to seven days. He asked me to go back and check this out and talk to him again. I did, and I came back and told him exactly the same thing – that there’s just no question; that the way the two sides lined up in the air and on the ground, the Israelis would win.”

This was an assessment shared by Israel’s own military leaders, who pushed hard for Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, a cautious man by nature, to give the word for a pre-emptive strike. That word finally came on Sunday, June 4, and the Israeli air force went on the attack early the next morning, destroying nearly all of Egypt’s serviceable military aircraft as they sat on their runways. Subsequent bombing runs against Jordanian and Syrian air bases sealed Israel’s victory even as fierce ground combat commenced on three fronts.

One incident that marred Israel’s victory and threatened the country’s relationship with the U.S. was the deadly attack by Israeli forces on the USS Liberty, an American electronic surveillance ship operating off the Sinai coast. During the assault, which Israel afterward called a terrible mistake, the Liberty was torpedoed and strafed for more than an hour. The final casualty count totaled 34 Americans dead and 171 wounded.

Just how livid the Americans were can be gauged by the reaction of Johnson adviser Clark Clifford, for decades as staunch an advocate of Israel as they came in Washington (and the man chiefly responsible for keeping Harry Truman on a pro-Zionist course in 1947 and ’48). Clifford thought “it was inconceivable that [the attack] was an accident” and urged the president to respond to the incident “as if the Arabs or the Russians had done it.”

Despite his own doubts about the Israeli version of events, Johnson downplayed the tragedy even as Clifford and several other top aides urged him to at least insist the Israeli government punish those responsible. Israel made a formal apology and paid several million dollars in compensation to the families of the dead Americans, but the U.S.-Israel relationship suffered no significant damage.

After the war, Johnson resisted international calls to pressure Israel into relinquishing the vast swaths of territory it had just captured.

* * * * *

If there was one thing that threatened Johnson’s amicable relationship with American Jews – and, by extension, Israel – it was the vocal opposition of Jewish liberals to the war in Vietnam. Johnson felt Jews, of all people, should have understood that South Vietnam, like Israel, was a small nation in constant peril. He complained that Jews “want me to protect Israel, but they don’t want me to do anything in Vietnam.”

At one point during an otherwise friendly discussion with Abba Eban toward the end of his presidency, Johnson remarked, with considerable bitterness, “A bunch of rabbis came here one day in 1967 to tell me that I ought not to send a single screwdriver to Vietnam – but on the other hand should push all our aircraft carriers through the Straits of Tiran to help Israel.”

It was, of course, Vietnam and its poisonous effects on American society that would lead Johnson to forgo seeking a second full term of office. He left the White House in January 1969 a broken man, vilified as perhaps no president in American history up to that time. He died four years later, not yet 65 but looking like a man two decades older.

Whatever else can be said of Lyndon Johnson, he proved to be a true friend of the Jews and Israel. He proved it as a young lawmaker when, with limited clout and resources, he did everything he could to get as many Jews as possible out of Europe; he proved it as one of Israel’s strongest and most important backers in Congress during the Jewish state’s early years; and he proved it as president by granting Israel then-unprecedented levels of financial and military aid and by refusing, in marked contrast to Eisenhower’s actions after the Suez crisis of 1956, to force unilateral concessions on Israel following the Six-Day War.

The Media Myth Of Camelot

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

With Caroline Kennedy’s New York Times op-ed article endorsing the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama because, in her words, she wants a president like her father; a president who, among other things, “holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards,” it seemed only appropriate to give an encore airing, with some revisions, to the following Media Monitor column that originally ran in 2003:

“Jack Kennedy was the mythological front man for a particularly juicy slice of our history. He talked a slick line and wore a world-class haircut. He was Bill Clinton minus pervasive media scrutiny and a few rolls of flab. Jack got whacked at the optimum moment to assure his sainthood. Lies continue to swirl around his eternal flame….”
– James Ellroy, American Tabloid

Assassination does wonders for a public figure’s place in history. John F. Kennedy was a president of questionable character and meager accomplishment, but his untimely and violent death, followed by decades of unceasing image control by the Kennedy family and their media apologists, has helped sustain one of the great myths of American history – a myth that there once existed in Washington a magical kingdom called Camelot, ruled by a dashing prince whose wisdom and bravery were matched only by his unshakeable devotion to his beautiful princess.

So powerful is the Camelot legend that the many seamy discoveries of recent years have managed only to tarnish, but hardly to destroy, the reputation of a man who almost certainly would have been impeached or forced to resign the presidency had even a fraction of what we now know been made public while he was still alive and in office.

Even the very term that has come to symbolize the Kennedy era – Camelot – is an invention after the fact. The notion of the Kennedy White House as Camelot has always been, as even Kennedy press secretary and longtime loyalist Pierre Salinger admitted, a “fraud” – the word was never once used to describe the Kennedy administration while Kennedy was alive.

The Camelot-Kennedy connection was nothing more than a widow’s successful attempt to glamorize her husband’s legacy. Not long after Kennedy’s murder, Jacqueline Kennedy, quoting the lyrics of the title song from a popular Broadway show, implored the writer Theodore White: “Don’t let it be forgot/That once there was a spot/For one brief shining moment/That was known as Camelot.”

White dutifully recorded her words in an article for Life magazine, and instantly and forevermore the Kennedy years became Camelot in retrospect. It is necessary to keep all this in mind when reflecting on any aspect of the Kennedy administration. Nothing was as it seemed, and the truth about those years began to seep out only after Kennedy had been dead for a decade.

In fact, the mythmaking about JFK was under way well before he was elected president – being born to a politically ambitious, fabulously wealthy and well-connected father has its benefits.

“Kennedy,” the liberal journalist Lawrence Wright observed, “had spent thirteen years in the House and Senate without passing a single important piece of legislation. And yet before his election to the presidency, people were comparing him with Franklin Roosevelt, with the young Churchill, with various movie stars, with Lindbergh.”

Kennedy’s best-selling books, Why England Slept and Profiles in Courage, which helped sell the notion that he was some sort of intellectual? Both were largely ghostwritten.

The World War II incident that bestowed on Kennedy an aura of heroism?

“It was true Kennedy had saved the life of one of his men on PT-109, on a mission in which Kennedy was supposed to torpedo a Japanese destroyer,” writes Wright. “Instead, the lumbering destroyer managed to slice the PT boat in half, killing two crewmen. Apparently, Kennedy had failed to notice the ship until it was bearing down on top of him. ‘Our reaction to the 109 thing had always been that we were kind of ashamed of our performance,’ admitted one of the crew, Barney Ross. ‘I had always thought it was a disaster.’”

Wright continues: “Was this heroism? Or just luck – that Kennedy was still alive and not brought before a court-martial? The Navy rejected his application for a Silver Star, and it wasn’t until a friend of the Kennedy family, James Forrestal, became secretary of the Navy, that Kennedy received a life-saving award.”

Among close acquaintances Kennedy was candid about his heroics. In his 1991 book A Question of Character, historian Thomas Reeves quotes the son of a Kennedy intimate as saying, “He told her it was a question of whether they were going to give him a medal or throw him out.” And in 1946, according to Reeves, Kennedy told a friend, “My story about the collision is getting better all the time. Now I’ve got a Jew and a nigger in the story and with me being a Catholic, that’s great.”

Horrid Generation

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Dennis Prager, the sometimes controversial, always thought-provoking radio host and syndicated columnist, wrote a column last week on the legacy the baby boom generation has bequeathed to younger Americans.

“We live in the age of group apologies,” wrote Prager. “I would like to add one. The baby boomer generation needs to apologize to America, especially its young generation, for many sins.”

One of those sins, according to Prager, is the mindless pacifism espoused by Sixties-era liberals and leftists and passed down to their ideological heirs – a pacifism neatly summarized by the popular 1960’s slogan “Make love, not war.”

“Our parents,” Prager continued, “had liberated the world from immeasurably cruel and murderous regimes in Germany and Japan – solely thanks to waging war. But instead of concluding that war could do great moral good, we sang ourselves silly with such inane lyrics as ‘Give peace a chance,’ as if that deals in any way with the world’s most monstrous evils. So we taught you to make love and not war. And we succeeded.”

The column struck a chord because the Monitor has long viewed baby boomers as the most overindulged, overrated, self-infatuated and self-destructive generation America has produced to date. (Full disclosure: the Monitor’s alter-ego is very much a part of that horrid generation.)

There are many things about the boomers that the Monitor disdains, perhaps none more than the baseless claim – repeated so often it’s been virtually inscribed as historical fact – that antiwar boomers basically shut down the Vietnam War.

Of course, even if one accepts the premise that the antiwar movement ended America’s involvement in Vietnam, the fact is that most of the more intelligent opponents of that war, and certainly just about all of those with the means and influence to do something about it – elected officials, journalists, financial contributors to political parties – were born well before 1946, the start of the baby boom era.)

But the reality is that antiwar activists – of whatever age – were in no way responsible for ending the war.

All the major public opinion polls of that era, from the first stirrings of antiwar sentiment in 1965 to the mass demonstrations four and five years later, showed that the majority of Americans remained more or less supportive of their government’s policy in Southeast Asia.

The peace candidate Eugene McCarthy’s near victory in the 1968 New Hampshire primary was fueled in great measure by voters who felt the Johnson administration was not being aggressive enough in its prosecution of the war.

Many of those McCarthy voters actually went on to support the third-party candidacy of the Vietnam hawk George Wallace in the November general election.

As late as 1972 – a full eight years after the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, four years after the Tet offensive, three years after revelation of the My Lai massacre and two years after the National Guard shootings at Kent State – the Democratic presidential nominee, George McGovern, running on an unambiguous vow to stop the war, suffered a loss of cataclysmic proportions to President Richard Nixon.

By then, of course, the antiwar movement itself had largely petered out as the Nixon administration implemented a series of troop withdrawals and the draft gave way to an all-volunteer armed forces.

Rather than give credit to the antiwar movement for stopping the war, it’s at least as valid to suggest that the turmoil created by the movement served further to paralyze U.S. policy makers, whose aims in Vietnam were never very clear to begin with.

After all, the war in Vietnam, at least in terms of Americans fighting and dying, lasted three times as long as the Korean conflict of the 1950’s – a war that, by way of comparison, elicited minimal backlash on the home front.

Speaking of the baby boom generation, former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw is out with a new book, Boom!, a follow-up of sorts to his mega-seller The Greatest Generation, which chronicled a generation that, unlike its boomer offspring, actually did end a war, defeating Germany and Japan in World War II.

Boom! makes for interesting reading, but for a more substantial – and sobering – look at boomers and what they wrought, see Peter Collier and David Horowitz’s Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties.

Kneidlach And Machine Guns

Friday, January 30th, 2004

Kneidlach And Machine Guns: G.I. Joseph – Ours To Fight For: American Jews In The Second World War’

 

The Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

18 First Place, Battery Park City, N.Y., N.Y.; (212) 509 6130.

Sunday-Wednesday, 9a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday, 9a.m.-3 p.m.
$7 adults, $5 children.



Introducing Menachem Wecker, Guest Columnist, who will henceforth appear regularly on this page.


The wide variety of bric-a-brac that fills a soldier’s pockets, backpack and other gear becomes the medium of exploration in Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried,” his examination of Vietnam era soldiers. A writer who fought in Vietnam and who now is a visiting
creative writing professor and endowed chair at Southwest Texas State University, O’Brien uses the things soldiers carry as a window into the soldiers’ innermost desires and dreams.

The special exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage “Ours To Fight For: American Jews In The Second World War” pursues a similar tactic concerning the Jewish soldier at war, with particular attention to the 550,000 Jews who fought in World War II. Jewish soldiers, to be
sure, found a twofold struggle confounding them; beyond the horrors of war that O’Brien describes, anti-Semitism arose all too readily, while kashrus was much harder to come by.

“Ours To Fight For” casts a spotlight on candles lit in foxholes along with wine and salami sent by Mom to welcome the Sabbath. The Jewish military paraphernalia – Tefillin, candles, and assorted other ceremonial objects – show how dearly some cling to religious identity, even
amidst chaotic machine gun fire.

Rather than preserve the traditional, remote observation point, the exhibit makes some fascinating curatorial decisions, which heave the viewer directly into battle. The viewer becomes eyewitness in a journey that calls for navigation through a life-sized diorama of tight,
claustrophobic spaces of wooden-planked barracks, a uniform closet, an old-style movie theater and caged, jail-like structures, all set on cold, concrete floors.

On the waterside in Battery Park, the Museum of Jewish Heritage is divided between a permanent collection in one building – which contains three chronologically arranged floors addressing the pre-war era, the Holocaust and then Zionism – and a newly opened building which houses special exhibits in the Robert M. Morgenthau Wing. A memorial rock garden
that uses stones, trees and soil to express the purity and primacy of nature, Garden of Stones surrounds the museum and lends it a sculptural feel.

Where the younger generation finds World War II reducible to a set of old photographs, assorted memoirs and The Diary of a Young Girl, the Museum of Jewish Heritage clings fiercely to Holocaust images that sadly fade away with every survivor’s passing. The Museum
employs a multimedia network of video and sound documentation to enliven and to personalize the historical data, but as viewers walk from room to room, they feel that they see merely a small part of the whole, while video reels and sounds permeate the space. Unfortunately, one never sees or hears everything.

This distinct feeling of partial portraits tragically neglects the unknown masses of victims. This omission seems especially important now to American Jews in the wake of the war on terrorism. The viewer will do well to forget the questions of war, though. “Ours To Fight For”
pays tribute to the soldiers, who unfortunately walk too often in anonymity. “My feeling was, I wanted [the Germans] to know that the bombs that were dropping,” said Bernard Branson, U.S. Army Air Corps, “there was a Jew up there doing it.”

As the viewer sifts through a closet of uniforms, army boots and helmets, with glass cases of Kiddush cups, Tefillin, candles and mezuzahs embedded within, he distinctly relates to the torn identity of the Jewish soldier. “I saw more men die cursing or asking for their mothers, than praying,” says Photographer’s Mate 2C Paul Guttman, US Navy.

An unlikely juxtaposition further complicates matters. T4 Marvin Weissman’s bag shows a tool of war irrevocably intertwined with one of beauty. “I had room for my clarinet and my Tommy gun on a little shelf to the right,” he says. This installation recalls a case in the museum’s permanent collection featuring a Talith and violin. Symbolically, one sees Jewish identity, hope and the stark evils of war, thrown together in a distinctly realistic manner. The Goya-like pragmatism frightens and inspires. In an interrogation with an anonymous German POW, Captain Bentley Kassal, U.S. Army Air Forces asked if he ever anticipated capture by a Jewish soldier. “I could tell the animosity and hatred in his eyes,” he said. “I made my point.”

And that point still endures today. Through the accounts of capture as “my vision of Dante’s Inferno,” through the indescribable “sense of what it’s like to be in fear, every day, all day,” Jewish soldiers stand firmly, not to mourn, but to remind and to teach. “You just don’t
have an opportunity to mourn,” says Pfc. Marvin Margoshes, US Army. “You just don’t have time.”

Images of the powerful Jew – the armed Jew – overflow from the museum’s third floor permanent collection on Zionism, into the special exhibition hall. Underlying all the pain and the sadness and the losses that can never be repaid, stands the modern Israeli soldier that Rav A. Y. Kook never saw, but dreamed of.

The exhibition closes with the testimony of the troops who liberated the camps. One soldier recounts speaking with a nun who was so visibly shaken upon discovering he was Jewish, that he knew something awful had occurred. Like that soldier, the viewer learned as if for the first time, of the unfathomable horrors of the death camps, and thus, the exhibit truly leads the viewer through the soldiers’ experiences. It further underscores the help Americans provided to survivors in the war’s aftermath.

And finally, the Robert M. Morgenthau Wing opens onto a sunlit room with tall windows overlooking the Statue of Liberty. The beautiful waves and symbolism offer hope in the wake of a frightful war that – close to 60 years later – we are still fighting.

Visit the MJH online at http://www.mjhnyc.org/index.htm and for more information on “Ours To Fight For” including short videos, see http://www.ourstofightfor.org/index.jsp


Menachem Wecker edits the Arts and Culture Section of the Yeshiva University Commentator. As an artist, he has trained at the Massachusetts College of Art.
He may be reached at wecker@yu.edu  

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/kneidlach-and-machine-guns/2004/01/30/

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