American Jews overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama, the Candidate of Change, despite credible warnings and ample evidence that he would obsessively seek to create a Palestinian state at Israel’s expense and “engage” nuclear-arming, Islamist Iran.
After four months of Change, Obama’s support in the Jewish community seems rock solid. Besides, many Jews say, Obama’s appointment of two Jews to key White House positions – Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff and David Axelrod as presidential senior adviser – proves Obama is OK for Israel. So what if the meeting with Netanyahu didn’t go as well as first advertised? Bibi’s a right-winger, anyway. Under Obama, there was a kosher Passover Seder in the White House. Progress! Hope! Change!
Hmm….The head-spinning, stomach-turning developments make this lifelong Jewish supporter of Israel think Hitler made two big blunders in his quest for world domination. He attacked the Soviet Union – and he did not invite American Jewish leaders to a catered kosher lunch in Berlin before the war.
Seriously. Had Hitler been able to hide his fanatical hatred of Jews for only a few hours, he might have been able to mobilize liberal American Jewish opinion in favor of a policy of appeasement toward Nazi Germany – perhaps, even, a formal pledge of non-interference in Germany’s internal affairs.
Admittedly, a free kosher lunch might not have been enough to win over the so-called Jewish leaders. The Nazi madman probably would have had to appoint a Jewish adviser (on Jewish affairs, say) to accomplish his aim.
A high-level Jewish adviser – yes! That would have worked wonders for the Fuhrer. The Jewish leaders would have returned home to reassure their concerned fellow Jews and the American media that Hitler had no intention of starting a war, regardless of Germany’s ominous rearmament and military buildup; that he was instead interested in forging a closer relationship between Germany and the United States, one that could possibly even lead to an alliance of some sort to preserve peace in Europe.
As for “the Jewish Problem,” the American Jewish bigwigs would have said that while some Jews were indeed suffering in Germany, there really was room for progress – quietly, of course, behind the scenes. Quiet, patient, principled diplomacy – that’s the ticket!
And so it would have gone. Dialogue and diplomacy are the answers, the Jewish leaders would have said; no sanctions, no big, public protests – they would only make matters worse for Germany’s Jews and needlessly antagonize the Nazis. No talk of armed intervention or future conflict, heaven forbid.
The impact of their meeting with Herr Hitler and call for engagement and dialogue would have been instant (or what passed for instant in the time before television and the Internet). Overnight, the brave minority warning of a rising, imperialist threat across the ocean would have been marginalized –maybe forever. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, there could have been a crucial decision by the U.S. government to avoid or delay declaring war on Germany as well as Japan, perhaps accompanied by a presidential speech reminding the public of Germany’s great contributions to Western civilization and culture and to the shaping of American society.
Though the anti-Semitic rabble – the foot soldiers in armbands and jackboots and white sheets – would have been appalled by Hitler’s meeting with Jewish leaders, the Fuhrer’s more sophisticated American supporters and sympathizers would have understood his diabolically clever move. Influential isolationists and fascists – the Pat Buchanans of that era – would have laughed all the way to the next America First or German American Bund (or Silver Shirts, or Black Legion, or Ku Klux Klan) rally.
The Roger Cohen of that day – there is always a Roger Cohen whenever and wherever Jewish communities are threatened with annihilation and persecution – would surely have written a series of articles for The New York Times about Jewish conditions in Germany being not so bad after all, despite the beatings and racial laws, the persecution and the humiliation, the incessant anti-Semitic propaganda. (In fact, the liberal Jewish columnist Walter Lippmann wrote approvingly of Hitler in the late 1920s, advising his readers that the Nazi leader would “moderate” his views upon achieving power.)