Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Alef List Posting Number 9 - American Jews and the Holocaust

Message to Alef List October 8, 2007

Distorting the Holocaust Record – Tony Greenstein Style

Tony Greenstein continues his efforts to denigrate Zionist leaders during the Holocaust. In order to do so, this time he picks upon Rabbi Stephen Wise, the leader of the American Jewish Congress in 1942. Tony Greenstein states, "during the holocaust their spokespersons such as Stephen Wise delayed for over 3 months even publicising the holocaust" because he agreed to a request from the American Under-Secretary of State, Summer Welles to remain silent despite his knowledge of Hitler's plan to exterminate every Jew in Europe. Tony Greenstein also incredibly sates that the Zionist answer to the Holocaust "was no answer at all." On the point about Rabbi Wise, Tony Greenstein ignores the fact that David Wyman has pointed out:

Wise had no viable choice in the matter. The State Department was responsible for American rescue policy. Had Wise contravened Welles's request, he would have alienated the department of Government whose co-operation was essential in the efforts to save European Jews. [1]

Whilst Rabbi Wise's hands were tied, Tony Greenstein does not choose to discuss those Zionists in America whose hands were not so tied. For example, throughout 1943, Peter Bergson, a Zionist emissary from Palestine set up the Bergson Group where together with Ben Hecht the group organized a series of public rallies, full-page newspaper ads, and Congressional lobbying efforts that culminated, in October 1943, in the introduction of a Congressional resolution urging the creation of a U.S. government agency to rescue Jewish refugees. In one day alone, President Roosevelt received 5,000 letters from American Jews about the Holocaust. The public controversy caused by Congressional hearings on the resolution, combined with behind-the-scenes pressure from Treasury Department officials, convinced President Roosevelt to establish the War Refugee Board in January 1944. The War Refugee Board's activities, which included financing the rescue work of Raoul Wallenberg, played a crucial role in saving the lives of over 200,000 people during the final 15 months of the war. [2]

Tony Greenstein does not mention the Labour Zionist monthly Jewish Frontier that used a special edition in November 1942 to bring to the attention of the English speaking world the horrors of the Final Solution. The lead editorial of that issue concluded:

The annals of mankind hold no similar record of organized murder as a calculated policy of state. We publish this sombre record to acquaint the free world with these facts and to call on the governments of the allied nations to do whatever may be done to prevent the fulfilment of this horror that broods over the blood-engulfed continent of Europe." [3]

Tony Greenstein also does not mention another American Labour Zionist monthly magazine Furrows, whose editorial in December 1942 stated:

Where is the voice of our government, of the Christian churches, of our labor movement, of our justice-loving intellectuals? … Why have the reports of the criminal acts of mass-destruction … failed to arouse the wrath and indignation of the free world? … We must shout out loud until our pain is heard. We must call for help from every quarter and seek ways of salvaging those who are not yet doomed." [4]

The editorial line of Furrows, was to continue campaigning along these lines for many months.

Tony Greenstein does not mention Jacob Fishman, a militant Zionist and a bombing proponent, who went on to assist in a challenge to Rabbi Wise for the leadership of the American Zionist movement who offered three possibilities for the Allies in his newspaper column of 27th June 1944. Either the Allies could warn that Budapest "will be bombed and reduced to ashes" if deportations continued, they could bomb Auschwitz and the other death camps in Poland or they could bomb one of Hitler's residences "saying that this is punishment for the mass murders." Fishman morally justified the bombing of Auschwitz on the grounds that whilst some Jews may die in the bombing raids many more may be able to escape and possibly join the partsans in fighting against the Nazis. [5]

Neither does Tony Greenstein comment upon the Independent Jewish Press Service in America that subsequently argued that the Allies should "Bomb ruthlessly the cities from which Jews are deported, so it becomes a matter of personal security for the enemy to have the Jews remain. Follow this up with a warning that the bombings will continue until the Jews are permitted to depart for neutral lands." According to Dr Rafael Medoff, one of the reasons that the Hungarian Authorities halted deportations to Auschwitz on July 7, 1944, was a fear that the Allies would heed to Jewish requests and partake in retributive bombing of their own cities. [6]

In Tony Greenstein's attack on Zionism, there is no mention of the rescue efforts of, for example, Henrietta Szold, who founded the American Zionist organization, Hadassah, and initiated and ran the Youth Aliyah programme which rescued 22,000 children from Nazi occupied Europe.[7] Tony Greenstein would have preferred the children stay and fight the Nazis. Maybe, in Tony Greenstein's world, these children without either guns or other weapons stood a chance against the Nazi regime that turned out to have both the determination and the ability to slaughter them. Moreover, there is no mention that by 1934 American Zionist leaders were fighting so hard for the relaxation of immigration controls and for refugees to be admitted to neutral countries that American Secretary of State Carr bemoaned "the aggressiveness of our Jewish friends." [8]

The above are just a small selection of the efforts of American Zionist leaders during the Holocaust. This substantially ignores all the efforts of the Zionist leaders in Palestine during the Holocaust. These have been very well documented in books such as Dina Porat's, The Blue and Yellow Star of David [9]and Shabtai Teveth's Ben-Gurion and the Holocaust.[10] For information about the efforts of British Zionists and the Holocaust, Tony Greenstein might wish to consult Martin Gilbert's recent book Churchill and the Jews.[11]

The facts that Tony Greenstein is prepared to leave out and the lies he is prepared to tell in order to indict Zionist leaders is truly astonishing.


[1] David Wyman, The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust 1942-1945 (New York: Pantheon, 1986) p. 54

[2] Rafael Medoff , "How America Leaned of the Holocaust" The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies April 2003 available at http://wymaninstitute.com/articles/2003-04-neverdie.php ..

[3] Marie Syrkin, "Did Zionists Abandon European Jews?" Reconstructionist Vol LII No. 6 May-June 1987

[4] Rafael Medoff , "Conflicts between American Jewish leaders and dissidents over responding to the news of the Holocaust: three episodes from 1942 to 1943" Journal of Genocide Research Vol 5. No. 3 September 2003 pp. 439-50

[5] Rafael Medoff "'A Foolish Encroachment upon the Allied High Command'? American Jewish Perspectives on Requesting U.S. Military Intervention Against the Holocaust".Modern Judaism Vol. 20, 2000 . pp. 299-315 quoting Jacob Fishman, "From Day to Day" Morgen Zhurnal June 27, 1944 pp. 1-2

[6] Rafael Medoff ibid., quoting editorial of Independent Jewish Press Service (IJPS) July 28, 1944 P. 3-A

[7] See http://www.zionism-israel.com/bio/biography_Henrietta_Szold.htm

[8] Quoted by Marie Syrkin op. cit.

[9] Dina Porat The Blue and Yellow Stars of David: The Zionist Leadership in Palestine and the Holocaust, 1939-1945 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1990)

[10] Shabtai Teveth Ben-Gurion and the Holocaust (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1996)

[11] Martin Gilbert Churchill and the Jews (London: Simon & Schuster, 2007)

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