Roosevelt made matters worse
Ira Forman, the U.S. envoy for combating anti-Semitism, noted that the U.S. quota system of the 1930s prevented refuge for Jews (“Jewish lawmakers meet to discuss global anti-Semitism,” WJW, Dec. 12). While it is the that the quota laws severely restricted immigration, the Roosevelt administration made the situation much worse, by imposing extra requirements and burdensome regulations, above and beyond the law, in order to discourage and disqualify would-be immigrants. This reduced immigration to levels far below what the law allowed.
A maximum of 25,957 German citizens were permitted by law to immigrate to the U.S. each year. Yet during 1933, Hitler’s first year in power, barely 5 percent of the German quota was filled. The following year, less than 14 percent of those spaces were filled. During President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 12 years in office, the German quota was filled in only one year, and in most of the Roosevelt years, it was less than 25 percent filled. Nearly 190,000 quota places from Germany and Axis-controlled countries sat unused — 190,000 lives that could have been saved, had President Roosevelt shown even a minimal amount of humanitarian interest in their plight.
Contemporary partisans of FDR defend his immigration policy on the grounds that anti-immigration sentiment in Congress was too strong for Roosevelt to bring about any changes in the immigration quota laws. But the fact is that FDR could have admitted many more refugees — within the existing law — without confronting Congress or igniting any substantial public controversy. All he had to do was quietly instruct the State Department (which administered immigration) to permit immigrants to enter the United States up to the maximum number allowed by law. That alone could have saved 190,000 lives.
DR. RAFAEL MEDOFF
Director, The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, Washington, D.C.
Academics stressed as well
I enjoyed the article about the Decko family and the SULAM program (“Day schools seek to accommodate special-needs students,” WJW, Dec. 5). It highlighted many areas we have developed to help serve our community within our existing institutions and day schools.
I wanted to mention the fact that as much as we focus on creating a nurturing environment, we also strive to create a supportive academic environment that helps our students reach their academic potential and go on to institutions of higher learning upon completion of high school.
Please keep up the great human interest component of your paper as it helps convey real issues about real people in our community.
RABBI ELISHA PAUL
Director of the SULAM program
Peter in Neverland
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a very decent man, has made a serious mistake in my opinion. He announced with pride how Democrats have come to an agreement with Iran. It’s typical of our cultural war in America between leftism and conservative values. At its core, leftism is steeped in naivete, utopian views and lack of wisdom. Leftism is the value system of leaders like Neville Chamberlain who indirectly unleashed the savagery of World War II. It threatens us again.
The dream of leftism is, “I dream of things and therefore they must be true and, therefore, I will act accordingly.” Leftists dream that the fascist radical Islamists who run Iran, who glory in slitting innocent people’s throats, are at their core decent folk who just want to get along in life. Hence, an open hand, a soft reassuring voice, we hear you, we understand, we are elevated modern progressives, we roll back the sanctions. And we do draw red lines, so be careful.
We conservatives understand the foolishness and danger of leftism. This agreement rewards the mullahs by giving them a good infusion of cash so they may now relieve the pressure from the mass of unhappy stirring citizens below. This will smooth their path to acquire a nuclear bomb. This will connect radical terrorism with the highest level of destructive technology — our 21st century nightmare. These are the guys we naively coddle, the ones who without a second thought would press a bright green button to vaporize Tel Aviv, Washington or L.A.
As the late Margret Thatcher said, “Reality is being a conservative.” Reality is that if leftism is not fought in America, carnage will come again as it always does when people whose values are those of Peter in Neverland gain control of American power in very dangerous times.
with regard to the Medoff letter about FDR, note the following from Laurence Zuckerman, writing in THE NATION:
“This historical debate has a significant contemporary subtext, one that helps explain the intensity of the passions it still arouses. That subtext is today’s debate among American Jews about Israel. In recent years, the distorted view of FDR has been promoted by a small group of Israel supporters who cherry-pick the historical record to portray his handling of the Holocaust in the most negative light possible. These scholar-activists deploy similar sleight of hand to paint a picture of most American Jews as having been disengaged and apathetic about the fate of their European counterparts at the hands of the Nazis, and to cast as heroes a small group of right-wing Zionists who mounted an aggressive public relations campaign to pressure Roosevelt to act. In this narrative, the complexities of history are erased and the passage of time is unimportant. The not-so-subtle message: like the Jews of Europe in 1939, Israel is under an existential threat and cannot count on anyone for help—even the United States, even liberals, even Jews in the United States, most of whom are insufficiently committed to Zionism. Betrayal happened before, and no matter how friendly a president or a country may appear to be, it can happen again.”
In the words of Ronald Reagan, “there he goes again” : Medoff revisionist spin disguised as historical analysis. As JJ Goldberg notes in a late December 2013 issue of the Forward (“Debunking a Libelous Myth of American Jewish Indifference to Looming Holocaust”): The default assumption is that Roosevelt, who had more Jewish advisers than all previous presidents combined, was an anti-Semite, and his Republican opponents, who led the fight to keep America’s gates closed, were the Jews’ friends. A new generation of neo-Jabotinskyites, encouraged by successive right-wing Israeli governments, has emerged as permanent critics of their fellow Jews and their organizations. And presidents — especially Democratic ones and most especially the current one — are attacked with ever-growing frequency and intensity, continually accused of selling out the Jews. It’s always 1943.
It’s not healthy. It strains relations with the White House. It alienates young Jews from the community. And, like the Bergson attacks of yesteryear, it’s a lie.”
Further, as a poster to this column noted: ”
Conservatives love to portray FDR as an antisemite with his Jew supporters slavishly genuflecting to his Marxist ideals. However this revionist history glosses over the ugly truth that republicans blocked American intervention since before Hitler came to power. It wasn’t because republicans hated Jews, which they did, but rather that they had huge amounts of capital invested in German industry, the same industry the built the genocide machine. Any prospect of war made their capitalist blood run cold, as it meant they would lose their investment once war was declared. A fact that remains a suppressed chapter in American history. “
In his zealous effort to demonize the left, Howard Sachs plays fast and loose with the facts. First, it is Mr. Sachs, not Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who indicates that the agreement with Iran was solely a Democratic agreement.(“Democrats have come to an agreement with Iran”) See, e.g., http://vanhollen.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=362811 Secondly, Mr. Sachs erroneously writes, ” Leftism is the value system of leaders like Neville Chamberlain …” But as anyone with the slightest knowledge of British history knows, Neville Chamberlain was a CONSERVATIVE politician. (See, e.g., the first sentence of the Wikipedia entry for Mr. Chamberlain.) And Margaret Thatcher, who is favorably quoted by Mr. Sachs as saying that “Reality is being a conservative.” certainly knew that Neville Chamberlain was a conservative. Prime Minister Chamberlain no doubt thought he was being a realist when he signed the Munich Agreement.