In your May 23 edition, Allan Lichtman, co-author of FDR and the Jews, said, “It’s easy to say [FDR] should have done something else [to help the Jews]. Everything can be perfect in hindsight.”
Criticism of President Roosevelt’s policy regarding the Holocaust is not “hindsight.” There were many vocal critics at the time — including my great-grandfather, the late U.S. Rep. Andrew Lawrence Somers (D-N.Y.). Although he was a loyal Democrat and ardent supporter of the New Deal, my great-grandfather was part of a small but vocal group of congressmen who did not hesitate to challenge the president on our country’s failure to help Jews escape the Nazis.
In July 1943, for example, Rep. Somers and four of his colleagues issued a statement charging the Allies with having “too long evaded or at least overlooked” the plight of the Jews. “We dare not wait any longer to move these helpless objects of Nazi wrath to places of safety, for every day of postponement means death to thousands of innocent victims,” they wrote. “If we wait until the war is over, there may be only corpses left to enjoy the fruits of victory.” This was a direct rebuke to the Roosevelt administration’s disingenuous claim that nothing could be done to help the Jews except to win the war.
My great-grandfather told reporters at the time that the “run-around” the administration was giving him “contrasts shamefully with the courage shown recently by the governments of Denmark and Sweden in facilitating the escape of 90 percent of the Danish Jews from a Nazi round-up. If small countries, one of them under Nazi occupation, the other under the shadow of Nazi power, can do this much, surely we can do more than make sympathetic speeches about the problem.”
It is disheartening that professor Lichtman’s book pays such little respect to the efforts of both the members of Congress and Jewish leaders, who actively lobbied FDR to directly confront the extermination of Jews by Hitler.
<b>PHILIP LAWRENCE SOMERS DEELY</b>
Unfortunately, despite its key position in the Middle East, Turkey is uniquely unqualified to act as a mediator between Israel and the two Palestinian Arab factions, namely Hamas and Fatah (“Talking Turkey,” WJW, May 23). The continued change in Turkey from a secular nation to an Islamist “republic” under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has established that nation as one of Israel’s enemies in the region. Although both nations have common interests in Syria, as far as diminishing the power of Iran in the region, the utterances of Erdogan as well as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu have established not only an anti-Israel pattern but also one that reeks of anti-Semitism.
Turkey with its present government is no longer a friend of Israel and with the proposed visit of Erdogan to Gaza has placed itself firmly in the anti-Israel camp. For one to believe that it could act as an impartial peacemaker in the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict is absurd.
<b>Gorilla in the room</b>
WJW’s June 6 article — “Dollars for peace” — provides excellent insight into the falsity of a belief system that there would be peace in the Middle East if only there is a resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Secretary of State Kerry advocates a new multibillion payment (once again) to the P.A. David Makovsky of the Washington Institute echoes a Kerry belief “that high Palestinian unemployment is due to not having a Palestinian state.”
The article also reported that a bipartisan congressional delegation met with Abbas about the time that Kerry was making his offer. They summed up their meeting by saying: “Basically the Palestinians were giving us a lot of baloney.” That’s an astounding statement considering the Kerry-Makovsky viewpoints.
These congresspeople realized something that neither Kerry nor Makovsky will acknowledge — that the Palestinians have not and will not recognize the Jewish state of Israel. This is the “gorilla in the room” that evades the Kerry-Makovsky mind-sets. As Rep. Engel reported: Abbas “started to double talk” when the subject came up. How is Israel to make peace and establish binding agreements with an entity that refuses to accept its existence, that sponsors a worldwide campaign denigrating Israel through a BDS movement, levies apartheid charges, maintains a school system that teaches its youth to hate and kill Jews and presents maps of a “Palestine” that encompasses all of Israel?
As the noted Prof. Kedar wisely stated: How can a nation that has no notion of peace, give peace to others?
The headline “Dollars for peace” (WJW, June 6) in the article describing John Kerry’s effort to pump $4 billion into the Palestinian economy was misleading. As many of the congressional delegates quoted in the article noted, any investment ahead of a change of heart by the Palestinians is effectively paying them not to make peace, rather than encouraging them to resume what are laughingly called peace talks.
Over the many years that have passed since the Oslo accords, the Palestinians have given repeated evidence that they do not and will not accept the state of Israel. A further $4 billion can possibly extend the charade of a peace agreement for a little longer but, as Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) was quoted, “until the Palestinian’s acknowledge Israel’s right to exist nothing will change.”
Offering the Palestinians further inducements ahead of their demonstrating a dramatic change in their policy towards Israel, is analogous to the efforts of those who wish to offer American citizenship to those here illegally before sealing the border. In both cases the policy is based on emotion rather than reality.
It is no coincidence that two policies mentioned above are being advanced by an administration strongly supported by liberal Jews. It is time we awoke from the dream so many of us seem to enjoy and recognize that the multiple scandals currently in the news all stem from poor policies badly implemented.
On an emotional level I could hope that President Obama would turn his attention to America’s problems rather than raising false hopes here and abroad while denigrating his opponents, but unlike so many of my co-religionists I live in the real world. I can merely join Claire Windsor the writer of the letter “Servile Loyalists” (WJW, June 6) and try to awaken my fellow Jews from their dreams that the messiah has arrived.
<b>DR. STANLEY ORMAN</b>