Typically when one asks a member of the "Greatest Generation" about FDR they immediately develop a sense of awe that reminds me of those little green aliens (undocumented space men?) in Toy Story every time they see Buzz Lightyear.
I've never understood the reverence for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He did pick great Generals and led this country to victory in WWII. But on the other hand he totally mismanaged the economy, enacted freedom-sapping policies which never did get this country out of the Great Depression, and tried to circumvent constitutional separation of powers (now who does that remind me of?).
Then there is the issue of FDR and the SHOAH (the Holocaust). Did he fail to help the Jews who were suffering under Hitler because he was powerless, or because of more nefarious reasons? Why didn't he bomb and destroy the train tracks that were shipping Jews to the camps? Why wasn't he allowing more Jews into the country? Pressuring Britain to allow Jews to move from Nazi controlled areas into what was then called Palestine?
Liberals (even liberal Jews) will tell you that there was nothing he could have done? But a new book suggests that Roosevelt failed to take relatively simple measures that would have saved significant numbers of Jews during the Holocaust, because his vision for America only encompassed having a small number of Jews. In other words, FDR doomed many Jew to suffer not because he wanted them to die, but because he didn't want a lot of them living in his neighborhood.
In his new book, “FDR and the Holocaust: A Breach of Faith.” historian Rafael Medoff says Franklin Delano Roosevelt failed to take relatively simple measures that would have saved significant numbers of Jews during the Holocaust, because his vision for America only encompassed having a small number of Jews.
It really goes beyond that. FDR did not want to publicly speak out against the impending genocide
“In his private, unguarded moments, FDR repeatedly made unfriendly remarks about Jews, especially his belief that Jews were overrepresented in many professions and exercised too much influence and control on society. This prejudice helped shape his overall vision of what America should look like — and it was a vision with room for only a small number of Jews who, he said, should be ‘spread out thin.’ This helps explain why his administration went out of its way discourage and disqualify would-be immigrants, instead of just quietly allowing the immigration quotas to be filled to their legal limit.”
On August 25, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt brought her friend Alice Hamilton, who had recently spent three months in Germany, to Hyde Park to give FDR a detailed eyewitness account of German brutality against the Jews. He still refused to publicly criticize Hitler.There were many actions FDR could have taken to stop or slow down the Holocaust
Medoff, who currently serves as director of The David Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, says that there were actions Roosevelt could have easily taken that would have saved well over 100,000 Jews from Hitler’s extermination camps.Perhaps it wasn't all FDR's fault, Historian Benzion Netanyahu (Bibi's Father) said the American Jewish community's reverence for FDR prevented Jewish leaders from confronting the president.
“He could have quietly permitted the immigration quotas to be filled to their legal limit — that alone would have saved 190,000 lives,” Medoff said.
“He could have pressed the British to open Palestine’s doors to Jewish refugees. He could have authorized the use of empty troop-supply ships to bring refugees to stay in the U.S. temporarily, until the end of the war. He could have permitted refugees to stay as tourists in a U.S. territory, such as the Virgin Islands, until it was safe for them to return to Europe. He could have authorized the bombing of Auschwitz or the railway lines leading to it, which would have interrupted the mass-murder process.”
Asked to respond to the argument that it was better for Roosevelt to focus on winning the war than divert resources to bomb Auschwitz, Medoff said “[b]ombing Auschwitz would not have required any diversion of resources, because U.S. planes were already bombing targets that were less than five miles from the gas chambers, during the summer and autumn of 1944.”
Take, for example, Rabbi Stephen Wise – leader of the American Zionist movement, the American Jewish Congress and the World Jewish Congress. He thought of himself as a servant of president Roosevelt.In the end said Netanyahu, Jewish leaders were going about their business, and involved in all kinds of social issues. And according to the historian they probably were sleeping soundly at night.
He referred to Roosevelt as “chief,” and he really meant it that way – Roosevelt as was the chief, and Wise was the servant. Wise was happy to just follow along with whatever Roosevelt wanted. He was content as long as FDR just remembered his name or gave him a few minutes of his time every once in a while.
If this sounds familiar it should. Most Jewish leaders today believe they are servants to the progressive movement and specifically President Obama. These so called leaders serve Obama's agenda in the Middle East by sending letters to Netanyahu asking Israel to make painful sacrifices, but never ask the same of the Palestinians. As put so eloquently by The Emergency Committee on Israel in THEIR letter to the Prime Minister:
The “American Jewish leaders” who deign to advise you today are largely the same leaders who rarely, if ever, demand “painful sacrifices” of Palestinian leaders – or even demand that they come to the negotiating table, which they have refused to do in any meaningful way since 2008. From the safety of America, in the past they have recommended trusting Yasser Arafat, dividing Jerusalem, surrendering the Golan Heights to Syria, and withdrawing from territory that today is controlled by Iranian-backed terrorist groups.During the Holocaust, the misguided reverence by the so called Jewish leadership allowed an Antisemitic Franklin Roosevelt to ignore the suffering of the Jews under Hitler.
It is a mark of the poverty of today's so called Jewish leaders that they are repeating the mistake of so long ago. Through their misguided reverence for a US President (who is not anti-Semitic) they are ignoring-storm front surrounding the 6 million Jews in Israel. In fact they are aiding Obama's naive (or anti-Israel) push to pressure Israel for concessions when it is the Palestinian side who refuses to even recognize her right to exist as the Jewish State.