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|Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld||August 4th 2015|
New York City
I sadly reflect over the last few days in the midst of our communityâ€™s divided response to the Iran deal crisis. When we view ourselves today in the light of our history as portrayed in the scriptures, how as a community can we American Jews be less shamed than American Jewry should have been over their poor and divided response to the Holocaust? As Golda might have opined â€“ â€œdonâ€™t be so modest; weâ€™re not so great.â€ I have examined the American Jewish response to the Holocaust for many years, sometimes to the point of obsession. We recall the New York Times burial of Holocaust news when the Ochs-Sulzbergers published anything at all on the subject. We recall the strife between Rabbi Stephen Wise and the Bergson Group, with the former working mightily to distance the White House from the â€œinfamousâ€ march of the rabbis to save the small remnant of Jews still alive in Europe. We recall the false analyses of the War Department to suppress any thought of bombing Auschwitz rail lines. For those who excused our collective behavior by arguing the tenor of the times, the unprecedented nature of the crisis and so forth â€“ what do they say today, armed with that history, about a regime that seeks endless weaponry including nuclear capability and whose â€œShemaâ€ is â€œDeath to Israel?â€ How can it be that there is a land governed by would-be exterminators of the Jewish people and Jews in the US actually have â€œdifferences of opinionâ€ on a deal which lays the path for Iran better than it did for the strengthening and arming of Nazi Germany? We delude ourselves that somehow our â€œTalmudic debating historyâ€ encourages such division on the question of self-preservation? Where is there another people on this earth who would react in the divided manner that we do?
We have leaders who make platitudinous pronouncements about â€œpluralism,â€ diversity of opinion and the like â€“ because Jewish liberalism gives them overwhelming faith in one political party and president to remedy this crisis. I am ashamed of organizations who are there for everyone else â€“ but unlike everyone else, are not there for their co-ethnics. I am ashamed that our umbrella organizations, and indeed many of our federations, including our beloved UJA here in New York must be mindful of this â€œpluralismâ€ and difference of opinion lest they tear this â€œunited communityâ€ asunder. We should not be proud â€“ we should be shamed for our warped view that reciprocity in uni-directional. We should be ashamed for NOT remembering, for NOT recalling our recent history and for the inability to understand and internalize â€œDeath to Israel.â€