Sunday, February 27, 2011


We have always loved America much more than America has loved us.  Therefore, total assimilation must be resisted if we are to remain Jews in America.  In order to facilitate a spiritual revival in Jewish America, and maintain a Jewish identity here, the continued rise of intermarriage must be opposed.

Complacency toward the United States government's reduction of support for Israeli policies of West Bank settlement, and the official reuniting of Jerusalem, must end to prevent the "surrender" of Jewish America's "collective self".  Jewish America, as the largest Jewish community in the world, must support Israel, and its relations with the Palestinians if we are to maintain a homeland at all.  The only viable alternative is a return to the ideals of Zionist thought - return to Israel.

Thanks goes to the contributions from the following:  Alfonse D'Amato, Arthur Hertzberg, Irving Howe, Walter Laqueur, Arthur Morse, David Wyman.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Jewish America was overwhelmingly in support of Israel during the 6-Day War of 1967, raising $100,000,000 in emergency funding, and going to Israel to work in civilian jobs so Israelis could fight.  The emergence of the Jewish New Left, however, led by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin (who, I must admit, were humorous heroes in my late teen years), turned our views in a more conservative direction.  Although nearly nonexistent beforehand, awareness of the Jewish New Left caused an increase in anti-Semitism.  Following the 6-Day War, we began the "get-out-of-Vietnam" movement.  Jewish America's support for Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 was noticeably less than in 1967.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


The Jewish vote has had a significant effect on Presidential elections.  Our votes for Franklin Roosevelt increased with each reelection, bouyed by his domestic initiatives in spite of his immigration stance.  We were instrumental in the defeat of Richard Nixon in 1960, and were the only white ethnicity to vote against Ronald Reagan's reelection in 1984.  Only 30% of us voted for George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Friday, January 14, 2011


We were the most liberal white ethnicity in America.  In the 1950s we helped champion the cause of African America, including the leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), until the emergence of Martin L. King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, and others.  We defended civil liberties, fighting discrimination in the courts because it was counter to the United States Constitution.  Also, we were active in social legislation for the deprived.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Instead of emigrating to Israel, Jewish America emigrated to the suburbs, where living among non-Jews made us more aware of our Jewishness.  The effect of the "necessity" to assimilate caused many to believe our Jewishness was merely an "accident of birth".  Intermarriage (38% by 1987) caused many to ask, especially in Israel, "Who is a Jew?".  Suburban synagogues became nothing more than meeting-places, with figurehead rabbis and minimum educational facilities.  However, Jewish orthodoxy was reemerging, led by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson.  These new Orthodox Jews set out to "proselytize" the Conservative and Reform Jews (including me - I was raised Conservative and started on the Chabad path in 2001), and developed their own yeshivas.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


David Ben-Gurion insisted that if Zionist America wanted to take part in Israeli policymaking they had to "make Aliyah".  ZOA could afford only to be sympathetic and supportive.  Mass emigration of Jewish America to Israel did not occur because we loved being American.  However, most of the financial support for Israel from the Jewish Diaspora came from Jewish America.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Following the Holocaust, in 1947, Harry Truman approved the Jewish partition of Palestine.  In spite of State Department opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state on the grounds that it would be "objectionable to the Arabs", Truman announced his intentions to recognize the state 2 months before Israel declared its independence.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


United States immigration policies between 1939 and 1945 were essentially anti-immigration.  A case in point is the Wagner-Rogers Child Refugee Bill which would've allowed 20,000 German children temporary sanctuary in America.  It was supported by the American Federation of Labor (AFL), the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, but was opposed by the American Legion, among other groups.  It was withdrawn when it was amended so that the children replaced 20,000 adult visa applicants.

The cruise ship St. Louis was not allowed to dock in Miami even though 734 of the 936 passengers aboard were approved for immigration.  All 907 of the passengers who were not allowed off in Havana had to return to various countries in Europe.

These immigration practices, among others, led to a sharp increase in ZOA membership - from 8,600 in 1932, to 43,000 in 1939, to 200,000 by 1945.

The main obstruction to immigration was, as I've noted earlier, the United States State Department.  They didn't appoint Herbert Pell as United States representative on the War Crimes Commission until April 1943, 10 months after the Commission was esablished.  They didn't even send him to the Commission's headquarters in London until December 1943.  Pell resigned later because of lack of State Department support.  At the Bermuda Conference the United States again offered only to finance the refugee support and evacuation efforts of neutral nations.

The Intergovernmental Committee of Refugees (ICR) was formed with the intention of placing refugees in its member nations.  Nazi Germany offered to sell ICR 150,000 Jews for $1,200,000,000 but ICR had no authority to make the purchase.  When Nazi Germany sent a delegation of Jews to ICR headquarters in London they refused to help because ICR never actually existed.

In December 1943 the United States Treasury Department attempted to take over the refugee policy from the State Department.  Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr. submitted a "Personal Report to the President" in which he accused the State Department of being "indifferent, callous, and perhaps even hostile".  Franklin Roosevelt then established the War Refugee Board (WRB) in January 1944.  The WRB facilitated the rescue of 118,000 of us but even these efforts were obstructed by the State Department.  As an example, the State Department prevented a WRB message from reaching the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which ceased refusing to push for a presence in concentration camps, or increase its staff in Hungary, until after 400,000 of us were deported to Auschwitz.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Although discrimination is against the principles of the United States Constitution, "social anti-Semitism" flourished in pre-World War 2 America.  We appeared "dirty".  We were accused of money hoarding.  We were refused entrance in clubs, resorts, colleges, neighborhoods.  We were prevented from working in medicine, law, and education.  In spite of this 55% of employed Jewish America achieved positions as professionals by 1957.

Laws establishing immigration quotas began in 1882.  By 1924, the annual quota from all countries was 153,774.  The labor movement, in many areas begun by us, was opposed to increases.  The United States government refused to protest the treatment of Jewish Germany.  Secretary of State Cordell Hull maintained that protest would aggravate the situation.  Franklin Roosevelt would also not allow it.  In 1938, immigration from Germany was increased to 65% of quota but evacuation efforts amounted to offering neutral countries money to accept refugees.  After the Kristallnacht of 1938 Franklin Roosevelt insisted that immigration laws would not be relaxed and the United States maintained economic ties with Nazi Germany.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Hoveve Zion (Lovers of Zion) was the international predecessor of the Zionist movement.  In America,  they published periodicals in the 1890s in Boston, Baltimore, and elsewhere.  They advocated a Jewish state as a buffer between Ottoman Turkey and Egypt.  The American Zionist Federation (AZF) was founded in 1898 but had very little "money, prestige, and political influence".  Hadassah, founded in 1912, was its women's membership organization and, under the leadership of Henrietta Szold, became the largest group in AZF.

Louis Brandeis took over the presidency of AZF in 1914 and, by doing so, became the leader of Jewish America.  Many of us were opposed to the Zionist requirement of "making Aliyah" because we had just arrived in America.  When Brandeis took over, he said that if we supported a Jewish state in Palestine it would be enough.  He reorganized AZF into the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) in 1917.

Jacob Schiff and Luis Marshall were the previous leaders of Jewish America.  Although they worked with Brandeis to end the Cloakmakers strike of 1910, they retaliated against him by talking Woodrow Wilson out of appointing him as Secretary of the Interior.  Wilson appointed him later to a seat on the United States Supreme Court.

The Balfour Declaration of 1917, which established Palestine as a Jewish homeland, was instrumental in reducing Jewish America's opposition to Zionism.  The Biltmore Conference of 1942 united American Zionists on the issue of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine following the Holocaust.  They felt that the continuation of our homelessness would lead only to future Holocausts and, therefore, would not put their efforts or limited funds into rescuing Jewish Europe.

The primary Jewish organization in America advocating rescue of Jewish Europe was Agudas Yisroel.  In the face of the overall Jewish fear of offending the British, Agudas Yisroel was the only organization to continue to send food to Poland.

After World War 2, ZOA became the leader of the international Zionist movement.  The issue of whether to choose armed resistance or "patient  constructivism" as the method for achieving Israel's independence was so divisive that Stephen Wise stepped down as ZOA president.  Among the American advocates of armed resistance were Peter Bergson and Ben Hecht, who campaigned for a Jewish army.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Peddling became our profession - selling tinware, notions, fish, fruit, milk.  The profits from these endeavors were used to open shirt factories, the beginning of the garment industry.  Jewish farming enterprises were rare and short-lived due to a combination of floods, malaria. labor shortages, and financing difficulties.

The Educational Alliance tried to "Americanize" Eastern Europeans but adult education of Jewish immigrants was a difficult proposition.  The effect of Americanization on family life in the 1900s was adverse in many aspects.  Husbands deserted families.  Physical play vs. study became a battleground, which caused the beginning of a "generation gap".  Prostitution and gambling became the "Jewish vices".

The Jewish labor movement began to rise in the 1900s.  The Jewish Socialist Federation was the forerunner of the union/collective bargaining movement, teaching its members how to conduct meetings, effective speaking, and socialist theory.  They considered Zionism to be "a utopian fantasy".  However, they compromised with the Zionists over Labor Zionism's stance in favor of unrestricted immigration.  Some of the Jewish Socialists left the Federation to form the American Communist Party in support of the Bolshevik revolutionaries.  The Jewish Communists were very strong, publishing a daily newspaper, building housing projects, and offering health and life insurance.

United Hebrew Trades was a federation of 41 Jewish trade unions in 5 industries.  One of the member unions was the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), which went on strike for 3 months in 1909, affecting 20,000 workers.  This was followed by the Cloakmakers strike, in July 1910.

Workmen's Circle was a pioneer in social reform.  It provided its membership with health and burial benefits, lectures, schools, and its own social security.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Issac Wise, a self-proclaimed rabbi, founded Hebrew Union College in 1875. Before then, all rabbis emigrated from Europe. Rabbi Wise was the leader of the Reform movement in America, which was essentially the religion of Jewish Germany. The Reform Jews were opposed to Zionism, and the idea of a Jewish state, because they felt Judaism was only a religious community. They even went as far as expelling Zionist sympathizers from Hebrew Union College. In spite of the efforts of the Reform movement, the majority of synagogues remained Orthodox.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Mordecai Noah was appointed by James Madison as Ambassador to Tunisia in 1813. He was recalled by James Monroe, then Secretary of State, in 1814 because he was a Jew. In 1825, after he resigned from Tammany Hall, Noah purchased a tract of land on Grand Island NY for an American Jewish state to be called "Ararat". It has been said that this Ararat Community was the forerunner of American Zionism. Unfortunately for Noah, we were not interested in a separated American homeland and his dream was never realized.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


The first Jews to reach America, in 1654, were Dutch refugees from Brazil. We were deported as part of the Portuguese seizure of Brazil from West India Company. New Amsterdam's governor, Peter Stuyvesant, was forced by his superiors in Amsterdam to allow us to dock our ship, the St. Catherine. He didn't want us in his colony because we got him demoted from the governorship of Curacao by smuggling horses to the Spanish and the Puritans instead of farming.

Asser Levy was the last of those original 23 to remain in New York after the British took over. He secured our right to serve in the militia and engage in petty retail trade.

Manasseh Ben-Israel was responsible for the myth that the Native Americans were the "Lost 10 Tribes of Israel". This was brought about as part of the spread of Jews to the "4 corners of the earth", which was thought by the Christians to be necessary for "the second coming of the Messiah". Perhaps it was brought about really to convince Puritans to proselytize the "Indians" instead of us.

We were among the leaders in the finance of American independence from Britain. Aaron Lopez financed the Revolutionary Army. Haym Salomon loaned $200,000 to the Continental Congress, which was never repaid.