Friday, January 28th | 26 Shevat 5782

August 24, 2012 3:23 pm

Never Again: Rememeber That in November

avatar by Gabriel Eichler


Left to right: Nahum Goldmann, Stephen Wise, Henry Torres (speaking) at the World Jewish Congress Installation Conference, New York City, June 1942. Photo: wiki commons.

When you live long enough, you see everything.

I was speechless the other day when I saw in the press a phenomenon, called “Rabbis for Obama”.

I am not sure how many of you noticed the ultimate irony: there were 613 signatories to a statement that in my considered view should never have happened.

What does politics have to do with the obvious reference to the 613 Mitzvot?

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No, it is not about Democracy, it is about the absurdness of a “system” that churns out politically active “Rabbis” in latter days who then cater to flocks of likeminded descendants of Jews who escaped persecution before and came to America.

I still recall the article I wrote back in 1972, when I heard that Sally Jane Priesand -the first woman in America was ordained a Rabbi. In it I noted, that it was the beginning of an era that took the people of the book on a new path into the unknown.

I recall that I followed her career for a while, until she became the Rabbi of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.

Then I lost interest, as a child of Hungarian Holocaust victims I recalled the role in the tragedy of the Holocaust of Rabbi Stephen Wise of whom the above mentioned Synagogue was named.

As I was not yet born at the time, here I feel compelled to refer to open public sources on Wise:

“Authors David Wyman and Rafael Medoff, in their book A Race Against Death: Peter Bergson, America, and the Holocaust, make a further allegation that Wise displayed a lack of leadership that hindered the Holocaust rescue attempts of others. He is also alleged to have advised President Franklin Roosevelt not to meet with the 400 Orthodox Rabbis that marched on Washington in 1943 and to have attempted to squelch the broadcast of “We Will Never Die”, which sought to bring attention to the slaughter of Jews in Europe.

In a Rafael Medoff 2009 interview with Professor Benzion Netanyahu: Medoff: In your view, why were American Jewish leaders so cautious during the 1940s? Netanyahu: Part of the problem was how they saw themselves. In their contacts with President Roosevelt, Jewish leaders thought of themselves as weak or helpless. 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. 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.”

Wise reportedly met with the Polish envoy Jan Karski and knew first hand, that the wholesale industrialized slaughter of his people was taking place, yet decided to not jeopardize his access to the White House to speak out.

Which brings me back to the recently published efforts of the 613 “Rabbis for Obama”.

The Republican Jewish Coalition on Thursday “expressed profound outrage” that Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, a Renewal rabbi from California that the RJC described as a “radical rabbi,” is part of Rabbis for Obama, which was launched Tuesday.

According to news reports Gottlieb sits on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that is active in the campaign to use boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel into ending the occupation of the West Bank, and that has no official position on whether Israel should exist as a Jewish state.

According to press reports, in September 2008, she was part of a coalition of religious groups that spoke about the Holocaust and Palestinian rights with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a New York hotel. At that event, she said she favored face-to-face reconciliation, and asked Ahmadinejad, who has denied the Holocaust, to “change the way you speak about the Holocaust.”

According to recently published news reports, Gottlieb is one of eight Jewish  Voice for Peace members on the list of the 613 “Rabbis for Obama”.

Am I the only one here who sees a frightening parallel between what is taking place today and what took place in the American Jewish community while my family- together with 6 million other Jews- were being driven into the gas chambers and fed into the ovens, while certain American Jewish personalities -among them prominent Rabbis – looked on, being more concerned with their relationship with the occupant of the White House?

In hindsight we know, that what happened in the 1940s was possible, due to the presence of three basic factors: the existence of a murderous ideology– clearly outlined by Adolf Hitler in “Mein Kampf”, the latest technology efficiently employed by the Nazis to bring about the “Final Solution”-combined with “let’s not rock the boat” attitude of certain Jewish leaders and Rabbis in America.

Let’s look at the presence of today’s three components: there is the existence of a murderous Islamic fundamentalist ideology that refers to Jews and Israel as a cancerous tumor, an Islamo-Fascist regime in Teheran that is pressing for the latest technology available to carry out their version of the “Final Solution” and the attitude of the choir of modern day court Jews in America -many of whom Rabbis- purported torch carriers of “Am Yisrael”- some of whom have “no official position on whether Israel should exist as a Jewish state”.

If the stakes were not as serious as they are- none of this would be very significant.

But with the nuclear clock ticking ever faster and the most critical US election in Jewish history just around the corner on Tuesday, November 6, 2012, we should all think of the ultimate consequences of how we conduct ourselves in the voting booth.

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