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April 7, 2017 7:10 am

State Department Historian Criticized for Defending Holocaust-Era US Visa Policy

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Melissa Jane Taylor of the State Department’s Office of the Historian. Photo: American Historical Association. – Holocaust scholars are taking issue with a State Department historian’s comments defending 1940s consular officials who rejected visa applications from Jewish refugees.

Melissa Jane Taylor, from the State Department’s Office of the Historian, recently claimed in the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies that US officials in Vichy France from 1940-1941, such as William Peck, were “sympathetic” to refugees.

Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, and immigration scholar Prof. Bat-Ami Zucker, of Bar-Ilan University, pointed out in an analysis of Taylor’s article that she failed to mention a memo by Peck in which he wrote that he favored immigration only by “old people [who] will not reproduce and can do our country no harm; the young ones may be suffering, but the history of their race shows that suffering does not kill many of them.”

Medoff and Zucker also criticized Taylor for trying to minimize the accomplishments of Hiram Bingham IV, a dissident consular official who helped Jews escape France and was punished by the State Department.

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  • Géant Ferré

    A good website would have posted a link to her original comments so the reader can decide for himself

  • Ronald

    I find it strange that the Algemeiner would allow such a blatant attempt at academic trolling. I have seen Dr. Taylor’s article, and by no stretch of the imagination does she “Defend Holocaust-Era US Visa Policy.” Instead, she presented a nuanced and important look into the actions of officials at a particular consular office during the second World War. But the so-called “experts” the Algemeiner allows to publicly comment here are not interested in engaging with that nuance; they just want to publicly slander a scholar without actually countering her arguments with any of their own. If they have legitimate concerns with her findings, they should counter them in the academic journal in question rather than publicly airing oversimplifications of her work. But, they know that the public will never actually read Dr. Taylor’s work, so they can get away with falsely attacking her in public to advance their own agenda. Please, Algemeiner editors, reconsider in the future when these “experts” want to use your platform inappropriately, and encourage them to take the proper, scholarly approach to engaging with the work in question.

  • Hard Little Machine

    The US State Department has always been antisemitic. That is fact.