My uncle, Rabbi Gerald Homnick, recently celebrated his 88th birthday. He was born in New York City in 1927, studied for ordination there and later practiced as a pulpit rabbi in Detroit and Philadelphia. For the last four decades he has resided in Jerusalem, a city that everyone but our executive and judicial branches knows to be in Israel.
He still recalls when, as a rabbinical student in 1944 and 1945, he was dispatched to hotels in the Catskills to raise funds to help the Jews in Europe. The joke he told in his sales pitch is still fresh in his mind.
“In Europe it was a custom at Jewish weddings to set an extra table for the poor. Besides the regular invitees who were friends and family of the newlyweds, usually middle and upper class people, there was an open invitation to the bedraggled and forlorn of the community to eat a little something. This was a generally generous act, but the quality of food served was not the same. The main participants enjoyed sweet food basted in honey, while the panhandlers and the homeless ate a dish seasoned with horseradish, resulting in a bitter flavor.
“Once, an especially well-to-do fellow wanted to do a little extra, so he served double portions to everyone who attended his daughter’s nuptials. Things seemed to be going well until the most audacious of the beggars stood up and tinkled a fork against his glass, shocking the assemblage into silence.
“‘Gentlemen,’ he announced. ‘We do not begrudge the wealthy their double dose of sweetness, but why must the poor suffer a double dose of bitterness?’”
My uncle concluded: “No one is begrudging your recreation and your vacation, but why must our brothers in Europe suffer so much in our stead?” His words were somewhat effective, and most of the big spenders donated a dollar.
Think of it. While Jews were starved and gassed and performing slave labor in Europe, until six million were dead and several million others were debilitated, depleted and demoralized, the comfortable American Jews paused at poolside in the Catskills to fork over the big buck.
At least the rank and file were merely mired in torpidity, schlepping through the drudgery of life with eyes wide shut. The really inexcusable behavior was being committed by the official Jewish organizations, who did nothing to help and a great deal to hinder efforts to assist their beleaguered brethren. About which, more later…
Fast Forward to 2015. Former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee, currently a marginal member of the “Sweet 16 in ’16” running for the Republican presidential nomination, criticizes the impending nuclear deal between Iran and the United States. He says in his view it can lead to a Holocaust, that President Obama is delivering the Jews of Israel to the ovens of a new Auschwitz.
In response, secular Jewish organizations have offered a chorus of denunciations. The most self-parodying of these comes from the National Jewish Democratic Council. Their spokesman indignantly squawked: “This is not only disgustingly offensive to the President and the White House, but shows utter, callous disregard for the millions of lives lost in the Shoah and to the pain still felt by their descendants today. It may be the most inexcusable we’ve encountered in recent memory.” This unbiased message was brought to you by a fake organization that introduces itself on its website as “NJDC maximizes Jewish support for Democrats at the federal and state levels of government.” We know where its loyalties lie.
But even Jewish groups less associated with political prostitution joined the fray. The Anti-Defamation League declared that Huckabee’s remarks are “completely out of line and unacceptable.” Furthermore, “to hear Mr. Huckabee invoke the Holocaust when America is Israel’s greatest ally and when Israel is a strong nation capable of defending itself is disheartening.” Others chimed in, adopting a similar tone.
Well, guess what? This kind of thinking and this kind of sycophancy is an eerie echo of the American Jewish organizations’ response to the Holocaust itself AS IT WAS HAPPENING. All the same mealy-mouthed deference to the official government version of events, all the lily-livered kowtowing to the Washington power structure, were in display at that time. There was a rule against sending food into countries occupied by Germany, so the “official” representatives of Jewish causes let their coreligionists starve in Poland and Romania and Hungary rather than overstep the regulations.
Nor did they want to use openly condemnatory language against the Axis nations, because they did not want to interfere in the war effort. The end result of being such sticklers for compliance was they said nothing, helped few, and saved even less. Additionally, when Orthodox rabbis marched on the White House, it was the secular Jewish leaders who told President Roosevelt not to grant them a hearing, because they were just religious fanatics who did not represent the ‘broader’ Jewish community. Sadly he listened to these phonies and stonewalled the good guys.
So the stage is being set. Khamenei and the Iranians are playing Hitler and the Nazis. Kerry is playing Chamberlain and Obama is playing Roosevelt. The only parts open for audition were the Jewish toadies, the cowards, the enablers, the quislings, the poltroons, the too-timid-to-speak-up too-arrogant-to-shut-up Jewish leaders who were suckups and suckers and did a sucky job. Now we can post a sign. The parts have been filled.