Letters | FDR and Israel’s Ideals


Roosevelt Could Have Done So Much More

I endorse the view expressed by Rafael Medoff in his recent op-ed (“Holocaust Museum’s Exhibit Makes Excuses for FDR,” Aug. 16).

My parents arrived in the United States from Germany in October 1938. They were able to enter the United States only through the sponsorship of a former maid who had arrived years earlier. My mother’s parents and 50 other family members (all of whom perished in the camps) were already in concentration camps.

My mother sent numerous letters to various agencies in the United States and Germany to plead for help in getting her parents released to the United States. One letter she received back was from the Department of Labor stating, “You are advised that parents are entitled to no preference under the quota or exemption from quota limitations.” She got a similar response from the Foreign Service of the United States of America as well as the White House.

Although I never really understood why the United States of all countries wouldn’t allow persecuted Jews into our country, after reading Medoff’s article and learning that 190,000 quota places were left unused, I got angry all over again. I cannot help but think that a responsible president would have made whatever exceptions were needed to help people in such a devastating situation. President Franklin Roosevelt could have done much more.

Barbara Katzman | Wynnewood

Nation-State Law Runs Counter to Israel’s Ideals

The Nation-State law recently passed by the Knesset is the Israeli equivalent of the “Unite the Right” crowd here in America (“This Kind of Opposition Expected From Israel’s Enemies,” Aug. 23). The chant that emanated from the Charlottesville rally last year was “Jews will not replace us.” The gist of the legislation is that “Arabs will not replace us.” Naturally enough, the right-wing Zionist Organization of America heartily endorses such sentiments.

As white supremacist ringleader Richard Spencer remarked in 2013, “In the mid-19th century, many Jews in Central Europe had an idea of an ethno-state, an idea of Zionism, and they were considered ridiculous and insane. But they had that dream, and that dream came into reality. Our dream is a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans. It would be a new society based on very different ideals than, say, the Declaration of Independence.”

Similarly, this new Israeli law echoes very different ideals from Israel’s own Declaration of Independence, with its democratic emphasis upon “complete equality of social and political right to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.” 

Steve Weissman | Narberth


  1. Perhaps the best evidence that Israel needs a constitutional affirmation of its status as the sovereign Jewish nation-state is the eagerness of so many to denounce as undemocratic measures that are considered mundane anywhere else.

    On a side note, I find it ironic that so many left-wing Diaspora Jews profess loyalty to Israel as a Jewish nation-state when it comes to pressuring Israel into diplomatic concessions, but balk at supporting a nation-state law that defines the state of Israel as such.


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