Jewish World Review March 6, 2003 / 2 Adar II, 5763
The peace movement of the 1930s made the Holocaust inevitable --- by accident; The peace movement of Today wants no more accidents: Just the death of Jews
It was not quite thus in the 1930s. Like today, the very nicest people, the most thoughtful people, the most progressive people, the people with the highest degree of social and moral conscience, people, in short, like you and me - all aligned themselves with Hitler's interests and brought about the totally unnecessary second World War - which was very nearly lost, even after the death of 50 million people. Even though it was won in the end, it was not won soon enough to prevent making the unthinkable - the Holocaust - inevitable.
And among those categories of people - the very nicest, the most thoughtful, the most progressive, those with the highest degree of social and moral conscience - it is not self-regard to count not only the cream of American Jewry, but probably the majority. It is not self-flattery, because the behavior of these people in the 1930s - signers of peace petitions, supporters of disarmament, idealistic Communists and socialists, New Dealers, members of the America First committee, supporters of the League of Nations - were "objectively" supporting Hitler, as George. How? They condemned "unilateral" efforts to compel him to obey the Versailles treaty (or unilateral efforts to stop Mussolini from invading Ethiopia) as warmongering; by believing in the efficacy of diplomacy - and even prayer - over preparing, they enabled Hitler to build up his arsenal and ready himself for total war - externally against free (but oh so flawed and immoral) countries, and internally against the Jews.
The Popes of the 1930s did - like the Pope of today would, alas, do - far more harm to the Jews because they wanted and wished for "Peace" than because of any anti-Semitic feelings they may have harbored.
It was regarded as terribly tasteless to tell the truth about the impending Holocaust. When progressive, conscientious figures such as Robert Maynard Hutchins of the University of Chicago were active supporters of America First, testimony about the savagery of the Germans were dismissed as lies and Jewish propaganda. So Bruno Bettelheim, fresh from Buchenwald and Dachau, was discouraged from publishing his accounts of the camps until 1944.
And the lingering effects of anti-war sentiment had a baleful affect on the conduct of the war itself, and the fate of the Jews. Politicians like Roosevelt could not allow themselves to be seen as actively intervening to turn the military machine to aid Jews in particular - because the anti-war activists had worked so hard and so successfully to discredit any Jewish complaint as a self-interested and selfish attempt to plunge the world into war merely to save their own cowardly hides.
Could FDR have done more to rescue the Jews? Whether or not he could have done so militarily, the peaceniks of the 1930s had made it impossible for him to do so politically.
So it is now - only worse. The forces aligned with the anti-war, pro-Saddam movement - the interests guiding the anti-war, pro-Sadaam movement - and most of all, the strength the anti-war, pro-Saddam movement derives from Jewish supporters - including, it would seem, most of Hollywood's Jews, the editors of The Forward, the readers of The New York Times - are objectively if not intentionally supporting the people who wish them harm, death, and total elimination.
Language itself has changed its meaning. Three years ago, those who said they were anti-Israel but not anti-Semitic meant that they opposed the particular measures the Government of Israel was taking to defend its civilians from terrorists. Now, to say that one is anti-Israel but not ant-Semitic means generally that - if one is a moderate - one is opposed to the existence of Israel as a self-governing Jewish State where it has existed for the better part of a century. But if one is really progressive, it means that one is opposed to the notion that Jews might be permitted to live as individuals in Palestine, where they have lived and come and gone freely and continuously for over two millennia, and that, instead, they should be uprooted and dispossessed by force.
Now one could argue that these propositions might be true - and if you were to approach any of the leaders of the anti-war movement, you will hear such an argument - as you would from any of the leading clergymen and clergywomen of the mainstream Protestant denominations - but one can hardly suggest that either the moderate or progressive versions should not be regarded as anti-Semitic. Progressive, peaceful, conscientious, well-meaning - and a policy that will, if it were allowed to win sway, result in dispossession and slaughter for the Jews - and sooner rather than later.
So let us make room in the exhibit space of the Holocaust Museums scattered around the world some of the names that, no doubt, are now enrolled on the list of donors. The 1930s ancestors of today's peace protestors lovingly allowed the Nazis (and their evil opposite the Communists) to flourish and begin a meticulously crafted program of murder.
Under the peace program we see today, Ba'athism, the murderous direct offspring of Nazism, has been given vital breathing space, and would, if the peace marchers had their way, continue to grow in strength until it can safely strike out at Israel, Turkey, and arm the terrorist cells among us, all the time driving its own intellectuals, Shi'ites, Assyrian Christians, Kurds, and others of proscribed faith, race, or political views, into prisons, hospitals, and grave.
As Orwell pointed out long ago, pacifism in the face of armed evil is equivalent to a blind worship of force. For those of our race - the historic victims of so many causes - it would be disastrous to make the same mistake twice, and entrust our children's fate to the hands of these sad and complicitous pacifists.
JWR contributor Sam Schulman is a New York writer whose work appears in New York Press, the Spectator (London), and elsewhere, and was formerly publisher of Wigwag and a professor of English at Boston University.You may contact him by clicking here.