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TEL AVIV – Former President Jimmy Carter once complained there were “too many Jews” on the government’s Holocaust Memorial Council, Monroe Freedman, the council’s former executive director, told WND in an exclusive interview.
Freedman, who served on the council during Carter’s term as president, also revealed a noted Holocaust scholar who was a Presbyterian Christian was rejected from the council’s board by Carter’s office because the scholar’s name “sounded too Jewish.”
Freedman, now a professor of law at Hofstra University, was picked by the council’s chairman, author Elie Weisel, to serve as executive director in 1980. The council, created by the Carter White House, went on to establish the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
Freedman says he was tasked with creating a board for the council and with making recommendations to the White House on how best to memorialize the Holocaust.
He told WND he sent a memo to Carter’s office containing recommendations for council board members.
He said his memo was returned with a note on the upper right hand corner that stated, “Too many Jews.”
The note, Freedman said, was written in Carter’s handwriting and was initialed by Carter.
Freedman said at the time the board he constructed was about 80 percent Jewish, including many Holocaust survivors.
He said at the behest of the White House he composed another board consisting of more non-Jews. But he said he was “stunned” when Carter’s office objected to a non-Jew whose name sounded Jewish.
Freedman said he could not provide the historians name to WND because he did not have the man’s permission.
“I got a phone call from our liaison at the White House saying this particular historian whose name sounded Jewish would not do. The liaison said he would not even take the time to present Carter with the possibility of including the historian on the board because he knew Carter would think the name sounded too Jewish. I explained the historian is Presbyterian, but the liaison said it wouldn’t matter to Carter.”
Freedman said he was “outraged by this absurdity.”
“If I was memorializing Martin Luther King, I would expect a significant number of board members to be African American. If I was memorializing Native American figures I’d expect a lot of Native Americans to be on the board.
“I do not for a moment consider it inappropriate to build a Holocaust council with a significant majority of the board being Jewish,” Freedman stated.
Freedman describes himself as “self-proclaimed liberal.” He said he decided to speak out after the release of Carter’s latest book, “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,” which some have accused of being biased against Israel.
This would not be the first time Carter’s messages on right hand corners of letters generated a Holocaust-related scandal.
Last week, in an interview with the Tovia Singer Show on Israel National Radio, a former U.S. Justice Department official said he received a letter advocating “special consideration” for a confessed Nazi SS officer accused of murdering Jews in the Mauthausen death camp in Austria.
Neal Sher, who served in the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigation, said that in 1987 he received a note from Carter petitioning for re-entry into the U.S. for Martin Bartesch, who had been deported by Sher’s office to Austria after it was established he served as an SS officer.
Sher said his office had “extraordinary evidence” Bartesch shot Jews.
Bartesch originally immigrated to the U.S. and lived in Chicago. He later admitted to Sher’s office and the court he had voluntarily joined the SS as a teenager and served in its Death’s Head Division at the Mauthausen concentration camp where many thousands of prisoners were gassed, shot, starved and worked to death. Bartesch also confessed to having concealed his SS service at concentration camp from U.S. immigration officials.
Sher said the Justice Department obtained a journal kept by the SS and captured by the U.S. Armed Forces listing Bartesch as having shot to death Max Oschorn, a French Jewish prisoner.
Bartesch’s daughters, who still lived in the U.S., attempted in 1987 to appeal to politicians to allow the former Nazi officer to enter the country. They wrote a note in which they claimed it was “un-American” to persecute a man for crimes committed when he was only 17 and 18 years old.
Sher said he was shocked when he received the daughter’s letter replete with a handwritten note from Carter on the upper right corner stating the former president wanted “special consideration” for the Bartesch family for humanitarian reasons.
The note, containing Carter’s signature, was obtained this week by the NY Sun.
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