In this business, there are phrase-makers and word-choosers. And most of us flit back and forth and do a little of each. A few paragraphs down from here a sentence will appear that sounds like a phrase made by a Jewish politician courting American Christian voters. It is nothing of the kind. Every word is carefully chosen. You don’t have to be Jewish to write this, but it does help take the edge off.
In our more than 5,000 years of Jewish history, we have had many enemies. We know who they are, from Haman in ancient Persia (Iran!) through Hitler to Ahmadinejad in modern Persia, the Islamists and the new anti-Semites of the new American left. For some reason, it’s true, we tend to spend more time teaching our young about our enemies than about our friends.
We Jews have had some great friends over those many centuries. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel once helped educate a young Jewish girl who was raving about those marvelous Danes during World War II who risked their lives to get the Danish Jews safely over to neutral Sweden after a “friendly” German in the Nazi German consulate in Copenhagen tipped off the Danish anti-Nazi underground that there would be a roundup on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, 1943. The score: Freedom – 6,000; Gestapo – 600. Wiesel gently complained that Jewish knowledge of their saviors seemed to stop at the Danes. “Don’t you know about the Bulgarians?” chided Wiesel.
And, indeed, the story of how Bulgarian King Boris – a German ally, mind you – schemed and lied to protect the Jews of Bulgaria from deportation to Nazi death camps is Hollywood thrilling. I’m not chiding Elie Wiesel. I’m sure if he’d had more time he would have added praise and thanksgiving to the Finns, whose leader, Baron Mannerheim, threatened to abandon the northern sector of the Russian front unless Nazi boss von Ribbentrop ordered his German transport ship in Helsinki Harbor to get out immediately, and empty, rather than deport the Jews of Finland to their final destination.
Elie could have told her about other heroic friends of the Jews. Albania, also a Nazi ally, is the only country in Europe where there were more Jews after the war than before. The mountain “warlords” of Albania were livid with rage when they learned the German “intruders” wanted to take the Jews of Albania away. They passed the word down, “No way!” Other Jews elsewhere in Europe heard the Albanians were protecting their Jews and managed to make their way into Albania. These aren’t fables. I’ve made it my business to get to know these heroes personally.
Are you surprised Hitler’s allies protected the Jews? Almost all of them did! Jews who managed to get into the Italian zone of occupation were protected. Unfortunately, the Italians only occupied the French Riviera and the western part of what was then Yugoslavia. The Japanese, believe it or not, had a prewar plan to bring 1 million German Jews to safety in Japan. The outbreak of war limited the rescue to 50,000. They lived unmolested in Japan all through the war. Franco’s Spain used its pro-German neutrality to save tens of thousands of Jewish lives.
And the foregoing is just an incomplete accounting of friends of the Jews during World War II alone! Now, we’re almost down to the line that sounds like Jewish sucking-up to Christians. You’re free to call it that – but I dare you to deny its validity.
We Jews have had many enemies and many friends. But the best friend the Jew has ever had in 5,000 years of history is the American Christian. Here, now, is “the line”: if it weren’t for the American Christian, there would be no state of Israel and no Jew alive, except those who successfully masqueraded as something else.
What gives me the right to say that? America was the “swing vote” that won World War II. When America entered the war, Britain and the Soviet Union were two elephants dangling over a cliff with their tails tied to the same daisy. America’s un-bomb-able industrial complex, the Arsenal of Democracy, supplied and energized the effort of our embattled allies. America’s entry against Germany and Japan turned tired blood into sparkling burgundy.
The American military was 97 percent non-Jewish, because the American population was 97 percent non-Jewish. If all those Christian American men had not gone uncomplainingly to fight Hitler, the Jews of Kansas City and everyplace else would have suffered the fate of the Jews of Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Zagreb; you get it.
Occasionally, a Jewish member of my audience will challenge me and say, “Wait a minute. Those American soldiers didn’t go to war to save the Jews.” I didn’t say they did. However, in fighting for America, American Christians made possible the state of Israel and Jewish survival!