2 Friday, May 20, 1983
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Back in the Limelight: Two
Christian Zionist Congressmen
Who Aided Cause of Statehood
Two prominent names, Christian Zionists who were
members of the U.S. House of Representatives and who
played important roles in support of Jewish statehood in
pre-Israel years, are in the limelight again.
Hamilton Fish, who served in the U.S. Congress from
1920 to 1945, was co-author, with Senator Henry Cabot
Lodge, of the first Congressional Resolution endorsing the
Zionist cause and the aim for reconstituting Jewish state-
hood in Palestine. In his letter published in this newspaper
on May 6, he reiterated his deep interest in the Zionist ideal
and made this telling proposal for an end to Arab feuding:
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria all of
which have extensive fertile and cultivable ac-
reage, and also Israel should be persuaded to
accept 50,000 refugees each. This should be fi-
nanced by a billion dollars to be raised in equal
parts from the United States, Saudi Arabia and
other Arab oil producers, Israel and its financial
supporters and, finally, by the Europeans and
The Arab part of the refugee problem pro-
duced by the Palestine conflict has now festered
for 35 years, the Jewish refugees from Arab coun-
tries having been absorbed during this period by
Israel. Is it not time to try to get some cooperation
from the Arab nations who have vast lands, which
could be developed?
Will Rogers, Jr. is the other former member of Con-
gress who has just made a re-appearance on the Zionist
field of action. The occasion was the introduction, at the
Princeton Club in New York, April 27, of the revised and
expanded "Years of Wrath, Days of Glory" by Yitshaq
Ben-Ami. It also served as a reunion of the activists in the
Emergency Committee to Save the Jews of Europe, which
was in action in the 1930s and 1940s.
Assisting in organizing
that reunion were Harry
Selden, Prof. Howard Edel-
son and Paul O'Dwyer. It
was to this gathering that a
message was read from
former Congressman Ro-
Together with Senator
Guy Gillette, Congressman
Rogers, in 1943, sponsored a
resolution which led to the
formation of the War Refu-
gee Board, the only Allied
government agency which
succeed in saving Jewish
lives during World War II.
Among the activists
WILL ROGERS, JR.
who were eminent in the
life-saving efforts at that time, with Senator Gillette, Con-
gressman Rogers, Ban-Ami, Selden and Edelson, were the
pioneers in that rescue effort, and attending the reunion
among others were Stella Asler, Samuel Merlin, Nathan
George Horowitt and Maurice Rosenblatt.
Rogers' message to this gathering was addressed to
Paul O'Dwyer. The text covers so much ground, it merits
presentation as an addition to the documentary on rescue
efforts. Rogers wrote:
I regret not being with you on this occasion of
the Second Coming of Mike Ben-Ami's book. This
is a chronicle transcending importance because it
is a first-hand testimony from a witness of what
went on before, during and after "Years of
Wrath." It is a story that needs telling: it is the best
evidence as it dispels the mythology that is being
circulated to cover up the embarrassing truth —
that the Holocaust could not have been without
the indifference of the Allied governments and
the passive role of the Jewish establishment.
For the past several weeks, public attention
has been directed at the Holocaust — an impres-
sive Holocaust Museum is being established in the
Capital in the shadow of the Washington Monu-
ment. We are told that this is to remind us of the
crime that was committed by the Nazis against
defenseless people — mostly Jews.
I am not clear exactly what the meaning is of
such a museum. A memorial has a place. But does
it tell the story? Does it tell how the British locked
the escape route, that the American government
was silent, that the Jewish establishment hid, that
our State Department refused visas and turned
refugee boats back to Hitler's inferno?
The killing was only the final act in the vast
conspiracy of cruelty, indifference and silence.
The victims heard the silence. Also, Hitler heard
the silence and saw that for this, for killing Jews,
there was no protest, no objection.
A Record of the Rescue Efforts During World War II When
Two Former Congressmen, Hamilton Fish and Will Rogers, Jr.,
Were in the Forefront Ranks of the Zionist Libertarians
... an End to War Threats ...
... and a Measure of
Another important step toward peace in the Mid-
dle East was taken this week. It is not total peace. But
it is as close to it as possible.
It means an end to war threats, although there
never was actual warfare with the Lebanese them-
selves. It was only the lack of peace agreements. It is
still only an anticipated position. But an accord has
been signed, it was by unanimous action of the
Lebanese parliament, by Moslems as well as Chris-
tians; it had the Israeli accord with the regrettable
abstention of the Labor Alignment. Yet even the posi-
tion of the latter is valuable, because it indicates that
the Israeli desire is for a total peace, not one that is
piecemeal, for a complete end to bloodshed between
The fact remains that second to Egypt, Lebanon
took a step in the direction of peace aims. It was not in
feuding but rather with the intention of assuring a
cooperative and friendly atmosphere that the agree-
ment was signed on Tuesday.
Therefore, Tuesday, May 17, 1983, must be re-
corded on the international calendar as an important
date in international aims for peace.
The movement toward it has gained momentum.
Hopefully, the two most antagonistic Arab states will
join the rest of the Arab world in striving for amity, and
that the Soviet Union will be kept out of that area.
Such is the hope that could surely lead to the aim for a
One World, for the Middle East serving as inspiration
for all mankind to put an end to war threats. Shalom is
the aim. Shalom must become the attainment.
Of course, there is the other story, Mike Ben-
Ami's story. The story of vision, of resistance, of
courage. Amid the horror there is the story of
those young men and women of Palestine and
Europe who saw the writing on the wall, and
warned what was coming. As early as 1939, they
banded together to find boats, even built rafts, to
float people down the Danube to ports where they
could charter ships, and some made it through the
British blockade. When the war started, they
fought the Nazis, joining the British, French,
Poles. Mike joined the American Army.
Above all, they also cried out against the
crime that was going on. They were impolite be-
cause they were frantic. They broke the rules of
etiquette, they ran full-page ads telling what was
happening. They broke the conspiracy of silence.
Thank God! I was one who heard their cry,
and being in Congress, was able to act in a limited
way. That's how I met Ben-Ami, and Peter
Bergson, Sam Merlin, and the other leaders of the
Hebrew Committee of National Liberation. With
Senator Guy Gillette, we finally passed the resolu-
tion creating the War Refugee Board — the only
action taken by the American government that
actually helped save lives.
It was late in the day and only tattered frag-
ments remained of what had been the great and
talented community of seven million European
Jews (exclusive of Russia). But I remember, even
then, in 1944, Sol Bloom, the chairman of the
House Foreign Affairs Committee, tried to block
us, and we had to go around this vain old man who
was more concerned with pleasing the State De-
partment than stopping murder.
The Holocaust is the story of the human being
destroyed by his own innocence, obtuseness,
self-deception — multiplied by six million. It is the
triumph of death.
Ben-Ami's book is the little known chronicle
of how ingenuity, self-awareness, and realism can
prevail. It is the triumph of life.
Please include me in any program that brings
this message of realism before the widest possible
The reunion of activists in rescue efforts serves to em-
phasize that not all were silent, that there was an outcry
against the tyrannical and murderous Nazism, that there
were the rescuers, and Yitshaq Ben-Ami was a leader
It should be stated that Ben-Ami's book, the first and
second editions, are important adjuncts in the records of
courage that was demonstrated in support of a Jewish
state, in the process of Zionist libertarianism, in the battle
Ben-Ami's role was in association with Vadimir
Jabotinsky and Menahem Begin.
Congressmen Fish and Rogers registered their names
indelibly in that record of struggling for justice for the
Jewish people in very critical times.
These are memories worth recording, and if they help
push the Shengold-published "Years of Wrath, Days of
' Glory," it is highly merited.
The Republican Claims
and the Bi-Partisanships
American obligations stemming from the earliest
pro-Zionist policies pursued by the Congress and White
House are under scrutiny.
The Reagan attitude is being studied and his friendly
commitments are under analyses.
The President's latest proclamation expressing friend-
ship for Israel was at the American Gathering of Jewish
Holocaust Survivors in Washington, in April, when he
stated: "As a man whose heart is with you . . . and as
President of a people you are now so much a part of . .
promise you that the security of your safe havens, here and
in Israel, will never be compromised."
Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., chairman of the Republican
National Committee, quoted the Reagan pledge in a state-
ment in which he recalled the Republican Zionist, and
presently pro-Israel position, and stated:
As this year is the 35th birthday of the state of
Israel, it is important to note that the Republican
Party's commitment to a safe and secure Jewish
homeland is 61 years old.
In 1922, Republican-sponsored resolutions
passed the House and Senate stating "that the
United States of America favors the establish-
ment in Palestine of the national home for the
Since 1952, the Republican Party has af-
firmed and reaffirmed its commitment to the
Jewish people and Israel through its party plat-
forms. The 1952 platform stated: "In providing a
sanctuary for Jewish people rendered homeless
by persecution, the state of Israel appeals to our
deepest humanitarian instincts. We shall con-
tinue our friendly interest in this constructive and
The 1964 platform stated the party's support
for stability in the Middle East. "Respecting the
Middle East and in addition to our reaffirmed
pledges of 1960 concerning this area, we will so
direct our economic and military assistance as to
help maintain stability in this region and prevent
an unbalance of arms."
The 1970s required the U.S. to take a second
look at involvement in other parts of the world.
While Republicans questioned, as did Democrats,
our role in the Vietnamese conflict, the party's
support for Israel was undiminished. The 1976
platform substantiated this fact. "Our commit-
ment to Israel is fundamental and enduring. We
have honored and will continue to honor that
commitment in every way . ."
The 1980 Republican platform is the latest to
extol our party's responsibility and pledge to Is-
rael. "The sovereignty, security and integrity of
the state of Israel is a moral imperative and serves
the strategic interests of the United States. We will
continue to honor our nation's commitment
through political, economic, diplomatic and mili-
This is a welcome declaration serving as a timely re-
minder of the roles of former Congressmen Fish and Rogers
and their associates. In the best interests of American
idealism, however, it must be stated that the American
policy relating to Zionism and Israel is non-partisan, that it
includes the commitments of both major political parties.
That's how this great need of strengthening the American-
Israel-Jewish friendship must be treated.
A Coughlin Recollection
The brief obituary note recording the death early this
month of Prof. Johan J. Smertenko served as a recollection
of his involvement in the repudiation of the anti-Semitic
speeches of Father Charles E, Coughlin.
In his notorious radio address, in one of his Sunday
broadcasts on WJR, Fr. Coughlin referred to the Smertenko
criticisms. It was in the same address in which he refuted
this commentator's charge that the radio preacher's anti-
Semitism, in the era of Hitler's assumption of power in
Germany, was "sadism." It embittered Fr. Coughlin. Then,
attacking Dr. Smertenko, among others, Coughlin referred
to him as Dr. "Smerstinko."
Such was the character of the Coughlin speeches.
Prof. Smertenko, in his lifetime, rendered important
services to the Zionist cause. He was an associate of Vla-
dimir Jabotinsky. As an activist in the American League
for a Free Palestine, in the pre-Israel struggles for Jewish
statehood, he may have been closely associated with
Menahem Begin in the latter's career with Revisionist
Such important names should not, cannot, be erased
from Jewish historical records.