Dr. Rafael Medoff : How Peter Bergson Brought Activism into the Mainstream

A major new novel features a Jewish activist organizing protests against the Roosevelt administration’s abandonment of European Jewry. A recent off-Broadway play (being made into a movie by an Academy Award-winning actor and director) depicted Jewish activists and leaders clashing over Holocaust rescue.

With his appearance in literature, theater, and film, the once-controversial Peter Bergson is finally entering the popular culture. And the U.S. Jewish community at long last seems to be coming to grips with one of the most painful chapters in its history.

Seventy-five years ago this summer, Bergson (real name: Hillel Kook) and a handful of colleagues launched what would become perhaps the most dramatic political action campaign in American Jewish history.

To advance their demands to rescue Europe’s Jews and create a Jewish state in Palestine, these activists placed hundreds of full-page ads in newspapers, lobbied in Congress, and organized a march by 400 rabbis to the White House. Such tactics were radical steps for Jews in the 1940s. Many immigrants and children of immigrants, still nervous about their place in American society, were uneasy about broadcasting Jewish concerns in the pages of the major newspapers.

Bergson liked to call himself a “nuisance diplomat,” and his group’s activities did prove to be quite a nuisance to the Roosevelt administration, which insisted the rescue of European Jews was impossible. The Bergsonites mobilized enough congressional and public pressure on President Roosevelt to help force him to create a U.S. government agency, the War Refugee Board, in early 1944. During the final fifteen months of World War II, the board played a central role in rescuing some 200,000 Jews from the Nazis.

Warren Kozak :Fleeing the Czars, Defying Gravity: A Fourth of July Immigrant Tale-From a Lower Manhattan arrival in 1900 to the space shuttle Endeavor in three generations.

On July 4, 1900, Samuel Hoffman and his father, Moshe, walked across the gangplank of a ferryboat that unceremoniously dumped them, along with a large group of fellow immigrants, at a dock on 14th Street in Manhattan. Independence Day for these newcomers meant liberation from czarist Russia.

New Yorkers were used to seeing confused, freshly arrived immigrants walking through lower Manhattan, but these two stood out. It was a searing-hot summer day and both father and son wore winter overcoats and boots.
“Our clothing and awkward bundles on our backs, as we walked along 14th Street, drew everyone’s attention to us,” Samuel Hoffman wrote at age 83 in an account for his family. “I was 15 years old, bewildered and almost overcome by the alien and unfamiliar scenes that stretched and throbbed all around father and me.”

Like most immigrants, they couldn’t speak the language. Coming from a small village in Russia, they had never seen anything even remotely like New York City. They could have arrived from another planet. All they had to guide them was a piece of paper with the address of a distant relative who lived on the Lower East Side.

After generations of extreme poverty and religious persecution, Moshe and his more savvy wife, Yetta, had decided to sell their house and borrow enough money to pay for two tickets to America. The plan was that father and son would then earn enough money in the New World to bring over the rest of the family. Constant hunger was a hallmark of Samuel’s childhood in Russia. His daily diet had consisted of one piece of black bread and a potato dipped in herring sauce for flavor. Occasionally there were onions and radishes and a glass of milk for the children. It had been that way for generations and there was little chance it would ever change.

Breaking with tradition, Yetta chose to send Samuel instead of her eldest son. Although Samuel looked even younger than 15, Yetta believed that he would fare better than his older brother. She knew her son.

There was no government assistance for the giant wave of immigrants to America at the turn of the 20th century. Instead, like all the immigrants that had come before, they would fend for themselves. They also helped each other. The distant relative on the Lower East Side took in Samuel and Moshe, even though, with three children and two boarders in only three rooms, that was a challenge. Another distant cousin, with a larger home in Brooklyn, soon took them in until they could afford a room of their own.

After a series of jobs that brought in more money, and going to school at night to learn English, Samuel started his own business. He bought nine sewing machines on credit and hired employees. Many trades were closed to Jews, but the garment industry seemed to belong to them.

A California University’s Troubling Terrorism Ties by Cinnamon Stillwell

Originally published under the title “Why Is A San Francisco University Secretly Partnering With An Arab College That Promotes Jihad?”

SFSU President Leslie Wong has come under criticism for failing to take sufficient action against anti-Israel hate groups on campus.

San Francisco State University (SFSU), which has a well-deserved reputation as a breeding ground for anti-Israel radicalism, became national news in April. That’s when campus police stood by as a hate-Israel group, the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), shouted down and disrupted a lecture by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, prompting much criticism of SFSU’s president, Leslie Wong.

But there’s worse. As revealed by an investigation into SFSU by Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum, SFSU has partnered with a Palestinian university that’s a hotbed of radicalization.

What our investigation turned up:

SFSU signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with An-Najah University of Hebron in 2014 at the behest of Rabab Abdulhadi, director of SFSU’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative (AMED) and founding member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.

Najah states on its website that the MOU was signed on September 10, 2014 and Abdulhadi sang its praises at an April 2015 reception:

The memorandum of understanding that President Wong signed with An-Najah National University in Palestine … is the first time that we have any agreement with any university in the Arab or Muslim world and we are very excited about that.

Wong also trumpeted the MOU at the 2015 reception, boasting of his role in helping bring it to fruition:

When I returned from Palestine two years ago, I said I want to be one of the first major universities to sign an agreement with An-Najah or any of the other Palestinian universities, or any of the universities in the Arab world.

Loretta Lynch & Bill Clinton Meet Secretly, but Swear They’re Totally Trustworthy Their tarmac ‘golf’ chat shows that high-level Democrats aren’t even pretending to follow the rule of law. By Ian Tuttle

Hillary Clinton is currently the subject of the highest-profile national-security investigation in recent memory. She is also the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. She is also the wife of a former president (a Democrat). She is also a former member of the (Democratic) presidential cabinet whose attorney general, Loretta Lynch (a Democrat), is conducting the investigation and will determine whether to prosecute.

Someone who doesn’t know any better might wonder about a conflict — or conflicts — of interest.

Now it emerges that on Monday evening Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch spent a half-hour chatting aboard Lynch’s private plane on the tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Rest assured, though: “There was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body,” Lynch told reporters afterward. She and the former president mainly discussed Clinton’s “grandchildren,” their travels, and “golf.”

If it was not already clear, it most certainly is now: It’s not simply that our highest officials are above the law. It’s that they know they are, and they can’t even be bothered to hide it.

For more than a year, we’ve known that Hillary Clinton broke the law. The Federal Records Act explicitly requires “the head of each Federal agency” — including the secretary of state — to preserve any “records,” including e-mails, related to the agency’s essential operations; and federal criminal law punishes as a felony anyone who “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys” an official government record.” Furthermore, at least 2,000 of the e-mails on Clinton’s private server contained classified, or even “top secret,” information — in direct contradiction of her assurances, and the law. Finally, it became public knowledge in October that Clinton forwarded the real name of a confidential CIA source over her unsecured private server; shortly after, the State Department refused to release three-dozen pages of e-mails on the grounds that the intelligence contained in them could potentially damage national security.

Yet, despite the overwhelming evidence, Loretta Lynch is almost certainly not going to prosecute the former secretary of state. The Democrats’ hold on power is at stake. Failure to prosecute would be a grievous blow to the rule of law, but it seems that Democratic higher-ups don’t much care.

A Triumph for Disinterested Justice The unjustified Baltimore police prosecutions run aground in the courtroom of a fair-minded judge.Heather Mac Donald

The ill-fated prosecution of six Baltimore police officers for the accidental death of Freddie Gray in April 2015 was the spawn of the Black Lives Matter movement. The preposterously unjustified charges against the officers grew out of the BLM conceit that cops are racist murderers. On May 1, 2015, state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby invoked Al Sharpton’s extortionist chant of “No Justice, No Peace” as a motivation for her charging decisions, after rioters had destroyed the livelihoods of dozens of Baltimore’s workers and small businessmen.

It is therefore fitting that Mosby’s vendetta is collapsing all around her, based as it is on an ideology composed of demonstrable lies about law enforcement. Judge Barry Williams handed Mosby her third and most devastating defeat on June 23, acquitting Officer Caesar Goodson of all seven counts against him, including the ludicrous second-degree murder charge.

Gray, a 25-year-old drug dealer with a long criminal record, had been arrested for possession of an illegal knife on April 1, 2015, after running from a bike patrol officer who had made eye contact with him. During transport in a police van driven by Officer Goodson, Gray suffered a spinal cord injury that led to his death a week later. The exact timing and cause of that injury are still in dispute.

A hostile crowd was forming at the site of Gray’s arrest, so the arresting officers put Gray in Goodson’s van and instructed Goodson to drive to another location where they could complete the paperwork without interference. Goodson would make five more stops thereafter; he never spoke to Gray. Gray’s injury occurred at some still unknown point during that journey. At stop two, the three arresting officers removed Gray from the wagon, placed leg shackles and flexicuffs on him, documented the arrest, put him back in the wagon on his stomach, and left. Gray had been going limp and passively resisting the officers during that second stop; once they left him in the van he began screaming, kicking, and throwing himself around so violently that outside observers saw the van rocking. At stop three, Goodson went to the back of the van for less than 11 seconds, and then called for assistance. Judge Williams found that there was not enough time at stop three for Goodson to actually check and assess Gray. Officer William Porter answered Goodson’s call for assistance at stop four. Porter asked Gray, who was on the floor on his stomach as at stop two, how he was doing; Gray answered: “Help.” Porter asked him what he wanted help with, and Gray responded: “Help me up,” according to Porter’s testimony. Porter helped Gray get on the bench inside the van. Porter asked Gray if he wanted to go to the hospital; Gray answered yes. Porter did not believe that Gray was in need of medical treatment, but told Goodson after stop four that he did not think that Gray would be admitted to Central Booking, and that for purely administrative reasons they should take him to the hospital instead. Goodson did not call for medical assistance but proceeded to stop five to pick up another arrestee, Donta Allen. At stop five, Porter saw Gray kneeling on the floor and leaning on the bench. Porter again asked Gray if he wanted to go to the hospital; Gray again answered yes. Gray seemed lethargic but was otherwise breathing normally and showed no other signs of distress. By the final, sixth stop, Gray was unconscious, not breathing, and in visible need of urgent medical care. Goodson called for help and took him to the hospital.

The Stunning Collapse of Boris Johnson Once thought the front-runner for the U.K.’s prime minister, he has suddenly withdrawn. By Noah Daponte-Smith

Just when you thought this week couldn’t get any stranger, it did.

Boris Johnson, an architect of the Leave campaign, has long been considered one of the frontrunners for the leadership of the Tory party, even before Prime Minister David Cameron announced his eventual resignation last week. Johnson is the most popular politician in the country, a goofy and accessible man of the people, well placed to continue the Tories’ domination of the United Kingdom’s politics.

Until this morning, that is. When Johnson stood behind a podium, journalists viewed it as a speech to declare his entry into the leadership race against home secretary and Remain campaigner Theresa May. But it wasn’t. Instead, after ten minutes spent discussing the necessary policies of the next prime minister, and how and why Cameron’s successor must extricate the U.K. from the clutches of the European Union, Johnson announced that he would not stand – that he would not mount a challenge for the leadership.

The shock was palpable. After Johnson uttered the decisive line — “I have concluded that person cannot be me” — the cameramen in the room went into overdrive, clicking rapid-fire to document the moment of defeat in the face of the man once destined for 10 Downing Street. Johnson stumbled over his next line. For the following minute, he vowed to support a “moderate, conservative, one-nation approach” for his party and his country; it sounded more like an affirmation of David Cameron than anything else. Soon after, Johnson exited the stage, to applause and general clamor. The Guardian’s liveblog of the speech had begun with the headline “Boris Johnson launches his leadership bid.” Ten minutes later: “Johnson pulls out of Tory leadership contest.”

Various theories have circulated around the journosphere in the week following Britain’s vote to leave the E.U. The triggering of Article 50 is considered a “poisoned chalice,” political quicksand destined to doom the career of whichever politician is foolish — or hubristic — enough to tread down that path. The process of actually leaving the E.U. would be so destructive, would embroil the country in so much turmoil, that only a political ignoramus would do it. Johnson knows this, the theory goes, as encapsulated in this well-circulated but analytically flawed Guardian comment. Johnson, valuing himself above all else and (it is thought) only tenuously committed to the Brexit cause in the first place, sought to wash his hands of the mess he had created. Johnson appears as a cynical, unethical mastermind, always looking out for himself and ignoring any obligation to the situation he had done so much to engender.

That’s a compelling read of the situation. It plays to what so many already suspect about Johnson: that he cares only for himself and is willing to ruin the economy and his friends’ careers for the sake of advancing his own. For many in the press corps who already detest the man, it fits nicely with the image they hold of Johnson in their preconceptions.

After Boris By Andrew Stuttaford

As Noah Daponte-Smith has explained over on the home page, Boris Johnson has, as The Sun put it, been ‘Brexecuted’, his bid for the Conservative leadership destroyed just before lift-off by the announcement that Justice Minister Michael Gove, his ally in the battle of Brexit, had, well, decided to put in for the job for himself.

Anyone who enjoys House of Cards will enjoy the instant take by Iain Martin, writing for the splendidly named Reaction.

Here’s an extract:

At 9am this morning, Boris Johnson was pretty sure that he was going to become Prime Minister, or at least make the final two in the leadership contest and be in with a 50-50 chance. Then, at 9.02am an email landed that signalled he was done for, ruined. Johnson and his team had no warning – no call, no text – from Michael Gove that he was about to declare Boris unfit to be Prime Minister and run himself. The explosive email went to reporters direct….

Almost instantly around forty Tory MPs switched straight to Gove. It was almost as though it had been planned…

Almost. As you will see if you read the rest of the article, Martin is good with the stiletto.

And so Johnson abandoned his bid for the leadership, a mistake: Going down with all flags flying would, over the longer term, have been seen as a more dignified exit, but there we are.

We could discuss how Johnson had left himself so vulnerable. Part of the problem was that, never the most organized of characters (although less chaotic than he pretends), Johnson had, in the confused aftermath of the unexpected win for the Brexit team, forgotten that in politics, like real estate, it’s necessary to always be closing.

Amongst Johnson’s errors was his decision to use his column in the Daily Telegraph as the venue for his first considered (too kind an adjective) comment on the referendum triumph he clearly had not expected, a column that was widely seen as a disaster. Gove, a journalist himself, apparently added a few editing touches to help his pal out. How kind.

The favorite to become the next Tory leader (and thus prime minister) now becomes Theresa May, the Home Secretary (interior minister). The Guardian’s Martin Kettle (no fan of Johnson, as you can see if you read the full piece) approves:

Johnson’s eclipse makes a May versus Gove contest in the final round likely. In the past, May’s chances tended to be dismissed because, in Westminster terms, she is like Kipling’s cat that walks by itself. She rarely works the room or the studios. She frequently does her own thing, which made Cameron suspicious. Though her leadership ambitions have never really been in doubt, she does not have much of a machine. The result is that she had relatively few committed supporters until now.

Trump and the Rust Belt’s Revenge Dark clouds ahead for Clinton as party members switch sides. Ari Lieberman

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Donald Trump. The campaign was temporarily sidetracked with ancillary issues involving the ethnicity of a judge presiding over an obscure case that no one really cares about. After scoring significant momentum following his clinching of the GOP nomination, his polling numbers dipped markedly with some polls giving Hillary Clinton a double digit lead. And this week, Nate Silver, who accurately predicted the 2008 and 2012 electoral outcomes, gave Clinton an 80% chance of winning the general election.

But Clinton acolytes should temper their excitement. Those who underestimate Trump’s chances of securing the White House may be in for a rude awakening. Trump is perhaps one of the most resilient personalities in modern American politics who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to overcome insurmountable odds. Time and again he has defied the professional pundits — Nate Silver included — and has accomplished the seemingly impossible. He is anything but conventional and the normal rules of politics do not apply to him and that is precisely why this election cycle is still anyone’s game.

Buttressing this view, a new Quinnipiac University survey released on Wednesday suggests that Trump and Clinton are in a statistical dead heat, with 40 percent supporting Trump and 42 percent backing Clinton. That minor differential is well within the margin of error. Those surveyed saw Trump as being better equipped to deal with the economy and tackle terrorism. He also beat Clinton on leadership and honesty.

Clinton has been struggling with gaining the trust of voters, who overwhelmingly view her as untrustworthy. The recently released Benghazi report, which highlights Clinton’s role in advancing a fraud, will further tarnish voter’s perceptions of her. The FBI probe of her use of an unsecured bathroom server to send and receive classified emails and the prospect of being charged for related offenses still clouds her campaign and looms over her like an anvil swinging precariously above her head.

But Clinton’s campaign troubles go far beyond trustworthiness and FBI probes. As highlighted by a fascinating piece in Politico, life-long, card-carrying, blue collar Democrats are leaving the party in droves and switching sides. The situation is particularly acute in the Rust Belt where bad trade deals, including NAFTA and eight years of Obama have laid waste to industry and displaced or otherwise negatively impacted hundreds of thousands middle class, union workers, the bread and butter of the Democratic Party.

Shut Up, Elizabeth Warren America doesn’t need two Hillary Clintons. Daniel Greenfield

Elizabeth Warren has been coddled ever since Fordham Law Review insisted on believing that the blonde blue eyed woman was Harvard Law School’s “first woman of color”.

She has as much “color” in her pale face as she does principles, ideas, wit, ethics and speaking skills.

Warren isn’t a good speaker. Her speeches are inept, her cadence is uneven and she ends sentences on a squeak. She stumbles breathily through prepared texts, seemingly confused to be up on stage as if she’s waiting for everyone to realize that there was a mistake and replace her with someone competent.

Sadly that never happens. All this might be excusable if she had something to say, she doesn’t.

If Elizabeth Warren ever had a single original thought in her head, it long ago died of starvation. She achieved national fame by claiming that no one got rich on their own because the police protect factories. That was probably a more compelling argument back when the stereotypical millionaire got rich from factories. But Warren was cribbing from the twenties because she has no new ideas.

Either that or she imagines that Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Mark Zuckerberg became billionaires by having a lot of factories in Lowell.

These days she tours as Hillary Clinton’s attack Chihuahua lobbing piercing insults at Trump. Like the time she accused Trump of being “greedy”. Then she charged him with having a “goofy hat”.

But the media cheers every squeaky insult from the former Republican turned Democrat and class warrior turned millionaire as if she were the anemic half-assed second coming of Don Rickles.

Hillary Must Come Clean about Huma Abedin The disturbing new revelations about the top Clinton aide’s past ties to terrorist-supporting organizations. Joseph Klein

Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Affairs Department website contained a passage extolling jihad: “The Muslims are required to raise the banner of Jihad in order to make the Word of Allah supreme in this world…” (As published by The Middle East Media Research Institute) The Saudi government and some of its influential radical Islamic citizens and groups are pursuing the export of jihad in two ways. The first is through what has been referred to as “civilization jihad.” Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars in funding Sunni mosques, madrasas, and Sunni cultural centers all over the world, which spread the Saudis’ radical Islamic Wahhabi ideology. However, Saudi Arabia’s jihad also includes the support of terrorism. A cable released by WikiLeaks under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s name stated: “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

The Muslim World League is an organization with ties to jihadist terrorist groups, including Hamas and al Qaeda. The Muslim World League was founded by members of the Saudi government. Abdullah Omar Naseef exemplifies the connection between the Saudi government and this terrorist-supporting organization. He served as Secretary-General of the Muslim World League from 1983 to 1993. He also served as Vice-President of the Kingdom’s Shura Council. In addition, he founded the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, which, according to former Assistant United States Attorney Andrew McCarthy, seeks to “grow an unassimilated, aggressive population of Islamic supremacists who will gradually but dramatically alter the character of the West,” and to “infiltrate Sharia principles in our law, our institutions, and our public policy.”

The Muslim World League escaped being placed on the list of terror groups sanctioned by the United States shortly after the 9/11 attack, reportedly due to concern by President George W. Bush’s administration about embarrassing the Saudi government. Nearly thirteen years later, the Saudi government is still getting a free pass. The American people have still been denied access to the portion of the 9/11 Commission report relating to any Saudi Arabian government ties to the 9/11 hijackers.

Into this morass steps Huma Abedin, the co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and a person likely to have significant influence in a Hillary Clinton White House. Huma Abedin has had murky associations in the past with the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, which not only is a radical Islamist group in its own right but, as Breitbart has reported, was “located in the offices of Saudi Arabia’s Muslim World League.”

Huma grew up in Saudi Arabia, where she was exposed to the Wahhabi ideology during her formative years. The Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, founded by Abdullah Omar Naseef, has been an Abedin family affair. Huma herself served as the assistant editor of the institute’s journal for a dozen years until she joined Hillary’s State Department. Abdul lah Omar Naseef was on the board of advisers of the journal while Huma was its assistant editor.