Letters to the Editor: February 29, 2020
OpinionLetters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: February 29, 2020

The AJT welcomes your letters. If you would like your letter to be published, please write 200 words or less, and send it to editor@atljewishtimes.com.

Letter to the editor,

Re: New Bill Could Affect Jewish Adoptions

Jan Jaben-Eilon’s article is most informative. I would have valued a link where we could write our legislators to plea to decline support of this bill rather than have to hunt and many forget to take action.

I have been a foster parent and foster grandparent to children through the Jewish Family Service when I lived in Toledo, Ohio.

Thank you for all you do in keeping our Jewish community connected in the Greater Atlanta area.

Evelyn Asher, Atlanta

Letter to the editor,

Re: January 22, 2020 article titled: “Story of Survival in Philippines during Holocaust”

In 2013, a documentary film, “Rescue in the Philippines,” began receiving accolades for its depiction of historical events concerning refugee Jews fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe for the Philippines. However, there are specific claims made in the film that are either not supported in the documentary evidence or are outright fabrications. This film asserts that a family of Jewish businessmen, known as the Frieder brothers, conceived the rescue plans over games of poker with prestigious gambling partners such as Manuel Quezon, president of the Philippines, Paul V. McNutt, U.S. high commissioner to the Philippines, and then Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower, senior aide and chief of staff to Gen. Douglas MacArthur. There is absolutely nothing in the documentary record, including those of the Frieder Family Collection of documents housed in the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee archives in New York, that even allude to these esteemed poker games, let alone discussions concerning Jewish refugees. Family stories handed down generationally should not be professed as historical evidence when they cannot be substantiated with any documentation.

“Rescue in the Philippines” overlooks the actual documented events that resulted in Paul V. McNutt bringing the proposal of Jewish refugee rescue in the Philippines to President Quezon, an idea discussed between McNutt and Jacob Weiss, a friend and political colleague of McNutt’s during his time as governor of Indiana. Jacob’s brother, Julius, worked for a Jewish Relief Agency in NYC, the Refugee Economic Corporation, and it is he who urged his brother Jacob, per the REC’s request, to discuss the matter with McNutt during a visit McNutt made to Washington D.C., in February 1938.

In March 1938, McNutt took the idea to President Quezon, who fully supported it and McNutt then turned to the officers of the Jewish community in Manila and asked for their efforts in devising the mechanics for such a rescue plan. This is when the Frieders, along with other members of the Jewish Refugee Committee in Manila, were introduced to the idea.

In connection with the specious tale of the poker game origins for the rescue plan, there is the continued assertion throughout the film that then Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower was an active participant in the plan that brought 1,300 refugee Jews to the Philippines. The DVD’s front cover boldly displays the official photo of Eisenhower when he was promoted to U.S. general of the Army, Supreme Allied Commander, wearing his new rank, a five-star cluster on his uniform’s shoulder strap, taken in February 1945 – six years after he left the Philippines. This notion of Eisenhower at the center of this rescue is a complete canard. Although the Frieder brothers were friends with the Eisenhowers and did enjoy many games of cards, there is nothing in the documentary record, not even at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, to show that Eisenhower was involved in any way whatsoever with these rescue plans. All statements made in the film about this implied involvement of Eisenhower in the rescue are innuendos meant to depict historical facts that simply are not true, thus distorting the real evidence. Eisenhower played no part in the resettlement of Jewish refugees in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, these sensationalized, erroneous stories of Eisenhower and his poker companions devising Jewish rescue plans over card games have taken on a life of their own across the internet. Newspaper and magazine columns, along with screenplays and scripts for spin-off movies and other documentaries are relying on the false information portrayed in this film, thus misconstruing the veracity of the true facts about Jewish refugee rescue in the Philippines. It is my hope that your organization will help in furthering the true story of the inception, creation, and execution of Jewish rescue efforts in the Philippines by circulating this op-ed.

Bonnie M. Harris, Ph.D. lecturer, Department of History, San Diego State University

Letter to the editor,

Ed Rappaport attempts [in the Feb. 15 issue] a trifecta on rehabilitating the reputation of Hannah Arendt, Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger and Georg Soros. In order to save space, he had to delete certain facts. Hopefully I will be given the space to add the additional facts.

Heidegger joined the Nazi party in 1933 after his dalliance with Ms. Arendt. However, the revelation of the Heidegger Black Notebooks, recently published and quoted in sources unfriendly to Israel such as The Guardian and The Nation, reveal Heidegger to be an active anti-Semite years before he joined the Nazi party.

Let’s turn to Hannah Arendt. Her claim to fame is her reporting from the Eichmann trial. Her writing evoked controversy because she seemed to be sympathetic to Eichmann and much less so to his victims in Eastern Europe. My accusation about Ms. Arendt is more damning than consorting with an anti-Semite like Heidegger. I accuse Arendt and Heidegger of sharing the same ideology as the Nazis in viewing Eastern European Jews as “untermenschen,” which could perhaps be translated in a sense in English as “deplorables.”

In terms of Soros, Mr. Rappaport fails to cite the original source of the accusations against him, namely the [Steve] Kroft interview on “60 Minutes.” I do not fault a 14-year-old boy for doing what he had to do to survive during the Holocaust. However, the cold indifference that Soros exhibited during his interview is in striking contrast to what I heard from Holocaust survivors and read in their memoirs. Soros has engaged in many efforts, none of which I support, and is not a friend of the Jewish state. It is not anti-Semitic to criticize Jewish public figures like Soros, just as one can criticize other bad Jews like Leon Trotsky and Karl Marx.

Dr. Jack L Arbiser, Ph.D., Atlanta

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