FDR And The Jews, by Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman
I did not like this book, at all, but I can understand where the authors are coming from, even if what they are saying is often a contradictory mess. The authors of this book really only care about the well-being and social power of Jews. They have no particular interest in constitutionality, or the importance within republic regimes of responding to the beliefs and opinions of the governed. In their mind, those who do something for the Jews are to be praised and those who are hostile to the Jewish people in any way are to be condemned. Their self-interest fills all of the pages of this lengthy (more than 300 page) book, and the fact that the authors are not only stridently Jewish but also leftist made this book a chore. It’s by no means the worst book I’ve read recently, but it is not a book I enjoyed reading or can recommend to others. For me, legitimate government behavior includes a respect for the thoughts of the people as well as constitutional law, and if the people as a whole are not big on open borders and generosity to refugees, and if those refugees wish to corrupt the political order of a host nation by making it more socialist, then I’m not going to be very friendly to those would-be immigrants, no matter who they are.
This book is divided into sixteen chapters. The authors begin with a look at the rise and fall of FDR in the period of his early political career (1), as well as his return starting in 1928 when he won the position as governor of New York over a Jewish Republican (2). The authors then move on to this relationships with dictators (3), immigration wars (4), and the transitions based on elections (5). The authors discuss the logistical problems of moving millions of people (6) and the efforts of the United States to encourage settlement of Jews in South America (7). The authors look at the declining feeling of European Jews as war approached (8), and as security concerns became more serious (9), as well as the difficulties of Jews within wartime America (10). There is a talk about debated remedies for the dire position of European Jews (11), the troubled relationship between Zionism and the Arab world (12), and the actions of the War Refugee Board (13). The authors then end by discussing negotiations and rescue of Jews in Hungary (14), the end of World War II and Roosevelt’s life (15), and some perspectives on the period as a whole (16).
A great deal of muddle of this book results from the fact that the authors are extremely biased towards FDR and desire to bolster his reputation while addressing his political unreliability. They show far too much interest in the behavior of FDR’s various court Jews (in more than one sense of the term) as well as lamenting the high degree of anti-Semitism that existed in the United States and other places. In many cases the authors want to have their cake and eat it too, talking on the one hand about Jews being predominantly democratic because the Republican party didn’t have anything to offer them (which has never been true) while at the same time trying to downplay the political issues that Jews were involved in. The authors appear to evaluate everyone, from Jewish community leaders to other politicians, based on how leftist they are, which means that the authors’ evaluations are all a mess, and not worth taking seriously. Even those readers who are fond towards the well-being of Jews but not very fond of leftist politics will find little to enjoy in this hopeless mess.