The 2004 novel “The Plot against America,” written by Philip Roth, presents an alternative fictional history of political events in the U.S. during World War II. In the novel, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is defeated in the 1940 presidential election by Charles Lindbergh, the first pilot in history to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean. Lindbergh finds an ally in Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, and the political and social permutations that ensue affect Jewish life in the U.S., prompting mounting alarm about the future.
Among the Jews’ responses to their dire situation, ranging from confrontation to emigration, the position of Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf stands out. Bengelsdorf, a staunch supporter of Lindbergh, believes that the Jews should back the aviation hero’s policies. For Lindbergh, the rabbi’s support provides a rubber stamp for his plans.
Rabbis for Human Rights takes part in protests against Israel, claiming its policies toward the Palestinians are “discriminatory” and also, along with other anti-Israeli groups, has launched a website accusing Israel of human rights violations in the Gaza Strip.
Given the nature of the current battle over the Iran nuclear deal, with rubber stampers being called to the flag, the fictional Rabbi Bengelsdorf comes to mind — particularly in light of the letter signed by 340 U.S. rabbis urging Congress to support the deal. According to them, they were expressing their concern regarding what they claimed was a wrong impression — that the Jewish American community was united in opposition to the deal.
Considering that there are more than 5,000 rabbis in the U.S., the letter obviously reflects a minority position in the American Jewish community — a fact backed by various polls and a counter letter signed by 800 rabbis.
However, this is not the only problem with the support letter. A check conducted by the Zionist Organization of America found that the majority of the rabbis who signed the letter were affiliated with radical left-wing organizations, which often operate against the mainstream Israeli consensus. More than half of the rabbis were connected to the rabbinic cabinet of J Street, which has shamelessly promoted the Iran deal.
Moreover, the Ameinu organization, which organized the letter, has close ties to J Street, which appears to have hidden behind Ameinu’s aprons. The president of Ameinu is also the treasurer of J Street and the chairwoman of Ameinu’s executive committee is on the Montgomery County, Maryland J Street Steering Committee.
Other rabbis on the list include major donors to the Rabbis for Human Rights organization, which is heavily supported by European organizations and the New Israel Fund. Rabbis for Human Rights takes part in protests against Israel, claiming its policies toward the Palestinians are “discriminatory” and also, along with other anti-Israeli groups, has launched a website accusing Israel of human rights violations in the Gaza Strip.
Rabbi Linda Holtzman, one of the letter’s signatories, is on the board of directors of Jewish Voice for Peace, which stars on the Anti-Defamation League’s list of anti-Israel groups. JVP is sponsored by the Violet Jabara Charitable Trust, an Arab-American fund that supports Electronic Intifada as well by the anti-Israel Firedoll Foundation and Wallace Global Fund.
JVP’s strategy is to seek an end to American financial, military and political support for Israel. Also, the group promotes the right of return for Palestinian refugees and utilizes the Durban strategy of political warfare against Israel, focusing on boycotts, divestment and sanctions, and a campaign accusing Israel of racism and apartheid.
Holtzman is known as one of the first lesbian rabbis, so it is unfortunate that she supports a deal with an Iranian regime that executes people due to their sexual preferences.
Roth said that the inspiration for his novel came from the autobiography of the liberal American historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who wrote about how a number of radical senators had encouraged Lindbergh to run against Roosevelt. In the novel, Bengelsdorf acknowledges the hatred of many in the Jewish community toward him, but says his actions stemmed from his revulsion for war.
When the novel was published, The New York Times described it as “preposterous and, at the same time, creepily plausible.”
Dr. Gabriella Berzin is an expert in Jewish and Arab philosophy and teaches at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
This article was published by Israel Hayom and may be found here.