America, Its Jews, and the Rise of Nazism

Gulie Ne'eman Arad, Author, Gulie Ne'eman Arab, Author Indiana University Press $35 (328p) ISBN 978-0-253-33809-9
Israeli historian Arad explores a thorny issue--could the American Jewish community have done more during WWII to save Europe's Jews from genocide? Arad's scholarship is beyond reproach, but her writing style shows why the best researchers aren't always the best authors. Her style is too dry to be savored by anyone other than professional peers, which is a shame, because she presents a powerful, albeit pessimistic, argument. By the time the Nazis came to power in Germany, Arad contends, many American Jews had risen to positions of power and prominence in U.S. politics; nevertheless, she avers, these same Jews realized that retaining their status was contingent on being perceived as neutral when Jewish and American values clashed--as they inevitably would, according to Arad: ""In a society that claimed to uphold universalist ethics and insisted that we treat the whole world as our brothers and sisters, loyalty to the nation and loyalty to a separate tribe were seen as incompatible. In the end, Arad maintains that America's Jewish leaders didn't have the clout to affect the fate of European Jewry; however, the ambivalence of those leaders, who refused to take a clear public stand against what was happening in Germany, should not, she makes clear, go unnoticed. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 12/01/2000
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