To the Editor:
In the September 1983 issue, Lucy S. Dawidowicz, in her reply to the letters on her article, “Indicting American Jews” [June 1983], describes me as “a booster for the Irgun version of American Jewish history.” This insight, she tells us, rests on Laurence Jarvik’s comment (also in the September issue) that I was the person who suggested that he interview the Irgunists Peter Bergson and Samuel Merlin.
My files show that when Jarvik first contacted me asking for information as to who was still alive whom he might approach for film interviews for his project, I suggested the following: Gerhart Riegner, Roswell McClelland, John Pehl, Josiah DuBois, Samuel Merlin, Peter Bergson, Will Rogers, Jr., Dean Alfange, Marjorie Page Schauffler, Ira Hirschmann, Carl Hermann Voss, Emanuel Celler, Benjamin Akzin, Rudolf Vrba, Eva Schlesinger, Claire Barker, Raymond Moley, Dorothy Day, Eileen Egan, Emanuel Neumann, Nahum Goldmann, Robert Borden Reams, Harold W. Dodds, and Joseph H. Smart.
Besides the Irgun, the World War II era connections of the people on this list include the World Jewish Congress, the War Refugee Board, the Treasury Department, the House of Representatives, the American Labor party, the American Friends Service Committee, Bloomingdale’s, the Christian Council on Palestine, the camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau, News-week, the Catholic Worker, the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the Zionist Organization, the State Department, Princeton University, and the War Relocation Authority.
I seem to be rather fickle, even promiscuous, in my boosterism.
David S. Wyman
University of Amherst
Lucy S. Dawidowicz writes:
I stated quite simply in my reply that I had heard David S. Wyman deliver a paper—it was at the CUNY Graduate Center in November 1981—where “he mouthed the Irgun line whole.” It was sufficient first-hand evidence on which to base a reasoned judgment. Mr. Jarvik’s comment was just icing on the cake.