The Deadly Innocences of American Jews
IN 1902, American Jews asked their government to protest the persecution of Jews in Rumania. The Roosevelt administration, having nothing to lose, sent such a protest on grounds that the persecuted refugees were fleeing to America. The note had no noticeable effect on the Rumanians, but delighted the American Jews. Secretary of State Hay commented privately, and with some amusement: “The Hebrews- poor dears!-all over the country think we are bully… .”
A half century later such condescension would have seemed incredible, especially to American Jews. Their government had just defeated the Nazis and sponsored the establishment of the State of Israel. As a religious group, the Jews appeared to have acquired as much political power as the Catholics, individual wealth as the Episcopalians, religious respectability as the Methodists. By those tokens the Golden Age of the American Diaspora flourished for about two decades after World War II.
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