Rafael Medoff’s new book The Jews Should Keep Quiet (Jewish Publication Society, 2019) is receiving wonderful media attention. Below read more about the book, its reviews, and additional articles written by the author.
About the Book:
Based on recently discovered documents, The Jews Should Keep Quiet reassesses the hows and whys behind the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration’s fateful policies during the Holocaust. Rafael Medoff delves into difficult truths: With FDR’s consent, the administration deliberately suppressed European immigration far below the limits set by U.S. law. His administration also refused to admit Jewish refugees to the U.S. Virgin Islands, dismissed proposals to use empty Liberty ships returning from Europe to carry refugees, and rejected pleas to drop bombs on the railways leading to Auschwitz, even while American planes were bombing targets only a few miles away—actions that would not have conflicted with the larger goal of winning the war.
What motivated FDR? Medoff explores the sensitive question of the president’s private sentiments toward Jews. Unmasking strong parallels between Roosevelt’s statements regarding Jews and Asians, he connects the administration’s policies of excluding Jewish refugees and interning Japanese Americans.
The Jews Should Keep Quiet further reveals how FDR’s personal relationship with Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, American Jewry’s foremost leader in the 1930s and 1940s, swayed the U.S. response to the Holocaust. Documenting how Roosevelt and others pressured Wise to stifle American Jewish criticism of FDR’s policies, Medoff chronicles how and why the American Jewish community largely fell in line with Wise. Ultimately Medoff weighs the administration’s realistic options for rescue action, which, if taken, would have saved many lives.
Reviews and Media Mentions:
Starred review from Library Journal:
“…an incisive and insightful exploration of the leading figures of this period.”
Feature in The Jewish Star:
“This work, published by the Jewish Publication Society, goes into great detail regarding the close relationship that Wise ‘enjoyed’ with FDR and of how that relationship guaranteed a docile demeanor on the part of many Jewish leaders during the Holocaust era. Documenting how FDR pressured Wise to stifle criticism by Jews, Medoff shows how and why this happened, and reviews the sad results… A close reading of Medoff’s study will surely give you pause in your ideological predispositions.”
Praise from The Algemeiner:
“Medoff’s book, prodigiously researched in Israeli and American archives, is painful, but important to read. Sadly, it reminded me of the devotion of my own parents and relatives, assimilated children of Eastern European immigrants, to President Roosevelt and Rabbi Wise. They too believed that ‘Jews should keep quiet.’ At stake was nothing less than their passionate desire to be and be recognized as loyal Americans.”
Rafael Medoff has written prolifically on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, World War II, and Jewish refugees throughout the past year leading up to the release of his new book.
In his article for The Jerusalem Post, Medoff describes a declaration that President Roosevelt attempted to pass through banning discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
“Franklin Roosevelt and then-British prime minister Winston Churchill presented themselves to the public as stalwart champions of liberal democracy and all that it represents. Yet they were willing to trample on the cherished principle of free speech in order to advance their narrow political goals. The Jews in FDR’s inner circle were notoriously afraid to raise Jewish concerns with the president. Yet in this instance, they found the courage to protest, even if for somewhat convoluted reasons.”
Earlier this year, the Washington Post interviewed Medoff for an article Holocaust Remembrance Day that discussed FDR’s immigration policies.
“FDR was not prepared to go beyond a verbal denunciation of the mass murder. Spokesmen for his administration insisted there was nothing the U.S. could do to help the Jews ‘short of military destruction of German armies and the liberation of all the oppressed peoples,’ as one official put it. In reality, there were many avenues for U.S. action that would not have interfered with the war effort.”
Medoff also wrote about a missing Gallup poll for the Holocaust Museum in the Washington Examiner:
“Gallup’s editor-in-chief spoke at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on November 28, and described polls his organization took in the 1930s and early 1940s, which showed overwhelming opposition to the admission of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. Yet somehow he forgot to mention the single most important poll that Gallup took during those years—a poll which showed exactly the opposite of all the others. What can account for this peculiar omission?”