Diverse Political Views in the Jewish Community

Posted by Jacqueline Homan

Posted on 6/22/06


In Dr. Gerhard Falk's recent article he discussed the support of FDR by American Jews despite the fact that FDR bears responsibility for the SS St. Louis, the boat of German Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi murderers who were denied port and safe harbor on the safe shores of America. I hold Dr. Falk's wisdom and knowledge in high esteem, even though I may not fully agree with his political views. Dr. Falk has accomplished a lot in his life - more than most do in ten lifetimes. And for that alone he deserves much respect. However, his commentary regarding FDR vs. our current president George W. Bush deserves some additional discussion and debate here.

FDR was supported by so many people despite his shortcomings and faults for the simple fact that 25% of America's working class (many were Jews) were impoverished from the Great Depression to the point of homelessness, starvation and lack of access to medical care. FDR braved the disapproval of his socioeconomic peers in taking swift and hard action to alleviate poverty with his "New Deal" programs which included the WPA (public jobs program to help the jobless), Social Security and Old Age Insurance Act, AFDC (for helping poor widows with children and women with children whose men abandoned them due to the extreme stresses of poverty from lack of jobs and lack of money), and the Unemployment Insurance act. FDR had in mind for a "chicken in every pot" , that no American should go hungry. He also pushed for the laws that put some restraints on irresponsible wealth-grabbing by enacting the laws to govern the activites of banks and brokerage houses. One of the most important of these laws were the SEC Act of 1933 which placed restrictions on certain risky investment tactics, such as short selling (selling shares of a stock you do not own in anticipation of a deep price dip and then buying the actual shares on the open market at the fallen price) without restriction which caused an escalating downward spiral in stock values, thereby contributing to the crash on "Black Tuesday" in 1929. FDR also enacted the Trading With the Enemy Act which penalized American corporations who collaborated with the Nazis during WW II. One firm, run by well-heeled men who are plutocrats was Brown Brothers & Harriman. Two thirds of the board of directors at Brwon Bros. & Harriman were super rich WASP males who were fraternity brothers in the controversal clique known as the Skull & Bones, an elite secret society at Yale.

Arravell Harriman and Prescott Bush (father of George H.W. Bush and grandfather of current president George W. Bush) were Bonesmen and senior partners in this corrupt Wall Street firm which was busted dead to right in the act of money laundering for the Nazis! FDR went after these men for their treasonous financial activites. Prescott Bush and his son and grandson are also eugenicists - like Charles Lindberg. It is no secret that Arravell Harriman and Prescott Bush and consequently their heirs unjustly benefitted immensely from a significant portion of Nazi gold - looted from murdered Jews and stolen from the few who miraculously survived! The current president Bush is outspoken against Israel's Islamofascist enemies like that crazy Iranian president calling for Israel's and America's destruction and taking a hard nosed approach in refusing to deal with HAMAS unless HAMAS recognizes and honors Israel's right to survive as a nation and as the Jewish people within that nation. That is good.  However  when this same president would see poor American Jewish seniors and poor Jewish women and children die out in the street for lack of access to adequate medical care, food and safe housing and economic support due to draconian budget cuts to fund the tax cuts for the richest 1%, one must see that this is not a good thing. As my Bubbe (grandmother) would say, "The acorn never falls far from it's tree". Do you really think a president and his political party who cares less if the laws he enacts causes the poor of any creed to suffer miserably from poverty and lack of access to medical care, dies prematurely out in the streets - has really learned to respect Jewish values such as The Jubilee Year, Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah?

Right now, things are not very good in America for the 48 million people lacking health insurance and the good jobs on which to afford to buy it. A growing number of Jewish poor is proof of an unacceptable poverty level that is growing by leaps and bounds. Without healthcare, one cannot get well or reverse tooth loss and other such ailments that serve to keep the poor and sick unemployable and unproductive. Many Jewish poor are middle-aged educated IT workers, mid-level managers and finance professionals who were shoved out of their jobs due to age discrimination and massive jobs off-shoring who are now forced to endure humiliating ceremonies in applying for Food Stamps, Medicaid and LIHEAP (which president Bush and his fellow Republicans have eviscerated while giving tax cuts to the super rich) which they are routinely being denied under the reauthorized welfare reform laws and current budget cuts to these programs. Many suffering are poor Jewish single mothers who fled abusive marriages or who under duress and coerscion, signed away their rights to child support and alimony under threat of being made agunot by greedy, cruel, manipulative men. Others are Jews with disabilities who cannot get good jobs on which to attain economic self-sufficiency - even if they acquired college educations at steep, unaffordable student loan debt in hopes of re-entering the workforce. Thus, countless poor Jewish children are being hurt by these cuts in social programs since there is even less of a safety net.

We  know more people are falling into poverty and that there are even far fewer jobs for all workers wanting and needing a job that pays enough to provide economic support to meet basic human needs. How much worse shape would we be in if not for things like Unemployment benefits and social security? Poor seniors who are barely surviving on meager social security checks would not even have that to live on, if not for FDR and his new Deal! If President Bush had his way, Social Security would be abolished yesterday, or eviscerated via privatization! Think about the kind of predicament that would leave America's poor women, children and senior citizens - it's frailest and most vulnerable people (many who also happen to be Holocaust survivors in Jewish communities throughout the US). While the more affluent in every Jewish community throughout the US can - and should - do more to provide economic and material support for their poor fellow Jews, there is no way they can compensate for what the government programs of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Food Stamps can accomplish should those programs be eliminated or rendered functionally impotent by the current administration and Congress.

In retrospect, FDR should have been chastised by the American Jewish community for failing to take a stubborn stand regarding the SS St. Louis and our current president and his rich Republican friends should not be stealing scraps of bread to give to those able to afford ample meat and drink! Since liberty, freedom and justice means nothing to someone who is starving, desperately poor and facing a 3.22 higher probability of dying  prematurely from lack of access to healthcare, it is not hard to understand why alot of Jews in FDR's day supported him and in the present do not support George Bush. He champions us in speaking out for Israel - the Jewish people as a whole - but we are also represented in the group of the extremely poor who suffer without having basic human needs met (and not necessarily because we lack credentials and college degrees to be worthy of good jobs!), suffering unjustly under his cuts in social programs. Just some food for thought.

Jacqueline S. Homan

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