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This is first-rate research from two of the foremost experts on modern American Jewish history. It is also storytelling at its best. Medoff and Wentling uncover a hidden history of how it was in fact Republicans, led by Herbert Hoover, who first made a concerted effort to organize the American Jewish vote. Benzion Netanyahu, the current Israeli Prime Minister's father was instrumental in reaching out to U.S. politicians to support the Jewish people living in Israel and their eventual statehood. In an election year, this has some useful and timely lessons about how Republicans could appeal to more Jewish voters. This is a terrific book. A must read for anyone interested in the role of Jews in the U.S. political system.
I believe Wentling wrote this book as a response to the pressure put on career academics to publish. Her part of the book details Hoover's early history. She has found every statement, phrase, and nuance that could conceivably be determined to be favorable to Jews and she has cataloged it here. Hoover was a Quaker. He came from a tradition of charity, humanitarianism, and tolerance for minorities and the creeds of others. He found like minded people among the wealthy Jews. During his work as head of the ARA which distributed food to Europeans starving after WWI, he found like minded wealthy Jews like Felix Warburg and Marshall. The Jewish Joint Distribution Committee funded much of the work done by the ARA. I doubt he ever met a Jew until he became an adult. He probably never shared a meal with a Jew until he began working with the ARA. Hoover was an engineer who made his money in mining. He was a self made man and he believed in the importance of persistence and hard work. He also believed in volunteerism and good organization. As part of his tradition of tolerance Hoover urged European countries to put a stop to the pogroms and other discrimination against their Jewish communities. The actions he took to foster religious tolerance in Europe did not produce much fruit, but he did try. However, the book also glosses over the fact that as president he appointed an anti-Semite named Stinson as his secretary of state. The assistant secretary of state was also anti-Semitic. Further,Hoover supported the new immigration quotas which were designed to fall most heavily on Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia, the Ukraine, Poland and other Eastern European nations. It should be pointed out that both Warburg and Marshall also supported the restrictive quotas for their own personal reasons.Read more ›
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