James G McDonald: Early Guardian of the Jewish State

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10 Responses

  1. Shmuel says:

    Thank you Rabbi Adlerstein.
    Richard Breitman was interviewed a few years back on a special Fox News segment. He (as one of the editors of the then-emerging book) argued that with this testimony of McDonald the debate between Intentionalists and Functionlists is effectively over. This conversation between H. and McDonald illustrates that the German dictator had in mind what unfolded, in varying stages, as the Holocaust at the very beginning.

  2. D K says:

    Wow, it’s so interesting to read about a non-Jew who cared so much more about Jews than the leaders of the Zionist movement themselves. Being that he was 1/2 German is even more of a Chiddush…

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    McDonald was an Ohev Yisrael in the Foreign Service where few made and still make their careers

  4. David Ohsie says:

    “The founding and early history of the State of Israel are best described as a series of improbabilities nestled on a bed of coincidences. Unless, of course, you are a believer, in which case reading about it is the study of Divine intervention in human affairs.”

    Would that it were so. Many believers seem to have a hard time believing that.

  5. Raymond says:

    I find it so remarkable when two people so closely related to one another, can see things entirely differently from one another, and are sometimes paradoxes within even themselves. Here we have Franklin Roosevelt, to whom credit must be given for helping to defeat the nazis, but at the same time had refused to bomb the tracks leading to Auschwitz and refused to meet with 100 Orthodox Rabbis descending on the White House to plead with him to save European Jewry. And yet at the same time, he was a distant relative to, and married to, Eleanor Roosevelt, whom I have heard was very much a philosemite. Even before they were married, they were distantly related to each other biologically, but far closer relatives involve the Kennedy and Bush families: Joseph Kennedy Sr was a notorious antisemite, and yet his son Robert was actually murdered because of his very strong support for Israel. And while George Bush Sr was to some extent hostile to Israel, his son George W has been an unwaveringly solid, good friend to us Jews. A rather chilling non-Jewish example of all this, is the case of the Booth family, in which John Wilkes Booth absolutely despised and of course tragically murdered Abraham Lincoln, while his brother Edwin was a strong supporter of this country’s greatest President. Moving on to the Torah, we see how utterly different Yishmael was from Yitzchak, despite having the exact same father…and what a father they had! Now, in the cases of the Kennedys, Bushes, and the case of Yishmael versus Yitzchak, it could be argued that what caused the difference were their mothers, but that does not explain the cases of the Booth family, nor of Ya’akov versus Eisav, who had the exact two same parents. Even if one says that Rivka having Lavan for a brother caused Eisav, then how was it that Ya’akov was what he was, whom some have even described as the greatest of all of our forefathers? In any case, too bad that Eleanor Roosevelt did not have more influence on her husband when it came to the Jews, although maybe it wasn’t from a lack of effort on her part.

  6. PHJ says:

    from R’ J B Solovechik on one end of the spectrum through the satmar rav on the other end, and including all of those in between, all of the great jewish thinkers alive at the time that the state of israel was founded felt that it was the result of blatant divine intervention. some saw it as the beginning of the geula, others as a comfort measure after the terrible punishment of the holocaust that g-d was forced to visit upon us. the satmar rav felt that it was a test, would the blandishments of a state undermine our loyalty to hashem. but no one questioned that it was a supernatural phenomenon. considering that just about every believing jew alive today is a follower of one of great leaders of post holocaust judaism, i am wondering where you find the many believers who have a hard time accepting that the state of israel was a result of ” Divine intervention in human affairs”.

    • Shmuel says:

      Please provide the source on this website that illustrates that the Satmar Rav ztl also understood it that way.

      • PHJ says:

        it’s been a number of years since i learned it, so i can’t give you the verbatim quotes with page numbers, but that was my impression from ויואל משה‎. inspired by your challenge, i did further research, and i will now concede that the satmar rav seems to have said conflicting things. sometimes he approached it as a divine test (ie the empowerment of evil in order to challenge us), but other times he seems to have said that we were fortunate that g-d did not perform miracles for the zionists; because if he had, the punishment that would be meted out to klal yisroel (for following zionism) and the difficulty of the test, would be much greater. my understanding is that he is drawing a distinction between nes nistar (divine intervention that appears to be part of the natural order) vs nes nigla (divine intervention that appears to conflict with the natural order). i will concede however, that one who wants to claim that the satmar rav denies explicit divine intervention (beyond the usual divine running of the world) in the founding of the zionist state, can find the quotations to support that position. therefore i will amend my above comment to read “from R’ J B Solovechik on one end of the spectrum up to and possibly even including the satmar rav on the other end, and including all of those in between…”
        thank you for your point

  7. D K says:

    Well said. When i read David Ohsie’s comment i was wondering the same thing. But i think that he was coming from the erroneous assumption that “Divine intervention in human affairs” means that the State was divinely ordained as the new leaders of Klal Yisroel and the invention of a new, Kochi V’Otzam Yadi, “Macabee-Jew”. Since Torah true Jews do not believe in this notion, we automatically dispose of such nonsense, lending some to believe that we think that the State did not come into being with Yad Hashem.

  8. Shmuel says:


    Your clarification and decision to revisit your presentation are increasingly uncommon and appreciated.

    My initial reading of your post led me to misunderstand that you were positing Heavenly intervention of a positive kind, even to the Satmar Rov. Given his famous saying that the events of the Six Day War were מעשה שטן it was very difficult to understand how he would have seen a positive יד השם in the events of 1948.

    Thank you.

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