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To be sure, Bergson wasn’t solely responsible for the enduring myths of Jewish inaction and Roosevelt’s guilt. Bergson created them, but later historians — Arthur Morse’s 1968 best-seller “While Six Million Died,” David Wyman’s “The Abandonment of the Jews” in 1984 — made them gospel. Neither scholar was a Jabotinskyite. They were merely optimistic Americans animated by the belief that every problem must have a solution.
Thanks partly to them, Bergsonism lives on. The inaction myth dominates American Jewish public discourse. The default assumption is that Roosevelt, who had more Jewish advisers than all previous presidents combined, was an anti-Semite, and his Republican opponents, who led the fight to keep America’s gates closed, were the Jews’ friends. A new generation of neo-Jabotinskyites, encouraged by successive right-wing Israeli governments, has emerged as permanent critics of their fellow Jews and their organizations. And presidents — especially Democratic ones and most especially the current one — are attacked with ever-growing frequency and intensity, continually accused of selling out the Jews. It’s always 1943.
It’s not healthy. It strains relations with the White House. It alienates young Jews from the community. And, like the Bergson attacks of yesteryear, it’s a lie.
So before we let 2013 go, let’s pause a moment to remember Lucy Dawidowicz and raise a glass of bubbly to her common sense.
Contact J.J. Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org