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The Eichmann Trial and American Jewry: A Reassessment

Filed under: Israel, World Jewry
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review 19:1-2 (Spring 2007)

The Eichmann trial had an impact on American Jewry as well as on Israel. The debates on the court proceedings raised the issue of the allegedly exiled status of Diaspora Jews. Some Zionist intellectuals interpreted the post-Holocaust emergence of a Jewish state in terms of a redemptive vision of history. However, for a segment of organized American Jewry, the new economic, social, and cultural opportunities available to Jews had rendered ambiguous the connection between the Shoah and the emergence of a Jewish state that was supposed to represent them. In light of the trial, some American Jews shifted the focus from Israel to a Jewish identity linked to the memory of the Shoah. This stance was congruent with the ethnic atmosphere of the 1960s.

The Eichmann Trial and the Public Sphere

The Eichmann trial that began on 11 April 1961 is often considered a turning point regarding the memory of the Holocaust, as if within eight months it caused its internalization. In fact, the internalization process was gradual. Nevertheless, the trial not only affected Israel but American Jewry as well. It indirectly raised the issues of exile and Jewish identity in the Jewish discourse.

The trial’s impact in the United States was linked to the acrimonious public debate sparked by Hannah Arendt’s five-part series on the proceedings that originally appeared in The New Yorker from 16 February to 16 March 1963.[1] Thousands of articles, in the Jewish press and elsewhere, were published on the Nazi officer from his capture in May 1960 till the end of the trial in August 1961.[2]

For the first time in Israel, which counted some half a million Holocaust survivors, the voice of these “remnants of European Jewry” was literally heard in the public sphere. There was a rush on sales of transistor radios. Until then, survivors had spoken of what they had endured but without public impact.[3] The trial, however, marked a change in which, as historian Anita Shapira noted, “the Shoah became the issue of the survivors in particular and that of the people of Israel as a whole.”[4]”

The historian recalls Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s Independence Day speech on Israeli radio on 12 April 1961, in which he stated the two cardinal events of the year: the discovery of the remains of fighters of the Bar Kochba Rebellion in the Judean Desert, and the Eichmann trial. The first, Shapira observes, concerns a free, proud people defending itself on its own land, whereas the second concerns a vulnerable minority facing aggression in the Galut (a biblical term meaning exile or captivity). Shapira persuasively argues that the year 1961 marks the declining impact of the former element on the Israeli ethos and the rising salience of the latter.[5] Indeed, the trial had a formative significance.[6]

Until then, the Israeli attitude was fraught with stereotypes linked to the theological category of Galut (of which Golah is a synonym). In the Bible, these terms referred exclusively to groups of exiled Jews in Babylon. The term Galut acquired a more general connotation of exiled or wandering Jews only after the destruction of the Second Temple. As time passed, Golah became a synonym of the Greek word diaspora (dispersion), meaning any country outside the Land of Israel where Jews lived.

Furthermore, it was slavery in Egypt that became the paradigm for Galut in rabbinical thought.[7] Israeli sociologist Oz Almog defines what he terms the “ethos of disqualification of exile”: “This image of the Jew of exile who is physically and psychologically fragile, opposed to the Sabra, healthy and strong was anchored in the pioneer ethos.”[8] An April 1961 article in the American Jewish magazine Jewish Frontier noted that:

muddled conceptions formed by young Israelis [were] fed by stories picked up from neighbors, newspapers, the radio and trials of former kapos in Israel…. To many a sabra-born youth these reports of Jews who were as bad as the torturers of their own people give them the uneasy feeling that there must have been something very wrong with the Jews of Europe.[9]

At the same time, the moving testimonies heard at the trial triggered a process of identification, especially for those who currently had relatives in Europe. The trial enhanced Jewish awareness by connecting the past of millions of Jewish victims with the present of Jewish life in Israel. The hitherto-rejected Diaspora became linked to the Zionist state, and a spate of books on the Shoah and Jewish life in Europe were published in Israel.[10] As historian Hanna Yablonka put it: “There began a process of seeing Israel no longer as an isolated entity but as the continuation of the Diaspora.”[11]

Political Boundaries between Israel and American Jewry

Nevertheless, the question of political boundaries between the Jewish state and the Diaspora particularly concerned the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which had played a major role in Israel’s birth. Indeed, the AJC had officially endorsed partition as a means to ameliorate the plight of Displaced Persons awaiting resettlement in European DP camps. It had also launched an educational campaign in 1947 to gain sympathy both for DPs and for the Jewish state. As Naomi W. Cohen notes in her history of the AJC, even before Israel’s establishment the organization had sought and received assurance from the Jewish Agency that there would be no interference in American Jewish affairs. Yet, despite repeated promises to this effect by Israeli officials, “the Committee continued to weigh all Israeli statements which might be construed as negating the possibility of a full Jewish life in the Diaspora.”[12]

For the AJC there was no questioning the viability of the American Diaspora, and in no way did it constitute exile. Although anti-Semitism in the 1920s and even in the 1940s had made American Jews feel insecure, in the eyes of organized American Jewry physical dispersion and minority status were not problematic on American soil. America, the land of immigrants, the “refuge for the oppressed,” was an exception, even more so after the Shoah.

As the American Jewish organizations saw it, this benignity was proved by Eleanor Roosevelt’s attitude toward European refugees and by President Harry S. Truman’s December 1945 directive admitting DPs while giving priority to “those who had suffered the most,” orphans in particular.[13] His efforts to admit DPs, though limited by a reluctant Congress, eventually culminated in the 1948 Displaced Persons Act, amended in 1950. Yet, as Truman himself admitted, this law indirectly discriminated against Jewish DPs.

Three of the law’s provisions were interpreted as anti-Semitic. First, only individuals who had been granted DP status by 22 December 1945 could be considered for admission to the United States. This excluded a large number of Jews who had entered Germany or returned to DP camps after being repatriated to their countries of origin only to find that their families had been annihilated and that they were still unwanted. A second discriminatory provision stipulated that at least 40 percent of the DPs should come from “annexed areas,” where there had been many collaborators with the Nazis and few Jews were left after the war. A third provision granted at least 30 percent of the visas to people “engaged in agricultural pursuits.” Although this reflected American agriculture’s need for labor, it indirectly discriminated Jews who mostly were urban dwellers.

Furthermore, anti-Semites tried to capitalize on the Jewish involvement in the fight over immigration, particularly regarding the Displaced Persons act. These anti-Semites joined forces with “restrictionists,” who opposed more liberal immigration laws and with isolationists.[14]

Nevertheless, the new state of Israel gave repeated assurances that it would not impose its views on the Diaspora. Yet in 1949, when there were reports that Ben-Gurion had called for large-scale aliyah (emigration to Israel) by American Jewish youth, the AJC reacted. Jacob Blaustein, chairman of the AJC’s executive committee, wrote to Ben-Gurion to remind him of his assurance of noninterference in American Jewish Affairs. Judge Joseph Proskauer, a prominent Democrat whose involvement with the AJC dated from the rise of Hitler, favored a clear-cut ultimatum threatening dissociation from the state of Israel.

Negotiations culminated in an “entente” in 1950, with Ben-Gurion making a statement that American Jews were not in exile.[15] In other words, the ingathering of exiles in the Land of Israel should not apply to them even though Israel’s Law of Return (1950) granted automatic citizenship to all Jews who came with immigrant visas.

Indeed, in April 1961 as the Eichmann trial was beginning, Blaustein and Ben-Gurion reaffirmed the 1950 agreement in a joint statement, affirming that “Israel would in no way interfere in the internal affairs of American Jews and [would] defin[e] immigration to Israel as a voluntary act based on individual choice.”[16] Earlier, in December 1960, Ben-Gurion had violated the principles of the “entente” by stating to the 25th Zionist Congress that Jews living outside Israel were infracting the precepts of Judaism and that in prosperous lands Judaism “faces the kiss of death, a slow and imperceptible decline into the abyss of assimilation.”[17]

 The Eichmann trial gave new resonance to such notions as the voices of the “victims of assimilation in Europe.” were heard in public. Yet many American Jews did not want to view their situation in the theological terms of Galut because of the negative ramifications. These concerns echoed the “ongoing internal Jewish debate over the propriety and efficacy of Zionism.”[18] Reflection on Jewish history could lead to different paradigms, whether rooted in the concept of Galut or the more neutral Diaspora (physical dispersion). Each of the two approaches not only has implications for ideological choices but also for the study of Jewish history, in which the Eichmann trial appears retrospectively as a turning point.

In examining these opposing historiographic camps-one represented by Ben Zion Dinur (Dinaburg), Israeli education minister from 1951 to 1955, and the other by American Jewish historian Salo Baron and his disciples-historian David Engel highlighted what has long been at stake in Jewish history. Baron emphasized the idea of a “Jewish people” transcending its geographical dispersion. For Dinur, however, “the catastrophe that befell European Jews was inherent in their exilic conditions.”[19] Although Dinur, as far as is known, did not write about the Eichmann trial,[20] his outlook was (typically) Israeli.

Repercussions in the United States

In the United States, the trial marked the first time that both Jews and non-Jews participated in a controversy over Jewish memory. The AJC, concerned about anti-Semitic manifestations, collected every article on the trial that appeared in the non-Jewish press. It was feared that Arendt’s exposure of the dubious role of the Judenrat would fuel anti-Jewish feelings.[21]

The capture and trial of Eichmann trial also raised the question of Christian complicity in the Shoah. To thwart potential hostility to American Jewry or anti-Semitic propaganda, in December 1961 the Protestant World Council of Churches condemned anti-Semitism and stated that the existing Jewish people were not responsible for Christ’s death.

Diaspora Jews frequently wonder whether national or international events are “good for the Jews.” Indeed, on hearing of Eichmann’s kidnapping by three Israeli agents in a Buenos Aires suburb, Argentine Jewish leaders feared that public opinion would turn against Israel and Jews for this violation of Argentina’s sovereignty.[22] As historian Arthur Hertzberg noted in his memoirs:

the Eichmann trial had put the Holocaust at the center of the Jewish agenda, but the dominant issue in American society as a whole was the matter of race. . . . For the first time in all their history in America, Jews were not a problem; they were not the object of racial hatred. On the contrary, they were now among the problem solvers. This was a transforming moment in the life of the Jews of America.[23]

For American Jewish leaders, the Eichmann trial underlined the importance of assisting Israel in its development. Philanthropy, as a mainstream American practice, was felt to testify to American Jews’ success as expressed in the title of Norman Podhoretz’s autobiography,Making It.[24]

In August 1961, the Bn’ai Brit Messenger reported on a visit to Israel by a leader of the Los Angeles Jewish community, Victor Tabah, and his wife. The latter, describing the Eichmann trial to the Women’s Division of the American Technion Society, Los Angeles Chapter, recounted: “For the first time I truly participated in the tragedy that had happened to our people. Listening to Eichmann, I became physically ill, but more firmly determined to do everything possible to help build Israel for the dignity and safety of our people.”[25]

Here, the cathartic effect of the trial inspires an overstatement of having “participated” in the Shoah. The notion of the Jewish people is reinforced beyond the geographical and temporal boundaries.

Israel’s abduction, prosecution, and execution of Eichmann sparked a worldwide legal and moral debate in addition to the Jewish controversy over these issues.[26] For its part, the American Jewish community concentrated on the question of Jewish identity. American Jewish intellectuals focused especially on their relationship to their Jewish origins and on Israel’s right to judge the Nazi criminal in the name of the Jewish people throughout the world. Most American Jews favored Eichmann’s prosecution by the Jewish state.

A notable exception was Oscar Handlin, professor of American history at Harvard, who considered the abduction and trial an attempt by Israel to impose its views on the Diaspora.[27] Handlin expressed his ideas in publications of the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism.

Some of the pro-Zionists published their pieces in Jewish Frontier. In an article called “Eichmann and american Jewry,” Marie Syrkin, daughter of the socialist-Zionist leader Nahman Syrkin, responded to Handlin by emphasizing that the Nazis perceived the Jews as a people even though they were dispersed around the globe. The state of Israel, therefore, was perfectly entitled to represent Jewish interests. In her view, prosecuting Eichmann did not endanger the status of Jews in the United States or other countries because they belonged both to the world Jewish collective and to their own civil entities.[28]

In that respect, historian Abraham J. Edelheit suggests that the extermination of European Jewry transformed Zionism “from one element in the Jewish polity to the central element in all surviving Jewish communities.”[29] Zionism assumed a new meaning in the United States as a “solution” for persecuted Jews. It provided a refuge in which survivors could both rebuild their own lives and contribute to the building of the state.[30]

Genocide and Questions of Identity

The massive media coverage of the trial-on radio in Israel and on television in the United States-affected perceptions of the Shoah.

The year 1961 was not without anti-Semitic incidents in the United States. At the same time, interest in ethnicity linked to the civil rights movement had made Jewishness as respectable as any other particularism. Those who nurtured anti-Jewish feelings not only exploited the fear of communism but joined both the opposition to the civil rights movement and the Arab-sponsored anti-Israeli campaign.

 For a community of Holocaust survivors in New Orleans that comprised about fifty families, 1961 was not only the year of the Eichmann trial. It was also that of the hate campaign of the neo-Nazi agitator George Lincoln Rockwell, who led a picket against the local premiere of the movie Exodus. Released that year, the film symbolized the connection between the Shoah and the emergence of Israel. Jewish and non-Jewish media reported Rockwell’s tactics in detail: his Nazi uniform and salute, dogs named after concentration camps, his proposal to send American Jews to gas chambers, and the counterdemonstrations that were held.[31]

Although the AJC and leaders of the New Orleans Jewish community decided to ignore Rockwell, the community of survivors could not help responding to the sudden intrusion of Nazism with reawakened memories and fears. Historian Lawrence N. Powell noted that the passivity of the national Jewish organizations “harmonized perfectly with their assimilationist desire to avoid controversy-indeed, to keep the word ‘Jew’ or ‘Jewish’ off the front page.”[32] That mindset was often linked to the desire to succeed in America without drawing attention to any peculiarities of the Jewish condition.

Interesting in this context is the symposium on “Jewishness and the Younger Intellectuals” that was published by the AJC’s magazine Commentary in April 1961, the month the Eichmann trial began. Editor Norman Podhoretz wanted to know why the most accomplished American Jewish writers had not deemed it urgent to address the issue of the Shoah. In his introduction Podhoretz cited the factors likely to have fostered a change in Jewish self-definition since Word War II: “the eclipse of radicalism, the rise of religiosity, the emergence of Israel, the end of anti-Semitism in the public culture of the United States and the access to the higher socio-economic echelons and to culture.”[33]

However, only two of the thirty-one participants acknowledged  the impact of the genocide on their own lives.[34] Podhoretz, for his part, wrote in 1967 that the Shoah had demonstrated the “inescapability of Jewishness.”[35]

The television broadcast of the trial, however, and especially the bitter Jewish controversy over Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem,[36] forced the Jewish intelligentsia out of their silence on the Shoah. Irving Howe characterized their first response to “the Jewish catastrophe” as a “cry of Jewish grief.” He said of Arendt’s book: “Overwhelming. I cannot think of anything since then that has harassed me as much except perhaps the Vietnam War. You might say that it was a tacit recompense for our previous failure to respond.”[37] The sense of guilt and awareness of a lost world led Howe to edit several volumes of Jewish literature and to write World of Our Fathers, his book on the working-class American Jewish immigrant generation.[38]

It was during the court proceedings that American television used the word Holocaust for the first time as a translation of the Hebrew word Shoah uttered by prosecuting attorney Gideon Hausner. The persecution and extermination of the Jews of Europe was now perceived as a distinct chapter of the larger narrative of World War II,[39] which had not been the case in the Nuremberg Trials in 1945. Day by day, the courtroom proceedings demonstrated the indifference, hostility, and brutality of most European countries in which Jews were citizens. The American Jewish journalist Paul Jacobs, in an article in the Zionist magazine Midstreamtitled “Eichmann and Jewish Identity,” used the phrase “anti-Gentile trauma”[40] regarding Israel’s suspicious attitude toward the Gentile world.[41]

Jacobs, who had been estranged from his Jewish origins, found himself suspecting that non-Jewish Americans had always considered him first and foremost a Jew.[42] This sudden awareness of the inescapability of the Jewish condition through the cathartic event of the Eichmann trial is somewhat reminiscent of Herzl’s epiphany about the Jewish plight. It seems that the powerful “no exit” feeling of the court proceedings stirred up repressed thoughts.

Jacobs admitted that before the trial he had resented the suspicious Israeli attitude. Now he had lost all his certitudes: “Now too, because of the trial there are wisps of uneasiness inside me about my identity, a sense of malaise I never felt before I began sitting in the Eichmann courtroom. Now I have started to wonder if the American Gentile world has always regarded me as a Jew who is also incidentally an American.” He concludes the article: “I shall certainly be troubled until I find out.”[43]

Irving Howe called the Eichmann controversy “a civil war that broke out among New York intellectuals.”[44] It was waged especially in the pages of Partisan Review, Midstream, and Commentary.

The Trial and the Intellectuals’ Jewishness

The trial’s impact was painful for American Jews in two ways. First, together with Arendt’s accusations in The New Yorker, it opened difficult issues for them about the tensions between American and Jewish identity-even though it dealt with Europeans-and between particularism and universalism. Second, as noted, the trial evoked the sensitive subject of how others regarded them as Americans and as Jews.

Arendt argued that the destruction of the Jews would have been less effective and massive if the Jewish communities in Europe had not cooperated by, for instance, providing lists of names. She accused them of complicity rather than helplessness. Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg reacted: “This charge aroused much attention and fury. Arendt was charging the Jews with complicity in their own destruction. She showed little mercy for their powerlessness under the Nazis.”[45]

Daniel Bell was the first New York intellectual to publicly express the trial’s implication that the Jews’ historical experience contained the essence of their collective identity, regardless of whether or not the individual was subject to the experience. For Bell, the existentialimpact of the Shoah as recounted by the survivors was reminiscent of the revelation on Mount Sinai.[46] Bell concluded: “This is the question raised when one realizes that one does not stand alone, that the past is still present, and that there are responsibilities of participation even when the community of which one is a part is a community woven by the thinning strands of memory.”[47]

The “Illusion of Belonging”[48] and Zionist Identity in Displaced Persons Camps

Concurrently, Syrkin focused on the issue of the Jewish displaced persons. She used this example to reflect on Zionist identity as a component of Jewish identity. She returned to the issue of the DP camps in 1961 as part of her polemic against Handlin.

In the immediate postwar period, officials and journalists visiting the DP camps had become aware of the tragedy of destitute displaced Jews waiting for a visa to emigrate to a new place and rebuild their shattered lives. First came the revelations of the Harrison Report about the DPs’ plight. Earl Harrison, dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a member of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, confirmed the alarming accounts of Jewish organizations about the European camps. Judge Proskauer, for his part, reacted to the camps by declaring himself a Zionist. Accordingly, the AJC changed its non-Zionist position early in 1948.[49]

 As for Syrkin, she had visited the DP camps in 1947 and helped  their inhabitants by staying with them and interviewing them for her reports.[50] For her, they represented the Zionist principle of Jewish homelessness. What she called “the illusion of belonging” was especially felt in the Zionist atmosphere of the Hebrew-speaking DP school, which she called a “retreat” and an “extension of Palestine.” Outside the camp the displaced Jews could again sense the harsh reality of “hostile Germany.”[51]

Where did the homeless want to rebuild their lives? Most questionnaires distributed to the DPs stated Palestine as a first and sometimes only destination.[52] Syrkin does not mention the DPs who wanted to join family members in the United States or elsewhere or who simply felt too exhausted to take part in building a new country. She was right, however, in asserting that a Zionist atmosphere prevailed in most DP camps immediately after the Shoah.[53] As she put it: “the chief and sustaining hope of the Jewish survivors was Palestine whose citizens they aspired to be…. the children dreamt of Palestine [and] the slogan blazoned on the classroom walls was Baderech (‘on the way’).”[54]

Homelessness had, indeed, long been a distinctive feature of Jewish identity. As conceived by Herzl, Zionism was a means of regaining Jewish independence and dignity as well as a revolt against the passive acceptance of exile.[55]

In Israeli historian Yosef Gorny’s view, the Jews as a group have no other real identity than the one conferred by their presumed relationship to Israel:

Since world Jewry is now crisscrossed by divisions between religious and secular Jews, between various religious streams, between groups of different cultural background, between those living in a sovereign Jewish state and those who are equal citizens of other countries, it is the link between Israel and the Diaspora which confers collective identity on this multiform entity.[56]

The bitter debates inspired by the Eichmann trial also led Syrkin to posit two related entities to which Diaspora Jews belonged: the Jewish people dispersed all over the world, and their own countries of residence. In her reply to Handlin, therefore, she asserted that this case of Israel speaking for the Jewish people did not entail interference in the affairs of the American Diaspora in particular or the Diaspora in general.

 In historical perspective, four elements have to varying degrees shaped contemporary Jewish identity at least in the two major communities, the United States and Israel: the Shoah, the DP camps in the immediate post-Shoah period, the emergence of the Jewish state, and the Eichmann trial. It is tempting to simplify by saying that through the prism of the glass booth where the Nazi officer sat, the two main vectors of the collective Jewish identity either diverged or converged: the memory of the Shoah and the emergence of Israel.

For some Jews, and for most survivors who had chosen to live in Palestine/Israel, the “lesson” of the Shoah was the necessity of Israel.[57] This was underlined by the restrictive immigration and absorption policies of the few countries that were willing to accept the remnants of European Jewry. For other survivors who settled in the United States and even more for American Jewry at large, the link was more questionable. Factors of social mobility, ethnic pride, and acculturation played a significant role. Although American sociologists diagnosed an identity crisis among American Jewry in the 1960s, the Six Day War was a turning point that reinforced Jewish identity in relation to Israel.[58]

In 1961, Syrkin emphasized the precariousness of the Jewish condition.[59] Already in the late 1940s, she had demonstrated it with her descriptions of the DP camps. The general American press, too, had covered them with much empathy since 1945 and had often presented the Zionist choice as a means to overcome homelessness and powerlessness.[60]

To an extent, however, Eichmann’s abduction by Israelis in 1960 and his trial by an Israeli court in 1961 exemplified the Jewish emergence from powerlessness. In the larger Jewish context, these two events are paradigmatic of the passage from slavery to independence.[61]

The trial also paved the way for various ideological uses of the memory of the Shoah in the United States and in Israel. The fear of extermination engendered by the Six Day War among survivors, Israelis in general, and Diaspora communities was accentuated by the memory of the trial and its evocations of powerlessness. The two main vectors of Jewish identity converged: the memory of the Shoah and the state of Israel, even if the focus had moved toward the latter.

*     *     *




[1] Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Viking Press, 1963); Randolph L. Braham, The Eichmann Case: A Source Book (New York: World Federation of Hungarian Jews, 1969), 141-74. The controversy has been analyzed in several studies; see Elizabeth Young-Bruehl, Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1984), 347-78. See also a detailed account in Richard I. Cohen, “Breaking the Code: Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: Myth, Memory and Historical Imagination,” in Michael  (Tel Aviv: Diaspora Research Institute, Tel Aviv University), 30-85. Cohen shows that Arendt’s book “moved many in the controversy to acknowledge that the history of the Holocaust needed to be written with greater circumspection and sensitivity in regard to internal Jewish themes” (84). The publication in 1965 of a book by Jacob Robinson, And the Crooked Shall Be Made Straight (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America), marked the exhaustion of the Arendt controversy at that point.

[2] See “Newspapers and General Magazines,” American Jewish Year Book, Vol. 63 (New York: American Jewish Committee), 1962), 85.

[3] Anita Shapira, Land and Power: The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881-1948 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999 [1992]), 321.

[4] Anita Shapira, “Hannah Arendt et Haim Gouri: Deux perceptions du procès Eichmann,”Revue d’Histoire de la Shoah, No. 182 (2005): 301-23.  [French]

[5] Ibid., 302.

[6] Yosef Gorny, Between Auschwitz and Jerusalem (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2003), 17-51.

[7] Geoffrey Wigoder and Sylvie Anne Goldberg, eds., Dictionnaire encyclopédique du judaïsme (Paris: Les éditions du Cerf, Paris, 1993), 425. [French]

[8] Oz Almog, The Sabra: A Portrait (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1997), quoted in Shapira, “Hannah Arendt.” See also an analysis of the concept of “negation of exile” in Shapira, Land and Power, 321, and of the image of the “sheep to the slaughter,” 342.

[9] Ilana David, “Eichmann and the Young Israeli,” Jewish Frontier, April 1961, 7.

[10] Hanna Yablonka, The State of Israel vs. Adolf Eichmann (New York: Schocken Books, 2004), 165.

[11] Ibid., 166.

[12] Naomi W. Cohen, Not Free to Desist: The American Jewish Committee, 1906-1966(Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1972), 309-15.

[13] Official file 127, Displaced Persons Act of 1948, box 554, Harry S. Truman Library, Independence, MO.

[14] Francoise S. Ouzan, “Antisemitism in the US at the End of the War and in Its Aftermath: Attitudes towards Displaced Persons,” Antisemitism Worldwide, 2003-2004, 58-60.

[15] Naomi W. Cohen, Not Free to Desist, 312.

[16] Ibid., 315.

[17] Ibid., 314.

[18] David Engel, “On Studying Jewish History in Light of the Holocaust,” Maurice and Corinne Greennberg Inaugural Lecture, USHMM Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Washington, DC, 16 April 2002, 7.

[19] Ibid., 12.

[20] Arielle Rein, “The Historian as a Nation Builder: Ben Tsion Dinur’s Evolution and Enterprise (1884-1948),” doctoral dissertation, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, December 2000. [Hebrew]

[21] “Newspapers and General Magazines,” 85.

[22] Ibid., 547.

[23] Arthur Hertzberg, A Jew in America: My Life and a People’s Struggle for Identity (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2002), 267.

[24] Norman Podhoretz, Making It (New York: Random House, 1967).

[25] “Victor Tabah’s Visit: Technion and Nazi Trial,” Bn’ai Brit Messenger, 18 August 1961 (microfilms).

[26] Gorny, Between Auschwitz and Jerusalem, 17.

[27] Ibid., 21-23.

[28] Marie Syrkin, “Eichmann and American Jewry (A Reply to Oscar Handlin),” Jewish Frontier, May 1961.

[29] Abraham J. Edelheit, “The Holocaust and the Rise of Israel: A Reassessment Reassessed,” Jewish Political Studies Review, Vol. 12, Nos. 1-2 (2000): 97.

[30] Eleven personal interviews of Shoah survivors conducted by the author in Israel from September 2002 to June 2006.

[31] Zander Hollander, “Fiasco for a Fuehrer,” ADL Bulletin, April 1959, 7; “Rockwell: The Road to Nowhere?” ADL Bulletin, April 1961, 6; Lynne Ianniello, “Rockwell on the Campus,”ADL Bulletin, April 1963, 6-7; Michael McGovern, “The Problems of a Fuehrer,” ADL Bulletin, November 1966. The author is grateful to Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, for making these documents available.

[32] Lawrence N. Powell, “When Hate Came to Town: New Orleans’s Jews and George Lincoln Rockwell,” American Jewish History, Vol. 85, No. 4 (1997): 5. See also Lyne Ianniello, “Rockwell on the Campus: An Interesting Phenomenon for Some Students, a Source of Derision for Others,” ADL Bulletin, April 1963.

[33] Quoted in Stephen Whitfield, “The Holocaust and the American Jewish Intellectual,”Judaism, Vol. 28, No. 112 (1979): 394.

[34] Ibid. The two intellectuals were the novelist Barbara Probst Solomon and the sociologist Elihu Katz.

[35] Podhoretz, Making It, 118-22.

[36] See note 1.

[37] Quoted in Edward S. Shapiro, We Are Many: Reflections on American Jewish History and Identity (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2005), 73.

[38] Irving Howe, “The Range of the New York Intellectual,” in Bernard Rosenberg and Ernest Goldstein, eds., Creators and Disturbers: Reminiscences by Jewish Intellectuals of New York(New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 285-86, quoted in ibid.

[39] Jeffrey Shandler, While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 83-84.

[40]  Paul Jacobs, “Eichmann and Jewish Identity,” Midstream, Summer 1961, 35.

[41] Ibid., 34.

[42] Ibid., 38

[43] Ibid., 36-37.

[44] Irving Howe, A Margin of Hope: An Intellectual Autobiography (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982), 290.

[45] Hertzberg, A Jew in America, 266.

[46] Daniel Bell, “Reflections on Jewish Identity,” Commentary, June 1961, 476.

[47] Ibid., 478.

[48] Syrkin, “Eichmann and American Jewry,” 10.

[49] Edelheit, “The Holocaust and the Rise of Israel,” 108.

[50] Marie Syrkin, “DP Schools,” Jewish Frontier, March 1948, 14-19. Syrkin found that in the sixty-six Jewish schools in the American zone of Germany in 1947, it was common for the children to dream of Palestine. Although most teachers were DPs, a corps of one hundred teachers were brought from Palestine by the Jewish organization ORT. Archives of the DP camps kept by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Jerusalem show that the Joint, too, sent teachers from Palestine to teach in these camps.

[51] Syrkin, “Eichmann and American Jewry,” 10.

[52] Memo of DP Office of the US Army, US Zone of Occupation of Germany to the Anglo-American Committee, February 1946, YIVO, DPG 54.

[53] One among numerous examples is Third Report by Myriam Warburg, Föhrenwald Hospital, 15 November 1945, Central Zionist Archives, S26/1303.

[54] Syrkin, “Eichmann and American Jewry,” 10.

[55] Robert S. Wistrich, “Theodore Herzl entre mystique et politique,” Perspectives, revue de l’Universite hebraïque de Jerusalem, No. 11, Terrres promises (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2004), 63-85. [French]

[56] Yosef Gorny, The State of Israel in Jewish Public Thought (London: Macmillan, 1994),

[57] Personal  interviews conducted by the author with Prof. Israel Gutman, 23 July 2003 (Jerusalem) and Prof. Yosef Gorny, 27 February 2004 (Tel Aviv).

[58] Nathan Glazer, American Judaism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988). In French translation: Les Juifs américains (Paris: Calmann Lévy, 1972), 272.

[59] Syrkin, “Eichmann and American Jewry.”

[60] E.g., Lawrence Lader, “The Road from Buchenwald,” New Republic, 20 September 1948, 16-19. This is an account of a kibbutz founded by concentration-camp survivors who had reached Palestine via the underground. Today it is Kibbutz Netzer Sereni.

[61] In the DP camps the Passover Seder took on new resonance. See Françoise Ouzan, “Rebuilding Jewish Identities in Displaced Persons Camps in Germany (1945-1957),” Bulletin du Centre de Recherche Français de Jérusalem, No. 14 (2004): 98-111. The author is grateful to the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah for support for research on Holocaust survivors.