Israel Resource Review 7th July, 2004


When Marlin Brando Spoke Up for the Jews
Rafael Medoff
David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

Marlon Brando deserves to be remembered not only for his theatrical accomplishments, but also as one of the first public figures in post-World War II America to speak out about the failure of the Allies to aid Europe's Jews during the Holocaust.

Brando's platform was the Broadway stage.

In the summer of 1946, barely a year after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, 22-year-old Brando co-starred in A Flag Is Born, an explosive play authored by Ben Hecht, the famed Hollywood screenwriter and Jewish activist. Set in a cemetery in postwar Europe, Flag focuses on two elderly Holocaust survivors, Tevya (Paul Muni) and Zelda (Celia Adler), who encounter Brando's character, a distraught young Treblinka survivor named David who is on his way to British-ruled Palestine.

Through the conversations between Tevya and David, Hecht articulates the Jewish right to the Holy Land and the need for a Jewish state.

The Allies' failure to rescue Jews from Hitler is one of the play's underlying themes. As the story begins, the narrator declares: "Out of his burning houses, out of his crematoriums and lime pits, the Jew of Europe looked on a murderer called the German. But beyond this murder face of the German were other nation-faces to be seen-dim and watchful faces whose silence was a brother of murder . . . When the six million were murdered in the furnaces and gas chambers of the German, these cries were in their throats: 'Where is Humanity? Where is the goodness of man that we helped create? Where are my friends?'"

During the play, Brando's character denounces the Allies' silence while the Nazis "made a garbage pile of my people." He also raises pointed questions about the response of Jews in the Free World.

One of the most memorable scenes has Brando's character addressing the Jews of the United States and Great Britain. Beginning in a quiet voice and then growing louder, Brando demands: "Where were you, Jews? . . . You Jews of America! You Jews of England! . . . Where was your cry of rage that could have filled the world and stopped the fires? Nowhere! Because you were ashamed to cry out as Jews."

The accusation "sent chills through the audience," Brando later recalled. At some performances, "Jewish girls got out of their seats and screamed and cried from the aisles in sadness, and at one, when I asked, 'Where were you when six million Jews were being burned to death in the ovens of Auschwitz?,' a woman was so overcome with anger and guilt that she rose and shouted back at me, 'Where were you?' . . . At the time there was a great deal of soul-searching within the Jewish community over whether they had done enough to stop the slaughter of their people - some argued that they should have applied pressure on President Roosevelt to bomb Auschwitz, for example-so the speech touched a sensitive nerve."

The words Brando spoke in the play were written by Hecht, but Brando shared the playwright's assessment of how the world responded to the Holocaust. In his memoirs, Brando describes how he learned about Jewish issues from Hecht and especially from his acting coach, Stella Adler. He quickly developed a strong sympathy for their cause, and performed in A Flag is Born at the minimum actors' guild wage as a gesture of solidarity.

And Brando championed the Jewish cause offstage, as well. Hecht and Adler were active in the American League for a Free Palestine, better known as the Bergson Group (after its leader, Peter Bergson), which sponsored the play and, after ten weeks on Broadway, staged it in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and elsewhere. Brando not only performed in the play, but became, as he put it, "a kind of traveling salesman" for the Bergson Group, speaking at numerous rallies and meetings. In city after city, the young actor spoke to audiences about the international community's silence during the Holocaust, the plight of Holocaust survivors languishing in Europe's Displaced Persons camps, and the need for a Jewish state.

As America mourns the passing of Marlon Brando and remembers him for his roles in so many famous movies, let us also remember his other public role - as one of the first to confront postwar America with the hard questions about the Holocaust that need to be asked again and again.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, which focuses on issues related to America's response to the Holocaust -

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Enemies on the Right and Left in Israel
Emunah Elon
Columnist, Yediot Aharonot

It is indeed unfortunate that the GSS needs to protect the prime minister from criminals who apparently wish to harm him. But with all due respect to the habitually shocked, those who belong to the "we have not learned a thing" school, it is even more unfortunate that the prime minister has decided to besmirch the community of settlers in order to prepare the ground for implementing his plan.

In every country there are attempts to assassinate the state leaders on political or religious grounds, or just for no reason by an unbalanced person. In every country the security services are forced to deal with VIP security, and sometimes even with orderly intelligence work. But only in Israel do the heads of the GSS run and "warn" of extremist intentions of this type in the media. This practice in itself provokes hatred, and perhaps even encourages various sociopaths to stand up and take action. And only in Israel does a prime minister threaten to expel 200,000 citizens from their legal homes.

There is no doubt that the prohibition "Thou shalt not kill" also includes the murder of prime ministers, and there is no doubt that it is important to explain this-but along with this, there is also no doubt, in the definitely legitimate opinion of a sizeable portion of the Israeli public, that Sharon's political plan is destructive and dangerous. It is very unfortunate, as Sharon confessed in the ears of the Shinui Knesset faction, that he, who has protected Jews all his life, must now be protected from Jews. However, it is also unfortunate that he, who has protected Jews all his life, is now determined to carry out moves that will encourage Palestinian terror and endanger the lives of many Jews.

It would appear that the noisy and excessive public attention to the expected dangers from the extreme right wing is intended to silence the sane right wing, including the dwindling voice of the authentic Likud. Perhaps elements on the Left think mistakenly that it is enough to mention Rabin's assassination to frighten the Right into complete paralysis. The sane right wing, including Ariel Sharon in his better days, never saw itself as culpable for Yigal Amir's act, since it never agreed that political opposition-even fierce opposition-is tantamount to incitement to murder. Now Sharon has joined with the ever-correct Left, which is ever-threatened by the ever-bad Right, and in retrospect incriminates the Sharon who spoke against the late Rabin's policy on the balcony in Zion Square. One must not speak against a prime minister who enjoys the support of the Left, and anyone who does so will be accused of murderous intentions.

Rabin's assassination was a great and terrible national tragedy, but it did not prove that the Left is good and correct and the Right is bad and mistaken. It proved mainly that the security of prime ministers needs to be tighter and more effective, that the Jewish department of the GSS did not fulfill its primary task, and that the intelligence department failed monumentally. It also proved that it was not enough for the GSS director to make an announcement to Israeli newspaper editors, about six weeks prior to November 4, 1995, that there was a growing danger that the prime minister would be assassinated by marginal characters identified with the extreme Right.

When you hear today the assessments of the former department heads, who are invited to various media platform to proffer an "expert opinion" on the "right wing radicalization," it appears that indeed, we have not learned a thing.

This appeared in Yediot Aharonot on July 7, 2004

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How Sharon Can Implement His Plan Without Knesset Approval or Israel Finance Ministry Funding
David Bedein

Giora Eiland, head of the Israel National Security Council , working directly under the authority invested in him by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,informed the foreign media on June 20th, 2004 that Arik Sharon cannot get legal sanction nor the budget from the Knesset in time for the government to fund and organize a pullout from Katif next year.

Eiland explained that the money is simply not in the government budget.

Unless it is budgeted by October 31, 2004, the pullout cannot be financed over the coming year.

Since the Eiland briefing was provided for the foreign media and not for the local media, the Israeli public is simply not aware of the fact that Sharon is operating without legal standing or government funding to implement his policy for unilateral demolition of the Jewish communities of Katif, and, in accordance with Clause Five of the Sharon Plan, at, to train the PLO armed forces with the help of the US, UK, Egypt and Jordan

Therefore, Israeli government TV and radio news stations report every hour on the hour that Israeli withdrawal is imminent.

Meanwhile, The Israel Democracy Institute and a plethora of other non-government institutions are advising the Israeli government to proceed with the withdrawal anyway, in the best interests of the country.

When members of the Israeli Knesset confronted Sharon with the illegality of his moves, Sharon shot back with the statement that "You must be very naive to think that I am not going to implement this accord".

Indeed, since Judea, Samaria, and Katif are ruled by Israel military law, Sharon has the power to carry out a ten point program to implement his policy:

  1. Arrest all leadership in these communities under the laws of administrative detention that were used during the British mandate.

  2. Declare martial law in all of these communities.for "security reasons".

  3. Block traffic in all roads which lead to Judea, Samaria and Katif .

  4. Submit a legal writ to the Israel Attorney General which would declare opposition to evacuation as a crime comparable to sedition. Stall all legal action against the withdrawal while it is taking place

  5. Dispatch troops to Katif before forced evacuation.

  6. Request foreign troops for Gaza, beginning with Egypt, the UK and the US.

  7. Transform the media image of the Jewish residents of Judea, Samaria and Katif into parasites and traitors

  8. Launch a campaign abroad to intimidate Jewish organizations against protest

  9. Activate 'Agentes provocateurs' to orchestrate radical activity.

  10. Place all residents of Katif into makeshift prison camps until alternative homes are available, while Sharon orders their farms and communities burnt to a crisp.

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