I was watching the 2002 film The Pianist, about a brilliant German Jew pianist who was dehumanized and almost exterminated by the Third Reich. The film chilling portrayed the human reality of Nazi discrimination against European Jewry; the intentional abuses of Jews on the street, an edict to wear distinctive insignia, a sharp command to walk on the gutter (the curb) of the sidewalk instead of the pavement. You were free to be sadistic to any Jew in this society, and no one saw it as anything wrong. It seems that everyone’s response to the Nazi genocide was nothing but dignified silence.
Which I why I love the Obama Doctrine. While the atrocities in Syria, Yemen, and Libya are hardly those of Nazi Germany (for one, they are not systemically targetting an ethnic minority) — imagine if Asad begun ghetto-izing Syrians, sold their property to finance his war machine, and killed thousands of people a day, and I am confident that the the President of the United States would stop that today. Thanks to Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and Samantha Powers, brutality is no longer acceptable in the international arena. Although we still allow countries their own internal persecutions, once the killing becomes macrocosmic — there’s a new sheriff in town.
Having said that, it goes to show the absolutely powerlessness of the American Jewish community during the 1940s, that there was no AIPAC to pressure FDR or Eisenhower to view Jewish interests (like collective survival) as crucial to their worldview or re-election. Most Americans wouldn’t have cared if Jews were exterminated under some conspiracy or racial theory.
But in the progressive Obama era, we see a militant refusal to tolerate mass crackdowns and extermination. (Iran is a curious case which is quite delicate.)