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Revisiting Eisenhower’s Instructions for Combatting Antisemitism


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Real Clear Politics

Jason Lantzer
January 19, 2024

At the dawn of 2024, the United States is embroiled in a heated discussion over what constitutes antisemitism. In the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks launched by Hamas against targets in Israel, and the subsequent retaliatory military actions Israel has undertaken, protests in cities, on college campuses, and in the halls of Congress have ranged from peaceful to blatantly antisemitic, with chants, vandalism, and threats of violence.

Perhaps just as troubling, these events come as recent surveys have found that 20% of Gen Z Americans believe the Holocaust is a myth (another 30% neither agreed nor disagreed). An earlier survey found that over 60% of the same generational cohort did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered during World War II. Such reports are both disturbing and are a warning to the American public about deficiencies in remembering a pivotal event of the 20th century.

Concerns that Americans would forget the Holocaust or come to doubt it were first addressed by the man who led the Allied armies to victory in the Second World War: Dwight Eisenhower. A Midwesterner by birth who made the military his career, Ike was untainted by early 20th-century antisemitism that was prevalent in the halls of power.

Unlike many of his fellow officers, he did not view Jews, whether immigrants or native born, as fundamentally anti-American. Nor did his Protestantism include religious antisemitism. Indeed, he came to have several Jewish friends, was shocked by Kristallnacht, and warmed instantly to his assignment as Supreme Allied Commander to end the Nazi threat.

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