Exclusive: What Would Abe Rosenthal Say About the NYT Today?
Jack Engelhard, author of “The Bathsheba Deadline” and “Indecent Proposal”, as well as the award-winning memoir of his experiences as a Jewish refugee from Europe, has decided to make public a private exchange of letters he had with the world-famous and brilliant former New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal.
Rosenthal faced up to the mistake of New York Times' minimization during WWII of the slaughter of the Jews of Europe in an editorial in 1996. He admitted that the daily wrote about what was happening to Jews on inner pages. He regretted that error deeply and worried about the state of israel.
From Jack Engelhard to A.M Rosenthal, columnist and former executive editor, The New York Times – June 10, 1994
Dear Mr. Rosenthal:My name is Jack Engelhard. I am the author of the novel INDECENT PROPOSAL, which later became the movie by the same name. I was born in Toulouse, France in 1940. My parents were quite wealthy. My father owned a great leather factory. He worked long hours and managed to own the land where he worked and where we lived. Then the Nazis came and told my father that he was standing on occupied territory. He was forced to leave and soon after we were forced to escape.I tell you this at the start so that you will know the pain I feel when today, in the land of Israel itself, Jews are once again being told that the land on which they work and live, over which they spilled the blood of their sons, is occupied territory.Only yesterday I heard Peter Jennings say, “Hebron is still in Israeli hands,” meaning that he assumed that soon it won’t be, just as he and so many others assume that sooner or later the entire land of Israel will be vacant of Jews. There is a momentum about all this and the great tragedy of it is that, through Rabin, Peres, Beilin et al, the Jews have brought it upon themselves.I do not know exactly why I am writing you this. But I read your columns and I hear you screaming my agony between the lines. Is it possible that the current leaders of Israel do not know what they are doing? Is it possible that “Jewish guilt” is not a cute stereotype but rather the precursor of national suicide?How strange, and sickening, to hear about Jews living with their bags packed, not knowing where they will live tomorrow. That’s how it was in the bad old days in Europe. That’s how it was for 2,000 years. Imagine this happening again, in the very land of Israel.It is not all the fault of Israel’s leaders, who have been under enormous pressure simply by the language employed by the media, which always gives the Arab side the benefit of the doubt. Hence the West Bank is always but always referred to as Occupied Territory. Hence Biblical Jerusalem is now being referred to as “Arab East Jerusalem.”Bur the current Israeli leadership shares much of the blame for redefining Israel from a land certain of its destiny to a nation ready to displace its own people and turn itself into ghetto after ghetto. They have forgotten Jerusalem. Imagine a Jewish leader agreeing that Jerusalem is “on the table.” This is mind-boggling.But then, what isn’t? Rabin’s handshake with the man responsible for the cold-blooded murder of Israeli athletes – what is that if not the embracing of evil, and what of the standing ovation this same Arafat received at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.We do indeed live in interesting times.King David said, “Love the good, hate evil.” So simple and yet so profound. It is the love of evil, the sages say, that is behind all the chaos in the world. Here, then, is where we are. The leaders of Israel are RAISING MONEY to create and support an Arab state whose proclaimed mission is the destruction of Israel.This is what I believe: the world is accustomed to the Jews as wanderers, refugees. This is a natural inclination derived from 2,000 years of exile. The Zionists resisted this impulse for a generation or two, but now those heroes are gone. Finally, the nations have foisted upon Israel a leadership that is to their liking, a leadership that agrees that, yes, Jews are meant to be refugees, even in the land of Jacob and David.When I was born there was no Israel. There were only Jews on the run. Jews with their bags packed.I pray that I have not come full cycle.Thank you for letting me get this off my chest. There is no one else to talk to about this.Please carry on.Sincerely – Jack EngelhardFrom A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Times, June 21, 1994Dear Mr. Engelhard,I am grateful to you for writing to me. I know what is in your heart because much of it is in mine. I have written about it and I do not now know whether I should continue to do so, whether it is of any use.I probably will. No doubt about it – the Israelis can do as they wish with their security. Still I think the fact that they are not getting the story of the real risk from their leaders, that history is being so terribly distorted, compels people like us to speak out.Did you see where Mr. Rabin said that Israel bleeds because it is an occupying power? And all these years I believed that Israel bleeds because, as her leaders used to understand, the Arab nations would give her no peace, no acceptance.Sincerely, A.M. Rosenthal