Thesis title and description:
“Holocaust Collective Memory in American Jewish-Israeli Relations”
My thesis will investigate the impact of Holocaust collective memory on the American Jewish community’s foreign policy orientation and Holocaust memory as a factor in US-Israeli relations in the 1960s and 1970s. In particular, American Jews organized and advocated on behalf of Soviet Jews subjected to policies of forced assimilation. However, American Jewish initiative to aid Soviet Jews tested the relationship between American Jews and Israel. By 1976, less than half of Soviet Jewish emigrants travelling on Israeli visas actually intended to settle in Israel, and the rest—termed noshrim, or dropouts—sought lives in the US or elsewhere. American Jewish organizations generally supported dropouts’ “freedom of choice,” fearing a repeat of the mistake in World War II—closing US borders to Jewish refugees. Israeli Holocaust collective memory, by contrast, stressed the tragic results of an arduous Jewish diaspora, and so Jewish migration to Israel was a moral imperative. When Israel demanded that American Jewish organizations only aid Soviet émigrés who intend to resettle in Israel, these organizations refused to comply. My thesis will investigate how the central conflict over noshrim was rooted in competing interpretations of the “lessons” of the Holocaust and the just treatment of emigrants and refugees, topics ubiquitous today.