U.S. ambassador reveals Holocaust book brought about 1985 airlift of Ethiopian Jews

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A book about America's failure to rescue Jews from the Holocaust helped convince then-Vice President George H. W. Bush to order the U.S. airlift of 900 Ethiopian Jewish refugees to Israel in 1985, a U.S. ambassador has revealed.

John R. Miller, a former Congressman (R-Wash.), who is now the U.S. ambassador for combating human trafficking, revealed the episode for the first time in public, in a statement presented to more than 200 participants in a conference at the Fordham University Law School organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies earlier this week.

Ambassador Miller said that when the Ethiopian Jews became stranded in Sudan in early 1985, he brought a copy of Prof. Wyman's book about America and the Holocaust, "The Abandonment of the Jews," to Vice President Bush. "This is a chance to write a very different history than the history of America's response to the Holocaust," Miller told the vice president. Miller said that in a later conversation with Bush, the vice president confirmed that Wyman's book "was a major influence in his decision to order to the airlift."

Miller's statement was part of a conference session, chaired by former U.S. Congressman Stephen Solarz, marking the twentieth anniversary of the publication of The Abandonment of the Jews. In the same session, noted criminal defense attorney Benjamin Brafman spoke about how the pioneering Soviet Jewry activism of his uncle, the late Morris Brafman, was influenced by the lessons of the Holocaust. Also speaking were Dr. Racelle Weiman of Hebrew Union College's Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, and Prof Leonard Swidler, editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies. The journal's latest issue, coedited by Dr. Weiman and Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff, focuses on the impact of The Abandonment of the Jews and the issues it raised.

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