The PJ Tatler

Jews, American Communism and the Rosenberg Case

Last week, I and other scholars committed to telling the truth about wartime and Cold War Soviet espionage, convened for a conference at George Washington University, titled “The Rosenberg Case, Soviet Espionage, and the Cold War.”

Today, writing at Jewish Ideas Daily, Alex Joffe offers what is not only a report about what was said at the event, but his own analysis of its significance. Referring to my own role, he writes:

It was the 1983 publication of The Rosenberg File by Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton that severely dented the then-accepted narrative among leftists and many liberals of the couple’s innocence. At the conference, Radosh recounted the vicious campaign against him by Rosenberg loyalists and revisionist historians dedicated to preserving the pair’s reputation as blameless martyrs to a great cause. Although a number of such loyalists were invited to the Washington conference, none attended.

His last sentence is the important one. Indeed, not one of our critics- those I call the equivalent of flat-earth society folks- accepted our invitation to state their case and debate with us in civil terms. They are, as I said at the conference, moral and intellectual cowards.

Joffe underscores the new fallback position of these people. He writes: “When pressed, supporters would concede that some, like Greenglass, may have been guilty of espionage, but not Julius and Ethel. Now, this pillar of the argument having been knocked out from under them, they have fallen back on the insistence that what the Rosenbergs did was good, just, and necessary, performed by two citizens of the world in support of a wartime ally. The real villain of the piece was not the Rosenbergs; it was the U.S. government.”

The case still is, so many decades later, what Joffe calls the “fetish of the American Left.” So Joffe says in his conclusion:

As compared with the phenomenon of Nazism, still vividly present in modern consciousness, the vast, blood-soaked, and no less openly anti-Semitic tyranny that was Soviet Communism has been largely erased from mind. When it comes to individuals like the Rosenbergs, whose service to that tyranny involved high crimes against their fellow American citizens, technical guilt may now be grudgingly acknowledged but, for the most part, moral guilt is not. To the contrary, the alleged nobility of their motives is held to trump the all too evident evil of their actions. To the extent that American Jews sympathize with such perversions of morality, they owe themselves, and their fellow Americans, a reckoning.

Alex Joffe has helped move that process along.