My Interview with 'Gangsters Vs. Nazis' Author on How the Jewish Mob Dealt With American Fascists

Michael Benson discusses how Jewish leaders asked the mafia to take care of US Nazis when nobody else cared that they were goose-stepping down Main Street.

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Michael Benson

The way author Michael Benson tells it, one day in 1938, New York judge and Jewish communal leader Nathan Perlman sat at a bar and thought, “How come these Nazis get to march down 86th Street, goose-stepping and ‘sieg heiling’ like it’s the Macy’s Parade? Why are they so brazen?”

It was because they were not worried about the consequences. Too few people in then-isolationist America really cared about what was being said about the Jews or what was happening to them in Europe, Benson said. What was needed, then, were Jews who weren’t afraid to break some laws — and some bones — as they challenged the homegrown Nazi threat.

And that’s when, in Benson’s words, “Judge Perlman thought outside the box.”

You can read the rest of the story I wrote for JTA at this link, but if you want to hear some wonderful detail that didn’t make the cut, click the button above and listen to our entire interview. It was a fun one and, of course, who doesn’t want to hear about how to properly punch Nazis?

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