Wikiwatch: Diplomat’s Anti-Semitism Ignored

By now, most people understand that Wikipedia is an unreliable source of information, particularly when it comes to controversial subjects such as history in the Middle East.

The site’s entry on Charles Richard Crane demonstrates that once again that readers use the site at their own risk.

The entry describes Crane as a “wealthy American philanthropist, businessman and Arabist, who had business knowledge of Eastern Europe.” The remainder of the entry describes some of his diplomatic and business dealings, and reports that he was “instrumental” in American efforts to gain oil concessions in the Middle East. The article also gives brief mention to his participation in the King-Crane Commission created to study how the U.S. should respond to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East.

The article leaves out a couple of relevant facts that most people would be interested in knowing. Charles R. Crane was a notorious anti-Semite and at the time of his death, he was a great admirer of Adolf Hitler.

These facts are recounted in Robert D. Kaplan’s book The Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite (The Free Press, 1993). Relying on the work of Crane’s biographer, Leo J. Bocage, Kaplan recounts the highlights of Crane’s career. Crane, who inherited his fortune from bathroom-fixture magnate, Charles T. Crane, became a player in American foreign policy by virtue of his many trips abroad. During one of these trips, Crane met Czar Nicholas and became a supporter of Russia in “its propaganda war against Japan and charges of anti-Semitism. (Crane considered reports of Cossack-led pogroms against the Jews a nuisance.)” (Kaplan, page 69)

President Howard Taft appointed Crane minister to China, but rescinded the appointment because he was considered a “dilettante and a busybody” and also “because Taft himself was shocked by Crane’s open hatred of ‘Japs and Jews,’ leading the President to conclude that Crane’s would have been ‘a dangerous appointment.’” (Kaplan page 69).

Despite this setback, Crane was asked to serve as the head of the King-Crane Commission in 1919 which was charged with formulating a plan to deal with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. This commission recommended against the creation of a Jewish state and called for restrictions on Jewish immigration into Palestine.

Kaplan recounts some details of Crane’s hostility toward Jews in the following paragraphs:

“The most pronounced prejudice which dominated his [Crane’s] thinking during [his] later years was his unbridled dislike of Jews,” writes his biographer. Crane “tried … to persuade the recently elected Franklin D. Roosevelt, to shun the counsels of Felix Frankfurter and to avoid appointing other Jews to government posts.” Crane “envisioned a world-wide attempt on the part of the Jews to stamp out all religious life and felt that only a coalition of Moslems and Roman Catholics would be strong enough to defeat such designs.” In 1933 Crane actually proposed to Haj Amin Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, that Mufti open talks with the Vatican to plan an anti-Jewish campaign.
This led Crane to develop an intense admiration for Adolf Hitler, whose Germany Crane considered “the real political bulwark of Christian culture.” A private audience with the Führer, like the one many years before with the czar, proved easy for a man of Crane’s beliefs and financial means to arrange. Hitler and Crane found that they shared a hatred of the British and the French as well as of the Jews. Crane’s last letter about world affairs before he died was to Hitler, blaming the Jews for the problems in the Middle East. Crane, at this time, despite his hatred of the Bolsheviks, voiced support for Stalin’s anti-Jewish purges in Soviet Russia. (Kaplan, page 71)

Clearly, this information is relevant to understanding Crane’s career as a public servant.

Will it show up in Wikipedia’s entry in the days and weeks ahead?

And if it does, will its editors allow it to remain?

Or will anti-Israel partisans that dominate Wikipedia’s “editing” community engage in their typical mob behavior and suppress this information?

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