To the Editor:

Richard Holbrooke's excellent reflection on the heroic acts of some diplomats during the Holocaust ("Defying Orders, Saving Lives," May/June 2007) omitted the extraordinary accomplishments of James McDonald, who served as the League of Nations' high commissioner for refugees and then as the United States' first ambassador to Israel. McDonald's diaries, the first volume of which has just been published by Indiana University Press (Advocate for the Doomed: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald, 1932-1935, edited by Richard Breitman, Barbara McDonald Stewart, and Severin Hochberg), chronicle the efforts of this principled and persistent man to save Jews and others from the horrors of Nazism. As Yad Vashem considers extending "Righteous Among the Nations" status to diplomats who risked their careers and lives to do the right thing, McDonald should be among those honored.

Daniel Kurtzer

  • Visiting Professor of Middle East Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, and former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt and Israel