Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Isidore Straus's mission to Palestine

Isidor Straus owner of Macy's department store, and his wife Ida, were returning from a visit to Palestine when they died.  Their death so strongly affected Isidor's brother and business partner, Nathan Straus (who had accompanied them on the trip to Palestine but "just missed" the Titanic), that Nathan gave away most of his fortune to the Zionist cause and to several charities.

Another Straus brother, Oscar Straus, served as U.S. minister to the Ottoman Empire from 1887 to 1889, and again from 1898 to 1899.  In 1906 Oscar became the United States Secretary of Commerce and Labor under president Theodore Roosevelt, which meant Oscar was in charge of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and shipping lines. He worked closely with police and the Secret Service to deport immigrants with anarchist beliefs and to enforce the Anarchist Exclusion Act of 1903. 

In 1909-1910, Oscar Straus served as U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and in 1912, shortly after Titanic sank, he ran for governor of New York.