Friday, November 17, 2023

The Storming of Haifa’s Maccabi Hall, 1934

The storming of Haifa’s Maccabi Hall, 1934

By Yisrael Medad

Published in the Jerusalem Post Weekend Magazine, November 17, 2023

On Thursday evening, October 18, 1934, at 9:15 PM, Dr. Wolfgang-Ze'ev von Weisel ascended the platform of the Maccabi Hall in Haifa located where Herzl and Balfour Streets join, near the old Reali High School site. He was facing less than 100 listeners who had purchased tickets to hear him speak on the topic "The status of the Jews in Europe and the Question of the Saar Region and the National Petition". He never finished his presentation. In fact, he barely got a word out.

Viennese-born, as his father, who was an officer of the Austro-Hungarian Army, von Weisel also served and was wounded in World War I. He came to Mandate Palestine in 1922 and was an instructor in the early Hagana officers’ training school in 1924. He became an early disciple of Ze'ev Jabotinsky and a leader in the Revisionist Party. He was a renowned syndicated journalist and, covering the outbreak of the 1929 riots in Jerusalem, he was stabbed and seriously injured.

The anti-Revisionist atmosphere in Haifa at that time was especially vitriolic especially following the murder of Haim Arlosoroff in June 1933 with the suspicion of guilt falling on the Revisionists. Mapia's Haifa branch decided that Revisionists must be "dismissed from work and deprived of their livelihoods; we must create an atmosphere of moral contempt and personal boycott, on the streets, at work, and wherever we can exert influence." This resulted at the end of July 1933 in the dismissal of Revisionists and Betarim from jobs in Histadrut enterprises.

A new labor clash, this one in Haifa at a construction site, began to develop in January 1934. Contractor David Shmuel-David was engaged in constructing an apartment building in the Herzliya neighborhood just west of Hadar Hacarmel. He employed not only Histadrut-affiliated workers but didn’t see any problem with Betarim even though, technically, they were unorganized.

On one occasion, when, short of laborers, he asked of the Haifa Labor Council to employ Betarim in addition to Italians and Arabs. That body insisted that he employ only organized labor and to exclude the Betar members. When he refused and hired them anyway, the Labor Council called a strike. Abba Hushi, head of the Haifa Labor Council, spoke in the name of 6000 workers and felt he could bully anyone who opposed his vision of "Labor Palestine".

The Betar members who had been called in, were declared strikebreakers. Other buildings in Haifa belonging to the contractor, as well as those of a Weinstein, were demolished. The few Betarim who did get though and worked were repeatedly attacked by mobs of party activists and the police had to intervene. Previously, Mapai had sanctioned a muscle group set up by Yitzhak Ben-Aharon called Hever Hape'ilim ("The Activists"), the practical organization of which was in the hands of Ben-Aharon, Yosef Almogi of Haifa's Labor Council and Yosef Avidar of the Tel Aviv Labor Council and also a member of the Hagana command.

The rank and file were organized into "Hapoel Squads," within the framework of the Hapoel Sports Organization. They were controlled by the labor councils in the cities, especially Tel Aviv and Haifa, which provided funds. Yet, by the Histadrut denying Betarim the right to work because they were unorganized, and denying them the right to organize themselves within their own labor exchange, the local labor councils left the Betarim few alternatives other than breaking strikes so that they could earn money for their physical existence. Clashes were inevitable.

Two additional occurrences fed into the events of October 18. In July, Avraham Stavsky was found not guilty of Arlosoroff's murder after a three-month long trial that filled the newspapers almost daily. Moreover, in late August that year, the Revisionist movement appealed to Mapai to reach understandings so as to remove from inter-party activities any violence as well as to achieve a modus vivendi for resolving labor disputes which had plagued the Yishuv ever since February 1928 and, in greater intensity, since October 1932 when, at the Froumine Biscuit factory in Givat Shaul in Jerusalem, Betarim were beaten up for strikebreaking.

During an earlier discussion at a Mapai Central Committee session in June 1934, Moshe Beilinson, member of the Histadrut's Executive Committee, decried the fact that "Our movement's image is becoming more and more distorted. For the past two years, the use of physical force has become our answer to everything…We, for our part, have only one response: force! Strikebreakers, unorganized labor, employment of Arabs, children in uniforms we don't like, calling Stavsky to the Torah. Everything is an abomination and our reaction is always the same: Let them have it!" His criticism fell on deaf ears in Haifa.

In Haifa, it was Labor Zionist policy that no Revisionist meeting could take place even in a closed hall and by invitation. And so, outside the Maccabi Hall that Thursday evening were about 1500 protestors recruited from Hapoel squads, kibbutzim and socialist youth movements. As soon as the meeting began, there were disturbances from several socialists who had purchased tickets to be on the inside. The doors were broken down and the mob began to stone those inside.

A stink bomb was thrown which caused vomiting and dizziness in the enclosed space. Windows were smashed. Furniture was overturned. Over twenty people (40 according to Haaretz, among them 7 police personnel) were injured, among them, Von-Weisel himself whose head was cut. Four, including two children, passers-by, required hospital treatment and one, 15-year old A, Rundstein, had his head operated on. Police officer Blumstein needed medical attention, too. Fifteen were arrested but released on bond. When the contretemps ended, hundreds of labor youth movement members marched in formation through the streets of downtown Haifa singing a workers' march, “Kadima HaPoel”.  

The immediate result was that the Betarim and Revisionists gained much sympathy within the parties and non-socialist parties. The Vaad Haleumi established an inquiry commission. At the Mapai Central Committee convened on October 21, 1934, Golda Meyerson (later Meir) declared: "How could our people sing that night in Haifa?! The youngsters who participated in the action should at least have been ashamed and not flaunted their 'victory'…to organize 1500 people in order to throw eighty Revisionists out of a closed meeting, that's not brave."

Many more Mapai leaders recalled the view of Berl Katznelson who earlier had identified Mapai’s problem of Mapai as the looming "fascisization of the labor movement".

Despite the gain, the Revisionists and the Betar members lost a larger battle. Ben-Gurion's talks with and tentative agreements with Jabotinsky in London mediated by Pinhas Rutenberg during 16 meetings that were held over a period of a month in 1934, first broached in mid-August, were put to the test in a vote of authorization by the members of a special Histadrut convention on March 24, 1935. Those who opposed inner Zionist peace numbered 11,522 and those who sought to continue the exclusionary and discriminatory policies garnered 16,474 votes.

The socialist camp’s willingness to justify violence against its ideological rivals stemmed from the European tradition of the working-class who believed employing force to ensure the right to work, on the one hand, and, on the other, identifying Revisionism with fascism on the background of events in Berlin, Rome and more recently, Vienna.

When that formula took hold, the next logical step was to assume it was quite legitimate for workers to attack them even as they were of the same economic class. In later years, the Yishuv would witness the Saison campaign to hunt down members of the dissident undergrounds and the Altalena Affair. The poison that temporarily reached a crescendo in Haifa has seemingly continued its nefarious influence as we witnessed the crashing of a Likud assembly in Raanana on September 4 and the daubing of the Bet Jabotinsky in red this past weekend in Tel Aviv.

Among other sources, including the press at the time, I note Anita Shapira's article, "The debate in Mapai on the use of violence, 1932–1935", in Studies in Zionism, 1981.

Some newspaper articles and a photograph of Wolfgang-Ze'ev von Weisel

"The Red Pogrom in Haifa"

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Arguing in the London Times over Jabotinsky's "Iron Wall"

On November 2 my response letter was published in the London Times:

The letter to which I replied is here:

Ze'ev Jabotinsky's article, The Iron Wall, translated into English,
is here.

Toward the end of the article Jabotinsky went to some length to dispel any impression his analysis might have given that he despaired of the prospect of reaching an agreement with the Arabs of Palestine:

I do not mean to assert that no agreement whatever is possible with the Arabs of the Land of Israel. But a voluntary agreement is just not possible. As long as the Arabs preserve a gleam of hope that they will succeed in getting rid of us, nothing in the world can cause them to relinquish this hope, precisely because they are not a rabble but a living people. And a living people will be ready to yield on such fateful issues only when they have given up all hope of getting rid of alien settlers. Only then will extremist groups with their slogans "No, never" lose their influence, and only then will their influence be transferred to more moderate groups. And only then will the moderates offer suggestions for compromise. Then only will they begin bargaining with us on practical matters, such as guarantees against pushing them out, and equality of civil and national rights.

The article concluded with a profession of faith that peaceful coexistence between Arabs and Jews in Palestine would be possible, but only as a result of the construction of an impregnable wall:

It is my hope and belief that we will then offer them guarantees that will satisfy them and that both peoples will live in peace as good neighbors. But the sole way to such an agreement is through the iron wall, that is to say, the establishment in Palestine of a force that will in no way be influenced by Arab pressure. In other words, the only way to achieve a settlement in the future is total avoidance of all attempts to arrive at a settlement in the present.
Moderate Zionists criticized the article, especially on the grounds that it was written from an immoral standpoint. Jabotinsky therefore wrote a second article, entitled "The Morality of the Iron Wall," in which he turned the tables on his critics. From the point of view of morality, he held, there were two possibilities: either Zionism was a positive phenomenon, or it was negative. This question required an answer before one became a Zionist. And all of them had indeed concluded that Zionism was a positive force, a moral movement with justice on its side. Now, "if the cause is just, justice must triumph, without regard to the assent or dissent of anyone else."


Sunday, October 29, 2023

Was 'Palestine' Actually Syria?

Let's check on that way back when:

"In 1917, Ramallah-born New York surgeon, Fuad Isa Shatara, and N.A. Katibah founded the Palestine Antizionism Society. It was among the organizers of an anti-Zionist rally on November 8, 1918 in Brooklyn. Besides the two founders, the young Lebanese Orientalist Philip Khoury Hitti made an appearance as a speaker at the event. The rally passed a resolution, describing the Arabs at risk of being dominated by “a race rendered more powerful and wealthy through contact with the western civilization thus applying might against right” and protesting the “artificial importation of Zionists flooding the country against its natural capacities and thus forcing an emigration of the rightful inhabitants.”227 Thus, by 1918, the anti-Zionist Arab-American movement had already found both its central arguments and its leaders. Rihani, Hitti and Shatara would shape the movement over the next two decades. The Arab Americans worked to influence the State  Department and other influential elements of the foreign policy strata. Fuad Shatara of the Palestine Antizionism Society wrote two letters to Secretary of State Robert Lansing in November 1918 and February 1919, arguing that Zionism was in contravention to Wilson’s Fourteen Points.228 In December 1918, Hitti and George Khairalla established the New Syria National League. The group lobbied for the establishment of a Greater Syria under American protection, reaching from the Sinai to the Euphrates.229 These groups intensified their activities in light of the upcoming peace conference in Paris. Shatara and Hitti reached out to John Huston Finley, the chief of the Red Cross Commission in Palestine, asking Finley not to detach Palestine from Greater Syria.230 During the conference, Hitti’s New Syria National League also sent a telegram to Wilson, Lloyd George and Clemenceau advocating an American protectorate over Syria. 231"          

227 “Untitled,” New York Times, November 9, 1917; cited in Davidson, “Debating Palestine,” 230; see also Knee, “The King-Crane Commission of 1919,” 204. 228 Davidson, “Debating Palestine,” 231. 229 The Formation of Modern Iraq and Syria (Routledge, 2013), 147. 230 Knee, The Concept of Zionist Dissent in the American Mind, 1917-1941, 205. 231 The Formation of Modern Iraq and Syria, 147.

From this thesis.


Tuesday, October 03, 2023

A Pro-Israel Question at a State Department Presser (UPDATED)

 A rarety.

A pro-Israel question at a State Department Presser:

QUESTION:  Okay.  In light – thanks, Matt.  In light of UNRWA donors’ – that’s a UN agency – recent meetings at the UN, will the U.S. ask the UN to inspect and disarm UNRWA refugee camps that have become well-equipped arsenals?  And I have a follow-up question. 

MR MILLER:  Do you mean – where particularly do you mean? 

QUESTION:  In the Middle East. 

MR MILLER:  In the Middle – yeah. 

QUESTION:  In the Middle East. 

QUESTION:  UN Relief and Works Agency.

QUESTION:  Okay, so regarding Israel — 

MR MILLER:  I was – I wanted to get a little more specific. 

QUESTION:  — and the Palestinian idea.  But the UNRWA issue, so — 

MR MILLER:  So I will say that, as we have said before, we have long recognized Israel’s right to defend itself and take actions to secure its territory. 

QUESTION:  Okay.  The follow-up to that is:  Will the U.S. challenge the official Palestinian school curriculum, which rejects the two-state solution by teaching the next generation to reject any recognition of Israel?  

MR MILLER:  So, I will say that we support the two-state solution.  You’ve seen me asked about that on a number of occasions.  That will continue to be our policy, and that will be our policy as it pertains to anyone on either side of this longstanding conflict who wants to take a different position. 

QUESTION:  What about those well-equipped arsenals and the concerns that Israel has that are happening – that are occurring in the UN agency UNRWA camps? 

MR MILLER:  Again, as I’ve said, we support Israel’s right to secure its nation.

Who was the journalist?*


The journalist is Dr. Anthony Harper of InterMountain Christian News


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Marking the Centenary of Berlin's Scheunenviertel Pogrom

 It was, as claimed, the first pogrom in Berlin.

It took place in the Scheunenviertel (Barn) quarter in the first week of November 1923. It was termed the "Ostjudenpogrom". The area is today, less than one-half square mile, is now Berlin's Mitte district, not far from the historic city center, north of the city wall between Hackescher Markt and today's Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.

Earlier in 1923:

the Berlin police chief Wilhelm Richter ordered a large-scale raid against the Jewish population in the Scheunenviertel, during which around 300 Jewish men [eventually to reach some 1500], women and children were picked up by the police and interned in a “Jewish camp” near Zossen, a chilling precursor to what would happen over the next 20 years.

That referred to

popular violence against Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe during the Weimar Republic, their incarceration in camps in Pomerania and Bavaria during the early 1920s

Specifically,  the so-called Bavarian “Ostjuden Deportation” of October 1923 when Gustav Ritter von Kahr was appointed by Bavarian President Eugen von Knilling (BVP) as state commissioner general (Generalstaatskommissar) with dictatorial powers under Article 64 of the Bamberg (Bavarian) Constitution. Kahr refused to ban the Nazi Party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, on 29 September he suspended the enforcement in Bavaria of the Law for the Protection of the Republic and in mid-October, Kahr had several hundred Jewish families who had immigrated from Eastern Europe decades earlier expelled from Bavaria (See: "The Expulsion of Jews with Polish Citizenship from Bavaria in 1923, Józef Adelson, POLIN, 2008). 

As reported in the JTA on Ocotober 29, 

Two hundred Jewish families have already been expelled from Bavaria and as many are awaiting deportation... including Jews who, while not subjects of the Bavarian State, are citizens of the Reich...A number of East-European Jews from Austria are also among the evicted. The houses owned by the deportees have been requisitioned for the alleged purpose of housing the refugees from the Ruhr district...The Voelkishe Beabachter, organ of Adolph Hitler, disregarding the Jews’ plea, continues the publication of the names of Jews not yet expelled, demanding the confiscation of their property as well as of those already deported.

Moreover, "an order has been issued by Dictator von Kahr to the Jews expelled from Bavaria, that their property must not be removed from the country. Jewish business men and manufacturers have received orders from the police authorities that the machinery and equipment of their factories as well as their products must remain in Bavaria, and their factories must be conducted in their absence by managers appointed for the purpose." 

The event went international at the end of November when

Foreign Minister Roman Dmowski of Poland has addressed a new note to Bavaria protesting the expulsions from Bavaria of Jews who are Polish citizens...the deportations are contrary to international law as well as the common principles of humanity. In conclusion, M. Dmowski threatens to order the deportation of German citizens on Polish soil if the expulsions of Polish citizens are continued.

Austria and Spain became involved.

To return to the events of the Berlin pogrom:

Jews of Berlin Attacked by Mob of 30,000  November 6, 1923

"...a mob of 30,000 stronge invaded the Jewish sections of the city and carried out the first pogrom in the history of Berlin. Anti-Jewish riots commencing in the afternoon in Grenadierstrasse, and Dragonerstrasse, inhabited largely by East-European Jews, 

spread by the evening to all quarters of the city housing Jewish residents...No Jew was safe on Berlin streets yesterday and it is too early to say that greater security prevails today. Jewish passers by were stopped at every turn, were searched, maltreated, robbed of their possessions and stripped of their clothes, some being left only in their undergarments. Homes of Jews were searched for food and money, owners offering the least resistance being severely beaten.

Shops owned by Jews were plundered of their contents which were hurled through the windows smashed by the hooligans in order to gain entrance. Jewish tenement dwellers were dragged from their beds and driven to the streets in their night clothes.

...That the anti-Jewish riots were premeditated and well-organized is shown by the fact that on a given signal the plundering and mobbing would begin, and at a sign from a specially organized corp the anti-Jewish excesses would end.

...The Tageblatt and the Local Anzeiger remark it is significant that the mob attack was not sporadic, but broke out simultaneously in the Muezastrasse, Gormmanstrasse, Linienstrasse, Grenadierstrasse, Dragonerstrasse. Lilienstrasse, where many residences and practically all shops were systematically plundered, the wares being distributed among the waiting crowd. Especially in the clothing and piece-goods district were the wares seized and cut up to be carried away by the rioters...Herr Kopf, manager of the “Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith” received several blows from a black-jack as he was caught in a crowd swarming towards the Boerse and shouting “Death to Jews”.

Reports {as referenced in Dunker, Der Reichsbund judischer Frontsoldaten 1919-1938: Geschichte eines judischen Abwehrvereins, 53; "Der Bund judischer Frontsoldaten vor Gericht," Judische Rundschau, no. 40 (1924)}  noted

While the police had not arrived members of the Reichsbund Judischer Frontsoldaten (Jewish Veteran Association) assembled at the Jewish community centre on the nearby Rosenstrasse. Cadres of members, some of which were armed with pistols and rubber truncheons were formed and began patrolling the area, guarding synagogues and defending local Jews against the looters. On Bulowplatz, the Reichsbund cadres clashed with a group of some hundred rioters. In this situation, the veterans seek support from a passing by police patrol that refuses and leaves the area. In the following melee, a shot rang out fatally wounding a rioter.

The failure of the Munich Beer Hall Putsch in Bavaria did not deter the authorities there from halting the earlier deportations.

A precursor to the atmosphere which allowed Hitler to commence the Holocaust.


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Timeline of the Crisis

Taking an idea from Yishai Friedman of Shvi'i, here is a contribution to understanding how we in Israel got to where we are in the summer of 2023:


1980 Aharon Barak, appointed as a Supreme Court Justice in 1978, employs for the first time the Reasonableness Standard that would justify a governmental institution decision

1986 Ressler case and Barak devoted twenty-five pages to the issue of justiciability and delineated two classic categories of justiciability, normative and institutional. By doing away with institutional non-justiciability, Barak challenges the common conception of the separation of powers.

1992 In March, the Knesset passes two basic laws aimed at protecting human rights: Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation and Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty. Both those basic laws contain a “limitation clause”: “One is not to violate the rights in accordance to this Basic Law save by means of a law that corresponds to the values of the state of Israel”. Pre-1992 legislation was shielded from constitutionality review.  Criticism maintained that the 1992 basic laws did not really authorize the Court to strike down legislation as this was allegedly not the legislative intent and because the laws were adopted were not sufficient to afford them with constitutional status superior to ordinary legislation. (For instance, Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty was supported by 32 members of the Knesset, and 21 members opposed it—most members did not vote. Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation was adopted by 21 members without opposition.) Moreover, the review involves value judgments and those should be decided by democratically elected representatives and not unaccountable judges.

1995 Barak, then president of the Supreme Court, announced that a constitutional revolution, a phrase he coined, was taking place in Israel based on his own interpretation of the Basic Laws enacted by the Knesset in 1992 as having the force of a constitution. Since then the Supreme Court has struck down 22 laws that were enacted by the Knesset. It intervened in decisions of the Israeli security agencies and even invalidated administrative decisions of the Israeli government and its ministers.  All this was done without any legal basis; that is, without the consent of the Knesset, which is solely invested with the power to draft and adopt a constitution.

November 9, 1995 the landmark case United Mizrahi Bank v. Migdal when the Supreme Court declared that basic laws are superior to regular laws and declared it may strike down Knesset statutes that are incompatible with the terms of the limitation clauses in the two basic laws from 1992. It would do so based on an evaluation process consisting of three main stages: if there is an infringement of a constitutionally protected right with an expansive interpretation of constitutional rights necessary for a dignified existence. If a protected right has been infringed, the second stage is whether the infringement was grounded in legislation that corresponds to the values of the state of Israel (defined in the two basic laws from 1992 as Jewish and Democratic) and serves an appropriate purpose. The third stage is the “proportionality” stage, i.e., if the harm to constitutional rights does not outweigh the social gains achieved by the reviewed law. If the harm clearly exceeds the gains, the law will be invalidated.

February 14, 1999 an estimated 350,000 Haredi demonstrators called on the justices not to interfere in matters of religion.

2015 Elections. Seven months later, investigation of Gidi Wetz on Netanyahu's influence on Walla! News site. It will develop into Case 4000 (see below). In August, demonstrations against the gas deal led by Orly Bar-Lev, Gonen Ben-Yitzhak and others.

2016 Police open investigations into Case 1000 (benefits from Milchen and Parker); Case 2000 (Netanyahu and Noni Mozes of Yedioth Ahronot); and Case 3000 (the submarine affair). Attorney-General Avicahi Mandleblit was under pressure of weekly demos at his Petah Tikva house to authorize, as per law, investigations of a sitting Prime Minister.

June 2017 Case 4000 (Eluvitz and Netanyahu charged for favorable financial terms for Bezeq purchase, in essence, bribery). Later that year, the "Balfour Protest" erupts. August Ari Harow turns state's witness after incarceration. September Supreme Court annuls, again, amended Mobilization Law.

2018 Shlomo Filber, former Director-General of the Telecommunications Ministry turns state's witness after incarceration. Avigdor Lieberman leaves the coalition. Yair Lapid refuses to vote for an additional Mobilization Law.

2019 April – Knesset elections. September – second round of elections. November 21 – Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit charges Netanyahu with behavior of briberyfraud, and breach of trust.

2020 – March – elections for 23rd Knesset. Unity government formed. "Black Flags" demonstrations begin led by siblings Yarden, Shikma (Bressler) and Eyal Schwartzman.

October - Amit Segal leaks tape of Attorney-General Mandelblit implying he was being blackmailed to tailor a case against Netanyahu thus feeding supporting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that the attorney general had been blackmailed by the State Attorney Shai Nitzan. Government fails to pass the budget, Netanyahu rather than passing premiership to Gantz calls for elections.

2021 – March 23 elections held but only in late May was a coalition formed when Netanyahu failed and then Bennett's Yamina joined with Bennett, with 6 seats, becoming first of a new prime minister rotation agreement. In May, Arab-Jewish mixed-city riots broke out. Black Flags demos halt whereas rightwing demonstrators pressure Yamina MKs.

2022 – April 6 MK Idit Silman resigns leading to elections which took place on November 1, the fifth round in four years. According to the rotation agreement, upon the dissolution of the Knesset, Yair Lapid became Prime Minister on July 1. The new coalition was represented by 64 MKs. In December, opponents of the new coalition began to meet to plan grassroots campaign of demonstrations.

2023 – January 3 – Yariv Levin, Justice Minister, announces elements of a judicial reform legislation. January 14 – protests begin.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

"Palestine" - Part of Greater Syria

From "Missouri Zion, Missouri Intifada: Mormonism, Zionism and the Palestine Conflict", Graham St. John Stott, Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, May 2007, Edinburgh University Press:


Friday, June 16, 2023

The Palestine Mandate Flag

Thanks to this story of the arrival from Germany in 1935 of the tourist ship, Tel Aviv, we know that flag of the mandate was not as many have claimed - the blue-and-white version similar to our current flag - but one with a Union Jack and a circle with 'Palestine' inside

Description in the Haaretz news item:


Monday, June 12, 2023

Jabotinsky, Zionism and ... Mormonism

From "Missouri Zion, Missouri Intifada: Mormonism, Zionism and the Palestine Conflict" by Graham St. John Stott, published in Holy Land Studies: A Multidisciplinary Journal, Edinburgh University Press, Volume 6, Number 1, May 2007:


Monday, April 24, 2023

Restoring the Jews

The Christian theological conceptualization of the Jewish people's restoration to their national home dovetailed with the Biblical and Talmudic idea of the return to Zion. There is another meaning to "restoration" which is interpreted as the "restoration of the Israelites, who were formerly rejected, and the bringing them back to the communion of God in Christ". As is recorded: "In July of 1696, the New England Puritan Cotton Mather wrote in his diary: “This day, from the dust, where I lay prostrate, before the Lord, I lifted up my cries […] For the conversion of the Jewish Nation, and for my own having the happiness, at some time or other, to baptize a Jew, that should by my ministry, be brought home to the Lord.”"

This concept of Jewish restoration to Palestine as was argued by some of its proponents "for Jewish supremacy over Gentiles in the millennial period." For those who promoted the idea, there was an element of "Judeo-centrism".

I have extracted a considerable amount of quotations from this source to show that the idea of Jews going home ot the Land of Israel was a constant throughout the centuries, from the 13th on. (The footnotes can be found at the source)

one who held to a Jewish restoration is Gerard of Borgo San Donnino (around 1255). He taught that some Jews would be blessed as Jews in the end time and would return to their ancient homeland.18  John of Rupescissa (ca. 1310–1366) could most likely be viewed as a Christian Zionist. “For him the converted Jews would become God’s new imperial nation and Jerusalem would be completely rebuilt to become the center of the purified faith. For proof he drew on a literal exposition of the Old Testament prophecies which until then had been read by Christian exegetes to apply either to the time of the incarnation or to the heavenly Jerusalem in the beyond.”19

it was out of the English Puritan movement that this belief sprung. “Starting with the Puritan ascendancy,” notes Tuchman, “the movement among the English for the return of the Jews to Palestine began.”32 Why the Puritan? Puritans were not just dissenters, they were a Protestant sect that valued the Old Testament to an unprecedented degree in their day.

One of the first Englishman to put forth the view that the Jews should be restored to the land of Israel was a scholar who had taken two degrees from Cambridge named Francis Kett. In 1585 he had published a book entitled The Glorious and Beautiful Garland of Mans Glorification Containing the Godly Misterie of Heavenly Jerusalem (one of the shorter titles of the day). While his book primarily dealt with other matters, Kett did have a section in which he mentioned “the notion of Jewish national return to Palestine.”

As the 1600s arrived, a flurry of books advocating Jewish restoration to their land began to appear. Thomas Draxe released in 1608 The Worldes Resurrection: On the general calling of the Jews, A familiar Commentary upon the eleventh Chapter of Saint Paul to the Romaines, according to the sense of Scripture. Draxe argued for Israel’s restoration based upon his Calvinism and Covenant Theology.38

Two great giants of their era were Thomas Brightman (1552–1607), (likely a Postmillennialist) and Premillennialist Joseph Mede (1586–1638) who both wrote boldly of a future restoration of Israel. Brightman’s work, Revelation of the Revelation appeared in 1609 and told “how the Jews will return from the areas North and East of Palestine to Jerusalem and how the Holy Land and the Jewish Christian church will become the centre of a Christian world.”39  Brightman wrote: “What, shall they return to Jerusalem again? There is nothing more certain; the prophets do everywhere confirm it.”40

Joseph Mede’s contribution was released in 1627 in Latin42 and in 1642 in English as The Key of the Revelation. 43 The father of English premillennialism was also an ardent advocate of Jewish restoration to their homeland. Following Mede in many ways, Thomas Goodwin (1600–1680) also saw the Jews one day returning to Israel. In An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (1639), he taught that the Jews would be converted to Christ by 1656.44 Momentum was certainly building toward widespread acceptance of English belief in Jewish restoration, but a few bumps in the road still lay ahead. Giles Fletcher (1549–1611), a fellow at King’s College, Cambridge and Queen Elizabeth’s ambassador to Russia wrote a work advocating Restorationism. Fletcher’s book, Israel Redux: or the Restauration of Israel; or the Restauration of Israel exhibited in two short treatises (shortened title) was published posthumously by the Puritan divine Samuel Lee in 1677.45 Fletcher cites a letter in his book from 1606 as he argues for the return of the Jews to their land.46 Fletcher repeatedly taught the “certainty of their return in God’s due time.”47 A key proponent for Israel’s future restoration was Henry Finch (1558-1625) who wrote a seminal work on the subject in 1621, called The World’s Resurrection or The Calling of the Jewes. A Present to Judah and the Children of Israel that Ioyned with Him, and to Ioseph (that valiant tribe of Ephraim) and all the House of Israel that Ioyned with Him. 48 Finch, at the time of the publication of his book was a member of Parliament and the most highly respected legal scholars in England at the time…Finch taught that the biblical “passages which speak of a return of these people to their own land, their conquest of enemies and their rule of the nations are to be taken literally, not allegorically as of the Church.”51 King James of England was offended by Finch’s statement that all nations would become subservient to national Israel at the time of her restoration.52 Finch and his publisher were quickly arrested when his book was released by the High Commissioner (a creation of King James), and examined.53 Finch was striped of his status and possessions and then died a few years latter. “The doctrine of the restoration of the Jews continued to be expounded in England, evolving according to the insight of each exponent, and finally playing a role in Christian Zionistic activities in the latter part of the nineteenth and in the first of the twentieth centuries.”54 Many Puritans of the seventeenth century taught the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land.55 One of the greatest Puritan theologians in England was John Owen (1616–1683) who wrote, “The Jews shall be gathered from all parts of the earth where they are scattered, and brought home into their homeland.”56

There were a number of Restorationists in Holland during the time of the Puritan movement. Isaac de la Peyrere (1594–1676), who served as the French Ambassador to Denmark, “wrote a book wherein he argued for a restoration of the Jews to Israel without conversion to Christianity.”59 In 1655, Paul Felgenhauever, wrote Good News for Israel in which he taught that there would be the “permanent return of the Jews to their own country eternally bestowed upon them by God through the unqualified promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”60 The Dane, Holger Paulli (1644–1714) “believed wholeheartedly in the Jewish Return to the Holy Land, as a condition for the Second Coming.”61 He even “lobbied the kings of Denmark, England, and France to go and conquer Palestine from the Ottomans in order that the Jews could regain their nation.”62 Frenchman, Marquis de Langallerie (1656–1717), schemed with the Turkish Ambassador in the Hague on a plan defeat the Pope and trade the papal empire for a return of the Jews to the Holy Land. Langallerie was arrested in Hamburg, tried and convicted of high treason and died in prison a year later.63 Other European Restorationists of the era include: Isaac Vossius, Hugo Grotius, Gerhard John Vossius, David Blondel, Vasover Powel, Joseph Eyre, Edward Whitaker, and Charles Jerran.64 The mid-1600s witnessed “the sudden explosion of millenarian publications,”65 which predisposed the British to also consider the future fate of the Jews in the holy land. James Saddington lists the following seventeenth century English individuals as holding to Restorationist views: John Milton, John Bunyan, Roger Williams, John Sadler and Oliver Cromwell.66 “The doctrine of the restoration of the Jews continued to be expounded in England, evolving according to the insight of each exponent,” concludes Ehle, “and finally playing a role in Christian Zionistic activities in the latter part of the nineteenth and in the first of the twentieth centuries.”67

Perhaps the most influential of the early Puritan ministers in New England was John Cotton, who, following the postmillennialism of Brightman held to the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land.68 According to Ehle, in addition to John Cotton (1584–1652), early Restorationists included: John Davenport (1597–1670), William Hooke (1601–1678), John Eliot (1604–1690), Samuel Willard (1640–1707), and Samuel Sewall (1652–1730).69 Ephraim Huit, a Cambridge trained early minister in Windsor, Connecticut believed that the Jews would be regathered to their homeland in 1650.70 One of the standout advocates of the restoration doctrine was Increase Mather (1639–1723), the son of Richard and father of Cotton. Increase Mather wrote over 100 books in his life and was a president of Harvard. His first work was The Mystery of Israel’s Salvation, which went through about a half dozen revisions during his life.71 His support of the national restoration of Israel to her land in the future was typical of American Colonial Puritans and was generally widespread.

President John Quincy Adams expressed his desire that “the Jews again [were] in Judea, an independent Nation, . . . once restored to an independent government and no longer persecuted.”74 President Abraham Lincoln in a meeting with Canadian Christian Zionist, Henry W. Monk, in 1863 said, “Restoring the Jews to their homeland is a noble dream shared by many Americans. He (the Jewish chiropodist of the President) has so many times ‘put me on my feet’ that I would have no objection to giving his countrymen a ‘leg up’.”75

The wave of premillennialism is what produced in Britain a crop of Christian Zionists that led to political activism which culminated in the Balfour Declaration. Anthony Ashley Cooper (1801–1885), later Lord Shaftesbury…“Oh, pray for the peace of Jerusalem” were the words engraved on a ring that he always wore on his right hand.84 Since Lord Shaftesbury believed that the Jews would return to their homeland in conjunction with the second advent, he “never had a shadow of a doubt that the Jews were to return to their own land. . . . It was his daily prayer, his daily hope.”85 In 1840, Shaftsbury was known for coining a slogan that he would often repeat throughout his life, that the Jews were “a country without nation for a nation without a country.”86 Shaftesbury greatest contribution to the Restoration movement was his attempt to accomplish something in the political realm in order to provoke England to develop a policy in favor of returning the Jews to their homeland. He succeeded in influencing England to adopt that policy, but England failed, at that time to influence the Turks. In 1838, in an article in the Quarterly Review, Shaftsbury put forth the view that Palestine could become a British colony of Jews that “could provide Britain with cotton, silk, herbs, and olive oil.”87 Next, Shaftsbury “lobbied Lord Palmerston, the Foreign Secretary, using political, financial and economic arguments to convince him to help the Jews return to Palestine. And Palmerston did so. What was originally the religious beliefs of Christian Zionists became official British policy (for political interests) in Palestine and the Middle East by the 1840s.”

While British foreign secretary in 1840, Henry John Temple Palmerston (1784–1865) wrote the following letter to his ambassador at Constantinople in his attempt to advocate on behalf of the Jews: There exists at the present time among the Jews dispersed over Europe, a strong notion that the time is approaching when their nation is to return to Palestine. . . . It would be of manifest importance to the Sultan to encourage the Jews to return and to settle in Palestine because the wealth which they would bring with them would increase the resources of the Sultan’s dominions; and the Jewish people, if returning under the sanction and protection and at the invitation of the Sultan, would be a check upon any future evil designs of Mehemet Ali or his successor. . . . I have to instruct Your Excellency strongly to recommend [the Turkish government] to hold out every just encouragement to the Jews of Europe to return to Palestine.

One time governor of Australia, Colonel George Gawler (1796–1869) was one of the most zealous and influential Restorationist, next to Shaftsbury, in the 1840s.93 “Colonel Gawler was a senior commander at the Battle of Waterloo.”94 When he returned to England in 1841 he became a strong advocate of Jewish settlements in the land of Palestine. Gawler’s Restorationism, like most of his day, was sparked by his religious convictions, but he argued for Jewish return to their land upon geopolitical grounds. Gawler stated the following: [England] urgently needs the shortest and safest lines of communication. . . . Egypt and Syria stand in intimate connection. A foreign hostile power mighty in either would soon endanger British trade . . . and it is now for England to set her hand to the renovation of Syria through the only people whose energies will be extensively and permanently in the work—the real children of the soil, the sons of Israel.95 Working with Sir Moses Montefiore (a British Jew) Gawler provided an agricultural strategy for Jewish resettlement of the Holy Land. One of these Montefiore-Gawler projects resulted in “the planting of an orange grove near Jaffa, still existent today and known as Tel Aviv’s ‘Montefiore Quarter.’”96 Charles Henry Churchill (1814–1877), an ancestor of Winston Churchill, was a British military officer stationed in Damascus in 1840. “He was a Christian Zionist and he supported the Jews against the non-Zionist Christians of Damascus.”97 It was through his efforts that he helped acquit the Jews accused of the infamous charge of blood libel. Col. Churchill was honored a banquet hosted by a grateful Jewish community where he spoke of the “hour of liberation of Israel . . . that was approaching, when the Jewish Nation would once again take its place among the powers of the world.”98 In a letter to Jewish philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore (1784–1885), dated June 14, 1841, Churchill said, I cannot conceal from you my most anxious desire to see your countrymen endeavor once more to resume their existence as a people. I consider the object to be perfectly obtainable. But two things are indispensably necessary: Firstly that the Jews themselves will take up the matter, universally and unanimously. Secondly that the European powers will aid them in their views.99

Laurence Oliphant (1829–1888) was an evangelical “British Protestant, an officer in the British Foreign Service, a writer, world-traveler and an unofficial diplomat.”103 Oliphant was passionate about the Jewish Restoration to their land that came from his intense religious convictions, which “he tried to conceal them behind arguments based on strategy and politics.”104 In 1880 he published a book, The Land of Gilead, “proposing Jewish resettlement, under Turkish sovereignty and British protection, of Palestine east of the Jordan.”105 Even then, he foresaw the agricultural potential and the possibilities of developing the resources of the Dead Sea.

A German Lutheran, C. F. Zimpel, who “described himself as Doctor et Philosopiae, member of the Grand Ducal Saxon Society for Mineralogy and Geognosy at Jena,” published pamphlets in the mid-1800s entitled “Israelites in Jerusalem” and “Appeal to all Christendom, as well as to the Jews, for the Liberation of Jerusalem.”123

Frenchman, Charles-Joseph Prince de Ligne (1735–1814) advocated Jewish Restorationism. He called upon the Christians of Europe to lobby the Turkish Sultan so that the Jews could return to their homeland. De Ligne’s appeal was used by Napoleon in his efforts to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. “Among those French Restorationists were theologians and authors, but also, increasingly, politicians.”125 Some of them included Ernest Laharanne, Alexandre Dumas, and Jean-Henri Dunant (1828–1910), who was also the rounder of the International Red Cross.126 Restoration proposals were put forth by a number of Europeans in the nineteenth century. A Swiss theologian named Samuel Louis Gaussen who wrote a book advocating a Jewish return to their land in 1844.127 Italian, Benedetto Musolino (1809–1885) wrote a book, after a visit to the Holy Land, in which he argued “that the restoration of the Jews would allow European culture into the Middle East.”