Remembering David Horowitz (28): I am Joseph, Thy Brother

Ms. Pelpina W. Sahureka, Foreign Minister of the Republic of the South Moluccans, whose Government-in-Exile is headquartered in Holland, addressed a special meeting of United Israel World Union held at the Mount Nebo Congregation in Manhattan on February 3, 1974. Ms. Sahureka reported on the background history of the heroic South Moluccan people and their unceasing struggle to regain their independence.

The Republic of the South Moluccans is a self-proclaimed republic in the Maluku Islands, a part of the vast Indonesian archipelago. Indonesian forces seized the main Maluku Islands in November 1950.

The American South Moluccan delegation submitted a memorandum to the United Nations stating its case for recognition of independence. Correspondent David Horowitz was among the many UN supporters of the three million South Moluccan people in their struggle to regain their independence.

The political fallout in Israel following the Yom Kippur War was well underway. The fact that the Arabs had succeeded in surprising the IDF and inflicting heavy losses in the early part of the war against the Israeli army was a traumatic experience for Israel. The government reacted to the public’s calls for an inquiry by establishing a commission chaired by Shimon Agranat, the president of Israel’s Supreme Court.

The Agranat Commission published its preliminary findings on April 2, 1974, holding six people particularly responsible for Israel’s failings. Although it absolved Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan of all responsibility public calls for their resignations intensified.

On April 11th, Golda Meir resigned. Her cabinet followed suit including Dayan. A new government was seated in June, and Yitzhak Rabin, who had spent most of the war as an advisor to IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar in an unofficial capacity, became Prime Minister.

It seemed the fallout from the war’s result even reverberated in Moscow where Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev pitched the classic “hissy fit.”

According to historian Anatoly Chernyaev, on November 4, 1973, Brezhnev unloaded: “We have offered them (the Arabs) a sensible way for so many years. But no, they wanted to fight. Fine! We gave them technology, the latest, the kind even Vietnam didn’t have. They had double superiority in tanks and aircraft, triple in artillery, and in air defense and anti-tank weapons they had absolute supremacy. And what? Once again they were beaten. Once again they screamed for us to come save them. Sadat woke me up in the middle of the night twice over the phone saying “Save us!” He demanded that we send Soviet troops, and immediately! No! We are not going to fight for them.”

Brezhnev’s tirade sounded more like an enraged fan whose team had just suffered another unbearable loss than that of statesman speak.

In the summer 1974 issue of United Israel Bulletin, an announcement was made that Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. had published the book believed to have influenced Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council to reject the charge of collective Jewish guilt for the crucifixion in English translation.

Titled “Jesus and Israel,” it is the work of the noted French historian Jules Isaac who, as a result of the Nazi occupation of France in 1940, was led to delve into the origin and widespread development of anti-Semitism. The writing was begun in 1943 and finished in 1946, during which period his wife and daughter were killed in a concentration camp. Martyrs, killed by Hitler’s Nazis, simply because their name was Isaac. The book was dedicated to them.

In his volume, Professor Isaac, who died in 1963 at the age of 86, charges that “anti-Judaism will retain its virulence as long as the Christian churches and peoples do not recognize their responsibility to correct the latent anti-Semitism being taught in all its forms, an interpretation of which I am absolutely convinced is contrary to the truth and love of him who was the Jew, Jesus.”

“Jesus and Israel” was translated into English by Sally Abeles, and contains an interpretive forward by Claire Huchet Bishop, a writer and lecturer on social and spiritual movements in France, to whom Isaac entrusted the responsibility for the American editions of his works.

First published in France in 1949, and in a revised edition there in 1959, it “rocked European Christians’ complacency, particularly in France and in Rome,” Mrs. Bishop declared. Two of the direct results it produced, she stated, were the revision of French catechisms and textbooks, and Jules Isaac’s private audience with Pope John XXIII in 1960.

The incredible story of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli who became Pope Saint John XXIII and reigned from October 28, 1958 until his death in 1963, is one of a dedicated servant of God. One of the most popular Popes of all time, he inaugurated a new era in the history of the Roman Catholic Church by his openness to change, shown especially in his convoking of the Second Vatican Council.

Though Pope John XXIII did not live to see the Vatican Council to completion, he was responsible for the creation of several important documents that pertained to Catholic reconciliation with Jewish people.

In 1960 a delegation of American Jewish leaders presented the Pope with a Torah Scroll to express gratitude for the Jewish lives he had saved during the holocaust.
He replied to the group: “We are all sons of the same heavenly Father. Among us there must ever be the brightness of love and its practice.” He concluded: “I am Joseph, your brother.” By quoting the biblical self-revelation of Joseph to his brothers in Egypt, he was making a statement pregnant with theological implications.

Also in October of 1960, Pope John XXIII received French scholar Jules Isaac, whose personal family losses during the holocaust had caused him to study the origins of anti-Semitism in Christianity’s ancient “teaching of contempt” against Judaism. The Pope had read his book “Jesus and Israel.” The Pope responded positively, placing the issue on the Council’s agenda and paving the way for long overdue changes in establishing a new, positive understanding of the Jewish People in covenant with God.

The man known affectionately as “Good Pope John” died on June 3, 1963. His life’s example and the changes he fostered live on. So also is the following haunting indictment he left behind to a church in need of righting an ancient wrong.

In 1965, the Catholic Herald newspaper quoted Pope John XXIII as saying: “We are conscious today that many, many centuries of blindness have cloaked our eyes so that we can no longer see the beauty of Thy chosen people nor recognize in their faces the features of our privileged brethren. We realize that the mark of Cain stands upon our foreheads. Across the centuries our brother Abel has lain in blood, which we drew, or shed tears we caused by forgetting Thy love. Forgive us for the curse we falsely attached to their name as Jews. Forgive us for crucifying Thee a second time in their flesh. For we know not what we did.”

The first of a series of articles abridged from the late Oscar S. Straus’ book, “The Origin of the Republican Form of Government” appeared in the 1974 summer edition of United Israel Bulletin. Mr. Straus (1850-1926) served as Minister Plenipotentiary to Turkey under Presidents Grover Cleveland Alexander and William McKinley.

Out of print at the time, the Jewish Publication Society first published the volume. The series of articles sought to reveal that the Founding Fathers received their inspiration in the establishment of the American Republic from precedents of government by and for the people as set forth ages ago by the ancient Hebrews under Moses, Joshua and the Judges.

In his brilliant essays, Mr. Straus makes it clear that the Republic established by Moses constituted a perfect pattern for the form of government instituted by the Continental Congress. He reveals that the Republic of Moses had its (1) Chief Executive in the Judge or Shophet; (2) an elected Senate of seventy elders, usually referred to as the Sanhedrin, and (3) an Assembly or “Congregation” as distinct from “all Israel.” The democratic spirit of the Mosaic Republic, he shows, is borne out by the fact that the people themselves “selected” or “appointed” their leaders. The Levites, however, were separated from the other tribes, thus keeping the priesthood apart from the State government.

As the year wound down, The Brotherhood Synagogue had found a new home. It had been forced by the acts of a new strong-willed pastor, to abandon its Greenwich Village sanctuary they had shared with a Presbyterian Church in a venture of brotherhood for nearly twenty years. The former “Friends Meeting House” at 28 Gramercy Park South, an imposing structure that, in 1965, was designated as a landmark building by the Landmark Preservation Commission of the City of New York, was to be their new location.

Former 1859 Quaker Friends Meeting House landmark building becomes new home of The Brotherhood Synagogue.

Rabbi Irving Block, founder of the Synagogue and who, together with the late Reverend Jesse Stitt had functioned in harmony and genuine brotherhood for some nineteen years until the new reactionary pastor took over the church, expressed great pleasure in having the landmark building as the new home of his Brotherhood Synagogue.

There would always be those who might benefit from a reading of Professor Jules Isaac’s book “Jesus and Israel.”

Rabbi Irving Block was a great friend and supporter of United Israel World Union. In later years, United Israel held several of its annual meetings at the Brotherhood Synagogue’s new location in Gramercy Park.

On August 9, 1974, Richard M. Nixon became the first President of the United States to resign from office, an action taken to avoid being removed by impeachment and conviction in response to his role in the Watergate scandal. Vice President Gerald R. Ford became our 38th President.

Ralph Buntyn is executive vice president and associate editor of United Israel World Union. A historian and researcher, his many articles and essays have appeared in various media outlets.

This post is the twenty-eight in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.” For the complete archive see here.

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