Wednesday, November 2, 2011

EXODUS (part 3 of 6)

This is the 3rd of 6 installments on the book: A Safe HavenHarry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel.

The last time I commented on A Safe Haven - Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, I dogeared page 215, and so I’ll continue there. Imagine that you are an American in the Fall of 1947. The conflict in the Middle East and the humanitarian crisis of what to do with the Jewish refugees is a common story on the radio and the newspapers (the main sources of news back then.) 
As the nations were posturing their positions and interests, the Soviet Union pulled a surprise - but not to the Biblical God.  The Soviets had long been opposed to Zionism, but they were hoping to play a greater role in the Middle East, so on May 14, 1947, the Soviet ambassador to the UN, Andrei Gromyko, proclaimed that the British Mandate was “bankrupt and that the Soviet Union supported the aspirations of the Jews to establish their own State.” They knew that the British would soon be out of Palestine and they intended to fill that void. 
In a way, I later saw the outworking of this strategy. During 1968-1971 I made two Mediterranean cruises aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence. I worked in the Intelligence Center aboard our ship and was aware of where we were going and what the Russians were doing. We had a special room where a large map (about 10-15 feet) of the Mediterranean was on display on the wall. One of my jobs was to get up before 6 am and read the Secret message traffic that came in over night. I then moved the ship tags to their new locations and wrote a summary of the messages for the Executive Officer. We not only kept track of the Soviets’ ships but were very much aware of the Soviet presence in Egypt where they had airfields, missile sites, and planes. They would sometimes try to overfly us when we ventured into the eastern part of the Med. Anyway, back to the story.
“The Zionists were taken by surprise [by the Russian pronouncement]. The speech, David Horowitz remembered, was like a thunderbolt out of a clear blue sky after so many years which our cause had been ostracized by the Russians.” page 216 of Safe Haven
The “thunderbolt out of a clear blue sky” was actually the Biblical God working His will.
In May 1947 the UN General Assembly formed a team called UNSCOP (United Nations Special Committee on Palestine) to investigate the cause of the conflict in Palestine, and, if possible, devise a solution under article 10 of the Charter, concerning the future government of Palestine.”  UNSCOP was made up of representatives from 11 nations who visited Palestine and gathered testimony from both sides of the conflict. However, the Arab Higher Committee boycotted the Commission, explaining that the Palestinian Arabs' natural rights were “self-evident and could not continue to be subject to investigation, but rather deserved to be recognized on the basis of the principles of the United Nations Charter.” 
About this time, an event occurred that galvanized the attention of the world, including the committee. The ship SS Exodus, carrying 4554 Jewish Holocaust refugees seeking to illegally immigrate to Palestine, was stopped by the British, just off the coast of Israel. 
If you haven’t already seen the movie Exodus, directed by Otto Preminger and starring Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Sal Mineo, then I highly recommend that you put it at the top of your Netflix queue and see it. Exodus is based on the Leon Uris novel of the same name. Israeli resistance fighter Paul Newman attempts to bring 600 European Jews from British-blockaded Cyprus into the newly partitioned Palestine after World War II. 

One of the lesser known participants in the Exodus was an American Christian minister named John Grauel. He is recognized by Israel as one of the founding fathers of the nation. The following excerpts (in black) from an online article/book about Reverand Grauel:

"As a pastor in the Methodist church, Grauel was automatically given an exemption from military service but he personally felt a need to do more, especially as the stories poured out of Europe of the Nazi atrocities and the Jews. He approached Judge Goldberg to ask what could he do. "He sent me to see Dr. Carl Herman Voss, of the American–Christian Palestine Committee. Created in 1943, this was a national organization tied in with the Zionist Emergency Council to help create a Jewish State.” One day, somewhere late in 1944 or early '45, I had the opportunity to attend my first Zionist conference, which was held in Princeton, N.J. The conference had a profound impact on me….A distinguished rabbi, Stephen Wise, reported that at least seven hundred thousand Jews had been murdered by Hitler. Had he reported that figure anywhere near six million, he would have been carted away as demented…..for me the most electrifying portion of that conference was when David Ben Gurion spoke….later on I was introduced to Ben Gurion and sat around among others just listening to him.

Through a series of meetings with people involved with Israel, Grauel joined the Haganah, to rescue those who could be helped to leave Europe. He became part of the crew on the President Warfield (as the ship was called before changing its name to Exodus.)

On March 29, 1947 the President Warfield left for Marseille. All aboard were deeply concerned. What sort of reception awaited them by the British?
“Friday, April 5, Passover was celebrated on board. Prayers were said, the traditional questions of the seder were asked and answered, and suddenly I found myself close to tears. The reader has recited the traditional words, 'Next year in Jerusalem.' Here I was a, country preacher, a Methodist seated aboard a rolling ship in the mid-Atlantic with a group of Jewish chaverim (friends) in celebration of the self-same festival Jesus celebrated so many years before. What made the moment even more moving for me was that we were on our way as instruments of deliverance in assisting those of the second Exodus to return to their land, Eretz Israel." 
Reverend John Stanley Grauel's importance and vital presence on the Exodus was coming out. He was a Christian minister, an eye witness to the world. He was not a Jew.
"It was the Mossad's intention to mount a huge illegal immigration operation that would draw the attention of the international media and influence the members of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), who would then be visiting Palestine on a fact-finding mission."
UNSCOP had refused to meet with refugees in the camps in Europe. The structure and membership of the committee was already unsympathetically packed against the Jews. Their fact finding trip to Palestine would bring back a crucial recommendation that would weigh heavily on the upcoming Partition Resolution that would determine the fate of Palestine and the Jews.
"At 10:00pm a special broadcast, relayed from the Exodus to Kol Yisrael, the Voice of Israel, was carried to the world. Harel arranged a presentation of short speeches of greetings from some of the passengers and a choir of children singing Hebrew songs.
"For the final portion of the program Jossi asked me to add a short appeal directed to the United Nations Committee on Palestine, meeting in Kadimah House, Jerusalem. I gave the following statement:
"Gentlemen, at this time we request you, in assembly in Eretz Israel, that you appear to gather testimony from the forty-five hundred Jews who are coming to Palestine in a few hours aboard the Exodus 1947. We remind you that no committee was called to witness the death of six million Jews in Europe. This is your opportunity to fulfill the requirements of your declared justice in these matters. Witness if you will the heartache, the sorrow, and the suffering and the utter brutality inflicted on our people by the British. They have acted as the Nazis have acted. They clubbed and shot down in cold blood our women and children. These British are imprisoning our people in the same types of camps on Cyprus as they suffered in Hitler's Europe."
"You have declared yourselves to guarantee equal opportunity to all who seek freedom. Bear witness in truth to that declaration and hear our case now. We urge you to come and see our ship and to sit in judgment upon the British who we believe are doing the very thing that the United Nations has pledged itself to destroy."
"The British attacked the unarmed ship with lethal force at 2:30 in the morning 17 miles offshore of Palestine, opposite Gaza in international waters. The British, under maritime law, had committed an attack of piracy. "The old, disabled ship steamed slowly into Haifa, nosed into place by several tugs. The young people, those still capable of standing, lined up on deck and sang Hatikvah (Hymn of Hope) with abundant emotion. Hundreds of British police and soldiers crowded the area. Cameramen took pictures while clinging to an overhead crane. Very much in evidence and obviously people of importance were two men, later identified as Judge Carl Sandstrom of Sweden, Chairman of the United nations Special committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) and the Committee representative from Czechoslovakia, Dr. Karel Lisicky."
The docks were filled with people, soldiers and the press. The name Exodus was now known around the world.
"The next morning, after Grauel had managed to sleep awhile,he said "I kept my appointment to meet with the U.N. Committee members in Dr. Sandstrom's quarters in the presence of Dr. Hoo, Dr. Ralph Bunche, Dr. Garcia Robles, all members of the U.N. Secretariat, and Committee members Ivan Rand, Canada, Enrique Rodriquez Fabregat, Uruguay, and Nicolas Blom, Netherlands. They questioned me close about my contention that we were not in territorial waters at the time the British attacked, and I assured them that I had the ship's log to verify my statement. I gave them a full account of the battle emphasizing the fact that there was not a single weapon aboard our ship."
"I made one closing statement, 'I have watched these people. I know what they are. And I tell you, the Jews in the European Displaced Persons camps insist on coming to Palestine, they will come to Palestine, and nothing short of open warfare and complete destruction will halt them.' There was great gratification for me in knowing that my eyewitness report was now a matter of record. Inherent in the nature of the relationship between Christians and Jews was the fact that because I was a Christian, in this situation my testimony would be given greater credence than that of a Jewish crew member."
The Haganah's effort, deliberately placing Reverend John Stanley Grauel on the Exodus, was wildly successful. They had cynically acknowledged reality – a Jew's word was not as good as a Christian's. Sadly, they were correct.
"I was elated at having completed my mission"…. Gerry Frank had one more stop for Grauel. "He took me to an apartment house, told me to go up to the second floor and push the button, then left me. I did as I was told and Golda Meir answered the door. It was her apartment. A meeting was being held there of the entire Jewish Agency, the leadership of the Palestinian Jewish community, except for Ben Gurion who was seeing Dr. Chaim Weizman off to Switzerland… They asked me for a full detailed report of the Exodus trip from beginning to end and when I was finished, Golda was in tears. So was I… We all sat in silence for a few moments and then Moshe Sharett led me out on the balcony where we talked for two hours and began a close friendship that lasted until his death in 1965."
Reverend Grauel returned to the United States after only nine days in Palestine.
"In the port of Haifa the illegal immigrants were transferred by force to three British vessels--the Ocean Vigour, Runnymede Park, and Empire Rival-- to be taken back to France. This marked a significant change in British policy from what had been the standard procedure since August 1946, namely, the deportation of all apprehended illegal immigrants to detention camps in Cyprus. When the ships arrived in France on July 28, most of the passengers chose to remain on board. The French refused to accede to the British demand to force them out. For a month the three ships remained anchored near Port-de-Bouc. The refugee passengers suffered under grueling conditions. Finally, after a hunger strike, the British decided to return the refugees to DP camps in Germany. The ships arrived in Hamburg on September 8 and their passengers were forcibly removed by British soldiers. From Hamburg, they were taken by prisoner trains with barred windows to the Poppendorf and Amstau DP camps in the British zone. Most of the Exodus refugees remained in the DP camps for over a year, reaching Israel only after the state was established in May 1948.”
One of the things that I would like to understand better is how and why England’s initial support for Zionism and the Jewish people changed so radically. With God’s promise that He would bless those who blessed Israel and curse those who cursed Israel, we can chart the rise and fall of England (and of any nation that is foolish enough to poke God in the apple of His eye) over this period. I hope to get many of the clues from my book Churchill and the Jews.

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