The response to David Horowitz’s book recounting the activities of the late, pro-Zionist Pastor Charles Taze Russell, who preceded Thedor Herzl in calling upon the Jewish people to return and rebuild their ancient homeland, continued to receive favorable reactions.
Among prominent Jewish leaders who found the book to be valuable were the Chancellor of Bar Ilan University in Israel, Rabbi Emanuel Rackman and B’nai B’rith International’s UN representative, Dr. Harris O. Schoenberg.
Thanking journalist Horowitz for the book, Dr. Schoenberg wrote this warm tribute; “I have been privileged to know you for close to two decades and to visit many times your ‘Jewish corner” at the UN. I have also noted the spiritual quality you bring to your work. Very few at the UN these days remember the teaching that humans were created in the image of God. It is, of course, a Jewish teaching, but within its parameters a philosophy of sanctification of the human spirit and dedication to human rights is set out.”
At United Israel’s 44th Annual Meeting on April 19, 1987, Mr. Horowitz also reported on the enthusiastic reception given the volume by other outstanding leaders in both the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds. The widespread circulation of the book brought many new subscribers to the United Israel Bulletin.
A proposal was made at the meeting that United Israel establish a Youth Unit to “serve as a sort of watchdog body of trustees based upon its Constitution and by-laws, to continue unabated and that it perpetuate its activities year-in and year-out.” The new United Israel Youth Unit “Shomre Ha’Agudah” (Guardians of the Union) held its first meeting on August 17, 1987.
It was on June 12, 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, while standing at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, uttered his famous line “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” calling on the leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev to open up the barrier which had divided West and East Berlin since 1961.
Also in Berlin two months later on August 17, Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess died at Spandau prison. He hanged himself. Hess was Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist party leader deputy. Rudolph Walter Richard Hess was tried at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, convicted, and given a life sentence. He served his sentence at Spandau prison in Berlin, where from 1966 he was the sole inmate. Soon thereafter, the prison was demolished to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.
In late 1987, the first Palestinian intifada (uprising) against Israeli rule in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem erupted in Gaza. Violent from the start, the insurrection lasted until the convening of the Madrid peace conference in 1991. During the four-year period, the Reagan administration, convinced that the status quo was untenable, responded to a bold PLO diplomatic initiative by opening a political dialogue with the PLO, much to the dismay of the Israeli government. The U.S.-PLO dialogue, failing to yield any tangible results, was later suspended by the Bush administration in mid-1990.
1988 arrived marking the year of two significant anniversaries.
The State of Israel was 40 years young. The front page of the 1988 summer edition of the United Israel Bulletin carried the message from Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir for Yom Ha’atzmaut 5748, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the State of Israel.
In the forty years of the State’s existence, there was no respite from violence. The wars, taking many forms, all had one thing in common; they all targeted Israel’s very existence. The message from the Prime Minister stressed that in the midst of the present trying times, all Israelis join hands and continue to display the courage, and unity and determination that had brought them back to Zion. He then called on everyone to celebrate the unity and solidarity of the Jewish people restored as a nation in their ancient homeland.
The 45th Annual meeting of United Israel World Union was held on April 24, 1988 in New York. David Horowitz opened the meeting by calling for a moment of silent prayer for Rabbi Leo Jung, who had passed away a few months earlier. Dr. Jung was a long-time member of United Israel’s Consultative Board and an ardent supporter of the movement.
Recognized as one of the world’s outstanding orthodox scholars and spiritual leaders, Dr. Jung was instrumental in selecting Mr. Horowitz as the annual commencement recipient of the prestigious Yeshiva University Mordecai ben-David Award in 1982.
Rabbi Israel Mowshowitz, another member of United Israel’s Consultative Board and then currently an aide to Governor Mario Cuomo of New York, gave the invocation. Among first-time attendees were the acclaimed Israeli piano virtuoso, Amiram Rigai and Israeli playwright Marshall Ross. Other special guests included Lowell Gallin, founder of Israeli based “Root and Branch Association” and Mijael Garcia, spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Shmuel at Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, along with his associate Josef Tamariz.
In a special announcement, David Horowitz informed the attendees that Mr. Gregg Sitrin had joined the United Israel Bulletin staff as an Associate Editor. Mr. Sitrin previously had assisted the late Dr. Charles H. Kremer in exposing Nazi war criminals living in the United States.
President Horowitz cited a number of responses received on the occasion of the 45th anniversary. Too many to mention, special greetings were conveyed from many people and organizations around the world, including Israel, India, France, Canada and Mexico, hailing United Israel as a “Light Unto the Nations.”
It was in 1988 that the militant Sunni Islamist multi-national organization Al-Qaeda (“the Base”) was founded by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam, and several of their aides. The United Nations Security Council, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union, the United States, Russia, India, and other countries designated it as a terrorist group.
On August 20, 1988, the long Iran-Iraq War mercifully came to an end. The armed conflict, lasting almost eight years, resulted in over one million casualties and billions of dollars in damages. Viewed from a historical perspective, the protracted war was the latest phase of the ancient Persian-Arab conflict throughout the ages.
David Horowitz and Israeli consul Colonel Assad-Assad, an Israeli Druze currently serving in the Israel Mission to the UN, co-authored a feature article titled: “The Druze and the Jewish People: Why Such Close Affinity?” The comprehensive work is based on Sefer HaYashar, a lost book of the Bible, which unveils the mystery behind Jethro’s link to Moses. The lost book is mentioned in two places in the Bible; Joshua 10:13 and II Samuel 1:18. Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, is the central figure of veneration among the Druze people.
During the Hanukkah Season 5748, Reuven Raymond Solomon of the Solomon Press published a 16-page pamphlet titled: “Rav Kook’s 1929 Holocaust Warning.” It contained the English translation of pre-state Israel’s two Chief Rabbis’ proclamation warning the world in 1929 of a holocaust to befall the Jewish people. Seryl Gellerman, daughter of distinguished Torah teacher, Dr. Yisrael Gellerman, translated the warning. Resurrected by Reuven Solomon, it was being published in English for the first time.
There’s a background story to the unusual event and it involved David Horowitz.
Horowitz recalled in his autobiography “Thirty-Three Candles” (1949) that in 1929, a warning was issued and distributed throughout the Jewish world by the two Chief Rabbis of pre-state Israel. In the proclamation, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and Rabbi Jacob Meir warned of a great tragedy that was to be visited upon the Jewish people and calling for intense prayer and repentance. This warning was issued as a result of four strange dreams experienced by Turkish Cabbalist Emanuel Ben-Nisan. He had the strange and troubling dreams after having prayed intensely for an answer concerning the long and bitter exile of the Jewish people. Rabbi Kook and Rabbi Meir incorporated these dreams into the warning pronouncement that was issued.
Among the people who took notice of this warning was the world-renowned sage, writer, and Cabbalist of Warsaw, Poland, Hillel Zeitlin. David Horowitz and Zeitlin became friends during Horowitz’s six months stay in Poland during 1928 and they continued to correspond after Horowitz returned to America. Much of their correspondence dealt with this warning declaration that had come to their attention. Was this warning the result of a preposterous premonition or something more?
In his letters to Horowitz, written in Hebrew, Zeitlin expressed the view that God would not allow more suffering to come upon his people Israel who, he insisted, had suffered enough through the ages. Horowitz disagreed. In his correspondence, Horowitz appealed to Zeitlin to consider the “manifestation” as a message not to be taken lightly. Horowitz wrote: “that the Divine Presence is at all times evident everywhere” and cited the words of the prophet in Amos 3:7.
When the Nazis began liquidating Polish Jewry in 1942, Hillel Zeitlin was 71 years old. He was killed by Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto while holding a book of the Zohar and wrapped in a prayer shawl and phylacteries. His family was also killed, with the only survivor being his eldest son, Aaron.
David Horowitz wrote the Introduction to “Rav Kook’s 1929 Holocaust Warning” at his United Nations office on Hanukkah 5748 (1988).
United Israel owes a debt of gratitude to Reuven Raymond Solomon for his work in bringing the English translation of this historical document into the light of day. Copies of the original proclamation in Hebrew and Reuven Solomon’s publication remain a part of the United Israel World Union archives.
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 forty two in the ongoing series “Remembering David Horowitz.”