Josiah Wedgwood IV
British Visionary – Friend of Zion

Josiah Wedgwood IV - British Visionary“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” ~ Psalm 29:18

When we speak of the heroes who were actively engaged in rescuing the Jewish people from persecution, and who were directly instrumental in helping to establish the modern State of Israel, it is easy to forget those who were the visionaries who prepared the way. Josiah Wedgwood IV was one of those visionaries.

Named after his grandfather, the founder of the world-renowned Wedgwood china business, it is also noteworthy that he was equally proud to bear the name of one of the most righteous kings of Israel.

Josiah Wedgwood was passionate about helping oppressed people everywhere, believing it was the God-ordained duty of every Englishman. He continually decried Great Britain’s turning a blind eye to the reality of Jewish persecution in Europe. Surprisingly, or not, his view was not necessarily shared by his peers in Parliament, especially when the oppressed were Jews. Joshua B. Stein wrote that, “It was his contention that wherever in the world Britain had a claim to influence events, it was her right and obligation to make sure that she did so.”

To that end, he campaigned tirelessly to change the status of the British Mandate of Palestine into a Crown Colony. But that was only the first part of his plan. His ultimate goal was to have Parliament create an independent Jewish dominion that would be a part of the British Empire. He published his proposal in 1928 in his book, The Seventh Dominion. In that book, he proposed that this course of action would result in the Jewish people bringing great prosperity to that long barren and forsaken region. In another of his books, Memoirs of a Fighting Life, he pleaded, “See to it that in Palestine you set up a land of idealism and altruism, a land of liberalism and freedom, not merely a land of the Jews.”

While promoting that, he also vigorously challenged restrictions limiting the immigration of Jews into Great Britain where, he hoped, that there, too, they would be free from persecution and be able to contribute to British society.

When he became frustrated with the resistance to his vision during World War I, he made a radio broadcast in which he implored the United States to take over the responsibility for the Mandate, because he believed that the British had lost the will and lacked the moral fortitude to administer it. Ultimately, the British withdrawal proved to the world that Wedgwood was right.

Wedgwood died in 1943 at the age of 70, so he never saw the realization of his vision.

Although most of what Wedgwood did to promote a Jewish state is lost in the pages of history, there are streets in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa, as well as an Israeli Naval destroyer, that bear his name – an appropriate tribute to a Visionary of Zionism.

Colonel John H. Patterson: Righteous Among the Nations

Colonel John H. Patterson: Righteous Among the NationsOne of the reasons that the museum features the story of Colonel John H. Patterson is that most people have never heard of him. That is unfortunate.

Another reason is that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother, Yoni, was named after him. That is special.

The final reason is because we believe that his story should never be forgotten. That would be reprehensible.

Patterson was a staunch advocate of Zionism in a storied military career that included commanding the Zion Mule Corps, a contingent of 750 Jewish soldiers recruited from the Diaspora to fight in the Boer War and in World War I.

Two years after it was formed in 1915, the Mule Corps was expanded and, thereafter, was known as the Jewish Legion. Its five battalions consisted entirely of Jewish volunteers. The 38th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers was comprised of Jews living in Great Britain and a number of Russian Jews who joined forces with the former Mule Corps members. The 39th Battalion was made up of Jewish men from the U.S. and Canada. Palestinian Jews and former Jewish POWs held captive by the Ottomans became the 40th Battalion. The 41st and 42nd Battalions completed the Legion, but were posted in England without seeing action.

The Jewish Legion fought in the Battle of Jerusalem in 1917 and the Battle of Megiddo in 1918. The Battle of Megiddo was the last, and decisive, Allied offensive thrust in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign under General Allenby. Patterson served as commander of the 38th Battalion until his retirement in 1920. Perhaps his passion and vision for Zionism are best exemplified, not by what he said at the end of his career, but by what he said to his men on March 31, 1915 upon the formation of the Zion Mule Corps.

“‘Pray with me that I should not only, as Moses, behold Canaan from afar, but be divinely permitted to lead you into the Promised Land.”

His prayers were answered as he led his men in recapturing the Promised Land in a battle that was among those with the fewest Allied casualties in all of World War I.

Patterson served in the British military for 35 years until his retirement. There is no doubt that leading the Jewish Legion, the forerunner of the Israeli Defense Forces, was his greatest honor.

Following WWI, Patterson authored The Story of the Jewish Legion, somewhat of a companion piece for his previous books, With the Zionists at Gallipoli and With the Judeans in Palestine. Patterson successfully lobbied to raise funding for Zionist efforts after retiring to California.

He died in La Jolla on June 18, 1947, less than a year prior to the establishment of the nation of Israel, a day for which he had worked and prayed for an entire lifetime. According to his last wishes, Patterson’s ashes were brought to his beloved Zion and buried in an undisclosed location. This Museum is planted here for the very same reason that his ashes are. Because we love Israel.

In 2004, Patrick Streeter published Mad for Zion, A Biography of Colonel J.H. Patterson. His inspiring story is available at

Chinue Sempo Sugihara: Righteous Among the Nations

Chinue Sempo Sugihara: Righteous Among the NationsHis acts of human kindness that emanated from a strong moral compass were virtually unknown to the world at large for nearly 30 years. It was in 1968 that Joshua Nishri, one of the 6,000 “Sugihara Survivors” was able to locate Chinue Sempo Sugihara in Japan. It was only then that Sugihara became aware of the scope of the impact that had been achieved as a result of his actions, the actions of a man with a kind and humble heart who was determined always to do right. Because of his righteous acts, he is counted today as a Hero of Japan and as Righteous among the Nations.

It was only after his death in 1986 that his own country became aware of his heroic efforts; efforts that the government of Japan did not appreciate at the time they were taken.

Sugihara entered the service of the Japanese diplomatic corps in 1919. In 1939, just one year after being posted at Helsinki, Finland, he was reassigned to open a consulate in Lithuania. He was almost immediately confronted with a crisis. Hitler’s 1939 invasion of Poland displaced a massive wave of Jewish families seeking a safe haven in the only direction available to them – to the east. To the east meant travelling through Russia, but Russia would not allow the Jews to travel across the country without a valid transit visa.

In July 1940 Sugihara awoke one morning to the sounds of a crowd of several hundred Jews outside the consulate, pleading to secure Japanese transit visas.

Three times Sugihara appealed to the Japanese government to secure authorization to issue the necessary visas. His request was denied each time.

Realizing that the volume of visas required would be great and, most likely expecting to be denied permission to issue them, Sugihara began issuing them without authorization. He managed to hand write and stamp some 300 visas per day, a task that would not allow him to take breaks for meals and that left his hands painfully stiff at the end of the day. He continued this practice through the end of August, when he was ordered to leave his post.

Realizing the desperate need for the Jewish people to escape Hitler’s onslaught, he continued writing visas in the car on the way to the train station and on the platform while waiting for the train. Even after boarding the train, he wrote more visas, tossing them out of the window until the train began to depart. Then, as the train was leaving, he tossed the stamp that made the visas official into the crowd so the Jewish people could actually authenticate their own visas.

Following the war, Sugihara and his family were imprisoned by the Russians in an internment camp in Rumania. When released, he returned home to find that he had been dismissed by the Japanese Foreign Ministry. His ignominy forced him into a life of abject poverty, although he eventually worked his way out of it by taking a job in Moscow that allowed him to see his family in Japan only twice a year. Because he saw no reason to glory in what he had done, he became just another obscure person. Yet, the last words he heard from the Jews on the railway platform in Lithuania rang in his ears: “We will never forget you!”

They remained true to their word. He had not realized that he had helped 6,000 Jews to escape. Nor did he realize that those people never forgot him. After years of searching, Nishri was able to locate him, sharing with him the news of the numbers he had saved. Sugihara visited Israel in for the first time in 1969. He was greeted by the Israeli Minister of Religion, Zerach Warheftig, another of the Sugihara Survivors.

Sugihara was honored as Righteous Among the Nations in 1985, one year before his death. Even with this great honor, his story remained unknown in Japan – until his funeral was attended by an unusually large delegation of Jews from around the world. This simple, humble, honorable man would probably be embarrassed to know that today there are monuments erected in his honor in Kaunus, Lithuania, the location of his consulate, and in Yaotsu, Japan, the town where he was born.

He was just a man who wanted to do the right thing. His commitment to righteousness was ordinary to him, but heroic in the eyes of the Jewish people and the world.

Yossi Peled, Zionist Hero & Board of Trustees Chairman

Yossi Peled, Zionist Hero & Board of Trustees ChairmanFriends of Zion is honored to have Yossi Peled, a hero of Zionism, as the Chairman of our Board of Trustees.

Born in Belgium in 1941, Josef Mendelvich was one of the millions of Jews who were in the wrong place at the wrong time when the Nazis were intent on implementing Hitler’s Final Solution. Yossi survived the war in the care of a Christian family. Following the war he made Aliyah to the new nation of Israel with his mother. His father had perished at Auschwitz. But, not only did he come to Israel, he became as much of Israel as anyone could hope to be, helping to share the country into what it is today.

Yossi spent 30 years in the IDF, including being a company commander in the Six-Day War, a battalion commander during the War of Attrition, a brigade commander in the Yom Kippur War and, later, a division commander in the Sinai. He rose to the position of Aluf – the second highest rank in the IDF, akin to Major General – of the Northern Command, a position subsequently held by current IDF chief, Benny Gantz.

While it is tempting to speak of life after retirement from the military, Yossi has never really retired. He has just continued to keep on working for the success of the nation of Israel and the Zionist cause. Following stints as CEO of Tadiran Telecom and the Second Israel Broadcasting Authority, Yossi decided to enter politics as a member of the Likud party, becoming Minister without Portfolio from 2009 through March 2013. Most recently, he has been Chairman of the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline. He has spent much of his professional and personal time providing assistance to Holocaust survivors living in Israel.

Yossi Peled is a fine representative of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. We are proud to have him represent the Friends of Zion.

Miep Gies: Righteous Among the Nations

Miep Gies: Righteous Among the NationsIf not for the list of the Righteous among the Nations, the world might have long forgotten Miep Gies and her husband, Jan, and she might have passed away into obscurity when she died on January 11, 2010, a month shy of her 101st birthday. But, as is the case with so many more, we must keep her memory alive so that “never again” will the events she experienced recur.

On her 100th birthday she said, “I am one hundred years old now. That is an admirable age, and I have even reached it in fairly good health. So then, it’s fair to say ‘You’ve been fortunate,’ and being fortunate seems to be the red thread running through my life.”

At an earlier date she declared that she stood, “at the end of the long, long line of good Dutch people who did what I did or more – much more – during those dark and terrible times years ago. But, always, like yesterday in the hearts of those of us who bear witness, never a day goes by that I do not think of what happened then.”

Miep was Austrian by birth. At the age of eleven, Herminie Santrouschitz was taken-in temporarily by a family in the Netherlands as part of a program to help the Austrian people recover from the destruction of World War I. As it turned out, it was decided, the situation being what it was, that Herminie – or Miep, as she was called in Holland – should remain in the Dutch family’s care. That turned out to be both fortuitous and sufferable.

She was fortunate to meet her future husband, Jan Gies, at work before she was laid off and took another job at the Opetka Company in Amsterdam. She and Jan became good friends with the owner of the company and his family. Over a short period of time, things turned ugly again in Europe as the Nazi regime in Germany set out to conquer the world and annihilate the Jews. Miep was fortunate to be living in Amsterdam rather than in her homeland of Austria. It seemed like the Netherland’s neutrality would keep it safe from Hitler’s madness.

As it turned out, that was only an illusion. Germany stormed the Netherlands and began to implement Hitler’s Final Solution there, just as it had elsewhere. Some Jews fled the continent. Others, like Miep’s boss, hid. Miep and Jan brought food and other necessities to his family to provide for their sustenance whilst in hiding. She risked her life, using her lunch break to make her daily deliveries. She knew that, should they be found or she be caught, they would all be subject to the same fate. Unfortunately, the family was eventually found and sent to their miserable fate. Only the father was saved alive. As for Miep and Jan, no one was the wiser.

After the war, Miep said that, “I am not a hero. More than twenty thousand Dutch people helped to hide Jews and others in need of hiding during those years. I willingly did what I could to help. My husband did as well. It was not enough.” Any righteous person would do the same.

Her kindness extended beyond helping her boss’ family. After the family had been taken, she visited the place where they had been hiding to gather up their personal effects and deliver them to her boss, Otto Frank. Among those belongings were the diaries of Otto’s daughter, Anne, which would eventually tell a small part of the story of the persecution of the Jews during World War II. Little did Miep know, when she handed those diaries to her boss, how many lives would be changed by a simple act of kindness.

All Miep knew was that, “It was not enough.”