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.

William Henry Hechler: Friend of Zion

Rev. William Henry Hechler - Mike Evans MuseumRev. William Henry Hechler died on January 30, 1931. On February 2, 2011, eighty years and three days following his demise, a tombstone was dedicated and placed at his grave, which had previously been unmarked. The inscription below his name reads:

A Lover of God, His Word
And His Ancient People.
Tireless Adversary of Anti-Semitism
Friend and Counsellor of Theodore Herzl

Theodore Herzl could not have imagined that, within weeks of publishing his ground-breaking pamphlet, The Jewish State, his work would find an enthusiastic supporter from a Christian chaplain. In 1896, long before the internet afford the luxury of putting anyone’s work before the public eye, were it not divinely ordained, it is difficult to imagine that a singular man, a Gentile, who himself had published The Restoration of the Jews to Palestine according to the Prophecy, would be rummaging through book stalls in Vienna and end up with Herzl’s pamphlet in his hands.

Even if it does not seem to be a miracle to us, it did to William Henry Hechler. In his own work, published just a couple of years earlier, Hechler wrote that the days of Jewish salvation would begin around 1897 and that, “It is the duty of every Christian to love the Jews.” Herzl’s publication was unpopular with many Jews for political reasons. Hechler’s work was rejected by Christians who had never seriously studied the Prophets.

Individually, it is likely that their singular works might have drifted into oblivion. Both men had passion and wisdom. Herzl had a vision. William Henry Hechler had something else. He had connections.

Hechler was determined to share what he had deduced from reading Biblical prophecy, he also saw Herzl’s The Jewish State as affirmation of his reasoning. He reached out to Herzl and, ultimately, did what he could to engage his contacts in the Germany hierarchy to support Herzl’s Zionist proposition. It would be a mistake to say that their combined efforts opened the door to the establishment of the Jewish State, but it might be accurate to say that it would not have happened without them. There was widespread resistance to both their vision and their efforts, but they laid a foundation upon which others would build.

At the dedication of the headstone, Jerry Klinger, the president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, said, “It has long been recognized that, without Hechler’s intercession and support, Herzl may have simply remained an obscure, eccentric Viennese journalism. The course of Zionism, and possibly the very founding of the modern State of Israel, may not have been successful.”

Israeli Ambassador, Ron Prosor, also remarked, “The support he gave to Theodor Herzl is symbolic of the understanding that is found today among our Christian friends, of the eternal connections that exists between the Jewish People and Eretz Yisrael.”

In the annals of history, it may be fitting to say that William Henry Hechler was the very first Friend of Zion.