Anthony Ashley-Cooper
British Visionary – Friend of Zion
Bringing the Dry Bones to Life

“Oh, pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee.” ~ Psalm 122:16

That simple directive from Psalm 122 was inscribed on the interior side of a ring worn by Anthony Ashley-Cooper, better known in the pages of history as the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. One of the things for which the philanthropic British aristocrat is most noted is being distinguished as the first major politician to put forth a definitive proposal for the creation of a Jewish homeland, which he did in 1839. However, that is not entirely true.

The first politician known to have suggested restoring the Jewish people to the Land of Promise was actually Napoleon Bonaparte, but it was his notion that eventually caught the attention of Lord Shaftesbury. In Napoleon’s quest to restore the empire of Alexander the Great, he realized that Jerusalem and the surrounding area was a lynch-pin for maintaining political and economic stability in the region over which he wished to rule. The master strategist made a proposal to the Jews:

[France] offers to you at this very time, and contrary to all expectations, Israel’s patrimony. Rightful heirs of Palestine – hasten! Now is the moment which may not return for thousands of years, to claim the restoration of your rights among the population of the universe which had shamefully withheld from you for thousands of years, your political existence as a nation among the nations, and the unlimited natural right to worship Jehovah in accordance with your faith, publicly and in likelihood forever (Joel 4:20).”

Being a student of the Scriptures, Shaftsbury knew that the Bible foretold a return of the Jews to what was then called Palestine. Being an astute politician, he was also aware of Napoleon’s plan that never came to fruition. Although it is almost certain that Shaftebury’s mission was prompted more by his Judeo-Christian worldview – which was not necessarily widely held at the time – nonetheless, he also saw the same political and economic advantages for the British Empire.

Our purpose is not to question motive, however, so much as it is to promote awareness that Lord Shaftesbury’s commitment to the Word of God, not his use of it to his political advantage, drove him to use his influence to whatever extent he could to promote the idea of creating a homeland for the Jews. He wrote to the British Prime Minister that, “There is a country without a nation; and God now, in his wisdom and mercy, directs us to a nation without a country. Is there such a thing? To be sure there is, the ancient and rightful lords of the soil, the Jews!

Perhaps because of both his Christian and political connections, Shaftesbury gained support from both spheres. While those strange bedfellows engendered the usual watered-down results of the inevitable outcome of trying to accomplish a singularly beneficial outcome from divergent agendas, the result, nonetheless, paved the way for the Balfour Declaration and the eventual establishment of the State of Israel.

We do well to understand that the LORD has turned the hearts of men and women of influence and other visionaries to lay the foundation for the nation of Israel. Let us never forget what Solomon said in Proverbs 21:1 – “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD. Like the rivers of water, He turns it wherever He wishes.”

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.”

Raoul Wallenberg: Righteous Among the Nations

Raoul Wallenberg: Righteous Among the NationsRaoul Wallenberg was born into a well-to-do Swedish family in Stockholm in 1912. He studied architecture at the University of Michigan, where he graduated with honors in 1935. Of the many honors this brave Swede earned over the years, the greatest were, perhaps, being officially named as one of the Righteous among the Nations in 1963, being awarded honorary Israeli citizenship in 1987 and honorary American citizenship in 2008.

Among the tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews that Wallenberg is credited with rescuing was a young boy named Tom Lantos, who eventually became a U.S. congressman. It was he who sponsored Wallenberg’s honorary U.S. citizenship. He wrote, “During the Nazi occupation, this heroic, young diplomat left behind the comfort and safety of Stockholm to rescue his fellow human beings in the hell that was wartime Budapest. He had little in common with them. He was a Lutheran; they were Jewish. He was a Swede; they were Hungarians. And yet, with inspired courage and creativity, he saved the lives of tens of thousands of men, women and children by placing them under the protection of the Swedish crown.”

After having spent several years working in South Africa and in Haifa, he returned to Sweden where his business travels took him throughout Nazi-occupied Europe, including France, Germany and Hungary. During those trips, he became aware of the cruel treatment of the Jews under the Nazi regime. In June 1944 he was inserted into the growing crisis in Hungary, ostensibly as the leader of the Swedish legation there, but with a directive to help rescue Jews whose extermination was being planned by Adolph Eichmann. By the time he arrived, nearly half of the Hungarian Jewish population had already been transported to concentration camps.

Despite an original plan to extract as many as 700 Jews by use of diplomatic passes, and moving with a passion that far outweighed that of Eichmann, Wallenberg managed to rescue 120,000 Jews, more than half the remaining population, from Eichmann’s dastardly plans. Before he left Sweden, he had appealed to the highest levels of the Swedish parliament and to the monarchy to gain permission to have a free hand to take whatever actions he saw fit, without the encumbrance of bureaucratic interference. That permission was granted, and he took full advantage of it.

Raoul Wallenberg was far more than a paper-pusher. He personally intervened on behalf of the Jewish people and directly interfered with Eichmann’s plan. He hired hundreds of “employees” and hid hundreds more in “Swedish libraries.” He built houses, outside of which were hung Swedish flags, and which he declared to be Swedish territory in which hundreds more were hidden.

His heroism and his cause were publically evident when he would run atop already loaded railcars, stuffing diplomatic passes that exempted the bearers from being relocated. He would then demand that the soldiers open the doors and release into his custody any who had a pass in their possession. It is said that, when the German soldiers were ordered to shoot him as he ran across the cars, they deliberately aimed high in admiration for his courage.

In January 1945, Wallenberg was escorted by the Russian military to an unknown destination. Before he left, he told an associate that he was unsure whether he was going as a guest or as a prisoner. He was never heard from again.

We may never know the rest of the story, but we do know this, that “there is no greater love than a man who would lay down his life for his friends.” Be it known, by the compassion and actions of Raoul Wallenberg and thousands like him, then and today, that there are many righteous among the nations who are friends to the Jews.

Jan Karski: Righteous Among the Nations

Jan Karski: Righteous Among the NationsJan Karski was named Righteous Among the Nations and given Honorary Citizenship in the State of Israel in 1982 at the age 68. Karski’s story may not be as well-known as others, like Schindler, but, it in a taped interview in 1996, four years before his death, he was still unable to tell even a part of his story without shedding tears that revealed a broken heart.

Understandably, his heart was broken by the atrocities that he had personally witnessed beginning to unfold perpetrated on the Jewish people in his Polish homeland. But this was not his greatest heartache nor the one that inflicted the greatest personal pain. It was the one that he called the Second Original Sin. He did not mean the Holocaust. He was referring to the, “self-imposed ignorance, or insensitivity, or self-interest, or hypocrisy or heartless rationalization,” that caused his mission to fail.

Karski’s mission was not to save a Jew. It was not even to save some Jews. It was to save all of them. He said, “The Lord assigned me a role to speak and write during the war, when – as it seemed to me – it might help. It did not.” Therein was his heartache. Having seen first-hand how the Jewish people were suffering under the Gestapo in Warsaw, he understood that nothing would stop Hitler from completing his Final Solution, unless it came from outside the countries over which he had control. He determined to expose the travesty to the entire world.

At great peril to himself and those who helped, he made his way across Europe in 1942 to Great Britain and, ultimately, to the United States intending to appeal to the highest levels of leadership for the help the Jews so desperately needed. Indeed, he was received by some of the most influential people in both countries, where he produced graphic and startling evidence “exceeding everything fantasy can picture.”

In Washington D.C., he met with President Roosevelt’s closest Jewish advisors. Those meetings were where his heart was crushed. Despite being politely received, he found that, almost without exception, his words had fallen upon deaf ears, even to the extent that Felix Frankfurter, himself a Jew and a Supreme Court Justice, told Karski, “I am unable to believe you.”

It is difficult to imagine the frustration of the messenger whose report would not be believed and whose hopes were miserably dashed. But, if there could be a horror more imaginable than the Holocaust itself, it might have been the one that Karski ultimately suffered when he read the news reports after the war that “the governments, the leaders, the scholars, did not know what had been happening to the Jews. They were taken by surprise. The murder of six million innocents was a secret.”

Karski, on a mission to warn the world and save the Jews from unspeakable abominations, came to understand how many of the Old Testament prophets agonized when no one would listen. The more he tried, the more he was rebuffed, but the more he also learned to love the Jewish people.

In his later years, Karski called himself a Christian Jew. His wife’s entire Jewish family died in the concentration camps. Karski’s love for the Jewish people endured as long as he lived.