By Jared Feldschreiber
For over three thousand years, the Jewish people were defined by an identity shaped by the Hebrew language with an adherence to Biblical tenets, which created the Legal Halachic Code. This amounted to the Jewish Political Tradition. Jewish politics was also formed by their arduous years in exile with an absence of sovereignty.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill had long been a pious man who was deeply versed in the Bible. He specifically wrote about Moses in his November 8, 1930 Sunday Chronicle article. His depiction of the Jewish prophet, and the story of Exodus was not meant as an allegory, but rather,
“this is reality,” Churchill wrote, “and his identity was a genuine historical event… Moses was the greatest of the prophets who spoke in person to the G-D of Israel. He was the national hero who led the Chosen People out of the land of bondage, through the perils of the wilderness, and brought them to the very threshold of the Promised Land. He was the Supreme law-giver who received from G-D that remarkable code upon which the religious, moral social life of the nation was so securely fastened,” he concluded.
Churchill accentuated the notion of destiny, particularly for the Jews, and often touted his unwavering commitment to Jewish sovereignty. Churchill believed in G-D’s promise to the Jews, speaking to their Chosen-ness. Above all, the British Prime Minister believed in the paramount importance of Jewish ethics.
In 1921, nearly 10 years earlier Churchill traveled to Jerusalem, linking his spiritual Christian beliefs with the Jewish faith.
“We owe to the Jews in the Christian revelation a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all other wisdom and learning put together on that system and by that faith has been built out of the wreck of the Roman Empire the whole of our existing civilization.”
Historian Martin Gilbert cites that the impetus behind the Jews’ drive toward national sovereignty was combating anti-Semitism. Churchill was compassionate to the Jewish plight insofar as speaking out against the pogroms in Russia and Poland, but he also was responsible for helping to facilitate the Jewish homeland. “Jews should draw a lesson that they do have some friends, but that the friends they have can often be in deep trouble for being their friends,” writes Gilbert. “Churchill wasn’t a soft, starry-eyed person but a man with a fine head on his shoulder, understood this.”
Gilbert tacitly alludes to what psychologist and New York Times science writer Daniel Goleman describes as “Emotional Intelligence,” a quality which helps define effective leadership. Goleman argues that emotion plays a much greater role in thought, decision-making and individual success than is usually acknowledged. Goleman defines “Emotional Intelligence” as a trait that cannot be measured solely by IQ tests, rather by another set of skills, such as controlling one’s impulses, self-motivation, empathy and social competency. Goleman’s criteria for “Emotional Intelligence” applies to Churchill, since he deeply felt for the plight of the Jews, such as for his sympathy to their victim-hood during the pogroms, but also to their toil in Ancient Egypt, as slaves under Pharaoh. Churchill’s ‘Emotional Intelligence’ also coalesced nicely with his deep-seated political views championing democracy, liberty and political stability.
Churchill had lifelong friendships with Jewish leaders, such as Lord Balfour, Lord Rothschild and the World Zionist Organization’s President Chaim Weizmann. These authentic and heartfelt friendships transcended politics, and reflected the “social skills” element of Goleman‘s theory of “Emotional Intelligence.” These relationships were not meant merely for winning political favors, since he lived during a highly anti-Semitic period within England where even his colleagues often passed derogatory comments about the Jews.
Late in his life, Weizmann thanked Churchill for his lifelong commitment to the Jewish people and their hopes for sovereignty:
“[The Jewish People] thank you personally,” he said. “Zionists throughout the world deeply appreciate the unfailing sympathy you have consistently shown towards their legitimate aspirations and the great part you have played in securing for the Jewish people the opportunity of rebuilding a national home…”
Churchill recognized that being supportive of Jewish sovereignty was not popular in England. “In a world where Jews were often the objects of scorn, dislike, distrust and hostility, Churchill held them in high esteem, and wanted them to have their rightful place in the world” Gilbert writes.
Whether Churchill ever read Herzl’s Der Judenstaat is unknown, but his Zionism was palpable, and soon to be recognized by scholars as part of his enduring legacy. Both Churchill and Theodor Herzl helped to cultivate the Zionist dream, providing ideas, enthusiasm, and the political motivation to enable Jewish sovereignty to finally come to fruition in 1948. Churchill saw the Jews as a unique group who were guided by the Bible. This enabled them to persevere through centuries of exile.
Israel today remains a pluralistic and dynamic diverse society, reflecting much of Churchill’s personal affinities toward the Jewish people, and to their eventual state.
Jared Feldschreiber (a native New Yorker) is a journalist and writer. His articles mostly deal with international affairs, and had spent over a year working in the Jerusalem Bureau with Fox News. Many of his articles have published with different newspapers and journals concerning Israel and American human interest stories. He has his Masters Degree from Tel Aviv University in Security and Diplomacy studies, all the while has contacts with media centers throughout Israel and in America. His articles have appeared with Fox News, American Thinker, Jewish Observer-LA, and other various news outlets. He is a writer of all genres, including in politics, film and sports. For all the exclusive blog entries by Jared Feldschreiber, go here.