by Pat Franklin
Dear friends, Israel has survived 60 years as a nation despite the hostility of the world, but my heart is full of grief and shame at the way the governments of Britain and America have repeatedly failed to help the Jewish people. And because our schools are so bad, people are kept in ignorance of the disgraceful facts of our countries’ history.
We like to think of our countries as bastions of freedom, but they are also bastions of anti-semitism in many cases. And the embedded anti-semitism in government is kept hidden. I was educated in Catholic schools until the age of 18 and then at a secular university for four years, all in America. We learned little or nothing about the Holocaust. I graduated ‘cum laude’, but forty years later I am appalled at my own ignorance of history and specifically western history as it relates to the Jewish people and Israel. I love my country, America, and I love my adopted country, Britain, but I am ashamed of our treatment of Jews both during and after World War Two.
The story of Oswego is a case in point, so vividly told in the film ‘Haven’. For those who do not have cable or Sky, I will briefly tell you the story. In the last year of the war in Europe, Pres Franklin Roosevelt allowed 1000 Jewish refugees into America for rest and recuperation with the proviso that they would then go ‘home’ – back to the countries where people had been trying to kill them. To shepherd these poor souls across the Atlantic on a troop ship, the U.S. Dept of the Interior sent a New York Jew, Ruth Gruber.
‘Haven’ is Ruth Gruber’s moving account of the voyage over and the refugees’ time in the USA. Sadly, the refugees, some of them escapees from concentrations camps, found themselves once again fenced in and housed in barracks – this time at an army camp at Oswego, New York state. The reactions of the townspeople varied, some loving and kind, some hard-faced and resentful. But gradually, as more people learned the individual stories of the refugees, hearts melted.
One theme of the story is the embedded anti-Semitism of the US State Department. One character tells Ruth Gruber off the record that the State Department knew from the start that Hitler’s plan was to totally annihilate the Jewish people in Europe, but this was suppressed and not made public. Instead, the State Department issued orders that Jews were not to be given visas to enter the US, but were to be hindered as a matter of policy. This makes the USA complicit in the Holocaust. State Department officials KNEW, but they not only did nothing, they instituted a deliberate government policy of denying visas to Jews who they knew would very likely then be murdered.
Our own officials were another tier of war criminals. They were not tried at Nuremburg, but they will certainly face the ultimate Judge, if they have not already done so. When they stand in the dock before the Lord Jesus, they will not be able to hide behind anonymity. He was and is, after all, a Jew, and Israel and the Jewish people are the apple of His eye.
One small point in America’s favour is that partly because of the publicity Ruth Gruber was able to muster and her plea to Pres. Truman, the 1000 refugees were allowed – at the last minute - to stay in the US. Thank goodness at least for that.
After the war Ruth Gruber kept trying to champion Jewish refugees, notably those on the Exodus ship trying to land at Haifa harbour. Here the British showed themselves to be war criminals like their wicked counterparts in the USA. Six British destroyers attacked the Exodus refugee ship, bashing into it, crushing it like a nut, and boarding it with rifles and clubs to subdue Jews who only wanted to live in peace in the land God had promised them.
All this evil perpetrated by the governments of the two premier free countries on earth! All without the agreement of ordinary people. I am an ordinary American and I would NEVER have agreed to keeping Jews out of America. I know lots of ordinary English people and I know they would NEVER agree to a refugee ship being attacked by their Navy. Not one of them would give the nod to such a travesty. It is all gut-wrenchingly horrible to think that our own governments are responsible for these things. I am so sorry. I was only a baby at the time, but I for one would like to apologize to the Jewish people for what my American government did in failing to help Jews escape Hitler’s war.
We are reaping now what we sowed then, for God is not mocked. For the most part, we turned away the European Jews. OK, so now how do we like several million muslims living among us, not to mention 20 million or so Mexicans. God said to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people and also all who believe: ‘I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.’
Helping the Jews is a sure fire way to be blessed, but by and large, our countries have not done this, and we are STILL not doing it. Instead, we are pressuring Israel to give up the tiny amount of land it has left to people who, once again, want to get rid of them. History may be repeating itself, but we do not have to run a replay of our anti-Semitism. This time we can stand with the Jews and bless them, and reap the blessing God will certainly supply. It is up to us. It’s our turn now.