The Controversy of Zion

by Douglas Reed

p. 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191

Chapter 23


The “Prophet”

The 19th Century moved inexorably towards the repudiation of the Sanhedrin's avowals to Napoleon, towards the re-segregation of the Jews, towards the re-establishment of that theocratic state in the midst of states, the danger of which Tiberius had depicted before the Christian era began. The struggle was not between “the Jews” and “the Gentiles”; as on the ancient day when the Persian king's soldiers enabled Ezra and Nehemiah to enforce “the new Law” on the Judahites, it was once more between some Jews and some Gentiles and the other Jews and the other Gentiles. The mystery always was that at such junctures the Gentile rulers allied themselves with the ruling sect of Judaism against the Jewish masses and thus against their own peoples, among whom they fostered a disruptive force. This paradox repeated itself in the 19th century and produced the climacteric of our present day, in which all nations are heavily involved.

The emancipated Jews of the West were undone on this occasion, with the mass of Gentile mankind, by the Western politicians, who enlisted, like a Swiss Guard, in the service of Zionism. Therefore this narrative must pause to look “at the Liberals” of the 19th Century, who by espousing Zionism enabled it to disrupt the affairs and deflect the national policies of peoples.

They may best be studied through the founder of their line. “The Prophet” (he claimed the title which Amos angrily repudiated) was Henry Wentworth Monk, by few remembered today. He was the prototype of the 20th Century American president or British prime minister, the very model of a modern Western politician.

To account for this man one would have to revivify all the thoughts and impulses of the last century. It is recent enough for a plausible attempt. One effect of emancipation was to make every undisciplined thinker believe himself a leader of causes. The spread of the printed word enabled demagogues to distribute ill considered thoughts: The increasing speed and range of transport led them to look for causes far outside their native ken. Irresponsibility might pose as Christian charity when it denounced its neighbours for indifference to the plight of Ethiopian orphans, and who could check the facts? Dickens depicted the type in Stiggins, with his society for providing infant negroes with moral pocket handkerchiefs; Disraeli remarked that the hideous lives of coalminers in the North of England had “escaped the notice of the Society for the Abolition of Negro Slavery.”

The new way of acquiring a public reputation was too easy for such rebukes to deter those who were tempted by the beguiling term “liberal,” and soon the passion for reform filled the liberal air, which would not brook a vacuum. The “rights of man” had to be asserted; and the surviving wrongs were most easily discovered among peoples faraway (and, for fervour, the further the better). It


was the heyday of the self-righteous, of those who only wanted the good of others, and cared not how much bad they did under that banner. The do-gooders founded a generation, and also an industry (for this vocation was not devoid of material reward, as well as plaudits). In the name of freedom, these folk were in our day to applaud, and help bring about, the re-enslavement of half Europe.

Into such a time Henry Wentworth Monk was born (1827) in a farm settlement on the then remote Ottawa River in Canada. At seven he was wrenched from kith and kip and transported to the Bluecoat School in London, at that time a rigorous place for a lonely child. The boys wore the dress of their founder's day (Edward VI), long blue coat, priestly cravat, yellow stockings and buckled shoon. They lived as a sect apart, ate monastic fare and little of it, the rod was not spared, and they were sternly drilled in the Scriptures.

Thus young Monk had many emotional needs, crying to be appeased, and his child's mind began to find modern applications in the Old Testament, to which his infant mind was so diligently directed. By “swift beasts,” he deduced, Isaiah meant railways, and by “swift messengers,” steamships. He next decided, at this early age, that he had found the keys to “prophecy” and could interpret the mind of God in terms of his day. He ignored the warnings of the Israelite prophets and of the New Testament against this very temptation; what he found was merely the teaching of the Levitical priesthood, that one day the heathen would be destroyed and the chosen people re-gathered in their supreme kingdom in the promised land.

Men of rank and influence also were toying with this idea that the time had come for them to make up God's mind. When Monk was eleven a Lord Shaftesbury proposed that the great powers should buy Palestine from the Sultan of Turkey and “restore it to the Jews.” England then had a statesman, Lord Palmerston, who did not let such notions disturb his duty, and nothing was done. But in young Monk an idea was ignited, and The Prophet was born; his life thenceforth held no other interest until it ended sixty years later!

At fourteen he obtained special leave to attend a sermon preached by “the first English Bishop in Jerusalem” (whose name, history records, was Solomon Alexander). The little boy returned to school with shining eyes, dedicated to his life's work of procuring Palestine, without regard to the people already in it, for some body of other people utterly unknown to him. The idea would not let him settle down on his father's Canadian farm when he returned to it; it stood between him and the Christian ministry, when he was made a candidate for this. He pored over the Old Testament and found it was but a code that cleared before his eyes.

Thus he fell into the irreverence which the study of the Levitical scriptures sometimes produces in men who describe them selves as Christians and yet ignore the New Testament. Once they accept the concept of foretellings to be literally fulfilled, they yield, in fact, to the Judaic Law of a political contract which leaves


no latitude whatever to God, save in the one point of the time of completion. From that they proceed, in one bound, to the conclusion that they know the time (which God, presumably, has forgotten). At that stage such men believe that they are God. This is the end to which the process must lead them: the denial of Christianity, and of all divinity. This is the profanity to which all leading politicians of the West, in our century, lent themselves; Monk was the original of a multitude.

Even in his remote Canadian habitat he found other prophets. An American Jew, a Major Mordecai Noah, was trying to build a Jewish “city of refuge” on an island in the Niagara River, preparatory to “the return”; from what the Jews of North America needed refuge, until they “returned,” he alone knew. Also, a Mr. Warder Cresson, the first United States Consul in Jerusalem, became so ardent for “restoration” that he embraced Judaism and published a book, Jerusalem The Centre And Joy Of The Whole World. Returning to America, he cast off his Gentile wife, renamed himself Michael Boas Israel, went to Palestine and there contrived to marry a Jewish girl with whom he could communicate only by signs.

All this fired Monk's ardour the more. He decided, in the Old Testamentary tradition, no more to cut his hair or adorn his body until “Zion is restored.” As his hair grew abundantly, he became most hirsute; as he sold his small property and thereafter never laboured, he was for the rest of his days dependent on others. At twenty-six he set out for Jerusalem and reached it after much hardship. Having nothing but shagginess and shabbiness to testify to the truth of his message, he found few hearers.

Monk might have disappeared from the annals at that point but for a chance encounter which made him publicly known. In this century of world wars, trans-continental and trans-oceanic projectiles, and mass-destroying explosives, the 19th Century counts as a stable, peaceful period of time, unshadowed by fear for the morrow. The student, particularly of this controversy of Zion, is astonished to find how many educated men apparently lived in fright of annihilation and decided that they could only be saved if a body of the planet's inhabitants were transported to Arabia. The Prophet's path crossed that of another of these tremulous beings.

A young English painter, Holman Hunt, appeared in Jerusalem. He also was ready for “a cause,” for he was waging the characteristic feud of the young artist against the Academicians, and that produces an inflammable state of mind. He enjoyed ill health and often thought his end near (he lived to be eighty-three). He had just painted The Light of the World, which depicted Jesus, lantern in hand, at the sinner's door, and the sudden apparition of the bearded Monk caught his imagination. He grasped eagerly at the Prophet's idea of threatening mankind (including the Academicians) with extermination if it did not do what Prophecy ordained.

So these two, Prophet. and pre-Raphaelite, concerted a plan to startle the


indifferent world. Monk depicted “the scapegoat” to Holman Hunt as the symbol of Jewish persecution by mankind. They agreed that Holman Hunt should paint a picture of “the scapegoat” and that Monk should simultaneously write a book explaining that the time had come for the persecuted to be restored, in fulfilment of prophecy.

(In fact the scapegoat was an ingenious Levitical device, whereby the priest was empowered to absolve the congregation of its sins by taking two kids of the goat, killing one for a sin-offering, and driving the other into the wilderness to expiate by its suffering “all their transgressions and all their sins … putting them upon the head of the goat.” The Prophet and Holman Hunt transformed the meaning into its opposite. The scapegoat for the sins of the Jews was to become the symbol of the Jews themselves; its tormentors, the Levitical priests, were by implication to be changed into Gentile oppressors!)

Holman Hunt went to work; this was a delightful way, both to take a swing at the Royal Academy (“problem pictures”) and to identify himself with a cause. His picture would say more than any spoken word, and it would be followed by Monk's written word. The Picture and The Book, The Symbol and The Interpretation, The Herald and The Prophet: once the world beheld “The Scapegoat” Monk's work of revelation would find an audience, awakened to its transgressions and eager to make amends.

Hunt, wearing Arab robes and carrying easel and rifle, was then seen by the Bedouin driving a white goat to the Dead Sea. He painted an excellent picture of a goat (indeed, of two goats, as the first goat, with excessive zeal, died, and a substitute had to be found). For greater effect, a camel's skeleton was brought from Sodom and a goat's skull borrowed, and these were arranged in the background. The painting certainly produces the impression that the Levites must have been cruel (the animal's agony was graphically represented) and wicked, to pretend that by its suffering they could wash out all the iniquities of their people: Holman Hunt took it to England, first pledging himself, with Monk, “to the restoration of the Temple, the abolition of warfare among men, and the coming of the Kingdom of God upon the earth”; probably no painter ever had such large purposes in mind when he conceived a picture.

Monk then produced his Simple Interpretation of the Revelation and the joint undertaking was complete; the world had but to respond. In this first book Monk still tried to wed Levitical politics with Christian doctrine. Historically he stayed on safe ground; he pointed out, correctly, that “the ten tribes” could not have become extinct, but lived on in the mass of mankind: This led him to his “interpretation,” which was to the effect that “the true Israelites,” Jewish and Christian, should migrate to Palestine and establish a model state there (at that point he was far from literal Zionism, and ran risk of being accounted an “antisemite”). His portrayal of the consequences was plain demagogy; if this were done, he said, war would come to an end. But then came the paramount idea


(and who knows whence Monk got it?): an International Government must be set up in Jerusalem. Here Monk hit on the true intention of Zionism. Monk was only enabled to have his work published through an acquaintanceship which he owed to Holman Hunt: John Ruskin, the famous art critic, prevailed on the publisher Constable to print it. The Book (like The Picture) failed of effect, but Ruskin helped The Prophet with money and in other ways, and thus saved him from oblivion.

Ruskin, too, was the product of early pressures and inner disappointments. Like Wilkie Collins (an excellent craftsman who could not rest content with writing good novels and vainly tried to emulate Dickens's gift for arousing moral indignation), he was not happy to remain in the field where he was eminent but was ever ready to champion (and less ready to examine) anything that looked like a moral cause. Like Monk, he had been drilled in the Old Testament as a child (though by a possessive Puritan mother), and he was recurrently unlucky in love, sometimes humiliatingly so. He was therefore at all times in search of an outlet for unspent emotional impulses. He feared life and the future, so that The Prophet's incessant warnings of wrath to come unnerved him and made him put his hand in his pocket. He had a large audience and yielded to the same impiety as Monk and Holman; as his biographer says (Mr. Besketh Pearson), “he succumbed to the delusion, common to all messiahs, that his word was God's,” and in the end his reason waned, but by then he had enabled The Prophet to preach and wander on.

After the failure of Monk's book Holman Hunt tried again. He began a painting of Jesus, in the synagogue, reading the messianic prophecies and announcing their fulfilment in himself. To make his meaning clear, he used Monk as the model for the figure of Jesus, and the indignation of the elders was to symbolize the world's rejection of The Prophet. Holman Hunt's preliminary study for this picture is in the National Gallery at Ottawa and shows Monk holding in one hand the Bible (open at the Book of the Revelation) and in the other: a copy of the London Times. (I was working in monastic seclusion in Montreal, somewhat bowed down by the nature and weight of the task, when I discovered the picture, and my neighbours were then surprised by the loud noise of mirth which burst from the usually silent room where a former correspondent of The Times bent over his labours).

Thereafter human nature slowly had its way. Holman Hunt sold a picture of the Finding of Christ in the Temple for 5,500 (pounds) and his resentment against life (and the Academicians) mellowed. He found himself unable to ask the tattered Prophet to accompany him to fine houses like those of Val Prinsep and Tennyson. Ruskin was busy with ill-starred loves, and was becoming sceptical as well. Nevertheless, these two sedentary men could not quite forget The Prophet's warnings that they would be destroyed unless they soon effected the restoration of the Jews to Palestine. He was always telling them that “the day” was at hand


and pointing to some warlike episode, in Africa or Asia Minor or the Balkans or Europe, as the foretold beginning of the end; skirmishes and minor campaigns never lacked. At last Holman Hunt and Ruskin hit on a plan which seemed likely to allay their fears, appease their consciences and rid them of The Prophet; they urged him to go to Jerusalem and (like Sabbatai Zevi) proclaim the approach of The Millennium!

He was about to go when another war broke out, completely confounding him because it was not in any of the places where, interpreting prophecy, he had foretold the beginning of the end of days. It was in the very area from which, according to his published interpretation, salvation was to come: America.

After a glance at the authorities, The Prophet announced that he had located the error in his calculations: the Civil War was in fact the great, premonitory event. Now something must be done about Palestine without delay! John Ruskin put his foot down. If The Prophet were truly a prophet, he said, let him hasten to America before he went to Jerusalem, and call down some sign from heaven that would stop the Civil War. He, Ruskin, would finance the journey. And The Prophet went, to stop the Civil War.

The tradition then prevailed in America that a republican president must be accessible to all, and Mr. Abraham Lincoln was so beleaguered three days a week. One day, when the President's doors were open, The Prophet was swept in with a crowd of patronage-seekers, petitioners and sightseers.

His appearance gained him a few words of conversation with the President. Mr. Lincoln's harassed eye was arrested by the sight of something peering at him through the undergrowth. He asked who the visitor was, then learning that he was a Canadian come to end the war. Asked for his proposal, The Prophet urged that the South free its slaves against compensation and the North agree to Southern secession, a suggestion which (Monk recorded) “appeared to amuse the President. Mr. Lincoln asked, “Do not you Canadians consider my Emancipation Proclamation as a great step forward in the social and moral progress of the world?”

Monk said this was not enough: “Why not follow the emancipation of the Negro by a still more urgent step: the emancipation of the Jew?” Mr. Lincoln was baffled (the Jews had always been emancipated in America) and asked in astonishment, “The Jew, why the Jew? Are they not free already?”

Monk said, “Certainly, Mr. President, the American Jew is free, and so is the British Jew, but not the European. In America we live so far off that we are blind to what goes on in Russia and Prussia and Turkey. There can be no permanent peace in the world until the civilized nations, led, I hope, by Great Britain and the United States, atone for what they have done to the Jews, for their two thousand years of persecution, by restoring them to their national home in Palestine, and making Jerusalem the capital city of a reunited Christendom.”

Characteristically, Monk had never been to “Russia, Prussia or Turkey”; he


was that kind of “Liberal.” In Russia the Talmudic rabbinate was opposing emancipation by every means, and two years before Monk saw Mr. Lincoln the Czar Alexander II had been assassinated when he announced a parliamentary constitution; in Prussia the Jews were emancipated and for this very reason were the objects of attack by the Jews in Russia; the Jews under Turkish rule (which oppressed all subject nationalities impartially) were already in Palestine and thus could not be restored thither.

In Mr. Lincoln's day the notion that all wars, wherever fought and for whatever reason, ought to be diverted to the aim of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine was new (today it is generally accepted and put into practice, as the two world wars have shown), and the President was again amused.

He had on hand the cruellest war in Western history, up to that time. Being a man of resource, and versed in dealing with importuners, he rid himself of The Prophet with a good-humoured jest. “My chiropodist is a Jew,” he said, “and he has so often put me on my feet that I would have no objection to giving his countrymen a leg up.” Then, reminding Monk of the war in progress, he begged The Prophet to await its end: “then we may begin again to see visions and dream dreams.” (Another topic for a debating society: was the use of this phrase chance or intention? Mr. Lincoln certainly knew what fate the Old Testament prescribes for “false prophets and dreamers of dreams.”)

Monk returned to London and Ruskin paid his expenses to Palestine, whence, on arrival, he was deported as a nuisance in 1864. Destitute, he signed as seaman aboard a Boston-bound clipper and, being wrecked, swam the last part of the Atlantic. He was cast ashore bleeding and almost naked, so that, looking like a bear, he was shot as one, in semi-darkness, by a farmer. He lost his memory and mind, and in this condition at last came home. He recovered after some years and at once returned to his obsession. The “day of trouble,” so long foretold, still had not come; the planet kept its accustomed place. He re-examined prophecy and decided that he had erred in recommending the union of Jews and Christians in the world-state to be set up in Jerusalem. Now he saw that what prophecy required God to do was first to put the Jews in possession of Palestine, and then to set up a worldwide organization with power to enforce the submission of nations to its law.

After a lifetime Monk thus stumbled on the fullness of the political plan of world dominion which is contained in the Old Testament, and still thought that he was interpreting divine prophecy. No evidence offers that he ever came in contact with the initiates and illuminates of the grand design. The only recorded Jewish money he was ever offered was a charitable gift of five pounds “if you are personally in want.” He moved always in the company and at the cost of the bemused Gentile “Liberals.”

He was forgotten in the Ottawa Valley when, in 1870, his hope (one must use the word) that “the day of troubles” was at last at hand was revived by a huge


forest fire, which he took as a sign from heaven that the time had come. Somehow he made his way to London (1872) and to Hunt and Ruskin, who had thought him dead. Ruskin was wooing Rose La Touche, so that for the time he was unresponsive to warnings of doom and wrote to The Prophet, “I acknowledge the wonderfulness of much that you tell me, but I simply do not believe that you can understand so much about God when you understand so little about man … you appear to me to be mad, but for aught I know I may be mad myself” (these last words, unhappily, were prescient).

Such admonitions were not new to The Prophet. His relatives and friends had ever implored him, if he felt called to improve mankind, to look around him at home: the lot of the Canadian Indians, or even of the Canadians, might be bettered. To a man who held the key to divine revelation advice of this kind was sacrilegious, and Monk, by way of various pamphlets, came at length to the idea of a “Palestine Restoration Fund.” For this he borrowed a notion of Ruskin's, originally devised to help Ruskin's own country; namely, that wealthy folk should forfeit a tithe of their incomes for the purpose of reclaiming English wastelands. Monk decided that the tithe should serve a better object: the “return”!

By this time (1875) Ruskin was once more unnerved, first by the death of Rose La Touche and next by the apparent imminence of one more distant war (this time a British-Russian one). Clearly The Prophet was right after all; the “day of troubles” was come. Ruskin signed Monk's manifesto and dedicated a tenth of his income to The Prophet's fund for the purchase of Palestine from the Sultan while the English wastelands stayed unreclaimed. When this was achieved, a congress of all nations was to set up a federation of the world in Jerusalem.

The Prophet, thus propped on his feet again, was further helped by Laurence Oliphant, a lion of the Victorian drawing rooms whom he had by chance met when he made his way about America, hobo-fashion. Oliphant was a man of different type, a bold, cynical venturer, or adventurer. The idea of buying Palestine appealed to him, but he had no illusions about it. He wrote to Monk, “Any amount of money can be raised upon it, owing to the belief which people have that they would be fulfilling prophecy and bringing on the end of the world. I don't know why they are so anxious for the latter event, but it makes the commercial speculation easy.” Oliphant, as will be seen, did not trouble to hide his disdain for The Prophet's message.[8]

In 1880 Holman Hunt, again enjoying deteriorated health, was so alarmed by small warlike episodes in Egypt and South Africa that he thought extinction at


hand and joined with Monk in issuing a manifesto which anticipated the Zionist-ruled world-government schemes of this century. It was headed “The abolition of national warfare,” called on all men of goodwill to subscribe a tenth of their income to the realization of “the Kingdom of God” in the form of a world government to be set up in Palestine and to be called the United Nations,” and proposed that the money be given to Mr. Monk for the purpose of acquiring Palestine.

That was the finish. Ruskin, approaching his end, rudely refused all further part in the fantasy. Oliphant dropped out. The “Bank of Israel” came to nothing. Samuel Butler showed The Prophet the door. Even Holman Hunt at last appealed to him to preach “that there is a God in heaven, who will judge every man on earth” and to desist from pretending in effect that he, Monk, was God. The Jews spoke similarly: one told him, “The land of our forefathers is dead, and Palestine is its grave … to attempt to form a nation from the polyglot people of Judaism today would only end in utter failure.”

Monk was beyond redemption. In 1884 the Bluecoat boy returned to Ottawa for the last time and spent his final years canvassing, pamphleteering, and haranguing members of the Canadian House of Commons as they sat, between sessions, in their garden by the Ottawa River. They listened to him with amused indulgence; sixty years later Canadian Ministers, at Ottawa and New York, were to repeat all the things Monk said as the unassailable principles of high policy, and no Member would demur.

Monk's life was wretched and was not redeemed by any true faith or genuine mission. This account of it is given to show how false and foolish the great project was seen to be, and how misguided the men who took it up, against the background of the last century. The fallacy of the whole notion, of Zionism leading to the despotic world-government, is instantly displayed when it is considered in that setting, with Monk and his friends declaiming from the stage. The whole thing then is seen as a picaresque comedy; a farce, not merely because it was unsuccessful, but because it was never serious. What was recommended could not be seriously entertained because its consequences obviously had not been considered and, if calculated, at once were foreseen to be disastrous. Against the background of a time when debate was free and opinion, being informed, might be brought to bear on the matter, these men strut foolishly, leaving only the faint echo of clownish noises in the corridors of time.

Nevertheless, in the present century the entire vainglorious scheme, unchanged, was imported into the life of peoples as a serious and urgent undertaking, transcending the needs of nations. Indeed, it was made a sacrosanct one, for an unwritten law of heresy was set around it which in effect checked the antiseptic force of public discussion, and within this palisade the politicians of the West made a morality play out of The Prophet's claptrap. John Ruskin and Holman Hunt, from whatever bourne the Victorian friends of the oppressed may


now inhabit, may look down and see the graves of many dead, and the living graves of nearly a million fugitives, as the first results of their great plan, now in accomplishment.

Monk, had he lived in this century, would have been qualified for important political rank, for support of this cause has become the first condition for admission to the high temporal places. His life was spent in pursuing the lure of an excessive vanity and in the very year of his death, 1896, the fantasy which led him became a political and practical reality, dominating our time. While he went his vagrant way between Ottawa, Washington, London and Jerusalem very different men, in Russia, built up the real force of Zionism. In 1896 it was launched into the lives of the peoples, and its explosive detonations have grown louder and more destructive until today even the newspaper scribes commonly allude to it as the issue which may set the spark to the third world war.

[8] Oliphant touched on an interesting point. One interpretation of the numerous prophecies is that the end of the world will follow the “return” of the Jews to Palestine, so that the folk who promote this migration presume even to determine the moment when Jehovah shall bring the planet to an end. The mystification expressed by Oliphant was felt by a perplexed French politician at the Peace Conference of 1919, who asked Mr. Balfour why he was so eager to bring about “the return” of the Jews to Palestine; if this truly was the fulfilment of prophecy, then prophecy also decreed that the end of the world would follow. Mr. Balfour replied languidly. “Precisely, that is what makes it all so very interesting.” (return)