The most important Jewish international organization – The foundation – Forming cadres – Political influence of the “B’nai B’rith” – Current influence of the “B’nai B’rith” - The “B’nai B’rith” and Freemasonry – The rule of the secret – The cardinal of the “B’nai B’rith” – The B’nai B’rith” and communism – The B’nai B’rith” and Zionism – The B’nai B’rith” helps the recognition of Israel – the hardest task: to avoid assimilation – The regret for the ghetto and the dangers of emancipation – The “Anti-Defamation-League”: or the armed wing of the “B’nai B’rith” – The A.D.L. and private espionage in the USA – A book of condemnation|
Secrets and mysteries of the «B'nai B'rith»
The most important Jewish international organization – The foundation – Forming cadres – Political influence of the “B’nai B’rith” – Current influence of the “B’nai B’rith” - The “B’nai B’rith” and Freemasonry – The rule of the secret – The cardinal of the “B’nai B’rith” – The B’nai B’rith” and communism – The B’nai B’rith” and Zionism – The B’nai B’rith” helps the recognition of Israel – the hardest task: to avoid assimilation – The regret for the ghetto and the dangers of emancipation – The “Anti-Defamation-League”: or the armed wing of the “B’nai B’rith” – The A.D.L. and private espionage in the USA – A book of condemnation
The most important international Jewish organization
Emmanuel Ratier presents to us a very interesting study on the “B’nai B’rith”. Nothing so complete, detailed and well documented had been written on this subject before. It was indeed very difficult to talk about the “B’nai B’rith”, because nothing concerning this association could be found ‘open to the public’. Not even in the National Library in Paris, except for three small booklets from 1932. Nevertheless, according to the ‘Encyclopedia Judaica’ (1970), the “B’nai B’rith” is the “most ancient and numerous Judaic organization of mutual aid, organized in lodges and chapters in 45 nations. The total number of members is about 500,000”.
It is strange that such an important organization, founded in the USA in 1843, has never published anything about itself. If we read the collection of magazines, 4 copies of which must be displayed by law at the National Library every time they are issued, we can see that the “B’nai B’rith” has never done this, despite being supposed to do so by law. Despite this precaution, the author of the study presented by Ratier was able to study a certain part of the publications of the American and European “B’nai B’rith”. In this article I only review this book and I invite the reader to go back to the book for consultation.
On the 13th October 1843 the “B’nai B’rith” was founded in the Sinsheimer Café, in the Wall Street area of New York. It was then called “Bundes-Brueder” (which means the “League of brothers”); it was a German name because the founders were Jewish-German and they only spoke German and Yiddish. The “B’nai B’rith” is therefore one of the oldest American association that still exists.
The founder, Henry Jones, recruited his co-founders in the Synagogue, of which he was in charge. The “B’nai B’rith” itself acknowledges that at least four of its founders were Freemasons. The order of the “B’nai B’rith” was reserved to Jewish people by choice of the founders.
The founders wanted to create an Order able to join all American Jewish and ‘enlighten’ the ‘whole world like a lighthouse’. A month after the creation of the Order, its base was established in New York. The building chosen for the first New York Lodge wasn’t a room in the Synagogue, but the Masonic temple at the corner of Oliver Street and Henry Street, in order to show its Masonic origin. The founders decided to change the name of the association, thinking that a Jewish Order should have a Jewish name. They kept the initials B.B., but changed the name from ‘Bundes-Brueder’ (League of Brothers) into “B’nai B’rith” (Children of the Alliance). The Order’s Motto was: “Benevolence, Brotherly love and Harmony”. The symbol of the Order was the ‘menorah’, the seven-branched candelabrum that represents light.
Henry Jones sensed the need for a tight unity in the American Jewish community, considering its future increase, given the growing number of emigrants; it was therefore necessary to create an organization that provided them with accommodation and support. He joined the religious principles of Judaism to the philanthropic ideas of mutual aid of Freemasonry. Jones’ plan was to select the best elements among the immigrants, in order to build ‘cadres’ or elites; they were necessary to the role that American Judaism was to have in the whole world, that of priest of the humankind at its service, as ‘noachide’ or proselytes of the door! For this purpose it was necessary to keep the religious character of Judaism but at the same time avoid any theological dispute.
The Synagogue in America, though, was deeply divided and it couldn’t accomplish this task. The Lodge had to mediate and join what the synagogical disputes had divided. The “B’nai B’rith” had to be the great instructor of American Jewish and elevate them to their natural role, viz. the lighthouse of the humankind! It had a two-fold function: it was a bastion against the secularization and the loss of the Jewish identity and at the same time it had to avoid any danger of division because of theological disputes. To help this union, the Order followed the Freemasonry principles and placed itself above parties and theological Jewish currents. It became the center of all the business of the American Jewish world and the meeting point of liberal and orthodox Jewish.
Thanks to its pluralist and non-exclusivist characteristic, the “B’nai B’rith” was able to join what the Synagogue had divided. Furthermore, the “B’nai B’rith”, in order to preserve its vitality, showed a great adaptability to the changing circumstances.
Political influence of the “B’nai B’rith”
Among the role of protecting the Jewish minorities, the Order put a lot of pressure in favor of the Jewish persecuted in Russia, Romania, Germany, etc, through the channel of American diplomacy. For example in 1903 president Roosevelt prepared, together with the “B’nai B’rith”, a letter of complaint to send to the Russian Czar, condemning the Russian pogroms. The requests contained in the letter, transmitted by the American Secretary of State, were not accepted by the Czar; on the contrary, since the Jewish lead the Russian revolutionaries, he subjected foreign Israelites to a special passport regime, in order to watch them. America repeated its diplomatic pressure on the Czar, but Nicholas II refused once again to accept the Jewish protests. The Great President of the “B’nai B’rith” at the time, Krans, wrote that one of the members of the “B’nai B’rith” declared on that occasion: “If the Czar doesn’t want to give our people the freedom that they wish, then a Revolution will install a Republic in Russia, so that we can have our rights.” Prediction or premonition?
Current influence of the “B’nai B’rith”
In the USA, presidential campaigns inevitably pass through the “B’nai B’rith’s” assemblies; both democratic and republican candidates go to give their messages of support of Israel. For example in 1953 vice president Richard Nixon was the main political speaker at the Convention’s banquet; president Dwight Eisenhower sent a warm encouragement message to the Lodge.
Eisenhower took part to the banquet for the 40th anniversary of the A.D.L. (Anti-Defamation League of “B’nai B’rith”), the ‘armed wing’ of the “B’nai B’rith”. In 1963, in occasion of the 50 years of A.D.L., the guest of honor was president John Kennedy. Months later the new president Lyndon Johnson was invited by the Order, too. Finally, the president of the “B’nai B’rith”, Label Katz, met in a private audience pope John XXIII in January 1960. Thanks to Jules Isaac (member of the “B’nai B’rith”) the Order had a prominent role in the preparation of the document ‘Nostra Ætate’ by the Vatican Council II.
The “B’nai B’rith” and Freemasonry
Today the members of the “B’nai B’rith” try not to talk about their link with the Freemasonry, but we have already seen how at least four of its founders were Freemasons who gathered in Masonic Temples. Ratier, on this subject, studied what Masonic or philo-Masonic authors or magazines wrote about the “B’nai B’rith”. Here are some examples. Daniel Ligou, the “Dictionnaire de la franc-maçonnerie” (1932); the “Almanach maçonnique de l’Europe”; Jean-Pierre Bayard, the magazine “Globe”, according to which the “B’nai B’rith” is the ‘Jewish branch of Freemasonry’; Daniel Bereniak, the “Guide de la vie juive en France”, which, referring to the “B’nai B’rith”, talks about “Judaism-colored Freemasonry”; finally, “Tribune Juive” according to which they (the “B’nai B’rith”) plan to create a kind of ‘Masonic obedience reserved to Jewish’. For the last few decades, though, the people in charge of the “B’nai B’rith” have been trying not to show the Masonic aspects of their Order.
The rule of the secret
Officially the “B’nai B’rith” should have abandoned the rule of the secret in 1920; still in 1936, though, Paul Goldman, president of London’s first Lodge, spoke about the secret or silence on the Lodge’s activity, in an article about its history. Ratier also explains how there are some ‘open meetings’ in the “B’nai B’rith” where profane can attend; then there are the ‘true meetings’, closed or secret, reserved to the brothers.
The cardinal of “B’nai B’rith”
On the 16th November 1991, cardinal Albert Decourtray, Archbishop of Lion and Primate of France, received the international Prize of humanitarian action from the district XIX (Europe) of the “B’nai B’rith”. In the speech pronounced for the consignment of the medal to Decourtray, Marc Aron, president of the French “B’nai B’rith”, made an interesting allusion to the evolution of the relationships between the Jewish people and the Vatican: “Then Jules Isaac came, a “B’nai B’rith”; his meeting with pope John XXIII is the tip of the iceberg; the Vatican II, Nostra Ætate, the conciliar directions for the eradication of any anti-Judaic idea in the catechism and liturgy.”
The philo-Jewish attitude of cardinal Bea caused him to be accused of being a secret agent of the “B’nai B’rith”. Someone, like Leon de Poncins summed up, accused Bea of being of Jewish origins, being called Beja or Behar and acting in the Council as a secret agent of the “B’nai B’rith”. To date, there aren’t any serious proofs of this.
Freud and the “B’nai B’rith”
The author writes that S. Freud was a member of the “B’nai B’rith” Lodge in Vienna and that the “B’nai B’rith” influenced the development of psycho-analysis, founded on the cabala.
The “B’nai B’rith” and communism
The author’s question is: did the “B’nai B’rith” oppose or support the communist revolution in 1917? Globally, by reading the “B’nai B’rith’s” press, we can say that they supported it. They didn’t have any fears for the development of the Russian Israelite community, except the anxiety for a possible assimilation of the Jewish people in the communist State and the difficulty of the religious practice. Besides these two points, in the press of the “B’nai B’rith” of the time we can’t find any evidence of condemnation of the communist dictatorial regime for its ideology. The ‘elimination of the orthodox Jewish was led by the Jewish section of the communist party, the ‘Evsekzija’; we suffered the sad sight of Jewish people undressing their own brothers’.
The “B’nai B’rith” and Zionism
The “B’nai B’rith” can be considered a pre-Zionist movement. Since its origins and because of its nature, the “B’nai B’rith” is an Order of Zionist inspiration, although this word didn’t exist in 1843. Paul Goldman, president of the First Lodge of England, wrote a small booklet on the history of such a Lodge in 1936. In this pamphlet we find important information on the influence of the London Lodges of the “B’nai B’rith” on the development of Zionism.
“In Palestine – Goldman wrote – the “B’nai B’rith” had a unique role, before Zionism turned it into the bases of the Jewish State”. In 1865, twenty-three years before the world Zionist organization of Herzl, the “B’nai B’rith” organized a big campaign to help the Jewish victims of a cholera epidemic in Palestine. After that, the Order has never stopped supporting financially the private initiatives in Israel (in 1948 they sent more than four million dollars to Israel). There was, though, an anti-Zionist minority among the Jewish people; the “B’nai B’rith” has always tried to avoid controversy and division among Israelites and therefore it hasn’t officially taken side (until September 1947) in favor of the Zionist thesis. They still defended them and participated actively to all the Zionist conferences.
The “B’nai B’rith” helps the recognition of Israel
The “B’nai B’rith” caused the actual State of Israel to be recognized by the American president Harry Truman, who was hostile to a quick process; because of his ‘delay’ he was accused of being a traitor by Zionist executives. In those occasions, none of the Zionist leaders was received at the White House; none, except for Frank Goldman, president of the “B’nai B’rith”, although he didn’t manage to persuade the president. Goldman then called the lawyer Granoff, Jacobson’s counselor and personal friend of Truman. Jacobson was a member of the “B’nai B’rith”, although he wasn’t a Zionist; he wrote a telegram to his friend Truman asking him to receive Weizmann (president of the world Zionist Congress). The telegram didn’t have a reply. Jacobson then asked for a personal meeting at the White House. Truman told him he would be happy to see him on condition he didn’t talk about Palestine. Jacobson promised and set out. When he arrived at the White House, as Truman itself wrote in his ‘Memoirs’: “Big tears trickled down his eyes. I told him: ‘Eddie, silly idiot, you promised me not to talk about what’s happening in the Middle East’. Jacobson answered me: ‘Mister president, I haven’t said a word, but every time I think about the Jewish people without a homeland, I start crying’.
I then said to him: ‘Eddie, stop it’. And we talked about other stuff, but now and again a big tear trickled down his eyes. Then he left.”
Not long after, Truman secretly received Weizmann and radically changed his opinion, deciding to immediately recognize the State of Israel. On the 15th May 1948 Truman asked the representative of the United States to recognize de facto the new State. When the President signed the documents for the official recognition of Israel, on the 13th January 1949, the only observers not belonging to the U.S. government were three leaders of the “B’nai B’rith”, Eddie Jacobson, Maurice Bisyger and Frank Goldman.
The hardest task: to avoid assimilation
We know already that the “B’nai B’rith” has the purpose to join Israelites and help human progress. Therefore the Order tries to develop the moral and intellectual character of its coreligionists. Nevertheless, by studying the matter further, we can read a kind of Jewish ‘racism’ in such programs. The Order of the ‘Children of the Alliance’ presumes a complete loyalty to Judaism, because it strengthens the Jewish consciousness. One of the highest tasks of the Order is to preserve the Jewish people from any danger of assimilation from other countries, which would cause them to lose their identity.
The “Anti-Defamation League – A.D.L.” writes that they believe in integration, that is the acceptance of Jewish people as equals. But this is opposite to assimilation, that is the loss of the Jewish identity. One of the principles of the Order is that ‘there’s no room in the “B’nai B’rith” for a Brother that keeps his children away from the Israelite Community’.
The regret for the ghetto and the dangers of emancipation
In the “B’nai B’rith’s” publications of the past years, we could still see a kind of nostalgia of the ghetto as a warranty of their identity; some members even thought that ‘the mortal enemy of Jewish is not anti-Semitism but assimilation’.
The “B’nai B’rith” also fights against mixed marriages where one of the two is a ‘goy’, even when it is celebrated in a Synagogue.
The ‘Anti-Defamation League’: or the armed wing of the “B’nai B’rith”
The A.D.L. was founded by the “B’nai B’rith” in October 1913 to fight defamation and discrimination against the American Jewish community. Many US presidents, such as Truman, Eisenhower, J. Kennedy, Johnson and Reagan have praised the A.D.L.
The association regularly makes a file on those who have expressed non philo-Israelite opinions. In Italy, last summer, the journalist Maurizio Blondet sensationally managed to publish the A.D.L. list of 1993; among the others we find the names of the Members of Parliament Pivetti and Miglio and the cardinals Ruini and Pappalardo. The MP Pivetti presented a parliamentary interrogation asking the Minister of the Interior an inquest on the matter, but she didn’t receive a reply.
A.D.L. and private espionage in the USA
On the 10th December 1992 and 8th April 1993 the building of the A.D.L. of the “B’nai B’rith” in San Francisco and Los Angeles were simultaneously searched by FBI agents; many documents prove that A.D.L., through its section of documentary research (Fact Finding Division) directed by Irwin Svall since 1962, has been a wide network of espionage, not only against vaguely anti-Semitic political militants, but also against several religious confessions, clubs and local association that have nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
American police found out that most of the men or associations spied by the A.D.L. had never had any direct or indirect link with the Jewish community; they didn’t even have a clear position pro or against Israel.
In Italy, for example, cardinal Ruini has been filed as an anti-Semite because he wrote that Jesus was crucified by Jewish. Cardinal Pappalardo was filed for using the scriptural expression ‘Synagogue of Satan’.
Such network of espionage has been established thanks to the friends of A.D.L. among policemen, sheriffs and even FBI agents. The power of the Jewish community is such that the A.D.L. building in Los Angeles had to be searched by the San Francisco police, because the local police refused to cooperate directly with the inquest. The Attorney General of San Francisco, Arlo Smith, said that it was ‘the biggest network of espionage working on a national scale’.
Two reporters of the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’, Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, wrote that the A.D.L.’s dossier in San Francisco, seized by the Los Angeles police, is ‘only the tip of the iceberg of a national system of espionage and indiscretions programmed by the security services’. The two journalists also state that ‘policemen from at least other six cities are equally involved in the sale of confidential police files’. Another practice used by the A.D.L. is to infiltrate in American groups or parties.
Some Jewish students of the University of San Francisco, as reported by the ‘San Francisco Weekly’, have admitted of spying, on behalf of the A.D.L., other students or professors, systematically writing down their observations about Israel or Jewish people. It seems logical to suppose that the A.D.L. files every person who expresses critical feelings or opinions about Israel. It seems that the link between the A.D.L. and the police goes back to the preliminaries of the American declaration of war in 1941. When the US declared war, the A.D.L. files became a goldmine for the FBI, which could control enemy agents.
This practice hasn’t stopped: the A.D.L. has provided the FBI with lists of people or organizations considered ‘racist’. Indeed, the A.D.L. organized seminaries of formation where American policemen were invited to identify and file ‘anti-Semites’ or presumed to be as such. In 1989 the chief of FBI William Sessions participated to the annual assembly of the A.D.L., offering them his professional experience.
In order to obtain the favors of repressive powers and facilitate its penetration in the police apparatus, every year the A.D.L. sponsors many seminars especially dedicated to the so-called ‘white extremists’; here many officials of the police, FBI agents, sheriffs and general Procurators of the thirteen States participate.
The «’technical’ publications of A.D.L., which are often a true filing of people criticizing Zionism, are indeed destined to be used by the police, as the advertising catalogue of A.D.L. itself specifies».
Provocative operations are organized on behalf of the A.D.L.; they are carried out inside extreme right wing groups, in order to discredit them and at the same time to attract the public opinion’s attention on the existence of a serious racist and anti-Semite danger, which doesn’t in actual fact exist.
A book of condemnation
In the summer 1992 a book called ‘Les droites nationales et radicals en France’, appeared in France, published by ‘Presses universitaires de Lyon’ (P.U.L.); it is written by two young authors, Renè Monzat and Jean-Yves Camus (both born in 1958). On the back cover it is written: «Book published with the support of the French “B’nai B’rith”». The president of the French “B’nai B’rith”, doctor Marc Aron, an influent Lyonais personality, signed the preface titled: “the vicious circle of the extreme right”. The work is mainly made by the transcription of police files (from page 61 to page 100) and it is a book of condemnation of parties, personalities, bulletins, associations, etc.
Don Curzio Nitoglia
edited by Athos A. Altomonte