Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, January 27, 1986, Page 11
A Polish born Jew and former Israeli citizen Haviv Schieber is an exile who has lived for the past 17 years in the United States. Head of the Holy Land State Committee (Suite 505, 2025 I Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006), he would resolve the Israeli Palestinian dispute by giving equal rights in Palestine to Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Now, in his 70s, he devotes torrents of seemingly inexhaustible energy to his solution to the Arab-Israeli problem, to the neglect of health, livelihood and personal considerations. An inexplicable phenomenon, even to his closest friends, Haviv Schieber the reality may not be susceptible of being understood. As a symbol, or series of symbols, he should perhaps be simply appreciated.
A passionate Zionist as an idealistic young man in Poland, Schieber immigrated in 1932 to the British Mandate of Palestine. The fierce Palestinian revolt from 1936 to 1939 against Britain's obvious objective of turning Palestine over to European Jews, however, soured him on the whole idea of a Jewish state. Perceiving from the reality of actually living in Palestine that the ideals of Judaism would be perverted by forcing such a state on the Muslim and Christian Palestinians, Schieber in 1936 returned in disillusionment to Poland.
Since then, like the Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah, he has relentlessly berated his fellow Jews for past errors, and warned of future disasters if they continue on their present course.
Back in Poland, Schieber suffered an even more devastating psychological blow, which rendered him as relentlessly antagonistic to Communism/Marxism as he was disillusioned with Zionism. A supporter of Vladimir Jabotinsky's right wing Zionist youth movement, Schieber saw mainstream Zionism selecting socialist/Marxist youth for emigration to Palestine as those best suited to build the envisaged Jewish state. Middle aged and well off Jews were left behind, Schieber charges, to fall victim later to Hitler's Holocaust. His bitterness against the liberal/left bias in Israel burns as fiercely today as it did 50 years ago. The idea of a Jewish state became a false God, a Moloch, before which his fellow Jews sacrificed even their own kind, Schieber believes.
He returned to Palestine in 1939, just escaping with his life from the Nazi onslaught against Poland. Back in the Middle East, he married and raised a family. When he started a contracting business, it was with some Palestinians with whom he had become personally friendly. Eventually he became the first Jewish Mayor of Beersheba.
Schieber's disillusionment deepened as the Arab Israel War of 1948 49 engulfed Palestine. Wherever he looked, Schieber saw once idealistic Jews made arrogant by the guns they carried. He watched them rip stones from the walls of ancient Palestinian owned houses to make roads to the new Jewish towns. Worst of all, for a former Zionist idealist, he saw the left right split in Zionism become a chasm on June 8, 1948, when Israeli soldiers killed 34 and wounded more than a hundred other Jews seeking to land arms and men to reinforce the rightist bands of Jewish irregulars. As he watched Jew kill Jew, he realized that the future of Zionism no longer depended upon the power of ideals, but rather upon the power of the gun.
Since his arrival in the United States in 1959, Haviv Schieber has been consumed by the same sacred rage that, almost exactly 100 years earlier, propelled John Brown and a band of devoted followers to their foredoomed attempt at Harper's Ferry, Virginia to end the scourge of slavery in the United States. Brown was captured by a U.S. Army detachment and hanged. Two years later the soldiers of that same army were singing an ode to John Brown, the stirring "Battle Hymn of the Republic," as they marched into battle. Six years after his death, General Robert E. Lee, the officer who delivered John Brown to the hangman, surrendered an entire Confederate army and the Black slaves were free.
At the instigation of Zionists, Haviv Schieber was almost deported as an illegal alien. He slashed his wrists to avoid being placed by force on an airplane. Since then, he has become a source of inspiration to people who know him well.
Who but Schieber would demonstrate personally at TV studios for weeks on end against Ted Koppel? Who else but Haviv Schieber and his followers would hitch a huge mobile sign to a pickup truck equipped with a loudspeaker and tow it around the national capital, sometimes denouncing Israel for its violations of Palestinian human rights, sometimes denouncing theWashington Post for a tilt toward Israel, and every June reminding Americans of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in June, 1967. Who else would drive himself to exhaustion to expose the machinations of the Israel lobby in America?
To some Haviv Schieber might seem to be a Don Quixote, tilting furiously against Zionist windmills. But he has attracted a coterie of devoted American followers, Jews and Christians, who find his spirit unconquerable a trait he demonstrated anew when two serious surgical operations in 1985 slowed him for only a few days each time.
His detractors might say that he has failed to gain the following, especially among American Jews, that he needs to turn his plan for a Holy Land State open to Christians, Muslims and Jews into the solution to the world's most intractible political and religious problem.
Has he failed? Consider another question.
Did John Brown fail? ❑
By Andrew I. Killgore