Vatican II Kabbalist Sage, Rabbi Abraham Heschel: "I Want to Attack Their Souls"

Rabbi Abraham Heschel with Cardinal Augustin Bea

Returning to the biography of the Hasidic change agent, Rabbi Abraham Heschel (Spiritual Radical, by Edward K. Kaplan, Yale University Press). In this book is an account of an interview of Rabbi Heschel during the time the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate, which Heschel collaborated on, was being deliberated. The interview reveals an attitude of remarkable hostility to Christians, which should come as no surprise to those knowledgeable of the rabbinic tradition. What may surprise some (but shouldn’t at this point) is that such a hostile character would be invited by Vatican officials to participate in the writing of a Church council document.

First some background: In Heschel’s many meetings with Vatican officials (as an agent of the American Jewish Comittee) regarding Nostra Aetate, mostly with Augustin Bea, but including a secretive meeting with Paul VI, Heschel was most adamant that the document should clearly proclaim his belief that it is unacceptable for Christians to seek the conversion of “Jews.” Heschel’s chutzpah in peddling this absurd idea (which consequently would undercut Christ’s incarnation, evangelical mission and sacrifice) went to the extreme of appealing to the non-Biblical, relativistic, Talmudic anti-principle mipnei darchai shalom during his meeting with Paul VI.

During the deliberations, a draft of the Nostra Aetate document was leaked to the press which did not include the prohibition against converting “Jews” which Heschel desired. This infuriated Heschel, and in response he wrote an editorial published by the New York Times and Time magazine in which he proclaimed, “As I have repeatedly stated to leading personalities of the Vatican, I am ready to go to Auschwitz any time, if faced with the alternative of conversion or death.”

Edward Kaplan (citing Schuster’s notes on record at AJC/Paris) writes that AJC European director, Zachariah Schuster warned Heschel that this outburst had been embarrassing to their Vatican collaborators but that Heschel replied undauntedly, “I had my own private reasons for making this remark.” Heschel later revealed what those private reasons were to Stern Gang terrorist, Geula Cohen in an interview which she conducted for the Israeli newspaper, Ma’ariv.

In interviewing Rabbi Abraham Heschel, Geula Cohen made reference to Heschel’s hysterical “ready to go to Auschwitz” statement saying she was proud of it, but that she would have handled it differently:

“This statement of yours made me proud. Yet, I would have written it differently, saying: ‘if this were the only way in which I would be permitted to live, I would have endeavored to send them [Christians] to Auschwitz.'”

Cohen relayed that Heschel was not shocked by her words, but explained that his statement was stronger than hers:

“Frankly, I assert that the statement on Auschwitz, of which you are proud, is the strongest statement possible, and it has shaken many people throughout the world.”

Heshel further clarified, explaining the private reasons he earlier said he had for making the “Auschwitz” statement:

“[Christians] correctly understood that I was comparing them to the Nazis. If I had made the statement in a straightforward fashion saying ‘you are Nazis,’ it would have sounded ridiculous. My style of writing is by hinting, because truth is in the depths. There are those who would like to attack their bodies. I want to attack their souls. Today, there is no longer any place for religious wars as such. Today there is occasion for conversation and discussion. Do you consider the desire to discuss a sign of weakness?” (Rabbi Abraham Heschel, interviewed by Geula Cohen for Ma’ariv, January 4, 1965 as translated by AJC/Paris)

And there you have the motivation behind “dialogue” with “elder brothers” so succinctly summed up by one of the greatest pioneers of interfaith “dialogue” who participated in the writing of a Church council document, Nostra Aetate. Rabbinic warfare against Christian souls is not fought with guns and bombs, but with “conversation” and “discussion.”

Here we see the subtlety of rabbinic warfare–utterly undefended against–even as the rabbis conscribe their spiritually conquered prisoners of war and their resources to fight their war against the specter of “Islamofascist” “Amalek.”

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