Have you heard of the surprising and critical role a Christian Zionist played in the earliest stages of Herzl’s modern Zionism, namely Reverend William Henry Hechler?
For decades the grave of this unsung hero of Israel’s rebirth, lay forgotten in Northern London.
Hechler was bi-lingual and bi-cultural: equally at home in German and English. (Theodore Herzl, the great father of modern Zionism wrote his seminal work “The Jewish State” in German as Der Judenstaat.)
Hechler was a Christian who cherished a deep love for the Jewish people. He “happened” to find and read the new book and recognized the prophetic moment. He went on to meet Herzl and become his key connection point both to the German Kaiser and to English Christian Zionism.
Now Louis Hemmings has composed and sent Israel Today this poignant poetic tribute:
Rev. Hechler’s Discovery of Der Judenstaat, 1896.
The big-bearded, frock-coated Anglican clergyman,
Rev Hechler, stood mesmerised before a bookshop
window, incredulous, his heart almost stopped,
seeing Herzl’s cri-de-cour – Der Judenstaat
– the pivotal pamphlet spotlit by sunlight.
That journalist insisted there must be a Jewish State,
assimilation proven impossible by *Dreyfus’ drubbing.
That anxious, obsessive, Moses-messianic author
vainly willed an open-minded, expectant audience
– Judaic cohort belief in his audacious epiphany:
the re-establishment of the biblical-named nation.
Instead, vilification, stonewalling and mockery.
Hechler, in his book-bulging study, long-searched
significant scripture texts, anticipating Israel’s
eventual return, his belief provoked by Ezekiel’s promise:
“I will take you out of many nations, gather you
from all countries and bring you back to your land.”
Christian Zionist and secular political prophet;
one doggedly calculated God’s divine time line,
the other used oratory to challenge cultural prejudice,
urged refugee reclamation of ancient cradle land.
Before long, colonial overlords acceded Herzl’s plan:
Yisraʾel – open harbour, holy haven, safe shelter,
protection from persecution and pogrom.
The twelve tribes returned, many kibbutzim made
“water gush in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”
Herzl, sanctified spiritual father of that nation state,
civically esteemed for his relentless, Zionist zealotry;
wife and family unvalued, disparaged, depressed:
a sacrificial lamb on the abstract altar of ideology.
Hechler’s death didn’t prompt newspaper notice,
his overgrown grave discovered after decades.
Not named on plaque or city street, no national
eulogy celebrates his kind-minded faithfulness
but Yahweh handpicked him to rewrite world history.
Dreyfus* – Jewish French army captain falsely accused of treason 1904.
Herzl – founder of World Zionist Congress. Der Judenstaat laid rhetorical foundations for the need of a state of Israel. The Dreyfus scandal sparked Herzl’s philosophy.
Rev. Hechler – Anglican clergyman, biblical prophecy proponent and right hand man to Herzl.
Kibbutz – a community where people voluntarily live and work together on a noncompetitive basis. The first kibbutzim were organized by idealistic young Zionists in the beginning of the 20th century.
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