Could Israel have been located in Baja California?

by DoctorG on March 14, 2013

by
Gary Schubach, Ed.D.

A SQUAD OF NAI JUDAH SOLDIER SETTLERS1 Could Israel have been located in Baja California?I recently came into possession of several letters, written in 1938, to my grandfather, Rabbi Joseph Jasin (1883-1968), by a group called NAI Judah, whose objective was “to unite the Jews of the world into one movement; to secure an undisputed territory for a sovereign Jewish State.”  These letters indicate a passionate interest by prominent Americans in the evacuation of European Jews to a Jewish state to be located in Baja California.  Three settlements were actually built and I also found photographs showing young men undergoing paramilitary training.

My Grandfathers Letters

PHOTO OF NAI JUDAH SOLDIER SETTLERS1 Could Israel have been located in Baja California?My grandfather was a real hero to me.  He was an imposing man of great presence and wisdom.  In addition to being a Rabbi, he had a Ph.D. in Philosophy and was a practiced magician.  He was a man of goodwill and of universal brotherhood.  He was equally  comfortable in a Mosque, Buddhist temple or Catholic church and took me to all of them.  He was a Reform Rabbi in the early years of Reform Judaism in the U.S. and yet was a fervent Zionist, and served from 1908 to 1910 as the full-time secretary of the Federation of American Zionists. Zionism was not popular among Reform Jews at that time and I never could understand his seeming inconsistency.

SIGNAL CORPS DETAIL1 Could Israel have been located in Baja California?In terms of NAI Judah and the establishment of Jewish settlements in the 1930’s in Baja California, I have not been able to find any other documentation, other than these letters and photos.  Wikipedia’s Proposals for a Jewish state page does not mention Baja California, although it does document a number of other efforts to locate a Jewish homeland in places other than Palestine.

While it is an interesting mind exercise to think about “what if”, the reality is  that Israel is located in Palestine and there are still catastrophic  possibilities for Israel and the whole world unless Israel can find a way to make peace with the Arab Palestinians.

FUTURE BUILDERS OF ROADS1 Could Israel have been located in Baja California?To me, the problem comes down to the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a substantial minority of Israelis believe that the West Bank of the Jordan River, which they refer to as Judea and Samaria, belongs to Israel and should be annexed. I have no idea what they plan to do with the 5,000,000 Arab inhabitants, but the only logical conclusion  to this folly would seem to ultimately be ethnic cleansing and a nuclear Holocaust that would follow.

YOUNG AMERICAN JEWS1 Could Israel have been located in Baja California?The idea that Israeli settlements might exist in the middle of an independent Palestinian State is foolish.  Our experience with the American Indians, as well as in other foreign settlement situations within a sovereign state or territory, is that it is a set-up for trouble between the locals and the settlers, with the army (the IDF in this case) ultimately needed to protect the settlers.

I recently became aware of a new documentary film, The Gatekeepers, in which six living former Shin Bet (Israel’s secret service) chiefs recount their long war on terrorism, call it and the Israeli occupation of Judea and Samaria a failure and advocate peace talks.

In conclusion,  I believe that as Jews, God has given us a special obligation to be fair and just with the Palestinians.  This a critical moral test for us, with dire consequences if we fail.

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Udi Edelman April 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Dear Dr. Gary Schubach,
I was so excited to find your recent post about the Nai Juda and Joseph Hefter. My name is Udi Edelman and I’m a researcher and curator working in Israel. I’ve been researching Hefter’s life story for more than 2 years now and last year I curated an exhibition about different possibilities of early Zionism and Hefter had a crucial part in it. You can read a bit about him in the exhibition site here: http://www.digitalartlab.org.il/ExhibitionPage.asp?id=685&path=artist and the exhibition: http://www.digitalartlab.org.il/ExhibitionPage.asp?id=676&path=level_1
Hefter’s attempt with this movement was very interesting and from 1938 till 44 he was working almost only about this. He wrote a very interesting pamphlet with the name “room for the jew” and tried to get a land in different places from Alaska to South America. He was also an Artist and later in life was well known as a military uniforms historian.
I’m still looking for any information about him and the movement and I would appreciate if you would agree to help with the materials you have.
All the best,
Udi Edelman
Curator; Director of Research and Academic Connections,
The Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon
[ http://www.digitalartlab.org.il ]

Co-Editor of Mafte’akh:
Lexical Review of Political Thought
Minerva Humanities Center, Tel-Aviv University, Israel
[ mafteakh.tau.ac.il/en || mhc.tau.ac.il/en ]

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