Aug 13, 2014


Weir, Alison (2014-03-14). Against Our Better Judgment: The hidden history of how the U.S. was used to create Israel (Kindle Locations 336-353).  . Kindle Edition. 


Chapter Three 

LOUIS BRANDEIS, ZIONISM, AND THE “PARUSHIM“ In 1912 prominent Jewish American attorney Louis Brandeis, who was to go on to become a Supreme Court Justice, became a Zionist. [27] Within two years he became head of the international Zionist Central Office, newly moved to America from Germany. [28] While Brandeis is an unusually well known Supreme Court Justice, most Americans are unaware of the significant role he played in World War I and of his connection to Palestine. Some of this work was done with Felix Frankfurter, who became a Supreme Court Justice two decades later. Perhaps the aspect of Brandeis that is least known to the general public – and often even to academics – is the extent of his zealotry and the degree to which he used covert methods to achieve his aims. While today Brandeis is held in extremely high esteem by almost all Americans, there was significant opposition at the time to his appointment to the Supreme Court, largely centered on widespread accusations of unethical behavior. A typical example was the view that Brandeis was “a man who has certain high ideals in his imagination, but who is utterly unscrupulous, in method in reaching them.” [29] 

While today such criticisms of Brandeis are either ignored or attributed to political differences and/ or “anti-Semitism,” [30] there is evidence suggesting that such views may have been more accurate than Brandeis partisans would like. In 1982 historian Bruce Allen Murphy, in a book that won a Certificate of Merit from the American Bar Association, reported that Brandeis and Frankfurter had secretly collaborated over many years on numerous covert political activities. Zionism was one of them. [31] “[ I] n one of the most unique arrangements in the Court’s history, Brandeis enlisted Frankfurter, then a professor at Harvard Law School, as his paid political lobbyist and lieutenant,” writes Murphy, in his book The Brandeis/ Frankfurter Connection: The Secret Political Activities of Two Supreme Court Justices. “Working together over a period of 25 years, they placed a network of disciples in positions of influence, and labored diligently for the enactment of their desired programs.” [32] “This adroit use of the politically skillful Frankfurter as an intermediary enabled Brandeis to keep his considerable political endeavors hidden from the public,” continues Murphy. [33] Brandeis only mentioned the arrangement to one other person, Murphy writes, “another Zionist lieutenant– Court of Appeals Judge Julian Mack.” [34] One reason Brandeis and Frankfurter kept their arrangement secret was that such behavior by a sitting Supreme Court justice is considered highly unethical. As an editorial in the New York Times pointed out following the publication of Murphy’s book, “... the Brandeis-Frankfurter arrangement was wrong. It serves neither history nor ethics to judge it more kindly, as some seem disposed to do... the prolonged, meddlesome Brandeis-Frankfurter arrangement violates ethical standards.” 

The Times reiterates a point also made by Murphy: the fact that Brandeis and Frankfurter kept their arrangement secret demonstrated that they knew it was unethical – or at least realized that the public would view it as such: “They were dodging the public’s appropriate measure of fitness.” [35] Later, when Frankfurter himself became a Supreme Court Justice, he used similar methods, “placing his own network of disciples in various agencies and working through this network for the realization of his own goals.” These included both Zionist objectives and “Frankfurter‘s stewardship of FDR‘s programs to bring the U.S. into battle against Hitler.” [36] Their activities, Murphy notes , were “part of a vast, carefully planned and orchestrated political crusade undertaken first by Brandeis through Frankfurter and then by Frankfurter on his own to accomplish extrajudicial political goals.” [37] Frankfurter had joined the Harvard faculty in 1914 at the age of 31, a post gained after a Brandeis-initiated donation from financier Jacob Schiff to Harvard created a position for Frankfurter. [38] Then, Murphy writes, “for the next 25 years, [Frankfurter] shaped the minds of generations of the nation’s most elite law students.” [39] 

After Brandeis become head of the American Zionist movement, he “created an advisory council– an inner circle of his closest advisers– and appointed Felix Frankfurter as one of its members.” [40] The Parushim Even more surprising to this author – and even less well-known both to the public and to academics – is Brandeis’s membership in a secret society that covertly pushed Zionism both in the U.S. and internationally. [41] Israeli professor Dr. Sarah Schmidt first reported this information in an article about the society published in 1978 in the American Jewish Historical Quarterly. She also devoted a chapter to the society in a 1995 book. Author and former New York Times editor Peter Grose, sympathetic to Zionism, [42] also reported on it in both a book and several subsequent articles. [43] According to Grose, a highly regarded author, Brandeis was a leader of “an elitist secret society called the Parushim, the Hebrew word for ‘Pharisees’ and ‘separate,’ which grew out of Harvard’s Menorah Society.” [44] Schmidt writes : “The image that emerges of the Parushim is that of a secret underground guerilla force determined to influence the course of events in a quiet, anonymous way.”

Grose writes that Brandeis used the Parushim “as a private intellectual cadre, a pool of manpower for various assignments.” [45] Brandeis recruited ambitious young men, often from Harvard, to work on the Zionist cause – and further their careers in the process. “As the Harvard men spread out across the land in their professional pursuits,” Grose reports, “their interests in Zionism were kept alive by secretive exchanges and the trappings of a fraternal order. Each invited initiate underwent a solemn ceremony, swearing the oath ‘to guard and to obey and to keep secret the laws and the labor of the fellowship, its existence and its aims.’” [46] At the secret initiation ceremony, new members were told: “You are about to take a step which will bind you to a single cause for all your life. You will for one year be subject to an absolute duty whose call you will be impelled to heed at any time, in any place, and at any cost. And ever after, until our purpose shall be accomplished, you will be fellow of a brotherhood whose bond you will regard as greater than any other in your life– dearer than that of family, of school, of nation.” [47] While Brandeis was a key leader of the Parushim, an academic named Horace M. Kallen was its founder, creating it in 1913. Kallen was an academic first hired by Woodrow Wilson, who was then president of Princeton, to teach English there. [48] When Kallen founded the Parushim he was a philosophy professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Kallen is generally considered the father of cultural pluralism. In her book on Kallen, Schmidt includes more information on the society in a chapter entitled, “Kallen‘s Secret Army: 

The Parushim.” She reports, “A member swearing allegiance to the Parushim felt something of the spirit of commitment to a secret military fellowship.” [49] “Kallen invited no one to become a member until the candidate had given specific assurances regarding devotion and resolution to the Zionist cause,” Schmidt writes, “and each initiate had to undergo a rigorous analysis of his qualifications, loyalty, and willingness to take orders from the Order’s Executive Council.” [50] Not surprisingly, it appears that Frankfurter was a member. [51] ‘We must work silently, through education and infection’ Members of the Parushim were quite clear about the necessity of keeping their activities secret. An early recruiter to the Parushim explained: “An organization which has the aims we have must be anonymous, must work silently, [52] and through education and infection rather than through force and noise.” He wrote that to work openly would be “suicidal” for their objective. [53] Grose describes how the group worked toward achieving its goals: 

“The members set about meeting people of influence here and there, casually, on a friendly basis. They planted suggestions for action to further the Zionist cause long before official government planners had come up with anything.” “For example,” Grose writes, “as early as November 1915, a leader of the Parushim went around suggesting that the British might gain some benefit from a formal declaration in support of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine.” [54] (More on this in the following chapter.) Brandeis was a close friend of President Woodrow Wilson and used this access to advocate for the Zionist cause, at times serving as a conduit between British Zionists and the president. [55] In 1916 President Wilson named Brandeis to the Supreme Court. At that time, as was required by standard ethics, Brandeis gave in to pressure to officially resign from all his private clubs and affiliations, including his leadership of Zionism. But behind the scenes he continued this Zionist work, quietly receiving daily reports in his Supreme Court chambers and issuing orders to his loyal lieutenants. [56] When the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) was reorganized in 1918, Brandeis was listed as its “honorary president.” However, he was more than just “honorary.” As historian Donald Neff writes, “Through his lieutenants, he remained the power behind the throne.” One of these lieutenants, of course, was Frankfurter. [57] Zionist membership expanded dramatically during World War I, despite the efforts of some Jewish anti-Zionists, one of whom called the movement a “foreign, un-American, racist, and separatist phenomenon.” [58]

1 comment:

Darwin26 said...

this excerpt sold it, i'm buying Alison's latest book.
Good OnYa Alison,
Will Crain,
Billings, Montana