Authored by Jiaqi Chang
On November 15th, 1971, the Washington Observer Newsletter published an article titled Courageous Jew. Within the Center for Migration Studies of New York’s archives, various court proceedings accompany this article which documents Scheiber’s battle with the United States immigration courts. “The respondent is …last a citizen of Israel. On March 15, 1961 he was found deportable…[and] a warrant for his deportation…was issued November 19, 1964” (United States Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals 1970), one of those court proceedings states. Purely reading these sterile court proceedings, one is inclined to view Scheiber as an individual defiant of laws. However, Courageous Jew provides an opportunity for Scheiber to convey the context for his decades-long battle with the United States courts.
The article is largely an affidavit provided by Scheiber, in which he details an “explanation of facts,” to a “secret report” (Solodar 1971) issued by the Israeli government to the American government Scheiber’s affidavit reveals the “deliberate lies,” and details the heroic deeds he accomplished in the face of political turmoil within Israel. “We should remember that true facts stand above manufactured lies,” he states, and that he merely “seek[s] the freedom that America defends” (Solodar 1971).
The secret report revealed that Scheiber had been arrested multiple times, proving him unworthy of legal citizenship within the United States. Scheiber identifies one instance in which the secret report was erroneous. “I was arrested for having performed an act of national heroism – I was the organizer and guiding spirit of the movement to initiate the illegal immigration to Palestine of Jews from Europe in order to save their lives from Hitler” (Solodar 1971), Scheiber states; the Palestinian government “only allowed leftwing Jews to immigrate” (Solodar 1971). During the 1930’s, a fixed quota was established by the British Government in which Jews were given immigration certificates at the discretion of the Jewish Agency (Lapidot n.d.). As a result, “the Agency, which was dominated at the time by socialist parties, tended to distribute the certificates to graduates of the haksharot” (Lapidot n.d.) which limited the number of immigrations for Jews not associated with the Zionist organization. Thus, the first attempt to “bring in a large group of immigrants…occurred in 1934 on the initiative of activists” (Lapidot n.d.). Scheiber claims that his actions were committed in the face of an unethical government. He proclaims that “although this case concerns me personally, it is more than just the case of one man.” (Solodar 1971).
Considering Scheiber’s affidavit, the numerous court proceedings are seen in a different light. Scheiber’s fight with the courts is not merely that of an illegal immigrant defiant of law and order; Scheiber had fought against an unjust system in which discrimination might have meant death in Hitler’s Germany. Through the lens of Vincentian values, which call for devotion to “intellectual and physical resources to search out the causes of…social injustice” (Philippians 4:8), Scheiber exemplifies this mission to find truth and correct social injustices (St. John’s University 2020). In a eulogy written in memoriam of Scheiber’s death, Andrew I. Killgore (1988) wrote, “you were…perhaps the only free man many of us will ever know…you symbolized the indomitable human spirit.”
Solodar, Harold. 1971. “Courageous Jew.” Washington Observer Newsletter, November 15, 1971.
Lapidot, Yehuda. n.d. “Immigration to Israel: The Irgun’s Role in Clandestine Immigration.” Jewish Virtual Library. Accessed October 23, 2020. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-irgun-rsquo-s-role-in-illegal-immigration
Killgore, Andrew I. 1988. “Haviv Schieber (1913-1987): Eulogy to a Free Man.” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, 12-13. Accessed October 23, 2020. https://www.wrmea.org/1988-february/in-memoriam-haviv-schieber-1913-1987-eulogy-to-a-free-man.html
St. John’s University. 2020. “Our Mission.” Retrieved from https://www.stjohns.edu/about/our-mission
United States Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals File: All 596 969 – Los Angeles, 9 January 1970, CMS 105, Box 2, File 1, Arthur P. (“Skip”) Endres Papers, 1960-1980s, Center for Migration Studies Archive, Center for Migration Studies of New York