John Stanley Grauel

John Stanley Grauel – A Righteous Man Among the Nations

Grauel.PhotoA.WEBJohn Stanley Grauel (1917-1986), an American Methodist minister who served on the crew of the Exodus 1947, the illegal immigrant ship that attempted to bring Jewish Displaced Persons from Europe to Palestine.  He found his calling in the Haganah, the underground Jewish army in Palestine, working to establish a Jewish state in the British-controlled land of Palestine.

Grauel was inspired to help the Jewish people after seeing newspaper photographs of Nazis abusing Jews.  A friend suggested he join the American Christian Palestine Committee, an organization dedicated to the establishment of a Jewish state.

Grauel became director of the ACPC’s Philadelphia office, but went one step further; he joined the Haganah, which had a recruitment office next door.  And that is how he came to be the only non-Jew among the American crew of the famed illegal immigrant ship Exodus 1947.

The boat was carrying some 4,500 Holocaust survivors to Palestine in July 1947 when British destroyers intercepted it, ramming it and boarding it violently.  Though Grauel had a visa for Palestine and credentials as a journalist, the British arrested him.  But they made the mistake of holding him at the Savoy Hotel, where correspondents thronged the bar desperate for information about the Exodus.  Before long, Grauel’s eyewitness report was on its way to the world.  Then, spirited away by the Haganah, he spoke to other reporters in Jerusalem.

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Crew members of the President Warfield (later the Exodus 1947) prepare for a Sabbath dinner in Norfolk, VA. [Photograph #64274] U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

He also testified before the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, pleading the cause of unlimited Jewish immigration.  The committee had come to study the Jewish-Arab conflict, and it gave Grauel’s testimony greater credence precisely because he was not Jewish.  Golda Meir later said that it was a key factor in bringing about the United Nations partition decision.

“John the priest,” as his shipmates called him, was a handsome man with blond hair and blue eyes.  Dressed always in white, often with a magenta shirt and a large gold cross, he became a regular on the speakers’ circuit of both Jewish and non-Jewish organizations in the United States.  He also participated in other humanitarian efforts, including the American civil rights movement and Native American struggles.  Grauel, An Autobiography, As Told to Eleanor Elfenbein (Ivory House) appeared in 1982.

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