Monday 20 June 2016

Bobby Fischer and the WCG

Chess News has an interesting feature by Camile Coudari (originally published in 2012, but new to me) on former Grandmaster and WCG co-worker Bobby Fischer. An excerpt.

I do not think it is a coincidence that Fischer did not feel drawn to conventional religious denominations, and that he was instead attracted from a very early age to the World Wide [sic] Church of God, an Evangelical [sic] sect that was quite well known after the war thanks to its radio broadcasts and its ubiquitous magazine, "The Plain Truth".

Even fundamentalist Evangelical churches viewed the [Worldwide] Church as a fringe cult during its half century of existence, which is not surprising if one looks at just one of its basic tenets: Anglo-Israelism, or the notion that the real descendants of the Biblical Hebrews are the people who came to inhabit the English Isles and neighboring countries.

The holders of Biblical inerrancy, who believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that everything in it is literally true (although doors are often left conveniently open for interpretation) have always had a hard time reconciling Christianity's negative and often heinous attitude toward the Jews with the fact that God chose to reveal his Book to them.

Anglo-Israelism cuts this Gordian knot bluntly by claiming that only a small number of modern Jews are descendants of Biblical Hebrews, and that even those belong only to the “bad” tribes (Judah and Benjamin). All other Jews of modern times are claimed to be impostors and to have no direct link with the Jews of Biblical times. The only supposedly genuine Hebrews left are the scions of the Lost Tribes of Israel, who (Armstrong revealed to a supposedly benighted America) migrated ages ago to the British Isles and northwestern Europe.

Armstrong was not the first who devised this solution to the "I love the Bible but not the Jews" conundrum. The Lost Tribes of Israel have been an object of speculation for centuries, and have been located in the most surprising places, from Southeast Asia to Hawaii to British Columbia.

Besides "solving" the Jewish problem, Anglo-Israelism opens the door to an alluring proposition: it marks out all Americans of English and northwest European origin as "real Jews". From a religious point of view, it creates a direct relationship between them and Israel and gives them a claim on the Biblical Land. There is more than meets the eye in the current support for the state of Israel shown by many fundamentalist Christians, something that may seem surprising at first when one considers that many of them come from parts of the United States where not long ago the fiercely anti-Semitic KKK flourished.

This theory is a perfect example of circular thinking. It holds no water as a key to understanding history or the world, but it does give at least a partial understanding of how Fischer, a Jew himself, could justify his anti-Semitism in his own eyes: the world Jewry he loathed and denounced was not a body of authentic Jews, but was a bunch of traitors or impostors. He told me so himself; and went on about it at such length that before I knew it, night had turned into morning.

 Art Mokarow gets a special mention.

It was rumored in the chess world in the early '80s that after the fallout between Herbert Armstrong and his son Garner Ted Armstrong, Fischer had followed the latter in the splinter sect he went on to establish. My meetings with the Mokarows and Fischer did not give me enough evidence to say for sure which side Fischer actually chose. I asked Mokarow point-blank once, but he demurred.

Mokarow himself, who can now be found giving his latest take on the Bible on YouTube of all places, claims he stopped working for the Worldwide Church of God in the late '70s and went on to become a very successful businessman. I do not know if he ever made a clean break with that organization, and the whole picture remains blurred as there were rumors at some point in the '80s of a reconciliation between Fischer and Armstrong Sr. (Fischer had donated a lot of money to Armstrong and was very upset when his doomsday prophecies failed to materialize in 1972).

Still, I was left with the strong feeling that, far from being merely Fischer’s representatives, Arthur and Claudia Mokarow exerted a great influence on his decisions. I would go so far as to say that the 180-degree change in Fischer's position on the documentary or towards the invitation as a guest of honor at Gilles' shooting location was the work of people who were loath to let Fischer out of their grip for any length of time. Brady describes the couple as a "kind of buffer for Bobby" and says that they were in a position of "considering offers (and rejecting them) without even discussing them with Bobby".

For what it's worth, I've never heard of any move by Fischer to move across into Ted's CGI, rumours in the chess world not withstanding, though it's possible - perhaps probable - that he was on the mailing list in the earliest days of the split. As for any Rasputin-like influence by Art "God's Puzzle Solved" Mokarow, I'm sure there'll be some folk here who can offer more informed comment than I can.


Pam said...

Several years back I was contacted by phone by an Atlantic Monthly writer who had written a bio article of Fischer for the Atlantic. And he had decided to spin it out into a full-length bio book. He had been aware of Fischer's connection to the WCG, and since no previous biographers had explored that part of Bobby's history he wanted to home in on that as part of his expansion of the story. He was wondering if being part of the WCG world might have been part of what had led to his deterioration in later years into pretty much a strange raving anti-semite, who seemed pretty much disconnected from reality.

The author had come across my Field Guide website and was pleased with the extent of the material on WCG there, and as he had found very few "HQ insider" types who would talk to him, he was hoping I would be able to maybe fill in some gaps in his understanding of WCG history and culture. I was.

But I had no inside info on the Fischer connection. I was working closely with Ron Dart at the time, and asked him if he had any ideas who the author could contact. It was Ron who first told me at that time about the Art Mokarow connection. (Art had been the area coordinator for our part of the US back in our WCG days in the mid 1970s.) I had been unaware that Bobby had actually lived in their basement in Pasadena for a time. I can't remember if it was Ron, or someone else later, who characterized it to me that Mrs. Mokarow had particularly played the part of "Chess Mom" for Bobby. The impression I got was that she ran interference for him when it came to the press pursuing him and such, and kept them at arm's length. (Along with making sure he ate his veggies and such. :-) ) I hadn't heard that it may have gone as far as making decisions for him as described in this article, but that wouldn't have been outside a logical extension of the role she evidently played for a while. Perhaps others with closer HQ connections from that time period will be able to clarify more.

If Bobby ever had any connection with CGI, it was certainly never mentioned publicly. My husband was ordained as a CGI minister in 1979 and served as a pastor until he resigned and we left the CGI ... and corporate COG world for good... in 1988. We had close friends at CGI HQ, and I would have thought we would have heard SOMETHING if Bobby had any active part in either supporting or affiliating in any way with the org. I never heard the slightest hint of that.

Byker Bob said...

Sarah Sneider (Harry's widow) would probably have some insights, but I have no idea how to contact her. Harry worked security for Bobby, and as his body guard.

I had never heard of a transition to GTA's group either.


Pam said...

OK ... I found what I was looking for. Fischer had a major interview in the 1977 Ambassador Report. At that point he made it abundantly clear what he thought of both of the Armstrongs. Here's the link to the whole thing. See below that for a couple of poignant main points. This would have been the year before the big split between the Armstrongs. So, in other words, Fischer had already made his own break from the WCG and all it stood for--and the Armstrongs and all they stood for-- before the break that led to the CGI.

Bobby Fischer Speaks Out

About Herbert Armstrong:

"Herbert Armstrong has a way with words. You know, he seems so sincere. He has all the right principles: dedication, hard work, perseverance, never giving up. He's dogged; he's persistent.

You know, from reading his stuff and listening to his sermons, you'd think he was very interested in God. But when you meet him personally, there is nothing there at all.

I find Armstrong to be an egomaniac. He sitteth in the temple of God saying great things as if he were God. He apparently wants to leave his permanent mark on all he comes in contact with and can bring into submission. He is simply a mad man who would love to rule the world."

About Garner Ted Armstrong:

"I've tried to carry out what Garner Ted says to its logical conclusion. You know, it never seems to form. He carries things to a point but not to a conclusion. If you go to the conclusion with all this stuff, it comes out bad. By the time you've thought enough to come up with a good answer, he's on about 18 other subjects already. He gives you a very obvious kind of snow job.

Now I understand. I never understood how it could be that Herbert Armstrong seemingly had so much love and compassion and his son seemed so selfish and nasty. They're just the same people. They just have a different way of doing it, you know. Well, Herbert wrecked his son. I can see how that old man could ruin his son. I think GTA is just a massive inferiority complex."

Anonymous said...

Some observations:

I am surprised that Coudari encountered the odd idea that the real Jews were small in number and the remainder of the Jews were imposters. I thought this notion was promoted only by some AC BS faculty members after Fischer had dropped out of favor. When I, as a dedicated Armstrongite, first came into contact with the idea, I regarded it a new and subversive idea. But it seems to have had an earlier history. I would be interested in knowing who originated this idea if it did not originate in Big Sandy in the late Seventies.

I object to her referring to the WCG as an "evangelical". It clearly was not. Armstrongites often condemned the evangelizing that Christian churches engaged in.

It was interesting to see how excited Armstrongite leadership got about Fischer. I was on the BS campus when Fischer's stock was high. Everyone was talking about Fischer and chess acquired a big profile on campus. I believe Fischer was viewed as a source of money and a source of notoriety for HWA, GTA and the Minions. It was a little sickening. But like the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, Fischer did not last.

Byker Bob said...

Actually, NEO, this theory that the Jews of today are not the Jews of antiquity is being used to some extent within the ACOGs to invalidate the differences in dna between today's Jews and Anglo Saxon people, thus preserving their hallowed British Israelism. There was a 19th century theory that today's Ashkenazic Jews are the descended from the Khazars, who supposedly converted to Judaism much as did the Idumeans and others. Legitimate scholars are dubious that this could be the case, but we all know that in Armstrongism, dubious scholarship is adequate, so long as it supports their theories.


Redfox712 said...

Fischer had some very strange and bizarre views about Jews in his later life. That is all too true.

As for the Khazar theory I am very much inclined not to give any heed to that particular theory. I have no use for it. I am very much inclined to believe it is not true.

Back in the sixth Century Gregory of Tours wrote his History of the Franks. He mentioned that there were Jews living in what is now known as France way back in the sixth Century. It is quite likely they had already been living there for a long time, perhaps as early as the Roman era. There is no need to appeal to the Khazar theory to account for Jews living in France. Or pretty much anywhere else.

nck said...

In 1989 there was a clear denial from the Tkach PR machine of any involvement of Bobby Fischer with WCG and that he was never a member. (Somewhere around that time Bobby made the headlines again, the PGR was read out to us)

At the time I was very surprised because I knew it was not true.

This was one of many instances that made me realize that the Tkachs were liars.

Later I learned that J Tkach didn't even write his own stuff. So technially Tkach is not a liar but his PR team was. (I guess that was Mike Weazell.)


Unknown said...

We all were just pawns in game that served the false King , with sycophant bishops, and castles. CHECKMATE!

Anonymous said...

Byker: When I first encountered the idea of the "Jewish Imposters", a book entitled "The Thirteenth Tribe" by Koestler was cited as support by a Big Sandy Faculty member. I read this book and found it interesting but dubious. Since, I have seen an article in Commentary Magazine that espouses the same history. The Jewish writer of the article stated he was proud of his Khazar ancestry. So this idea must not be that nefarious to the Jewish community. The fact is, there is a significant R1a haplogroup signal among the Ashkenazi. Khazars? Just plain old intermarriage?

For the BI crowd, the Cohen Modal haplotype is a marker of the lineage of Aaron. Aaron was haplogroup J. It is impossible that his father, Levi, and uncles were of a different heplogroup than J. Hence the large presence of haplogroup J among Jews and other Middle Easterners. The Arabs, cousins to the Israelites, are also predominantly haplogroup J (and nobody is accusing the Arabs of being imposters). I know of no studies that postulate a large presence of haplogroup R1b (British, Western Europeans, Iberians)in the ancient Middle East.

The idea that the modern day Jews are imposters and that the real Jews are somewhere on the norther American continent among the British derived peoples (as asserted by this same faculty member) is ignorant, absurd and diabolical.

nck said...


Does that study compare "ancient" finds with modern inhabitants?

This people has moved around quite a bit since 70 AD.

Reading what you wrote I read that the Arabs are the original Cohen Jews, the Jews moved to the USA as Anglo Saxons, whereas most New Yorkers are Khazars.

I'm sure you didn't mean to say that. Have 1000 BC bones from Jerusalem been compared with modern New York bones? Comparisons with a tribe that moved in and out and than say they are original are useless. I have no standpoint in this. Just curious. Otherwise I would say, let the Arabs (J) take Israel as rightful inheritants reading your short piece.


Anonymous said...

NCK: There are studies that identify the ancient Canaanites with haplogroup J. There are jewish families that have lived in Palestine for thousands of years that are haplogroup J. Armstrongites claim to believe that the Arabs are descendants of Abraham through Ishmael and yet the Arabs are haplogroup J. I have not seen a study where someone has opened up an ancient Jewish grave and testing the DNA. But the circumstantial evidence is convincing.

People have moved around since 70 AD but not enough nor early enough to support the idea that the Brits are descended from Abraham. Abraham, circumstantially was haplogroup J. The Brits who began to migrate into western Europe after the last Ice Age - perhaps out of an Iberian Refuge - are not remotely connected to Abraham.

The New Yorkers are Khazars? Not only did I not mean to say that, I did not say that. I recognize you have trouble with English.

nck said...

I see.
I'm trying to circumvent the kkk case. Since Khazar theory is the missing link between the benign US&BIP (making the mercantile case for 19th century dominance) and the racial (oregonian kkk brand.) In the same library both books could spawn the McVeighs of this world.

So ancient Canaanites are J.
That is better evidence than my neighbor in Queens has a book that he is descended from Abraham he is J so Abraham must have been J.

If the Arabs are J. Then I must lean more to a one state solution in Israel rather than a two state solution. Even US foreign policy is moving in a direction that Israel is rather a liability in US foreign relations than an asset. (Starting with the neocons,not the supposed Islamic Obama).

As I recall Khazars are of Turkish (asian plains) descent. Abraham was of Turkish descent also but more the mountainous region I guess. (Haran)

I will not take this argument further than suffice to say that I find those dark skinned mountain peoples like the Azerbaidjanis attractive people, sometimes reddish or dark hair with blue eyes. And I admire the ladies in those rugged circumstances keeping up their appearances between the kalashnikovs.


Byker Bob said...

The Bible itself celebrates the familial ties of the Jews or Israelites, and the Arabic people. If you study the different groups of Canaanites that the Israelites of Joshua's time were commanded to pass around and not make war with, you find ancestors such as Ishmael, Esau, Lot, and other minor characters who were associated with Abraham. So, yes, white English speaking peoples would need to share in the genetic heritage of the Arabs for British Israelism to be true, but they do not, except for statistically negligible influence from occasional intermarriage.

ACOG "scholars" have also invoked the Hyksos, white invaders of Egypt who formed the Egyptian 15th Dynasty of Egypt in about 1650 BC, (Moses is theorized as having been born in 1526 BC). The last Hyksos king was expelled from Egypt in 1550 BC. These COGlodytes have theorized that the Hyksos were actually the Israelites. The Hyksos were white Asians, not Canaanites like the Israelites.

People will grasp at just about any straw to make the Israelites white, and the ancestors of West Europeans, but at some point in the history or logic, all of their theories fall apart.


Anonymous said...

There is an account in the NT concerning the Apostle Paul that the BI proponents need to explain. Paul speaks with a Roman tribune (Acts 21:37. The tribune, going on Paul's appearance, asks Paul if he speaks Greek. Then he ask if he is not a North African (Egyptian). In the text following Paul stands before other Jews and must identify himself as a Jew. Paul was dark like the Greeks and North Africans. So much so that the Jews did not immediately recognize him as a Jew. But Paul was a good choice to go to the Gentiles because he looked like one.

The Roman tribune would be familiar with the people of Europe. He would know what a Northman looked like. But Paul was a Benjamite and the BI bunch identifies the Benjamites as the Norwegians. But Paul did not look like a Scandinavian. There are ways of explaining this but the most credible and simplest (Occam's Razor) is that the Benjamites were not the Scandinavians that the BI theory requires.

nck said...

Would not Greek be the (elite language, todays French) of the day? Or was it the Lingua Franca. In any case he was a polyglot. The remark strikes me as coming from an American adressing a European person in Prague. Then saying, wow you speak English so well. The officer was just being polite and impressed at the same time.
As commander in chief I would not expect a rebel and tent maker a polyglot.

I believe Paul was easily recognizable as a Mediterenean and perhaps a Jew, however he was continually asserting his authority by stating "I am from no special town."
"I am a Jew from Gamaliel's school." Not that people would not recognize his appearance.

Are the Benjaminites Norwegian??? I thought theory had it parts of that tribe travelled as Spartans to the South of France with the Rubenites coming as Celts? Can't remember, long time ago. I should read my eighties "Holy Grail, holy blood again."


Scrivenings said...

The problem is, the Chess magazine printed a well-established falsehood. The church did not teach that Modern Jews were "fake". That rubbish began with Nazi bigots AFTER Armstrong already had his ministry on the air. The original Armstrongism promoted the notion Jews ("House of Judah" were true Israelites collectively with "House of Israel"). Jews were in Southern half of the divided Hebrew kingdom, "House of Judah," whilst the "Lost 10 tribes of Israel" located in Northern Kingdom "House of Israel" were taken into captivity by Assyria and scattered. Armstrong never denied Jews were true Israelites and anyone who actually wants to understand what they are talking about should read the well-researched article at Equip about the evolution of British-Israelism vs. Armstrongism and Swift and Rand's "Identity" Movement which was the genuine anti-semitic movement that the Chess article has erroneously conflated with Armstrong's cult:

"Mr. Edward Hine brought the Anglo-Israelism movement to the United States in 1870, the same year the movement began in England. His efforts were mostly unfruitful, but his book, Identification of the British Nation with Lost Israel, is still used by adherents of Identity in the United States. Hineʼs book was first among a spate of Anglo-Israel literature published in the U. S. — including a periodical published by Yale Professor Charles A. L. Totten called, Our Race, Its Origins and Its Destiny.11 Today, with few exceptions (the Worldwide Church of God being one), most adherents of Anglo-Israelism are in the Identity movement.
The merging of Klan and Nazi extremism into the Anglo-Israelism movement — which then produced the Identity movement — can largely be traced to one man: Wesley Swift. However, it was not Swift but Howard B. Rand (whose writings are published by Destiny Publishers) who first coined the term Identity. According to James Coates, Randʼs intention was “to describe Hineʼs concept of Anglo-Israelism, in which Jesus was not a Jew of the tribe of Judah but an Aryan of the ten lost tribes of Israel and an ancestor of the present British, Germanic and Scandinavian people.”

I can pull up literature from Herb's own pen, the emphatically clarifies Herb never denied Jesus was of the tribe of Judah. Hence, Armstrong's cult was not "Antisemitic". In 1992, David Hulme contacted the NY Times, "Disowning" Fischer because, emphatically, the Church most certainly did not teach hatred of Jews. Anyone who thinks their stint in the WCG was "antisemitic" and wants to double-victimized victims of Armstrong's cults as being pro-Nationalist Nazi... well great then, it is a reflection on their own bigotry. But the rest of us, remember the Pro-Israel, Pro-Jewish doctrines of the WCG while Armstrong was alive.

Why some feel the need to Lie about Armstrong's doctrines is beyond me. The Cult victims were VICTIMIZED ENOUGH! without this false history getting thrown in.