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Anglo-Jewish Opinion During the Struggle for Emancipation (1828-1858)

Israel Finestein

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Anglo-Jewish Opinion During the Struggle for Emancipation (1828-1858)1 By Israel Finestein, M.A. INTRODUCTION IT was not hardship which led the Jews of England to demand their civil emancipation. Nor was the immediate occasion for initiating the struggle a specifically Jewish issue. The Jewish leaders, centring on the Board of Deputies, hoped that the Act of 1828, which relieved Protestant Dissenters and Roman Catholics from certain old restrictions, would automatically relieve the Jews as well. Their efforts in aid of that Bill formed the beginning of the struggle for Jewish emancipation. To their dismay the House of Lords introduced into the measure a deliberate demarcation between Christian dissenting bodies and Jews, so that the Jews were worse off than before. In this situation the Jewish emancipationists opened an independent Jewish campaign. The further relief of the Roman Catholics in 1829 strengthened their resolve. The Board, informal, exclusive, and limited to the major metropolitan synagogues, derived its strength from the personal standing of its leading members. The opening of the struggle transformed the Board, which henceforth met regularly and with an increasing self-consciousness as the com? munal spokesman. It continued to draw its major influence from the prominent public figures associated with it, but its representative status was progressively enhanced. The Jews were already in an advanced stage of emancipation. No special law governed their status. They had enjoyed freedom of movement at least since the Re? settlement. With very few exceptions, they enjoyed the freedom of occupation. To the extent that they were excluded from the ancient Universities or from their degrees, the restrictions applied equally to all non-Anglicans until the limitations were abolished for all in 1854-56. Admission to and advancement in University College, London, were open on uniform terms to all, including Jews, from its inception in 1828. It is true that doubts persisted as to whether Jews could legally hold freehold land, but in practice their capacity to do so was not challenged. Nevertheless, considerable restrictions remained. Until 1830 Jews were not able legally to carry on retail trade in the City of London. Not until 1833 was a professing Jew called to the Bar. Technically it was only by the Act of 1835 that professing Jews were able to exercise the Parliamentary franchise. In the same year, an Act was passed to enable David Salomons to serve as Sheriff in the City without subscribing to the statutory Christian declaration. But that was a special Act, in effect personal to Salomons. Not for a further ten years were Jews entitled to enter municipal office. No Jew could take his seat in the House of Commons until the Jewish Relief Act of 1858 permitted the House of Commons to dispense with the Christian words of the admission oath in the case of Jews. 1 Address delivered to a meeting held under the joint auspices of the Jewish Historical Society of England and the Board of Deputies of British Jews on 18th December, 1958, in commemoration of the Jewish Relief Act, 1858. 113</page><page sequence="2">114 ANGLO-JEWISH OPINION DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION It is sometimes assumed that this long struggle was the unanimous wish of an eager and participating Jewish community, watching and cheering each and every development with universal joy and acclaim. The truth is less simple. It is not surprising that records in favour of emancipation are the more numerous. Jewish opposition to it was not organized, and in any case represented a minority within the Jewish community. A more widespread feature than Jewish opposition was Jewish indifference, and that state of mind leaves few muniments. Jewish emancipation was carried forward on a broad wave of change extending far beyond the Jewish community. The Industrial Revolution and the economic advance? ment of the middle classes thrust into social prominence and political power new forces who were moulding a new England. Thriving on individualism, they expanded the libertarian tradition of English history. They adopted as much of the French Revolu? tionary doctrine as was compatible with the rights of property and respect for organized Christianity. Jewish capabilities were not the only one which were progressively abolished as inconsistent with the new age.1 Civil disabilities on the grounds of religious belief ran counter to the principles on which the emerging economic and political system rested. Furthermore, Jews formed an important element in the urban, bourgeois society which was challenging for pre-eminence the rural England of the landed aristocracy. The Reform Bill of 1832 and the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 settled the issue in favour of the new forces. Under the compulsion of this great and favourable trans? formation, Jewish hostility or indifference to emancipation looked like, and in some respects was, a product of the ghetto. THE GOLDSMIDS The most articulate of the out-and-out emancipationists was Francis Goldsmid, whose father, Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, was the prime mover in the initiation of the Jewish 1 The principle that religious difference ought not to be a ground for exclusion from civil office was often described by its advocates as "axiomatic" in the new age (e.g. Sir Robert Grant's speech in H. of C. 17.4.33) and opposition to it as "contrary to the general maxims of freedom of conscience" (see H. of C.'s reasons for disagreeing with the H. of L.'s amendments to the Oaths BUI, 1858: H. S. Q. Henriques, Jews and the English Law, 1908, 290-1). "The abstract right" doctrine was a special target of attack for it was contrary to the corporate character of society which was an ancient ideological inheritance. Its most impressive presentation in that era was by Macaulay: Essay and Speech on Jewish Disabilities, ed. I. Abrahams and S. Levy, 1909. The opponents of the doctrine regarded it as disruptive and revolutionary. The French Revolution and its "doctrinaire" slogans were a living memory and a continuing influence. "Natural rights" were met by the theory that no man has a civil right unless society bestows it upon him. "We are bit by the French fashion of liberality," wrote Spencer Percival to the elder Goldsmid in February, 1831, "and know not in what consisteth the strength of a nation": Lionel Abrahams, "Sir I. L. Goldsmid and the Admission of the Jews of England to Parliament," Trans. J.H.S.E., IV, 116-76. In a forceful letter to The Times on 6.5.31, A. L. Davids, the youthful Orientalist, caught the "axiomatic" mood of the modernists: ". . . the enlightened minds of my fellow-countrymen of the nineteenth century must shrink with disgust from the thought which only those who still retain the remnants of the Gothic fabric of superstition, now happily crumbling into dust, can support": reprinted with other material in a posthumous volume published in 1833 at the request of members of the Society for the Cultiva? tion of Hebrew Literature of which Davids was a founder. There wes indeed much truth in General Isaac Gascoyne's moan in his attack on Grant's Bill in H. of C. on 17.5.30 that "there is a spirit of innovation abroad in religious matters as well as in commercial matters and the friends of the one are the supporters of the others." Even the Judges who found against Salomons in Miller v. Salomons (1852-3) felt the anomaly of their judgments. For example, Chief Baron Sir F. Pollock presented his decision in these terms: "With these Acts of Parliament before me ... I think we are not as Judges, living though we do in a more enlightened and liberal age, to be liberal above what is written. . . ."</page><page sequence="3">ANGLO-JEWISH OPINION DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION 115 campaign.1 To men of education and station who, like the Goldsmids, looked back upon several generations of comfortable life in England and of honoured prominence in the City or in service to the State, it was an affront that they should yet suffer legal discrimina tion. The long-standing social emancipation2 of Anglo-Jewry only served to aggravate the grievance, already enhanced by the accidental character and illogicality of the dis? criminatory laws and rules. "So long," wrote the younger Goldsmid in 1831, "as the law shall. . . deprive the Jews of any one privilege which other Dissenters enjoy, it will continue to mark them with a brand and make them, so far as the law can have that effect, a dishonoured and degraded caste."3 The Goldsmids discouraged from the outset the idea of piecemeal legislation, with its possible inference that Parliament approved of the remaining disabilities or that the Jews were capable of being "gratified even for a moment with any measure less extensive than our perfect equalization with other Dissenters."4 The Jews were entitled either to complete equality or to no relief at all. This doctrinaire approach was out of accord with the pragmatic habits of the English legislature.5 It also paid less than due regard to the special situation distinguishing this country from other lands where Jewish civil emancipation had been bestowed. Here there was an Established Church which once had regarded itself as co-extensive with the people of England, and which was still accorded a status bearing traces of its original assumption. At the centre of the Jewish case was the principle that the citizen's rights ought not to depend on his religion. For centuries, State and Church in England had lived by the opposite proposition. The consequences of the old assumption were attenuated by the civil emancipation of the Dissenters and Roman Catholics. But to admit non-Christians to public office or to Parliament appeared to some not so much a widening of public life as the destruction of its accepted basis. Disraeli, who was a member of the Church of England and therefore free from the disabilities, had his own curious method of disposing of this contention. His extravagant praise of the Jewish intellect and his unique conception of Judaism led 1 It was thought wise throughout the 1820's to await the successful outcome of the long struggle for the emancipation of the Roman Catholics before publicly pressing the Jewish case: F. Goldsmid: Remarks on the Civil Disabilities of the British Jews (1830). 2 The leaders of Anglo-Jewry did not take the favourable social position of the Jewish com? munity for granted. They laboured under a sense of anomaly and easily drifted into apologetics. The apologetical tone found its way even into Nathan Marcus Adler's "first pastoral letter" (13.8.45) dispatched to the Wardens of all the Synagogues in the United Kingdom and the Empire. The letter consisted partly of a statistical questionnaire and partly of a declaration of the new Chief Rabbi's aims, one of which was stated to be that "I shall most anxiously strive to effect . . . that . . . the conduct (of my flock) be worthy of the proud position which we now occupy in Society.. .." 3 The Arguments Advanced against the Enfranchisement of the Jews Considered in a Series of Letters (Letter V). 4 See Letter to Lord Bexley (30.7.33) from I. L. Goldsmid as Chairman of the Jewish Association for Obtaining Civil Rights and Privileges: A. Lowy and D. W. Marks, Sir F. H. Goldsmid (2nd ed., 1882), 153. "That which now appears to be merely the effect of chance" would become "a barrier of distinction." The Goldsmids were particularly energetic in the earlier years of the campaign in their opposition to compromise. When, for example, it was mooted in the H. of C. in June, 1830, that legislation might be introduced to remove doubts as to the legality of Jewish ownership of freehold land, Sir Robert Grant, under their influence, successfully opposed Colonel Wilson's motion for leave to bring in such a Bill. Wilson had said he favoured the admission of Jews to full civic rights except entry into Parliament or the judicial bench. 5 The careful presentation of the Act of 1845, which admitted Jews to municipal office, was significant. The Government's spokesmen, who were in charge of the Bill, pointed out the "narrow grounds" on which it rested, namely that Jews had in fact served in such office and had acquitted themselves well. "We have not rested this measure," said the Lord Chancellor, Lord Lyndhurst, in the H. of L. on the Second Reading, "on any great views of general policy, which might admit of doubt. . . ." On 1.8.45, the Voice of Jacob, perhaps making the best of the accomplished fact, welcomed this approach and praised the "practical" nature of the Act.</page><page sequence="4">116 ANGLO-JEWISH OPINION DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION him to declare in the House of Commons on 16th December, 1847: "If you admit the Jews, you will re-Christianize the country." The Jewish Chronicle then and later took care to dissociate itself and its Jewish readers from what on 9th August, 1850, the editor called the "eccentric fiction" in Disraeli's argument, and preferred to base the Jewish ease on equality rather than on assertions of Jewish superiority. However far the Goldsmids stood from Disraeli's colourful approach, they shared with Disraeli a desire to establish the Jewish case in principle and to bring about a victory which would at once open both Parliament and the humblest office. This approach contrasted with that of David Salomons, who by creating in his own career individual practical grievances and appealing on the grounds of their respective injustices was able in the end to procure complete emancipation step by step. As a result of the failure of four Bills between 1830 and 1836, aiming at complete and immediate emancipation, the Goldsmids were obliged in practice to accept Salomons' system as the best available method. At the root of the Goldsmids' preference for the tactics of quick and comprehensive legislation was the optimistic assumption that the course of liberalism was smooth. They, and indeed the emancipationists in general, were shocked by the obstacles. Referring to the abortive Bill of 1830, Francis Goldsmid wrote in the following year that there was "so little in its nature that seemed likely to alarm the . . . staunchest opposer of change in the laws of England, . . . both Houses of Parliament had so solemnly sanctioned the principles of religious liberty by the measures of the two preceding sessions, . . . the organs both public and private from which (the Government's) intentions may usually be ascertained had so generally assumed either a friendly or an indifferent tone respecting the claims of the Jews, . . . that any very serious opposition to our wishes was a thing regarded as an impossibility by the most experienced among our advocates."1 This optimism, born of the advancing belief in the inevitable improvement in social behaviour, was reinforced by the Whig triumph in 1832. In 1833, the House of Commons, by 189 to 52 votes, for the first time passed a Bill for the civil emancipation of the Jews. Even in the House of Lords, which rejected the measure, the principal opponents of the Bill, including William Howley, Archibishop of Canterbury, were at pains to point out their respect and even admiration for the Jews as individuals and as a people. There was a genuine expectation in the Jewish Association for Obtaining Civil Rights and Privileges, which stimulated many Petitions up and down the country from Christians, that the next attempt would succeed. At the other end of the ideological spectrum in the Jewish community one might cite the Hungarian-born Joseph Crooll.2 For several years this one-time preacher at the Manchester Synagogue was engaged at the University of Cambridge as a teacher in Hebrew. In 1829 he published a strange work entitled The Last Generation, in which he postulated Jewish "separateness" as a divinely ordained state pending the messianic 1 The Arguments Advanced, etc. His confidence in early abolition was not an affectation. "It is impossible/' he commented, "to suppose that a community whose principles inculcate and whose conduct has always displayed loyalty and patriotism, will continue to be punished for that conduct ... by degrading exclusions." In 1833, he reprinted with an addendum his Remarks on the Civil Disabilities of the British Jews, first published in 1831. "Whenever," he there wrote, "the question of removing the disabilities . . . has been mooted, the friendly disposition evinced towards the measure has seemed so general among persons of all religious denominations, that it was intended to leave its accomplishment to the spontaneous bounty of the Christian part of the community. . . ." The silence, he added, was "misconstrued" and "ascribed to apathy. . . ." 2 See I. Finestein, "Some Conversionists (in Hull) in the 19th Century," Gates ofZion (London), July, 1957, p. 9. Also J.C. 30.6.48.</page><page sequence="5">ANGLO-JEWISH OPINION DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION 117 restoration to the Holy Land. He opposed emancipation, which he feared would wean the Jews from Judaism.1 He warned that the Jews would say: "London is our Jerusalem; we have no need of any other Jerusalem." Crooll was quoted from time to time in Parliament by Bishops and laymen2 to prove that the Jews were not unanimous and that a truly pious Jew could not conscientiously want emancipation. In 1833 he wrote to Sir Robert Inglis, the most persistent enemy of Jewish emancipation, that "whether the Jews spend two days or two months or twenty years in a country, they are equally strangers and sojourners, they must look to another home and another country." They are a distinct nation. "Birth" commented Inglis in the House of Commons in 1833 in connection with this letter, "does not make a Jew an Englishman," and "those Jews who yet preserve their scriptural character do not desire the boon of emancipation." Speaking in the House of Lords on 3rd June, 1841 on the current Bill to open municipal office to Jews, the Archbishop of Canterbury declared his belief that "notwithstanding what has been said and the Petitions presented ... the greater portion of the Jews are perfectly indifferent about the Bill. I know that some of them are decidedly hostile to the measure and sincerely deprecate it on conscientious grounds."3 THE JEWS AS A NATION Embarrassing statements were made not only by critics of emancipation but also by friends of the movement. John Mills, for example, the Welsh Calvinist preacher and missionary, in his useful survey of the British Jews in 1853 described "the Jewish idea of religion" as "national." "In the Jew's estimation," he wrote, "his faith and his nation are synonymous. To profess one is to belong to the other, and to change the former is to deny the latter." In February, 1829, Isaac Lyon Goldsmid was perhaps a little embarrassed by receipt of a letter from Lord Holland, his closest Christian associate in the movement. The Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, who had already courted unpopularity in his own Party by giving way on Catholic relief, was reluctant, at least for the present, to advance the Jewish claims. Holland suggested that the Duke might be impressed into action by certain probable national advantages from the relief of the Jews. What Holland had in mind was that the emancipation of the Jews here might incline the 1 No doubt Francis Goldsmid had Crooll in mind in the following passage in his Two Letters published in 1830 in reply to objections raised against Grant's first Bill: "Now it must be admitted that there is a certain small number of Jews who regard our application for relief not only with indifference but even with doubt and distrust because they imagine that its success is likely to promote among those who now adhere to Judaism a falling off from the faith of their ancestors. These persons maintain that the religious feeling of men arms them sufficiently against fear of the privations which restrictive laws impose, but that there is no such defence against the slow under? mining progress of kindness and affection." 2 Notably by Samuel Wilberforce, the Bishop of Oxford, in H. of L., 25.5.48, and Inglis in H. of C., 22.5.33 and 10.3.41. 8 Howley was one of those opponents of emancipation who did not attach importance to the "national" identity of the Jews. In his influential attack on E. Divett's unsuccessful Bill of 1841, mentioned in the text, the Archbishop expressly told the H. of L. that it was not against the character of the Jews "as a nation" that he wished to speak, but that his objection was "only to their religion." Gladstone, who until 1845 opposed Jewish emancipation, likewise did not base his opposition on considerations of the Jews as a nation but upon his conviction that on religious grounds Parliament should be limited to Christians. Gladstone supported the Act of 1845 and believed that once municipal office was opened to Jews, no argument remained which could keep them out of Parlia? ment. However, the attempted distinction between nation and religion was regarded by most spokesmen, on both sides, as unreal. After 1845 the opponents of emancipation tended to use the argument as to religion more frequently than the argument as to nation, which in the early years of the emancipation struggle was the predominant argument.</page><page sequence="6">118 ANGLO-JEWISH OPINION DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION Jews of the Ottoman Empire and the Levant towards friendship with Great Britain. Jews, he wrote, are sensitive to the treatment "of their nation" by the Governments of the world.1 If Holland entertained such double-edged opinions, it is not to be wondered at that others went further. "The Jews of London," commented Inglis in the House of Commons in 1830, "have more sympathy with the Jews resident in Berlin or Vienna than with the Christians among whom they reside." He was only expressing a general belief. As late as July, 1857, so intelligent a politician as Lord Derby, the Tory leader in the House of Lords, was able to tell the House that "what the Jews were in Egypt, they are in England . . . though among us they are not with us. . . ." In contending with the allegation that the Jews were a distinct nation with their own national interests and aspirations, the emancipationists were at all times conscious of a basic contradiction in their own case.2 They did not deny the Jewish aspiration to be restored to Palestine. They admitted that the Jews possessed certain national features as a group. But they put messianism outside practical politics and deprived it of any day-to-day influence. They avoided the language of redemptionism and discountenanced public declarations of Jewish separateness or exclusiveness.3 "I have never heard of a single English Jew" stated J. S. Buckingham in the House of Commons on 22nd July, 1833, "having visited Palestine even as a matter of curiosity or recreation." If this eminent journalist, who had himself visited Palestine and was a well-known advocate of Jewish emancipation, was too sweeping in his assertion, his next comment has the ring 1 Letter in Trans. J.H.S.E., IV: Holland added that Russia's "preponderance in Turkey and Persia" was due in large part to the fact that the Christians in those countries looked upon Russia as "a natural protector and ally." 2 See I. Finestein, "Emancipationist Apologetics," J.C., 14th February, 1958. The emphasis by Jews on their loyalty to the State also pervaded publications intended primarily for Jewish reading. For example, S. J. Cohen's Elements of Faith for the Use of Jewish Youth of Both Sexes, published as a textbook in 1815 with the sanction of Solomon Hirschell and Moses Meldola, charac? teristically states: "As long as Messiah is not come, the King under whose protection we live must be esteemed as a King of Israel." The Question to which that statement is the Answer is indicative of the age: "As we are the children of Israel who live in the hope and expectation of the coming of the Messiah and return to our country, Judea, is it equally incumbent upon us to love the King and country ... in which we at present reside and to obey its laws?" In 1833 I. L. Goldsmid published extracts from the Elements with letters addressed to himself by Hirschell and Hyman Hurwitz in reply to certain crude charges made against Judaism, Jewish ritual, and the Jews by William Cobbett in the H. of C. in March, 1833. Extracts were also appended from resolutions passed by the Sanhedrin in Paris in 1807 to the effect that the law of Moses lays upon the Jews the duty of regarding as brethren members of all nations who acknowledge God and among whom they live. Scriptural passages which were sometimes quoted as showing Jewish exclusiveness and superiority were interpreted as referring to ages when the peoples among whom the Jews lived were heathens. Such apologetics could not have influenced those critics, such as Cobbett, in whom opposition to emancipation sprang from a fervent hostility to Jews. Cobbett, who regarded the Jews as unproductive social parasites, referred to them as "once a week (blaspheme) Christ in the Synagogue and once a year (crucify) him in effigy" (H. of C, 1.3.33). In his Political Register (Vol. 81, No. 3), he described the movement for Jewish emancipation as "an attempt to counteract the dispensations of Providence to put these fellows upon a level with Christianity in any respect, except that of merely being allowed to live" (p. 145). 3 Perhaps in reprimanding A. A. Lindo for publishing his A Word in Season from an Israelite to his Brethren (1839), the Mahamad, in addition to being affronted by his having failed to secure their prior consent to publish the work, were also adversely impressed by his somewhat grandiloquent treatment of Jewish exclusiveness. "Though without a country," he wrote, "or temporal prince... we are as completely a nation as when first established as such, for we acknowledge ourselves now as then as being under the immediate government of the Sovereign of the Universe. . . ." Lindo described the Jewish religious observances as having been multiplied the more effectively to render loss of identity difficult, and "the more effectively to prevent us intermingling with and becoming corrupted by neighbouring nations. . . ." He regarded the Jews as an "instrument" for the "redemption of mankind."</page><page sequence="7">ANGLO-JE WISH OPINION DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION 119 of truth. "We assume," he added, "that the Jews feel what their sacred book represents them as feeling and act as their scriptures prescribe. In this sense it is no doubt their duty to remember Jerusalem and they recite prayers and hymns in praise of the Holy Land. But it does not follow that they feel what they say or act up to what they profess, any more than many Christians." It is noteworthy that in the prayer-book edited in 1841 for the new Reform Congregation, D. W. Marks retained the Restoration while deleting the sacrifices. Addressing that Congregation in November, 1845, on "Israel's Restoration," he stated that the scriptural promise appears too frequently to be merely allegorical. But he made his position clear. "We look to our restoration," he said, ". . . but only at a time when the whole tone of society will be changed, when all the nations will be subjected to a system of government wholly different from that which obtains today."1 The emancipationists were the more readly minded to turn aside from current restoration schemes because in that era the Restoration was often associated with con versionist slogans and personalities. But underlying their antipathy was the consuming desire to rid Judaism in their day of its exilic character. In their presentation of Judaism, they contended with eighteenth-century habits and with the ideals of nineteenth-century Zionists. Their desire did not reduce their active concern for oppressed Jewries abroad. They were aware of their special responsibilities as the Jewry of the most powerful country in the world.2 But there was great resistance to the suggestion, of which the Prague-born and Zionist-minded Abraham Benisch was a life-long sponsor, of an inter? national, Jewish representative or executive body to ameliorate the Jewish position. Indeed the very erninence in the Jewish world of the prosperous Jews of London inclined them to assume that any such international Jewish combination was not likely to be as effective as their own personal approaches to the Foreign Office or direct to foreign Governments. The Anglo-Jewish press was a regular critic of this aloofness. "We regret," wrote Jacob Franklin editorially in the Voice of Jacob on 7th October, 1842, "the isolated position which the English Board of Deputies appears to occupy." Improved communications, the heightened sense of Jewish solidarity occasioned by the recent Damascus Affair, and the growing general international interest in the Jewish 1 J.C, 28.11.45. Marks retained for the Jews a special role. Their Restoration was to be an instrument for bringing all men to recognize God: see his Sermon to the Reform Congregation on the theme of Tisha B'Av and Zion, Voice of Jacob, 4.10.44. A corollary of Reform was a greater readiness to present the messianic idea as a variable incident of Jewish history. "Since the Jews have been permitted to live as citizens or quasi-citizens, in the civilized States of Europe, they have, without changing the doctrines on the Messiah fundamentally, manifested a stronger interest in the contemplation of the Messiah as a universal benefactor; whereas in the ages justly called dark the Jews found their only solace amid existing tribulations in pondering over the glories which days of the Messiah had in store for their people in particular.... There is nothing political in the messianic belief... (nothing) which differs in essence from what may be subscribed to and has frequently been supported by Christians . . .": per Tobias Theodores, J.C., 3.1.45. In 1845 the Anglo-Jewish press devoted considerable space to controverting the proposition that emancipationist desire was incom? patible with prayers for the coming of the Messiah. The proposition was attributed to "a narrow minded, though a very small minority" (J.C, 21.2.45), but the minority was large enough to induce the J.C. to urge the calling of public meetings to discuss this and related questions in order to enlighten the critics. 2 Perhaps the most striking presentation of the special duty which lay upon Anglo-Jewry, rendered all the greater by the extent of their freedom, was contained in Benisch's long leader in Hebrew Observer, 29.9.54. Among the arguments often presented on behalf of Jewish emancipation in England was that an advance here would probably be an encouragement to foreign Governments to curb legislative discrimination on the Jews. Jews in the Russian and Austrian Empires looked to see "when the fetters shall be struck off from the British Jews so that Potentates may no longer continue to justify their intolerant conduct by the example of Great Britain": J.C, 7.3.45. i</page><page sequence="8">120 ANGLO-JEWISH OPINION DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION question, made the time appear propitious for the creation of some international Jewish machinery for consultation and concerted action. In December, 1855, Solomon Sequerra moved an amendment to the Constitution of the Board of Deputies to give the Board express authority to watch over the interests not only of the Jews of the British Empire but of "the Jews in general." Sequerra advocated a "common effort" among Jewish communities in different lands and he thought the Board was the natural leader in bringing about the necessary machinery. His proposed amendment was rejected, its principal critic being Benjamin S. Phillips, later Lord Mayor of London. Phillips thought such an express claim on the part of the Board would be "presumptuous" and "dangerous," and, in view of the Board's readiness to make representations as and where necessary, superfluous. The "common effort," which was the true object of the mover and which Benisch detected as the heart of the proposal, did not figure prominently in the debate, which became involved with the proposed constitutional amendment. Sequerra, com? mented the Jewish Chronicle on 28th December, 1855, expressed the thoughts of "perhaps the majority of reflecting persons out of doors" as well as of a "considerable number of Deputies." The Mortara Case in 1858 considerably advanced the idea of joint Jewish international policy and action.1 In 1871, the Anglo-Jewish Association, of which Benisch was the principal founder, was instituted ostensibly as a branch of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, which seemed to Benisch and others a kind of realization of the international body for which he had long pleaded. But the new Association quickly emancipated itself both from the Alliance and from the implications of an international Jewish policy and interest as expounded by him.2 As far as Restorationism was con? cerned, the pithy comment of the Hebrew National in April, 1867, is apposite. That short? lived weekly journal, edited by the Russian-born Hebraist and mathematician, Hirsch Filipowski, was devoted to the history and literature "of the Israelitish Nation" and advocated the Jewish purchase of Palestine. He bemoaned that while "the orthodox" await the messianic age, the "modern Israelites" regard themselves as "citizens of their 1 An unpublished paper on Anglo-Jewry and the Mortar a Case by Moses Aber bach (Baltimore), composed in 1950, describes the journalistic pressure in 1858-60 by Benisch as editor of the J.C. to project the theme of an international Jewish policy and concerted action, in the wake of the Mortara Affair. See also B. W. Korn's study of American reactions to the Mortara case in The American Jewish Archives (Cincinatti, 1957). "Never before," wrote Benisch in J.C. on 4.3.59, upon Montefiore's departure for Rome to intercede with the Pope, "has the sentiment of oneness been so quickened within (the dispersed of Israel) as in our age." Montefiore occupied a contradictory position. He resisted the idea of a concerted international Jewish political policy, but favoured ad hoc co-operation between the various Jewish organizations here and abroad as occasion required. He resisted the ideology which would express Jewish oneness in an international executive organization, but by his personality and by the geographical extent of his intercessions in the capitals of many countries (whatever the success or otherwise of his interventions), he contributed to the mood of unity of which Benisch spoke. The Testimonial presented to Montefiore in 1842 by Ludwig Philippson, the famous scholar and editor of the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums, on behalf of 1,500 signatories of various demoninations, reflects the temper of the age: "For long centuries Israel has been passive; you are the first that has been active. . . . For thousands of years Israel lived merely in separate congregations, every one considering itself only. . . . You . . . have shown that a congregation beyond the summits of the Lebanon is quite as much Israel as one in the blessed countries of liberal Europe-Israel as a nation is as much one as ... is the doctrine it professes": V.ofJ., 16.9.42. 2 In referring to the initiation of the A.J.A. in his address to the Hampstead and St. John's Wood Jewish Literary Society on 3rd February, 1903, Claude Montefiore said that among the reasons for its establishment was the thought that it was "undesirable that it should be supposed that there was an international Jewish society with international political aims on the one hand and on the other that any association of that sort should be closely identified with one particular nation (France). . . ."</page><page sequence="9">ANGLO-JEWISH OPINION DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION 121 native countries and therefore have no interest in the reacquisition of the land of their ancestors ... especially those who are prosperous in their respective adopted countries."1 Even Sir Moses Montefiore, the nearest to Zionism among Anglo-Jewish leaders, was at heart no more than a philanthropist who, once the slender opportunities of 1838-41 had vanished, fell back for ever on his non-political temperament. Where he feared to tread, others were hardly likely to rush. THE JEWS AS A DENOMINATION The classic emancipationist outiook was that the English Jew differed from his fellow-subject only in the matter of creed. Judaism was a denomination and the Jews were among the dissenters from the Established Church. They had no political interests outside those of England. On 26th June, 1828, Montefiore recorded in his diary his attendance with the elder Goldsmid at a meeting at the home of the Duke of Norfolk. A number of prominent Protestant Dissenters and Roman Catholics had there assembled to consider means for removing the disab?ities of all the religious rninorities. This was not the only such comprehensive meeting in that year.2 In 1847, William Thornborrow in his Advocacy of Jewish Freedom prided himself on having sponsored Salomons' election as Sheriff in 1835 after having in previous years similarly sponsored the election of a Dissenter and of a Roman Catholic. The doctrine that the Jews simply formed one of the nonconforming sects was clearly expressed by Salomons on the last day of his Lord Mayoralty in 1856 in reply to a Memorial presented to him by a large concourse of City interests. Salomons hoped "that (he) might be regarded as one who had done something for the Nonconformists." "I do not mean," he added, "for any particular section of Nonconformists but for that large body . .. some of whom are Christians and others not."3 1 Filipowski presented Zionism as a form of emancipation. As Jews became free, their freedom to arise as a nation was as much their right as the right to hold public office if they wished. "As long as our nation was oppressed all over the world, as long as our rights as men were denied to us ... we could not expect to obtain mercy and much less support from our oppressors. But those times ... are passed by.... We can therefore lift up our heads, like the rest of mankind": Hebrew National, 19.4.67, in an editorial headed "The Land of Israel" and urging Jews "to regain our inheritance." "It was inherent in the liberal programme of Frankfurt . . . , though not yet fully formulated then, that equality of rights must not be predicted upon national self-abnegation. . . . (Emancipation and Zionism) rather than being antagonistic principles as then generally believed, . . . really complemented one another": Salo W. Baron, "The Impact of the Revolution of 1848 on Jewish Emancipation," Vol. 11, Jewish Social Studies (New York. 1949). 2 The Jewish leaders saw in the final emancipation of the Nonconformists and Catholics a decisive breach in what Barnard Van Oven termed "the monopoly." "Its principle (has been) destroyed ... it only remains to consummate the great work of toleration by extending to Jews the rights and privileges now enjoyed by all other classes of the nation": An Appeal to the British Nation on Behalf of the Jews (1829). 3 In following the principle that "the cause of civil and religious liberty is one and the same," the J.C. was sometimes sharply critical of foreign rulers in their treatment of their minorities, of whatever denomination. "We will not separate the lot of the Jews from that of other religious denominations": J.C, 14.12.55. The occasion was the recent discussion at the Board of Deputies on the proposal to send a memorial of thanks to the King of Sardinia, then in London, on his grant of equality to his Jewish subjects. Some Deputies, including B. S. Phillips, had doubted the wisdom of this proposal (which was ultimately passed) on the grounds that it would involve invidious dis? tinctions (no memorial had been presented to the King of Prussia on his recent visit) and the proposal, if acted upon, might appear provocative, for example, to the Czar, by virtue of the Board's laudation of civil liberties abroad. The J.C. deprecated this caution and castigated the King of Prussia for legal discrimination against Roman Catholics and Baptists (as well as Jews) in Prussia, and the Austrian and French Emperors for legal discrimination against their Protestant subjects.</page><page sequence="10">122 ANGLO-JEWISH OPINION DURING THE STRUGGLE FOR EMANCIPATION The doctrine that Judaism was nothing more than a nonconformist denomination had its difficulties. The civil interests of the denominations were not necessarily always in accord. In 1828 and 1837, clauses to relieve the Jews of municipal disabilities were not pressed for fear that to do so would endanger the principal objects of the Bills. Dissenting groups, always favourable to Jewish emancipation, fought shy of urging the Jewish cause in the same measures which gave their own denominations relief. Some Anglican supporters of Jewish relief felt it necessary to add as a ground for their advocacy of that cause their own misgivings over the relief of the Roman Catholics if that relief stood alone. To admit Roman Catholics to Parliament might, they argued, smack of indifference as between Anglicanism and Romanism; whereas to admit the Jews as well would indicate that the whole question was considered on the general principle of religious toleration and not on the respective merits of various phases of Christianity.1 In 1854, a Bill which, had it been carried, would have opened Parliament to Jews, did not even pass through the House of Commons, since one of its clauses seemed even to some Liberals to go too far in favour of the Roman Catholics.2 But these episodes were incidental and not typical. The Jewish emancipationists expressly aimed at assimilating their civil status to that of the other dissenting communities. Each stage in Jewish emancipation was assisted by the public support of