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The Challenge to Jewish History. Presidential Addresses

Cecil Roth

<plain_text><page sequence="1">THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND The Challenge to Jewish History Presidential Addresses delivered before the Jewish Historical Society of England, October 20, 1936, and January 11, 1938. By Cecil Roth (0 SOME JEWISH CONTRIBUTIONS TO ENGLISH LIFE In the course of the last few years, as is obvious to all who follow current tendencies in thought and politics, the position of historical studies in the world has changed. They were formerly considered a scholastic backwater, to be explored by the ordinary reader only for occasional diversion, or, in rare cases, inspiration. But recent events have abolished the time-honoured conception of the " cloistered student." It is precisely the student and the scholar (as the Germans in particular discovered long ago) who can mould the conceptions of the rising generation, and thereby of a nation as a whole : and it is in the universities, the schools and the academies that the present struggle between freedom and obscurantism, liberty and authority, more especially centres. History is in the forefront of the struggle : and Jewish history above all. Down to the last century the attack against us was on b</page><page sequence="2">2 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY a theological basis. We were informed that our beliefs, our religious practices, our infidelities, disqualified us from forming part of the political or economic organisation of the Christian state, and marked us off as fit subjects for persecution and attack. This was followed, of course, by the corollary that any Jew who abandoned his ancestral faith was relieved immediately and completely from the discrimina? tion which he had previously suffered. But the decay of religious feel? ing on both sides during the course of the past couple of generations has altered this. On the one hand, it is impossible, in this ostensibly tolerant world, to base restrictions (as was formerly the case) on sectarian grounds. On the other hand, the weakening of Jewish allegiance brought into existence a large category of persons against whom anti-Semitism could no longer express itself in religious terms. The basis of the attack therefore altered, from religion to race; and its justification, from theology to history. We are no longer told that those who believe as we do can have no part in a Christian state, but that there is something in our blood which renders us, ipso facto, bad citizens. It is alleged that the part we have played in European life has from the outset been disruptive and deleterious: that our contributions to modern culture have in every case been corrosive and harmful: that we have been, and are, fighting a deliberate battle for the overthrow of the best values in the so-called " Aryan " civilisation : that this poison is inherent in our blood, and cannot be modified or thrown off, either by formal change of religious allegiance or by im? memorial length of association with the traditions of any particular country. The campaign against us, on these lines, is not a sporadic one. It is the whole keynote of the new anti-Semitism. It is the official justification of the terrible persecution in Germany? and now too in Italy. It is the inspiration of the new anti-Semitic literature. It is repeated by agitators, even in this country, in gutter periodicals and at street-corner meetings. It is slowly permeating the minds of persons of goodwill, of the type more impressed by the itera? tion than by the cogency of argument. Such is the importance attached to this line of attack in Germany that there has been estab</page><page sequence="3">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 3 lished in Munich, under the highest auspices and with the utmost financial backing, an Institute of Jewish Historical Research, intended to re-interpret Jewish history in this light and to furnish mob-hysteria with a cloak of pseudo-scientific justification. The attack upon us, then, has removed from the theological to the historical field. We must be prepared to accept the challenge. We must answer argument with argument, slander with refutation, alle? gation with fact. And, in this battle, the Jewish Historical Society must be prepared, not only to offer its services wholeheartedly to the Community, but to take an outstanding part. It is my intention here to offer a few suggestions with regard to lines of research, for the most part neglected, which (as it seems to me) should be pursued at the present juncture. I propose to restrict myself only to matters of strictly Anglo-Jewish interest, leaving untouched for the moment the wider question, of the position of the Jew in the world as a whole.1 Anti-Semitism in this country has always been to some extent tinged with ordinary xenophobia. The influx from Eastern Europe, after the beginning of the Russian persecutions in 1881, strengthened this tendency, and it is to-day widely assumed that the Jew, because he is a Jew, is necessarily a newcomer into this country. The work of this Society should serve to correct this impression. We have pub? lished many volumes on the history of the Jews in England in the Middle Ages. If that settlement was interrupted, the responsibility did not lie with us. Yet the blood of these medieval English Jews must necessarily have suffused the whole of northern Jewry, at least, in the course of the six and a half centuries which have elapsed since the Expulsion of 1290; and, among the multitudinous progenitors whom each of us had at that period, there must have been some to whom England's leafy lanes and the wide sweep of the downs and the bare loveliness of the new-ploughed fields were as familiar and as beloved as they are to us. The Re-settlement of the Jews in this country goes back, now, 1 I have since dealt with this subject in my work, The Jewish Contribution to Civilisation (London, 1938).</page><page sequence="4">4 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY for nearly three centuries. We were here, as a body, well before the Huguenot refugees began to arrive from France. The latter have since been absorbed almost completely into the mass of the English people, their descendants to-day priding themselves not a litde (when they can trace it) on their romantic descent. Our economic historians enlarge nowadays on the manifold benefits which accrued to English life from this immigration, which fostered the textile industry in particular, and laid the foundation of England's former phenomenal prosperity in this sphere. It is worth while to recall, in the circum? stances, that these refugees from Continental intolerance were at the beginning viewed by the mass of the population with anything but kindliness. Indeed, precisely the same allegations and criticisms were levelled against them as were subsequently levelled against the Jews ?to such an extent that anti-Huguenot pamphlets of the eighteenth century were reprinted almost verbatim in the propaganda against Jewish emancipation at the beginning of the nineteenth! For the Re-settlement period and afterwards, Anglo-Jewish his? torical research has been devoted preponderantly to the capital. But it is most important to realise that Anglo-Jewish life was by no means so centralised. Already in the middle of the eighteenth century (according to my random notes on the subject, brought together from a wide variety of sources), Jews may be traced all over the country ?in the University towns of Oxford and Cambridge, at Nottingham, Godmanchester, Lincoln, Frome, Colchester, Poole, Bath, and so on. There was a properly constituted Congregation at Portsmouth at least from 1747, at Bristol from 1754, at Canterbury from 1760, at Birmingham from 1781, at King's Lynn from 1746, at Plymouth from 1752, at Exeter from 1763, at Ipswich from 1790, at Liverpool, Manchester, Sheerness, Chatham, Swansea, Falmouth and Penzance from the closing decades of the century. Even in Ireland?at Dublin and at Cork?communities were in existence as far back as Stuart times. These facts, so little appreciated, are enough to demonstrate that we English Jews have our roots deep in this country?not in the capital alone. Yet, of all the places I have just mentioned, three only have had their chronicle more or less comprehensively compiled.</page><page sequence="5">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 5 Here, obviously, is an important gap in Anglo-Jewish historiography ?a gap which must be filled before we are able to answer our critics adequately. Our ignorance of the part which the Jews have played in English public life is equally regrettable. We know, indeed, of the statesmen and politicians of the past century, from Beaconsfield to Reading. Yet there are few who realise that the Jew lavished his devotion on the public life of this country from the very earliest days of the Re? settlement, when Simon de Caceres assisted Cromwell in his West Indian projects and (with other Jews) collaborated in the acquisition of Jamaica as a British possession. In the next century, we find Samson Gideon assisting Walpole to re-establish public credit after the bursting of the South Sea Bubble, and working strenuously in conjunction with the other Jewish magnates of London for the main? tenance of order during the " Forty-five." We are informed how Jewish merchants with shipping in the Thames placed it unreservedly at the disposal of the Government; how they poured specie into the Bank of England in order to restore confidence; how they collabo? rated, more than in proportion to their numbers, in the association of merchants who bound themselves to accept bank notes at their face value, notwithstanding the general feeling of insecurity; and how the lower orders enlisted in the Militia. At the same period, there flourished a certain Israel Isaacs, who (according to the obituary notices which appeared at the time of his death in 1786, at the age of eighty-two) was the last of the body of merchants who, in 1746, advanced to the Government ?2,000,000 at a day's notice in a sudden emergency. In the following generation, England thrilled over the presence of mind of " Jew Dyte," who saved the life of George III when an attempt was made to assassinate him during a performance at Drury Lane. How Nathan Mayer Rothschild attempted to restore confidence at the time of the Batde of Waterloo (pace the absurd legend which is still being circulated) should be familiar to all of us, after Lucien Wolf's brilliant researches on the subject. But it is completely forgotten to-day how his last important operation, carried through</page><page sequence="6">6 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY just before his death in 1836, was to assist in raising the loan of ^20,000,000 which made possible the abolition of slavery in the British Dominions. (It may be noted, in this connexion, how one of the few West Indian planters who anticipated Government action in this matter by freeing his slaves spontaneously was Isaac Simon, grandfather of the late Serjeant Sir John Simon, the eminent lawyer and philanthropist.) Baron Lionel de Rothschild similarly threw him? self heart and soul into the work of relieving the distressed condition of Ireland, at the time of the Potato Famine of 1847; his work on this occasion being no less noteworthy, though less widely known, than his collaboration with Disraeli in acquiring the Suez Canal shares for England in 1875. I shall be saying nothing novel if I remind you that the English Jew has a long tradition of participation in every form of beneficent activity; yet, surprisingly enough, no one has yet assembled the data by which this assertion may be substantiated. Perhaps I may be permitted to make a very modest beginning. " The first English Jew " (as Wolf called Antonio Fernandez Carvajal) set the example when, on his death in 1659, he left " to the poor of the Parish of Saint Katherine Creechurche Tenn pounds "; and the tradition thus set was loyally followed by the city magnates of succeeding genera? tions, few of whom failed to remember the non-Jewish poor in their wills. Moses Hart, second founder of the Great Synagogue, be? queathed no less than ^1,000?a very large sum for those days?to the London Hospital at the time of its foundation. His son-in-law, Elias Levy, was one of the half-dozen Jews who became Governors of the Foundling Hospital within a decade of its establishment and paid handsomely for the privilege; another being his kinsman, Aaron Franks, who was reported in the Press on his death to have been in the practice of distributing ^5,000 yearly, " without distinction of creed or race." The reputation of Benjamin Mendes da Costa, his contemporary and collaborator (for they were colleagues in the estab? lishment of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in 1760), stood equally high in Gentile and in Jewish circles; and on his death it was found that, by a codicil to his will, he had made arrangements for</page><page sequence="7">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 7 his benefactions to be continued to the indigent families who had previously enjoyed his bounty. The heroic days were yet to come. The first English Jews who were received into English society, without losing in the process any? thing of their Jewish loyalty, were the members of the Goldsmid family : and they repaid England wholeheartedly. The two brothers, Abraham and Benjamin Goldsmid, were famous in their day for their munificence. The latter 's charitable instincts were commemo? rated particularly by the Naval Asylum, in the establishment of which he was active. It is no coincidence that his nephew, Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, co-operated with Joseph Lancaster in spreading en? lightenment among the masses, and with Mrs. Fry in improving the conditions of prisoners, as well as being one of the founders of the North London Hospital. Thus we are brought to the beginning of the Victorian era, to Sir Moses Montefiore's widespread benefactions, and to the Rothschilds' long tradition of uaobtrusive charity. From this period onwards, the collaboration of the Jews in charitable and beneficent activities in this country has been outstanding. Here, I have space to cite only one or two instances as they occur to me. Dr. Barnardo, according to his latest biographer, was by birth a Jew?son of a Hamburg Sephardi, who, settling in Dublin, lost all connexion with his people. John Zachariah Lawrence, an eminent Jewish oph? thalmologist of the last century, established the institution which grew into the Royal Eye Hospital. Harry Barnato left ?250,000 for the Cancer Wing of the Middlesex Hospital. The Wandsworth Orphan? age owes its name, not to its location, but to the fact that it was founded by Lord Wandsworth, formerly Sir Sydney Stern, with a bequest of one million pounds sterling. Sir Robert Mond founded the Infants' Hospital in Vincent Square, Westminster. The vast charities of Bernhard Baron, unique both in scale and in method, are fresh in our minds; and the London hospitals have to-day no more munificent friend than Sir Edward Meyerstein. Nor should we of the Anglo-Jewish Community overlook the fact that the movement for the humane treatment of animals in this country, and hence in Europe as a whole, owes its existence to a Jew, working in the Biblical</page><page sequence="8">8 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY and Rabbinic tradition?Lewis Gompertz, the real though neglected father of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and one of the noblest figures in the noble history of British humani tarianism. It is not only in the support and establishment of institutions for the relief of the sick and the needy that English Jews have shown their public spirit. The handsome gift made by Solomon da Costa Athias to the library of the British Museum, at the time of its opening in 1759, hardly calls for mention : though his appreciation of the institution at so early a date was not perhaps so natural as might now be thought. But to-day, as one goes through the Museum galleries, one is continually reminded how open-handed towards it Jews have been. In particular, there is the great Waddesdon Bequest, left by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, which in itself would constitute a museum of high order. At the National Gallery, there is the glorious Mond Bequest, not to mention the Duveen foundations at the T?te Gallery and at the National Portrait Gallery, which has made that institution the palace of delight which it is to-day. All these founda? tions owe much to the National Arts-Collections Fund, largely the creation of that discerning connoisseur, Henry Oppenheim. En pas? sant, it may be pointed out how much the two great national collec? tions owe to the " alien immigrant." The National Gallery was founded by John Julius Angerstein, who may be reckoned also the founder of Lloyd's in its present form : while the great library of the British Museum is a monument to the genius of an Italian exile (also said, though I believe inaccurately, to have been a Jew), Sir Anthony Panizzi. Turning to educational establishments, we have, first and fore? most, the institution with which the Jewish Historical Society is proud to be so closely associated?University College, one of the prime movers in the establishment of which was Sir Isaac Lyon Gold smid, who may thus be reckoned among the fathers of the University of London. At Oxford, there is Alfred Beit's foundation for the study of Colonial History: at Cambridge, the School of Chemistry, ire endowed largely through the exertions of Sir Robert Waley Cohen</page><page sequence="9">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 9 and his associates : at Liverpool, the magnificent new library, made possible by a gift from Harold L. Cohen (whose father, Louis Cohen, endowed hospitals and medical teaching in the same city on a vast scale) : and at more than one university Sir Montague Burton's char? acteristically Jewish foundations in the interests of industrial and international peace. Many seats of learning, both in this country and in Italy, have reason to be grateful to the memory of Arturo Serena, who devoted the whole of his fortune to fostering improved cultural relations between the two countries. He was not a professing Jew, but his parents, exiled from Italy for his father's strenuous support of Daniel Manin, were the first couple married in the Great Syna? gogue of Venice. There is to-day a somewhat ironic interest in recall? ing how, as a memorial to King Edward VII, Sir Ernest Cassel set aside the munificent sum of ?200,000 in order to found an Anglo German Institute, for assisting German studies in England and English studies in Germany.2 These instances could, and should, be assembled : for they would make an impressive list. For the student of social history, it is worthy of note that the participation of the Jews in English intellectual life began so early, notwithstanding the comparatively late date of the Re-settlement. Indeed, translations of Jewish liturgy into the ordinary language of the country, printed in Latin characters, were published earlier in England and its dependencies than in any other land, not excepting even Holland or Italy, the tradition going back to 1761 in America and to 1770 in England. Even before this date, English Jews had appeared as authors. As early as 1684, a rhymed epitaph in English was inscribed upon the grave of Isaac Alvarez Nunez, and in 1720 2 No account has been taken of religious allegiance in connexion with the persons mentioned in this paper. Malefactors of remote Jewish origin are invariably paraded as Jews by our critics, and in the circumstances it would be absurd for us to apply a religious test to those whose record does us credit. In connexion with Alfred Beit, it is not out of place to cite the very succinct account of his benefactions from the Concise Dictionary of National Biography: " Founded Beit professorship of Colonial History at Oxford, 1905; benefactor to Imperial College of Technology, London, to Rhodesia, to London and Hamburg charities, and to National Gallery; thirty fellowships for medical research founded in his memory, 1909."</page><page sequence="10">10 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY English commendatory poems were prefixed to Daniel Lopez Laguna's Spanish translation of the Psalms?one of the most remark? able works of Jewish interest ever printed in this country. The earliest Jewish contributions to English literature in its more specific sense were probably those of Moses Mendes, who turned out a lengthy series of works in prose and verse from 1746 onwards, and who popularised (though he did not originate) the term " blatant beast." His primacy is closely contested by his contemporary and occasional collaborator, Dr. Ralph Sch?mberg, whose prolificness hardly kept pace, indeed, with his inspiration. Moses Mendes' cousin, the wayward Emanuel Mendes da Costa, was a still more important figure in intellectual life; member of half a dozen learned societies in this country and abroad and a foremost authority on natural history. His Elements of Conehalogy, which appeared in 1776, was long con? sidered a standard work; and his voluminous correspondence with various contemporary savants at home and abroad, which is pre? served in the British Museum, is a really remarkable monument of English intellectual life in the eighteenth century, the neglect of which by research workers is as regrettable as it is inexplicable. From this period onwards, there is an unbroken sequence of English authors and scholars down to our own day?through the Disraelis, father and son; Lewis Goldsmith, the sworn enemy of Napoleon; David Ricardo, founder of the science of political economy; John Adolphus, the historian, and his son the critic (who first penetrated the secret of the authorship of the Waverley Novels); the Gompertz brothers, one of whom was compared by his admirers to Dryden; and Sir Francis Cohen Palgrave, founder of the scientific study of English history, and his trio of gifted sons.3 It is remarkable (racial psychologists might perhaps discern in this an inherent genius for organisation) that many of the classical English works of reference owe a great deal to Jewish collaboration. 3 The best-known of the three was Francis Turner Palgrave, Professor of Poetry at Oxford and compiler of The Golden Treasury. It may be mentioned that such typical English songs as " The Death of Nelson," " A Life on the Ocean Wave," and " Home Sweet Home " were composed by Jews or (in the last case) by a half-Jew.</page><page sequence="11">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY II One of the distinguished Palgrave brothers, whom I have mentioned above, initiated The Dictionary of Political Economy; Sir Sidney Low was joint editor of The Dictionary of English History; that glorious compilation, The Dictionary of National Biography, owes its existence largely to the industry of Sir Sidney Lee. Less directly, as patrons of letters, music and the stage, the part played by the English Jews was far from negligible. As early as 1720, we find Mr. Isaac Fernandez Nunez listed among the subscribers to so un-Jewish a work as The Life and Acts of Edmund Grindal, and several subscribed in 1748 to Anson's Voyage Round the World. The unpleasant Jewish character in a recent novel on Richard Savage is wholly fictional. But Savage had one Jewish patron and intimate, nevertheless?Mr. Solomon Mendes, a selection of whose corres? pondence with the wayward poet and James Thomson (author of The Seasons) was published in The British Magazine and Review in 1782.* The London Jews patronised Handel as sedulously as the nobility boycotted him, thus doing more than their share to save for England that which is most characteristic in English musical appreciation; and, when Mozart was in London as an infant genius in 1764, he was a guest in the house of no less than five Jews who appre? ciated his promise. So, too, with art. Legend preserves the name of a thirteenth century Anglo-Jewish painter, Marlibrun (Meir-le-Brun) of Billings? gate : and from the beginning of the eighteenth century Jewish artists have worked continuously in England, exhibiting regularly in the Royal Academy from about 1790. When Casanova was in England in 1763?4, and desired a portrait of one of his amours, a Jew was recommended to him as the best miniaturist in London. As far as architecture is concerned, I need remind you only of the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge, one of the most successful examples of the neo-classical style in England, which was built by George Basevi, cousin of Lord Beaconsfield. Another side of Anglo-Jewish activity which calls for investiga? tion is the degree of association with the Army and Navy. At the * Now rcpublishcd in my Anglo-Jewish Leiters, London, 1938.</page><page sequence="12">12 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY beginning, indeed, professing Jews could not have served with the armed forces of the Crown except in the ranks or before the mast, as it was necessary to take the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England before obtaining His Majesty's commission. Nevertheless an adventurous spirit would not be confined to the workshop: and the wills at Somerset House reveal the existence of many Jewish tars. For example (to begin with the Senior Service), we find details of one Aaron Hart (namesake, but no relative, of the recently deceased Chief Rabbi), mariner on the privateer Caxtor under Captain Charles Fielding, who died at sea on February the 28th, 1759. The marriage contracts preserved at the Great Synagogue give us details of persons who were " with the King's ships at sea " or 44 with the Expedition " at the time of the Napoleonic wars; and not long ago there was offered for sale in London a letter by a Jew who fought under Nelson at the battle of the Nile.4 In the higher ranks, conversion to Christianity only could open the way. There is preserved the petition of a certain Paul Gomes who had served in the forces at Tangiers for two years and in 1665 requested Charles II for appointment as lieutenant in one of the royal ships. Myer Low Sch?mberg, physician to the Great Synagogue in the first half of the eighteenth century, was progenitor of a whole line of distinguished officers, including Sir Alexander Sch?mberg (1720-1804), and his son, Admiral Alexander Wilmot Sch?mberg (1774?1850), author of a standard work on shipbuilding; as well as of Isaac Sch?mberg (1753-1813), editor of Naval Chronology. Sir Alexander Sch?mberg, then a captain, commanded a ship at the capture of Quebec, and supervised the landing of the troops. In his journal, which is still preserved, there are several pages of notes, as well as a plan, by the hand of Wolfe himself. So much by way of reply to a rhetorical question recently asked in the expectation that no answer could be forthcoming : 44 Did Jews serve with the British at Quebec? " 4 In his Seventy Yeah a Showman (London, 1927), G. Sanger speaks of two other Jewish sailors, Israel and Benjamin Hart, who served with his father in the Napoleonic wars.</page><page sequence="13">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 13 The case with the Army was similar. During the Common? wealth, Simon de Caceres (who has been mentioned above) submitted proposals for raising a Jewish force for service against the Spaniards in South America under the British flag, and in 1668 several Jews lost their lives in the fighting for the defence of the colony of Surinam. At the close of the seventeenth century, Jewish names (such as Peter Francia and John Paiba) begin to figure on the roll of the Honour? able Artillery Company : and, before the Napoleonic wars had been in progress for very long, Jews were serving with the Volunteer Corps in Dover, Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol, Liverpool, and especially London, where George III, during a review in Hyde Park, expressed his amusement at the number of quasi-zoological names (Bear, Wolf, Lyon, etc.) borne by the members of an East End regiment. We are naturally better informed concerning the commissioned ranks. The Duke of Wellington admitted in the House of Lords in 1833 that no less than fifteen Jewish officers had served under him at Waterloo. For the reasons indicated above, these are unlikely to have been found in the British contingents, but here, too, there was a handful of officers of Jewish extraction. Among them was Cornet Albert Goldsmid, who had two horses shot under him, and who subsequently rose to the rank of Major-General. More remotely asso? ciated with the Community was Sir Francis Bond Head (a grand? son of Moses Mendes, the poet, whose sons adopted their mother's maiden name), who served at the same battle with the Royal Engi? neers; subsequently he was Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, where he suppressed the rising of 1837-8. His elder brother, Sir George Head, had served in the Peninsula campaign and rose to the rank of Assistant Commissary General. Another early English Jew who rose to the rank of Major-General was Sir Jacob Adolphus, M.D., Inspector-General of Hospitals, a connexion of the founder of the Great Synagogue, some of whose descendants are still active in the Community.5 One of the most important Army families is that of Barrow, whose 5 There were a few Jews in the ranks also at Waterloo: I am trying to compile a complete roll.</page><page sequence="14">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY ramifications are not easily worked out. However, the late Major General de Symons Barrow was the son of Simon Barrow, of Devon? shire Square, a pillar of the Bevis Marks Synagogue in his day. This gallant officer's son is General Sir George de Symons Barrow, a soldier with a magnificent record; while Captain Hugh Lousada Barrow was killed at the battle of Tokar. The Gompertz family have produced a Major-General, a Colonel, and more than one Major? not to mention a military chaplain. Major-General George Salis Schwabe was a familiar figure in the days of our fathers : while the names of Ximenes, d'Aguilar, and Pereira, and others, have at times given a certain family likeness between the opening pages of the Army List and the Roll of the Spanish and Portuguese Com? munity in London. Joshua Montefiore (of whom more will be said below) is said to have been the first professing English Jew to hold a military commission, being present at the taking of Martinique and Guadaloupe in 1809 as an officer of the Yorkshire Light Infantry. His collaborator Moses Ximenes, when he became Sir Maurice, re? ceived a commission in the Windower Foresters, subsequently com? manding the Wargrove Yeoman Cavalry; his son, David, joined the 62nd Foot, became a Lieutenant-General, and was knighted. Solomon, fourth son of the first Baron d'Aguilar, entered the Second Dragoon Guards and founded a military dynasty. His son was Lieutenant-General Sir George d'Aguilar, K.C.B., and his grandson General Sir Charles Aguilar, G.C.B. Daniel Mocatta, son of Elias Mocatta, distinguished himself in the Indian Mutiny, and was pro? moted to Captain during the Siege of Delhi. The religious allegiance of many of those who have been mentioned above was dubious, or negative; but Captain Lionel Gomez da Costa, who died of wounds at Lucknow and was universally considered to be a man of outstanding gallantry, was conspicuously loyal to his Judaism. It may be men? tioned at this point that the European militia in India, which was used by Clive, was established at the close of the seventeenth century at the suggestion of James de Paiba, " the first Jew at Madras," and from the first comprised a considerable proportion of Jews. Moreover, prior to the re-organisation of the Indian Army, the Indian Jews proved them</page><page sequence="15">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 15 selves to be of exceptional military ability, several rising to the highest rank open to native soldiers. These instances?culled almost at random?are enough to demon? strate that there was nothing of startling novelty when 2,000 British Jews served in the Boer War, 114 making the supreme sacrifice: or in the war of 1914-18, when there were nearly 10,000 casualties among the 50,000 Jews serving. General Sir John Monash was an outstanding, but not a unique, instance of a Jew who has risen to high rank in the military forces of the British Crown. Though the memory of this cataclysm is so fresh, Jewish services in it (even those on the field, and still more those of a less obtrusive nature) seem likely to be forgotten. We have, indeed, been reminded more than once recendy of the importance of the researches of Dr. Weizmann, whose discovery of the method of the manufacture of synthetic wood-alcohol was of such crucial importance in the muni? tions campaign. " He absolutely saved the British Empire," were the words used by Mr. Lloyd George in the House of Commons in connexion with his work. But few persons now recall the barely less important services of the first Lord Bearsted, who made possible the production of another indispensable ingredient of high explosive? toluol?and, in addition, when the blockade seemed about to cut off supplies of oil, had the inspiration of importing it not in tankers, but between the true and false bottoms of ordinary ships, in place of water ballast. These things were accomplished in such a way," wrote Lord Birkenhead, " that Lord Bearsted is entitled to be regarded among the deliverers of his country." Then, too, we should recall the services of Sir Albert Stern in connexion with the evolution of the tank; of Solomon J. Solomon, who turned his artistic talent to prac? tical use for perfecting the system of camouflage; and Mrs. Ayrton, who invented the anti-gas fan. It is a record which can well bear further investigation and a greater measure of publicity. With the romance of exploration, the Jews are not popularly asso? ciated: yet the story of Jewish participation in maritime enterprise has been of the utmost importance. Here, I can speak only of what concerns us most closely. When England first entered into the race,</page><page sequence="16">16 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY in the spacious days of Queen Elizabeth, Jews were unknown (or virtually so) in this country. Nevertheless, the English pioneers did not hesitate to take foreign Jews into their service as interpreters. One of them accompanied Lancaster on his first voyage for the East India Company in 1601, and was responsible for the negotiation of a treaty with the Sultan of Achin which was a landmark in the history of British expansion in the East. At the second great period of English exploration, which began in the eighteenth century, the Jews were established in England, and played their share. Israel Lyons, son of the instructor in Hebrew at Cambridge and a well-known botanist of his day, accompanied Captain Phipps (subsequently Lord Mul grave) as principal astronomer on his Arctic expedition in 1773 (it was in this expedition that Nelson took part as midshipman). Not long after, Captain Moses Ximenes (subsequently Sir Maurice Ximenes) led a band of adventurers who proposed to establish a colony in West Africa. The story of this enterprise, barely known even to historians, deserves further investigation. It seems to have aroused great enthusiasm in the purlieus of the London Ghetto, and one of the outstanding members of it was Joshua Montefiore, who not only took charge of the military side of the expedition, but also pub? lished a lively account of it. The party occupied the island of Bulama and raised the British flag; but, after several conflicts with the natives, they were compelled to withdraw. It was characteristic of the Jew that one of Montefiore's first cares had been to organise a system of education for the children of his companions! Montefiore was a worthy forerunner of the adventurous Nathaniel Isaacs, of Canterbury, to whom is due the first British foothold in Natal, and whose Travels and Adventures in Eastern Africa (recently re-published in a centenary re-issue) is a South African classic. The past generation thrilled over the adventures of Dr. Eduard Karl Oscar Theodor Schitzner, better known as Emin Pasha, who was assassi? nated in Central Africa in 1892, nearly as much as they did over those of Stanley and Livingstone. When Gordon became Governor-General of the Sudan, Emin was nominated Governor of the Equatorial Provinces; and after the fall of Khartoum (when he persisted in</page><page sequence="17">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 17 holding out, though entirely abandoned) he became one of the centres of European interest in the Dark Continent in the place of his dead leader. Nor should we overlook that less known African explorer, the ill-fated Louis Arthur Lucas, of Manchester, who accompanied Gordon to Albert Nyanza and explored the northern portion of the Lake in the first steamboat ever launched on its waters. Isaacs was typical of the Colonial pioneers, of whom Anglo-Jewry has provided a goodly number. Indeed, it is significant that the Jewish immigrant to England has always felt that, this side of Mes sianism, he has reached the end of his pilgrimage; and the wanderlust, where it still existed, has generally received its expression within the boundaries of the Empire. It is not generally realised that a Jewish Community, largely recruited from London, was set up in Madras before the close of the reign of Charles II; indeed, at the time of his death, Lucien Wolf was collecting material for reconstructing the annals of Israel in British India, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A Jewish commissary officer, Aaron Hart, was among the half-dozen Jews who accompanied the British expeditionary force which conquered Canada. He took a prominent share in repulsing Montgomery's invasion in 1775?just as his children and grand children did in subsequent campaigns for the defence of the Colony and the maintenance of the British connexion; and the historic Shearith Israel Synagogue in Montreal was established in 1768, eight years only after the British occupation.6 The part played by the Jews in pioneering days in South Africa has been minutely illustrated by Mr. Louis Herrman in his History of the Jews in South Africa; and it is enough for me to state here that Nathaniel Isaacs did not stand alone. The township of Montefiore, in New South Wales, is a monu? ment to the important part played by members of that family in early days in Australia. Indeed, it is barely forty years since the Press reported the death of Jacob Montefiore " last survivor of the original commissioners appointed by His Majesty William IV to found the colony of South Australia." Turning to another sphere of colonial 6 Another Jewish pioneer in Canada, Bernard Hart, born in London in 1764, way grandfather of the American writer, Bret Harte. C</page><page sequence="18">18 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY enterprise, Mr. H. F. Rubinstein has written a delightful play about the London Jew, Bar nett Levey, " father of the legitimate stage in Australia," who ruined himself in order to set the Antipodean drama on a proper basis. The record of the Jews' relations with England, then, is not one of which we need feel ashamed. But England's dealing with the Jews, in these last centuries, is one in which we can also feel pride. It is some 230 years since, in connexion with the controversy which raged about the opening of the Hambro' Synagogue, the Jews of London felt for the first time the need for a Hebrew printing-press. The earliest work that was produced was entitled Maas eh Rab (1707). In this the author, Rabbi Johanan Holleschau, makes the following observation, particularly significant if one regards it as the first public utterance of Hebrew scholarship in this country : " But I have no fear; for we, our brethren of the House of Israel, live in the kingdom of England, under rulers and princes and lords who deal with us with kindness and mercy. They may indeed be reckoned as the Pious Ones of the Nations of the world. If a man give them a houseful of gold and silver they would do no injustice or wrongdoing, but act only as it is written in their lawbooks. ..." This attitude received concrete expression at a comparatively early stage in the modern period of Anglo-Jewish history, in an episode which is not without its bearing upon the present situation. The facts are not yet known sufficiently, and no apology is needed for a brief recapitulation. In 1744, during the War of the Austrian Succes? sion, in revenge for certain fancied offences of the Jews in Alsace, the Empress Maria Theresa, most illogically, banished the Jews from Bohemia?especially from its capital, Prague. That hapless Com? munity appealed for assistance to their co-religionists throughout the world, asking them to use what influence they could to secure at least a reprieve. The warden of the Great Synagogue in London at the time was Aaron Franks, who, with his cousin, Moses Hart, imme? diately petitioned the king, George II. The latter consented to receive them in audience: and a recently discovered letter describes</page><page sequence="19">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 19 how the old man showed every sympathy, shaking his head and repeating, with tears in his eyes: "It is not right that the innocent should sufTer with the guilty." In consequence, the British Ambassador in Vienna, Sir Thomas Robinson, was instructed to make representations to the Austrian Government. With him was associated Burmania, the Dutch repre? sentative, who had received similar instructions from The Hague, as well as the representatives of Denmark, Venice, etc. Ultimately, their appeals proved successful, the decree being revoked and the refugees, to the number of 20,000, being allowed to return to their homes. It must be recalled that this took place at a time within a century of the Re-settlement: when a majority of the Jews in this country were foreign-born : when Jewish Emancipation was not even a dream : and when the British Government agreed with the Austrian, and with every other in Europe, that non-Christians could have no claim to political equality with their neighbours. Subsequent inter? ventions (as, for example, that at Corfu in 1891, when British war? ships saved the Jewish Community from massacre, at the time of a particularly senseless ritual murder allegation) can add little to the force of this two-century-old precedent, which clearly shows that in the heroic age of Pitt there would have been little sympathy for the present pusillanimous doctrine, that there can be no diplomatic intervention in the internal affairs of a foreign country, even on the most indisputable humanitarian grounds. There is yet another point, of particular interest at the present time. In the new edition of the Bibliotheca Anglo-] udaica, published by our Society, there figured for the first time a section comprising what has been written in English by non-Jews advocating the restora? tion of the Jews to their ancient home in Palestine. Nahum Sokolow, in his monumental History of Zionism, made a preliminary survey of the ground; but even those familiar with his researches must be amazed at the number, the continuity and the authority of the works in question, stretching back in unbroken sequence as far as the seven? teenth century. There can be no doubt that these publications played</page><page sequence="20">20 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY a considerable part in the evolution of the Zionist idea. The Jews, it is true, preserved the impulse; but these English theorists gave the question a certain degree of actuality, and pressed it from time to time upon the notice of the Western world. The interest in Zionism shown by Joseph Chamberlain and his successors was not, therefore, any? thing novel; it was a new expression, in perhaps more practical form, of an enthusiasm which had been familiar in England for some three centuries and which was in no small measure responsible for the eagerness with which Herzl and his colleagues and forerunners looked to English sympathy and aid. That enthusiasm reached its culmination in the Balfour Declara? tion of 1917, and its fulfilment on the Turkish debacle in the follow? ing year. To-day, there are certain elements in this country who are working for a reversal of this policy. Looking at the matter in its historical perspective, it appears that this would be an unexampled tergiversation. England, and English theorists, are jointly respon? sible with Jews for the evolution of Zionism in its modern form. It is not a question of reversing the policy of the past twenty years, but that of the past three centuries. Such an association is not lightly to be broken. This is no mere Jewish enterprise, but an enterprise in which England and the Jews are closely, inseparably associated. The comparative date and validity of agreements made during the present generation, under the stress of war, is insignificant by the side of this centuries-old association. I trust that new research workers will be forthcoming who will enable us to demonstrate to the world that, if by the renunciation of Zion we Jews would lose much of our inheritance, England, too, would lose no small part of hers. I have been able to outline here only a few of the many lines of enquiry into the record and achievement of the Jews in this country, which, as I feel, may fruitfully be followed up.7 Nothing can be fur 7 It will be realised, for instance, that I have not referred at all to the contribu? tion of the Jews to the economic prosperity of England and her dependencies, or to their work in the spheres of science, medicine, and the drama; my book on The Jewish Contribution to Civilisation touches only incidentally upon the subject, so far as this country is concerned, and leaves ample room for further enquiry.</page><page sequence="21">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 21 ther from my intention than to suggest that the Jews are supermen. It is as misleading, and possibly as harmful, to claim that the Jews have been responsible for every step in human and national progress as it is to join with the Nazis in asserting that they have consistently been a corrosive influence in European civilisation. The services of individual Jews to England have indeed been conspicuous. But more important than that is the fact that, ever since the Re-admission, the Jew has constituted an integral part of English society, taking a solid and useful?not necessarily an outstanding?share in every manifes? tation of British life, enterprise and endeavour. This fact, I hope, I have sufficiently demonstrated here in its general outline. It requires detailed and painstaking research, upon the lines which I have indicated and many more, to develop and illustrate all this in con? vincing detail. The more the facts are known, and the more widely the knowledge of them is spread, the better qualified we shall be to answer the allegations which are being bandied about, so irrespon? sibly, at the present time. The anti-Semites of to-day have thrown down the challenge to Jewish history. Jewish history can well afford to take up that chal? lenge; and in this country it is for us, the Jewish Historical Society of England, to take the lead. It is not a question of antiquarian recrea? tion, as is so often associated popularly with our activities, but of a fundamental, essential service to the Jewish cause and to the Com? munity at large.</page><page sequence="22">22 the challenge to jewish history (?) THE JEW AS A EUROPEAN The vindication of the Jew as an Englishman touches only the fringe of the problem with which we are to-day faced. That new tide of anti-Semitism which has its origin in Nazi Germany, and its reper? cussions in every other land, is very different from the xenophobia which was at the root of former anti-Jewish prejudice. Its purview is wider?here, more than in anything else, we have the " inter? national " enemy at present poisoning the basis of European life and of personal relationships. It is not concerned with the function of our people in one country or the other. It attacks the whole body of the Jews as a collectivity, alleging that we constitute an alien " Asiatic " stock, who menace the purity and the cohesion of Euro? pean life as a whole. It is not enough, therefore, for us to-day to demonstrate our position as Englishmen, as Frenchmen, or as Italians. We must go back a step further, and demonstrate our position as Europeans, as citizens of the Western world. It is with a sense of shame that I venture to call your attention to this problem. One had imagined that such discussion and its motivation had been left behind with the Dark Ages. Contemporary events have proved that this is not the case. The conception of the Jew as an alien in Europe has begun to poison the intellectual atmo? sphere in which we live. The reactions may be traced to-day in the writings and the utterances of persons far from intolerant by nature and anything but unsympathetic towards us in the past. It has become a supreme necessity for this tide of misrepresentation to be stemmed. It is useless for us to appeal to theory, always capable of ambiguity. We must appeal to fact; and it is for that reason that I desire to engage the attention of the Jewish Historical Society of England to this subject. Nor do I feel that in so doing I am going outside the specific field of enquiry which we have set ourselves : for the vindica? tion of the position of the Jew as an Englishman is of necessity secondary to his vindication as a European.</page><page sequence="23">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 23 The systematisation of geographical knowledge in recent times has rendered possible a fairly clear-cut distinction between the various portions of the world. Of the continents, America, Africa, and Aus? tralasia are self-contained and sharply defined. This does not, how? ever, apply to the demarcation between Europe and Asia, which is clearly marked by nature only sporadically. To the north the division is an arbitrary one; it is not altogether wrong to define Europe as an irregular peninsula jutting out from the Asiatic mainland north and west of the Caspian Sea. Elsewhere the boundary is more clearly indicated, by the Mediterranean Sea and its inlets. One must not over? look the fact, though, that even in remote antiquity a well-navigated and charted sea, regularly traversed by shipping, was more in the nature of a bond of union between distant lands than an insurmount? able division. The isles of Greece were thus in far closer relationship with the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean than they were with, for example, the later Germany or France, or even Italy. In early Classical times, in fact, " Asia " was not applied to the entire continent, but simply to that inconsiderable area in Anatolia watered by the river Cayster, where the Ionian colonists first setded. The very name " Europe," far from having an intolerant and exclu? sive implication, deriving from an obvious geographical distinction, was of Asiatic?nay, of Palestinian?origin; for it was derived from a Semitic damsel of that name, daughter of a Phoenician king of Tyre, who was carried captive into Crete by Zeus. It is a point, I venture to think, worthy of Herr Hitler's attention! This, however, is by the way. The essential point to which I wish to call your attention is that what we term Civilisation?or, more strictly, " Western Civilisation "?is by no means a product of Europe alone. It is essentially a product of the Eastern Mediterranean and the adjacent lands. Draw a line from Otranto to Alexandria. West of that point the world produced almost nothing that matters in the history of mankind until shortly before the beginning of the Christian era?and not very much for some time after. East of that point the world had already given birth by then to more than one magnificent culture; and not on the European shores alone. From</page><page sequence="24">24 the challenge to jewish history as early as 3000 b.c. Egypt was producing in an unbroken sequence masterpieces of architecture and sculpture which are worthy of com? parison with, and in some instances are perhaps superior to, the pro? ductions of any age. It is purblind to imagine that subsequent Greek achievement in precisely these same arts was completely unaffected by the precedent; for a culture seldom withers away barren, and the parallels are in this case sometimes too striking to be due to mere coincidence. Recent excavations have shown us that Mesopotamian civilisation had already attained a very high level at the time when Abraham was born there, some 3500 years ago. The precise extent of its heritage to the Western world is difficult to trace, but it is certain that it includes something of our mathematics, a good part of our astronomy, and even factors so fundamental as the seven day week and our method of measuring time. And at this period Greek history had barely begun, and the rest of Europe was a barbaric waste. Nor is it proper that we should overlook the part that further Asia played in the advancement of mankind. We may leave aside the store of genius it has produced in the sphere of the spirit, with Confucius and Buddha, and confine ourselves to the material aspects which the Western world esteems so highly. Our mathematics?in particular, our arithmetic?derive from India. We owe the magnet, which has facilitated navigation, and the invention of paper, which alone has rendered possible the universal spread of education, to China ?that same China which anticipated the invention of the printing press and which knew of gunpowder, though it did not turn it to lethal purposes, centuries before Europe. It is absurd to consider that Western culture, even in its widest interpretation, has contributed all our amenities of life. Egypt and Mesopotamia, however, were the neighbours of our fathers when the Hebrews became a people. The first period of Jewish history was not enacted in a remote territory of the barbaric world. It was at a focal point of classical geography, where Europe and Asia and Africa met, where troops and diplomats and merchants were constantly passing backwards and forwards, bringing fruitful</page><page sequence="25">the challenge to jewish history 25 ideas in their train as well as more perishable commodities. It was not in ignorance of the pragmatic civilisation of the day, but in full consciousness of it, that our fathers proclaimed higher ideals for man? kind than physical excellence. That they did not insist on material achievement does not thus imply that they were uninterested in it. There is, indeed, a growing body of opinion which holds that the Hebrews were very closely associated with the enterprises and achieve? ments of the Phoenicians?including that colonising activity which first brought the seeds of civilised life to many parts of Western Europe. At this formative period, that civilisation subsequently associated more specifically with Europe knew no precise geographical bound? aries. Hellenic culture, to which the modern world owes so profound a debt, was not in the narrow sense of the term "European."' It was centred around; what we now term the Ionian Sea?but as much on the Asiatic as on the European shore. Of the seven cities which contest the honour of having given birth to Homer, Asiatic Smyrna and semi-Asiatic Chios are the most likely. It was in Asia that the Trojan War, the starting-point for continuous Greek history, was enacted. In the great days of Hellenic culture, the cities along the Phrygian coast were little less important, less cultured, and less beauti? ful than Athens or Thebes. The Greek islands, closer to the Asiatic than the European coast, gave birth to Sappho, Pythagoras, Timo creon, Hippocrates; Ephesus in Asia Minor to Heraclitus. Nor must it be forgotten that the preservation of Greek literature?and indeed of the priceless heritage of Greece as a whole?is largely due to the schools and teachers of the African city of Alexandria, in which the lamp of learning was religiously tended when in Greece proper it had become dimmed. The fact of interdependence is brought out strikingly from a detail which, if of little importance in itself, is nevertheless significant. One of the most remarkable, and perhaps the earliest, of records of con? tinuous European civilisation is the list of victors at the Olympic Games, which goes back without a break from the third century of the Christian era to the year 776 b.c.e., approximately a thousand years</page><page sequence="26">26 the challenge to jewish history before. We are indebted for this to the researches and industry of a writer who lived in the reign of the Emperor Elagabalus (218-222 c.e.). But this writer was not a Greek. He bore, indeed, a Roman name, Julius, but from his surname, Africanus, it is obvious that he originated in Africa. But where did he flourish? By a curious coincidence (it is, of course, no more), in Palestine. Here we have another diverting indication of the unity of Mediterranean civilisa? tion in Classical times, and of the integral role played in that civilisa? tion by the Holy Land and its inhabitants. Even later, in the heyday of the Roman Empire, when civilisation had at last made its great stride westward and Rome was the capital of the civilised world, there was still no cultural differentiation be? tween Europe and Asia. The Imperial City recruited its inhabitants from every part of the Empire; the Emperors were chosen with sublime indifference from every province; and those great thinkers who were in the fullest sense the Fathers of the Christian Church? Tertullian, Augustine, and so on?were Carthaginians, Alexandrians, Antiochians?almost everything, in fact, but " Europeans " in the narrow sense. When, therefore, the Greek or the Latin spoke of Asia, he thought of a convenient geographical distinction, not very sharply defined at that; he could not think in terms of a precise cultural differentiation, for it did not exist. And Europe comprised not only the highly cultured cities of Attica and Sicily, but also the vast extent north of the Balkans and the Alps, largely inhabited by Teutonic " bar? barians." There was thus no question of proceeding from a superior cultural environment to an inferior one when a man crossed from the European shore of the Bosporus to the Asiatic: it was per? haps an ascension, rather than a descent, that would have been in question. It is thus only in comparatively recent times that the idea of Europe as a cultural as well as a geographical entity has triumphed. Even so, it has never been possible to apply the distinction too strictly. There was a period, in the Middle Ages, when only two parts of the Western world were civilised in the fullest sense of the term. One was Spain;</page><page sequence="27">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 27 but Spain was occupied by an Asiatic people, speaking, writing and studying an Asiatic language. The other was the Byzantine Empire, where the traditions of ancient Hellas and Rome had persisted with? out serious interruption; but the heart of the Byzantine Empire was in the Asiatic rather than the European provinces. Nor could the differentiation be strictly applied even when the Moslems were driven out of Spain; for did not this coincide with the occupation of the eastern provinces of Europe by the Turks, who showed them? selves in many respects the equals or the superiors of the Western peoples? It is only during the past two decades, following the last Graeco-Turkish war, that the great interchanges of population have at last made it possible to draw a more or less clear-cut division in this part of the world, ethnically, religiously and politically (except for the Moslem enclaves in Thrace and Bosnia); though simultane? ously the occidentalisation of a great part of the Levant has obscured the difference. What we term " civilisation," then, had its origin not in Europe but in the Eastern basin of the Mediterranean. Hence the distinctive culture now associated with the Western world gradually extended. The Greek colonists were not the only pioneers; they were often preceded by the Phoenicians, who (as has been indicated above) are now held to have included in their number many of their Jewish neighbours. Afterwards came the great unifying genius of Rome, which spread Mediterranean culture as far as the Pillars of Hercules and beyond, though even now ideas flourished more in the Levant than in the new centres of material achievement. With the Middle Ages, century after century, the world's intellectual centre was Italy, where the city republics demonstrated that extent of territory and force of arms are not the fundamentals of human achievement. And Italy continued to lead the world until the discovery of America reduced the Mediterranean to the condition of a backwater, instead of being (as she had been since the beginning of history) the main? stream of the world's communications. At once the countries on the Atlantic seaboard came to the fore. London, Amsterdam and Ham? burg took the place of Venice and Genoa as the great entrepots of</page><page sequence="28">28 the challenge to jewish history trade. The world's commerce, the world's communications, the world's culture, were from now Oceanic, not Mediterranean; and the countries of northern Europe, with their offshoots oversea, hence? forth led mankind. In one respect the Jews were unique among the peoples who were present with them at the formative period of our civilisation in the Eastern Mediterranean so many centuries ago. The others were entirely dependent upon their political status and their association with their land. The Jews, by reason of their unique religious system, were independent of this. They were hence mobile and were carried with the tide of culture, thereby being enabled to contribute to it at every stage. As the centre of civilisation moved, the Jews moved with it. They contributed to the intellectual ferment in Alexandria at the beginning of the Christian era, when that city had almost sup? planted Athens as the centre of Greek life. They were present in Rome, not ineffectively, even before the Augustan Age. In the Dark Ages they were almost alone among laymen in preserving in Western Europe some notion of the amenities of life and letters. When Europe had forgotten the existence of Greek literature and science and thought, it was they who assisted the Arabs in preserving it. When the culture of the Western world was concentrated in Moslem Spain, they were there, playing a role of supreme (according to some authorities, decisive) importance; and they were working with Alfonso the Wise at Toledo when he desired to relieve the rude desolation of cultural life in his dominions and thus initiated the Golden Age of Spain. They collaborated so far as they were per? mitted in the Italian Revival of Learning in the fifteenth century, and more than in proportion to their numbers in the Revival of Science in the nineteenth. Thus, of all the groups at present associated with European culture, their association is not only the oldest but also the only one that has been continuous. Let us for the moment neglect the remote period, when the Greek culture was one only of the many that flourished in the Middle East, and come to that later age when Hellenism definitely took the lead. It was in the fourth century b.c.e., with the conquests of Alexander</page><page sequence="29">the challenge to jewish history 29 the Great, that Palestine definitely entered the orbit of the Greek world. Even the reaction under the Hasmonaeans was effective only in the spiritual sphere?the first great triumph scored for the principle of religious freedom. Culturally, for better or for worse, the eyes of Palestine henceforth looked towards the West. I have pointed out elsewhere how the country is divided off by a vast sea of desert from the Asiatic territory that surrounds it, united by a familiar and navigable sea to the countries which lie beyond it in the direction of the setting sun. One can hardly imagine any slight geographical change which could have affected mankind more?in the realm of religion and of ethics, of science and of enquiry?than a slight shifting of the sands of the desert, with the result that Palestine would have looked towards the East instead of towards the West. It is from Europe rather than from further Asia that the country has received its most potent influences, Europe rather than Asia that has been fertilised by its seminal religious and intellectual conceptions, to Europe rather than to Asia that it has sent its children as colonists. Precisely how ancient the Jewish settlement in Europe is it is difficult to say, but there is documentary evidence to prove that it goes back for over two thousand years. It is probable that the later Prophets envisaged the presence of enslaved compatriots in Greece when they spoke of the extension of the exile as far as the " isles of the sea." In various places, inscriptions have been found which date well before the beginning of the Christian era, and in 1 Maccabees, chapter xv, there is a remarkable list of presumed Jewish settlements all over the Eastern Mediterranean to which in the Hasmonaean period the consul Lucius sent letters of recommendation and safe? guard. It had been a little before this, in 161 b.c.e., that Judas Maccabaeus had first entered into formal relations with Rome. The historicity of this episode has been questioned, but (as it seems from the most recent researches) on insufficient grounds, and in any event the critics are able only to postpone, not to deny, the opening of relations with Rome by the Hasmonaean brothers. The names of these earliest</page><page sequence="30">30 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY ambassadors, as they are given us in the Apocrypha, were Eupolemus ben Johanan ben Accos and Jason ben Eleazar. Do not think lightly of this apparently dry and unimportant fact. These two are the earliest European Jews known to us by name, and the earliest Jews who are recorded to have travelled beyond the Eastern Mediterranean. They are hence the spiritual ancestors, as it were, of all of us here. And from the date of these pioneers, twenty-one hundred years ago, the record of the Jewish association with Western Europe is absolutely unbroken. And where were the other denizens of Western Europe at this time ? The amalgam that we term the English was not yet dreamed of?it was not to emerge for a thousand years. Much the same was true of Spain, where the presence of Jews is attested in some numbers as early as the first century (else why should St. Paul have meditated his missionary journey thither?). The ancestors of the Visigothic nobility were skin-clad savages in the frozen steppes of Central Russia. The Franks had not yet entered France, nor the inhabitants of Burgundaholm (Bornholm) wandered south from the Baltic Sea into Burgundy. As for the Germans, they were still the savages? not always noble?whom Tacitus described. It was in Gallic, not Teutonic, territory that the Romans established many years later that colony which was the origin of the present Cologne. Jews were prob? ably present in it almost from the beginning. By the fourth century they had a well-organised community, with its synagogue and its lay-readers and its rabbis. This is clear from that well-known edict of 321 of the Emperor Constantine regulating certain privileges en? joyed by the Jews of that city, in such terms as to make it plain that the congregation was by no means a newly established one. Nor is this the only, though it is the most striking, evidence which proves the existence of Jews in this region in Roman times. It was only 150 years after this edict of Constantine that the Germans first perman? ently crossed the Rhine and established themselves in the Roman province. It is a curious consideration that a stranger ignorant of Latin who visited Cologne in the fourth century might have had difficulty in finding any person to whom he could have spoken Ger</page><page sequence="31">the challenge to jewish history 31 man, but would certainly have been able to make himself understood in Hebrew. Whoever are the strangers on the Rhineland to-day, it is certainly not the Jews?the only representatives in it, perhaps, of its inhabitants of sixteen centuries ago. Far be it from me, or from any Jew, to speak of the Asiatic ethnic strain or of Asiatic culture with contempt. It may, however, be observed that, if one desires to isolate any Asiatic strain in European life, one should look rather to the Hungarians or to the Finns of to? day, whose ancestors a bare thousand years ago were wandering about the steppes of Central Asia?at a period when the Jews had already been represented in Europe for a thousand years, and for a thousand years more had been in the orbit of the European world. To quote a distinguished authority :8 " The Jewish carriers represent perhaps the most continuously civilized element in Europe. European Jewish thinkers in numbers were consciously developing Hellenic philosophy and discussing Plato and Aristotle, the Stoics and Plotinus, while the rest of Europe was, as yet, in its barbaric incoherent childhood. In a cultural sense the Jews were the first Europeans. In a racial sense?if, indeed, there be a Jewish race?the reader may be reminded that the Jews had settled in Western Europe before many of its most typical inhabitants had emerged from Asia and before others had crossed the Central European Plain or had traversed the North Sea to invade the West." The Jews are not merely European; they are in many respects quintessentially European. It was not only that they assimilated themselves to their environment and adopted its language; it was not only that they contributed powerfully to the various literatures; it was that they sometimes occupied, as it were, a strategic point, and thereby determined the battle. Let us bear in mind the fact that as long ago as the first century b.c.e., when Latin literature was despised in the best Roman circles, it was Caecilius of Calacte?one of the 8 Dr. and Mrs. Charles Singer in The Legacy of Israel.</page><page sequence="32">32 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY first European Jews known to us by name?who defended it, and that this same early pioneer stood out as champion of the pure Attic style of oratory against the verbose alien forms then beginning to gain ground. So, too, many centuries later, it was the Jewish trans? lators at the Court of Castile (to whom passing reference has been made above) who by their labours virtually created modern Spanish as a literary medium. It is highly significant that the Jew has retained something of his allegiance in this respect even when intolerance has driven him into exile. Until a generation or so ago, the whole of Jewry (with only a few exceptions), notwithstanding their changed environment, spoke one or the other of two Western European tongues. In the Moslem world, among neighbours familiar only with Arabic and Turkish, the Sephardim still clung to the medieval Spanish of their fathers. In Poland or in Russia, the Ash\enazim constituted a German speaking island surrounded by a Slavonic sea. Nor is this Europeani sation in matter of language a new thing. We may deplore, but we must none the less recognise, the fact that the use of Greek had begun to make enormous inroads in Jewish Palestine, even before the fall of Jerusalem. It is almost startling, to those of us who regard the revival of Hebrew as one of the most important achievements of the present rebirth, to see how fifteen centuries ago Palestinian Jews used the tongue of Hellas even for their tombstones and synagogal inscriptions. It has more than once been pointed out that, if a modern student re? quires specimens of the oldest French, he must have recourse to the Biblical glosses of the great medieval Jewish Biblical commentator, Rashi, and that the earliest specimen of the Apulian dialect was pre? served among a certain section of the Jews of Corfu. But one may go even farther. There are many features of Low Latin, as it was spoken in the later phase of the Roman Empire, which are now to be traced only in the Ladino of the Mediterranean basin and the Judaeo-Italian which still lingers on in Rome. The Jews, then, are a European people?more truly than are more than one of the peoples of the Western world. As a European people, moreover, they have been active for untold generations in every mani</page><page sequence="33">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 33 festation of Western cultural life. In a recent book I have dealt with this matter in detail. Here I can only call attention to the bare fact. The Jewish Scriptures were one of the great formative influences in almost every European tongue. Jews contributed in an outstanding manner to the intellectual ferment which reintroduced the classical disciplines to medieval Europe and brought about the Renaissance. Jews in the Middle Ages were prominent more than in proportion to their numbers as astronomers, physicians, scientists. They were instrumental in bringing Indian mathematics to the Arabic-speaking world in the first instance, and thence in the second instance to Latin Christendom, thereby sowing the seed of modern Europe's technical and scientific pre-eminence. Jewish map-makers and instrument makers facilitated the labours of the great explorers whose activity marked the close of the Middle Ages. Jews were collaborating in literary life in France, Spain, Germany, and Italy, as far back as the thirteenth century. Jews were prominent in Italy when that happy land was the centre of the Renaissance, playing their part in philoso? phical discussion, in the world of music, to a limited extent even in the world of art, and taking a really important share in the nascent drama. The last king of Portugal generously admitted how his coun? try was prepared to receive the influence of the Renaissance only through the presence of a large and cultured Jewish community, who led in scientific enquiry and (for example) set up a printing-press in the country?not for the production of Hebrew books only?seven years before any non-Jew thought it worth while to follow their example. It is true that religious intolerance limited, and in the end sup? pressed, this fruitful collaboration. With the decay of the walls of the Ghetto, however, it began again. In science and in chemistry, in medicine and in astronomy, in literature and in art, in criticism and in politics, in humanitarianism and in education, the share of Jews since then has been noteworthy in every land. They studied sedul? ously at the feet of non-Jewish scholars, and passed their learning on after them to non-Jewish disciples. Let us not exaggerate. There is no need to claim that the share of the Jew has been in any single D</page><page sequence="34">34 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY branch preponderant. But it has been a share worthy of study and of respect. It is no more possible, moreover, to isolate or to eradicate the Jewish contribution than the English or the French or the German one. But the Jews were more than collaborators in Western culture. It is not an exaggeration to include them among the pioneers. When in the Dark Ages Jewish traders penetrated through untold dangers to the barbarous lands of Northern Europe, bringing with them some of the amenities of life of the Mediterranean shores, they brought with them the spirit of European, or of Western, cultural life. When in the later Middle Ages Jewish settlers pushed eastward, into the dreary wastes of Poland and the Ukraine, they carried the germs of Western civilisation, and the little setdements which they set up were so many centres of humanisation. We are to-day induced to believe that the Polish Jews constitute an alien element, of retrograde cultural and political development, to be denied the natural rights of other Poles and to be thrust away into remote islands at the whim of their fellow-countrymen. On the contrary, they are one of the ethnic ele? ments settled in that country from time immemorial, no more alien than the descendants of the Normans in England to-day, and retro? grade only in that they fail to conform quite so readily as some of their neighbours to the dictates of the Machine Age. So, too, Jews have been in the forefront of European expansion overseas. It is a thrice-told story how the voyages of exploration at the close of the Middle Ages were dependent in large measure on Jewish maps, Jewish nautical instruments, and Jewish astronomical tables; how hardy Jewish travellers paved the way for, and skilled Jewish interpreters accompanied, Albuquerque and Vasco da Gama; how Columbus's expedition was patronised by Jews, financed by Jews, and in large measure manned by Jews; how it was a crypto-Jewish sailor who first sighted the New World, and the ex Jewish interpreter who first set foot on it. Jews were among those who were consulted by Amerigo Vespucci, and among the Conquis tadores who followed Cortez. The first great Asiatic physician of modern times was Garcia d'Orta, and the greatest Asiatic explorer of</page><page sequence="35">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 35 the sixteenth century was Pedro Texeira. It is significant that the first books printed by the European method both in Africa and in Asia were produced by Jews. Here are one or two illustrations only of what might be expanded to fill a whole volume. But, we are told, however long we Jews have been in Europe, it does not affect the fact of our ultimate Asiatic origin, and present (it seems a non-sequitur) Asiatic character. In considering this point, it must be borne in mind that the ethnic differentiation between the Jew and his neighbour is grossly exaggerated. The number of Jews in the Roman Empire has been estimated as high as 10,000,000, scat? tered from the Atlantic seaboard to the fringes of Parthia. In the Middle Ages the number dwindled to as few as 1,500,000. What was the reason for this diminution ? Massacre, famine, destitution, cannot entirely account for it. There was also slow assimilation by the en? vironment, accentuated by conversion to Christianity on what must have been, whatever the reason, an enormous scale. And throughout the Middle Ages, while the number of the Jews in the world remained stationary century after century, the process repeated itself. It was considered part of Christian duty to bring the Jews into the arms of the Church. There was continual attrition on the fringes?conversion from necessity, conversion from conviction, conversion from compul? sion. Forced baptisms by the score or hundred accompanied every pogrom, and sometimes attained impressionable proportions. In the Iberian Peninsula alone there were three attempts?once under the Visigoths, once under the Catholic sovereigns, once under Manoel of Portugal?to dragoon the whole of the Jewish community into Christianity. Though the experiments were not entirely successful, they nevertheless resulted in the merging of a vast number of Jews in the general body of the Spanish and Portuguese peoples. These are the most notorious of such cases, but the same took place in almost every other country. Even in England the Jewish converts to Chris? tianity were alleged in the thirteenth century to constitute a " prob? lem." No country, however, encouraged conversion from Judaism quite so sedulously as Germany?in the Middle Ages by force, later by the bait of social emancipation and admission to office. The Jewish</page><page sequence="36">36 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY strain in the German people must necessarily be stronger than even the most fanatical Nazi would be willing to recognise. What has been said thus far is universally recognised, though not perhaps universally appreciated. It is less generally realised, on the other hand, that the same process was repeated in the reverse direc? tion?that is to say, the infiltration of non-Jewish blood among the Jews. For that, too, has been continuous, though necessarily on a far smaller scale. Even in the darkest hour of Jewish history there were not wanting those who saw fresh spiritual potentialities in Judaism and threw in their lot with our faith. There is an unbroken record of these Proselytes of Righteousness?from the French Arch? deacon Bodo in the eighth century to the English Dominican Robert of Reading in the thirteenth and the Polish Count Potocki in the eighteenth. When the Crusaders massacred the Jews of Mayence in 1096, two proselytes are recorded by name among the victims, while over the period 1264?1341 ten proselytes figure in the Memorbuch of the Mayence Synagogue alone. In England, in 1190, it is said (though perhaps a textual error is responsible for this oft-repeated statement) that a whole community of proselytes was wiped out. Nor should we forget how Jurnet of Norwich at this same period found his wife out? side the Jewish community in a Christian heiress. It is not suggested that this process ever attained really considerable dimensions, in recent times at least (though in Imperial Rome, and in the Kingdom of the Chazars, the reverse was the case). But an infiltration of this sort, continuous over many centuries, must neces? sarily have qualified any purity of blood that may originally have existed. In the year 1000, it has been reckoned by a mathematician, we each had one billion ancestors?in other words, we are each of us to-day descended probably from every Jew who was in the world, or, at least, in the Western world, at that period and whose progeny still survive. Can there be any doubt that among these multifarious ancestors we all have one or more of these Proselytes of Righteousness of many centuries ago ? Hence, just as the blood of almost all Western Europeans must necessarily have been modified by the constant pro? cession of Jewish converts to Christianity, so we Jews must needs</page><page sequence="37">THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY 37 have in our veins some tincture at least of the blood of these Christian converts to Judaism.9 We Jews are sometimes informed that we have no right to com? plain of the application of the Racial Laws in Germany, as our whole history is an exposition of the racial principle. Israel Zangwill, twenty years ago, when the civilised world realised the danger of the Teu? tonic menace better than it does to-day, exposed the absurdity of the comparison in his brilliant lecture, Chosen Peoples. Indeed, the Prophet anticipated him many centuries before: " You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities "?in other words, our Choice implies not Privilege but Responsibility. The point I desire to make here, however, is the qualification of the racial principle which our ancestors admitted in their acceptance of proselytes as " children of Abraham our Father." It is in that sense, as the spiritual progeny of the Patriarchs?not merely their physical descendants?that we Jews have our ethnic unity. And the strangers that have chosen to integrate themselves with us have been admitted without reservation and without ques? tion. The Rabbis pointed out that the grandchild of a proselyte might become High Priest. And in the Middle Ages Maimonides expressed in a notable private letter the Jewish attitude to the stranger who has attached himself to the Jewish people. " A man who left father and mother, forsook his birthplace, his country and its power, and attached himself to this lowly, despised, and enslaved race, who recognised the truth and righteousness of this people's Law, and cast the things of this world from his heart ?shall such a one be called ' fool' ? God forbid! Not witless but wise hath God called thy name, thou disciple of Abraham our Father, who also left his father and his kindred and inclined God 9 In the light of all this, one begins to understand why ethnologists are agreed that while Jewish types may exist, there is no such thing as a Jewish type: why the so called ' Jewish ' physical characteristics are more common among the general popula? tion of Munich (for example) than in any category of the Jews in Germany: and why the classical Greek type of face is seldom found to-day in its perfection except among a certain branch of Mediterranean Jews.</page><page sequence="38">38 THE CHALLENGE TO JEWISH HISTORY wards. And He who blessed Abraham will bless thee, and will make thee worthy to behold all the consolations destined for Israel, and in all the good that God shall do unto us He will do good unto thee. . . There is in this noble passage of the great luminary of medieval Judaism nothing of the spirit of the Nuremberg laws and their Aryan absurdities?an outrage against every law of heaven as well as against every convention of man. One word only more. In maintaining as I do that the Jew is essen? tially a child of the Western world and of Western civilisation, I am thinking of that civilisation which our fathers knew and cherished ?the civilisation represented by Dante and Shakespeare, by Gladstone and Lincoln, by Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt van Rijn, by John Wycliffe and St. Francis of Assisi. But there is another voice to-day, which claims that it expresses that which is noblest, and which is essential, in European life; a voice which glorifies war, which derides the rights of the weak, which has elevated race into a religious principle demanding sacrifices yet more harrowing than those offered up before Moloch of old. If (God forbid!) this is, as it maintains, the true Europe, then we Jews are no sons of the Western world. If this is the true Europe, we can only look forward to another age of darkness, during which we will have to sanctify the name of God in our Ghettoes and suffer a new succession of indignity and oppression, nevertheless cherishing the spark of divine truth that maintained our fathers in their hour of trial. If this is the true Europe, it is for us to take our stand, now as never before, on Sinai.</page></plain_text>

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