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The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project 1900-48

Rory Miller

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies, volume 43, 2011 The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48* RORY MILLER In a 1961 letter, Arthur Lourie, the veteran Zionist and at the time Israel's ambassador in London, noted that CI am well aware of the significant role which Irish Jewry has always played in the history of Zionism'.1 What Lourie then took for granted is, however, little known or appreciated now. The most recent major books dealing with the history of Irish Jewry, writ? ten by two of Ireland's leading academics - Dermot Keogh's Jews in Twentieth Century Ireland and Cormac O Grk&amp;iL s Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce2 ? barely address the significance of Zionism to Irish Jewish life. Even the Israeli academic Shulamit Eliash's The Harp and Shield of David: Ireland, Zionism and the State of Israel,3 focuses on high-level diplomacy between Irish political and religious leaders and their Zionist/Israeli coun? terparts, rather than on the everyday Zionist efforts inside the small community. On one level this is understandable. By the time that an organized Zionist movement had come to fruition in Eastern Europe in the 1890s, the Irish Jewish community was an outpost far removed from the centre of Jewish life. It was numerically insignificant, with no more than a thousand Jews in the country in 1891, and Dublin had long lost its mid-seventeenth-century status as the only city in the British Isles outside London with a Jewish community of any note.4 Over the next thirty-five years Ireland absorbed * I am grateful to the late Raphael Ziev, the archivist and head of the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin, for permission to use the Museum's archives, and for his help in enabling me to access them during a sabbatical in Dublin in the first half of 2007. 1 Dublin Jewish Museum Archive (hereafter DJMA), Box 1, letter from His Excellency Arthur Lourie on the occasion of the Inauguration of the Jewish National Fund, Dublin Commission, Barmitzvah Forest, 14 May 1961. 2 D. ?Ltogh,Jews in Twentieth Century Ireland: Refugees, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust (Cork 1998); C. O Grada, Jewish Ireland in the Age of Joyce: A Socioeconomic History (Princeton, NJ, 2006). 3 S. Eliash, The Harp and Shield of David: Ireland, Zionism and the State of Israel (London and New York 2007). 4 C. Roth, History of the Jews in England (Oxford 1941) 185-6. See also A. Hyamson, The Sephardim of England: A History of the Spanish and Portuguese Community, 1492-1951 (London 195075-6. 189</page><page sequence="2">Rory Miller only about 0.15 per cent of the pre-1914 Jewish exodus from Eastern Europe, and on the eve of the First World War there were no more than 3000 Jews in Dublin, compared to 11,000 in Liverpool, 30,000 in Manchester and 180,000 in London.5 Thus, the only encounter that most people will have had with Jews in Ireland in this early period of the twentieth century will have been through their reading of James Joyce's novel Ulysses, which follows his fictional creation Leopold Bloom through Dublin city on one day in June 1904. The same is true regarding Irish Jewry and their involvement with the nascent Zionist movement, as Bloom, in the course of his wanderings, dropped into Moses Dlugacz's butcher shop and picked up a Zionist flyer promoting a model farm at Kinnereth on the lakeshore of Tiberias and an advertisement for orange groves and melon fields north of Jaffa. It is interesting that Joyce chose to name the owner of the butcher shop Moses Dlugacz, since he is the only shopkeeper mentioned who was not a real person listed in the 1905 Dublin business directory. Yet it was the real name of a well-known Jewish intellectual and devoted Zionist and Jewish Agency representative in Trieste, where Joyce had lived between 1904 and 1915.6 Bloom, the baptized son of a Hungarian Jewish father and an Irish Protestant mother, had, as O Gr?da rightly notes, little in common in terms of religious upbringing and practice with the conservative and traditional Jews who made up the Irish community of the period. Nor did he share this community's devotion to the Zionist project. As the scholar Ruth Wisse has noted, though Ulysses is set three weeks before the death of the founder of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, at a time when the Zionist movement was already fully active, Joyce's Bloom had more in common with the stereotyp? ical cosmopolitan Jew, the 'accursed wanderer',7 than a proud son of Zion dedicated to reclaiming the Land of Israel. The foundations of Zionism in Irish Jewry It was the latter, rather than the former, who was to be found among Ireland's Jews in this period. The German-born Immanuel Jakobovits, later the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, who had become Ireland's Chief Rabbi in 1949, recalled in his memoirs that on 5 ? Grada (see n. 2) 10-12. 6 See L. Hyman, The Jews of Ireland: From Earliest Times to the Year igio (London and Jerusalem 1972) 185. 7 R. R. Wisse, The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey through Language and Culture (New York and London 2000) 245-6. 8 I. Jakobovits,i If Only My People'. . . Zionism in My Life (London 1984) 11-12. 190</page><page sequence="3">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 taking up his post in Dublin he found a 'Zionist stronghold', in which the Jewish community lived in an 'intensely Zionist atmosphere'.8 The genesis of this 'stronghold' can be traced back to the early 1890s when Zionist asso? ciations and a branch of Chovevei Zion (Lovers of Zion), the proto-Zionist group founded in Odessa by Y. L. Pinkser early in the 1880s, were estab? lished in Dublin. Within two years the Dublin Chovevei Zion was one of the stronger and more active in the British Isles, with 175 members. In 1893 the body passed a resolution expressing the hope that 'the seed of Israel shall be gathered from the four corners of Earth and planted once more in the Land of our Fathers, to build up Israel a nation once more'. As Louis Hyman noted, the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem hold 40 items on the Chovevei Zion in Dublin in the period from 10 August 1890 to 7 August 1894; 12 items from Cork in the period from 3 September 1893 t0 11 April 1895; and 8 items from Belfast in the period between 28 December 1897 and 9 June 1898. This material includes reports, balance-sheets, manuscripts and letters between Irish branches and the London headquar? ters of the organization.9 In 1893 a number of members of the Dublin Chovevei Zion, frustrated by their belief that the London headquarters was making too slow progress in purchasing land for settlement in Palestine, formed a separate organiza? tion within the parent body, called the Brotherhood of Israel Association, for the purpose of buying land in Palestine. Ten thousand dunams of land (there are 4 dunams per acre) were bought by forty Dublin families, each of whom paid an initial sum of ?5 and a weekly subscription until the land was fully owned by the group.10 One of the founders of this splinter group, Joseph Solomon Rubinstein, visited Palestine in 1895 and reported that those who had already settled had 'transformed a miserable desert into a living paradise'. However, hopes of following them to this 'living paradise' were dashed when, in 1898, the local Ottoman governor evicted Jews from the area.11 During the same period, branches of the Zionist association and Chovevei Zion were established in Cork, Belfast and Limerick. Even in these early years, Cork's Jews took seriously events in the wider Zionist world, and their own role, however marginal, in the evolution of the move? ment. For example, in 1897 they vigorously debated whether Theodore Herzl or his lieutenant Max Nordau should represent Cork at the historic First Zionist Congress in Basle. The choice fell on Herzl.12 9 Hyman (see n. 6) 193. 10 Ibid. 194. 11 Ibid. 194-5. 12 G. Wigoder, 'Making the connection', Israel and Ireland Supplement, Irish Times (hereafter IT) 23 June 1998, p. 3. i9i</page><page sequence="4">Rory Miller In 1900 the Dublin Daughters of Zion (DDZ) was founded by Mrs Esther Barron and Miss Tilly Berman, the earliest female Zionist society to be established in the British Isles. A sister body was founded in Belfast in 1902 by Miss Rebecca Cohen, and in 1920 the DDZ became a founding affiliate member of the Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO), set up by the leading British Zionist Rebecca Sieff. To put this into perspective, it was not until February 1912 that Henrietta Szold convened the first meeting of the American Daughters of Zion, the first women's Zionist group in the United States. Over the next fifty years, until the establishment of Israel, the DDZ thrived, but this did little to satisfy the group's devoted leadership. In its annual report for 1947 the DDZ executive urged the women of Dublin Jewry 'to make greater sacrifices ... to increase our contributions',13 even though their highly visible fundraising efforts were already successful. In 1947 a concert organized by them raised enough money to pay for the building of a school in Nahalal in Palestine, and the following year, a 'record one',14 saw the holding of a well-publicized Grand Bazaar in the Mansion House in Dublin (the official residence of the city's Lord Mayor) that raised a notable amount for the relief and rehabilitation in Palestine of women and children from Europe. Nor was the DDZ leadership content with the size of its membership. Their annual report for 1949 recorded that the number of members 'was not sufficient in comparison with the growth of the Dublin Jewish community within recent years',15 this despite the fact that by 1948, 450 of the 1200 adult women of the Dublin Jewish community were paid up members of the DDZ - more than 30 per cent of the total in the city.16 Writing on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the DDZ, Rose Leventhal, who had been the founding president of the group in 1900, explained how the DDZ was a response to the 'spark of Jewish nationalism, awakened by Dr Herzl that resulted in the first Zionist Congress exactly 60 years ago'.17 This 'spark of Jewish nationalism' was also evident in the numerous other Zionist bodies established in these years. Irish Jews sympa? thetic to religious Zionism could join the Mizrachi Federation of Eire. Young socialists could join the Dublin branch of the socialist Zionist youth group, Habonim, while their less politicized peers could join the Juvenile Zionist Association of Dublin, and their older siblings could join the Dublin Young Man's Zionist Association or the Irish University Zionist 13 DJMA, Box 30, Dublin Daughters of Zion, 47th Annual Report, Sept. 1947, p. 3. 14 DJMA, Box 31, Dublin Daughters of Zion, 48th Annual Report, Sept. 1948, p. 2. 15 DJMA, Box 31, Dublin Daughters of Zion, 49th Annual Report, Sept. 1949, p. 3. 16 Ibid. Minutes of Special Meeting of Irish Women's Zionist groups, Dublin, 5 Dec. 1948. 17 Ibid, letter from Rose Leventhal on the DDZ's 60th anniversary, 24 Oct. i960. 192</page><page sequence="5">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 Association. The last was founded by Philip Wigoder, later a well-known leader of provincial Zionism in England during the 1940s. At the other end of the political spectrum, those who from the mid-1930s supported the Revisionist Zionism of Ze'ev Jabotinsky could enlist in the New Zionist Organization of Ireland. Robert Briscoe, arguably the most famous Jewish Irishman other than the fictional Bloom, was a founding member of this group. He had played a significant role in the Irish republi? can struggle against the British before 1920 and became a founding member of the Republican Fianna Fail political party and the Irish parliament, D?il Eireann, where he sat for three decades before concluding a long career of public service as Lord Mayor of Dublin in the 1950s.18 In the period prior to the establishment of Israel, Briscoe was a commit? ted supporter of Jabotinsky, who visited Dublin as Briscoe's guest in 1938, with Eliyahu Ben Horin of the presidium of the New Zionist Organization (NZO).19 Briscoe sat on the NZO World Executive and represented Jabotinsky on missions to Poland, South Africa and the United States, where it was hoped that his experience and success in raising funds and arms for the Irish cause against British rule could be replicated on behalf of the Revisionist movement. In particular, Jabotinsky wanted Briscoe to explain the NZO position to the American administration and other prominent groups of American non-Jews, and felt that this would 'be of the greatest importance'.20 Briscoe travelled to the US on behalf of the NZO in 1939 and had a series of meet? ings with members of the Near Eastern Division of the State Department. The mission did little to improve the standing of the NZO in Washington, but attracted the attention of the Irish security services, with a G2 (Irish military intelligence) report of the early 1940s noting how 'Briscoe holds a high place in the councils of international Jewry ... a member of the . . . supreme body of the New Zionist Organization'.21 A less celebrated Irish Jew who took an even more active part in an still more militant wing of the Zionist movement was Monte Harris. He joined the radical underground Irgun Tzvai Leumi (known as the Irgun) as a young man and was sentenced to seven years in jail by a British court in Palestine for possessing explosives. He became a founding member of Herut, the major right-wing political party in Israel from independence in 1948 until its merger with Likud forty years later. On returning to live in Ireland, Harris became a successful greengrocer as well as chairman of 18 See R. Briscoe, For the Life of Me (Boston, MA, and Toronto 1958). 19 Eliash (see n. 3) 38-40. 20 See C. Rosenblum, 'The New Zionist Organization's American Campaign, 1936-1939', Studies in Zionism XII 2 (1991) 182. 21 Cited in Keogh (see n. 2) 157. 193</page><page sequence="6">Rory Miller Dublin Herut, receiving the Irgun medal from the Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1979.22 The Jewish National Fund, Dublin Commission Some of these Irish Zionist bodies (such as the DDZ) were more influential and significant than others. In terms of its practical contribution up to 1948 the most important was the Jewish National Fund, Dublin Commission (hereafter, Dublin JNF). The idea of a body tasked with the purchase of land in Palestine to be held in trust for the Jewish people in perpetuity was first proposed by Professor Herman Schapiro at the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897. By the time the State of Israel was born in May 1948, the JNF (which had grown out of Schapiro's original idea) could claim to have purchased 51 per cent of all Jewish-owned property in Palestine since its founding in 1901.23 During its first two decades one would have been hard-pressed to predict the scale of its ultimate contribution to the Zionist endeavour up to 1948. In these years the JNF lacked a coherent land-purchase policy and was discouraged by laws that restricted the purchase of land in Ottoman controlled Palestine. By 1920, for example, it had purchased only 22,000 dunams of land in Palestine, a meagre 6 per cent of total Jewish-owned agri? cultural land in the country at the time. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 and the beginning of almost three decades of British rule in Palestine, the Zionist leadership decided to reinvigorate JNF fundraising across the Jewish world in order to purchase land in key urban areas such as the port city of Haifa. During the 1920s it was also decided to streamline the JNF's purchasing policy, antici? pating future Jewish demand for land in both urban and rural areas in a way beneficial to Zionist political and strategic priorities. This necessitated a more professional, proactive and large-scale fundraising programme across the Diaspora; it is no coincidence that detailed hand-written records of the minutes of Dublin JNF meetings and of the group's fund-raising activities began in 1926. Yet as far back as the early 1870s, the Jewish community of Dublin raised funds to alleviate the suffering and hardship of coreligionists living in Palestine. In 1874, for example, the notable sum of ?95 was raised for the Holy Land Relief Fund, before any money at all had been raised in London for the same cause.24 Not surprisingly, then, support for the JNF 22 Jewish Chronicle (hereafter JC) 14 Oct. 1988, p. 14. 23 Y. Katz, The Battle for the Land: The History of the Jewish National Fund (KKL) before the Establishment of the State of Israel (Jerusalem 2005) xvii. 24 Hyman (see n. 6) 193. i94</page><page sequence="7">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 was strong from its birth in 1900. Max Nurock, a Dublin-born and educated Jew who later became Israel's ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, remembered how, growing up in Dublin in the early 1900s, 'within their limited means the Jews were most generous to the Zionist emissaries who were received with great warmth'.25 Support for the JNF continued over subsequent decades. In October 1931 a high-level JNF delegation from London and Jerusalem was greeted in Dublin with a function attended by 250 people, including the Lord Mayor of Dublin, and presided over by Ireland's Chief Rabbi, Isaac Herzog. The delegation held meetings with communal leaders and senior officials from Dublin JNF and the DDZ, which they found to be 'a very good organization . . . [who] work very well for the national fund'.26 They also had tea with the Governor-General, the representative of the British monarch in Ireland, and met W. T. Cosgrave, the president of the Irish Free State. The visit ended with a farewell party attended by more than 300 members of the community. From the mid-i930s, Dublin JNF developed into a significant branch of the worldwide JNF. The rise and extension of Nazi influence across much of Europe, followed by the outbreak of war, meant that those Jewish communities which had previously been the major contributors to the JNF, primarily the 7 million mostly Yiddish-speaking Jews of Eastern Europe (almost 3 million in Poland, 2.5 million in Russia, 1 million in Romania and the rest in Lithuania, Latvia and Carpatho-Russia) could no longer provide funds for the purchase of land in Palestine. This was a major blow to the JNF: the centrality of these communities to both the Zionist project and the wider Jewish world was expressed in 1941 by the historian and Zionist, Lewis Namier, who described these people as the 'Glacier of Jewry', compared to the Jews of Western and Central Europe who were 'the fringes of the glacier from which no river can spring and by which one must not judge the nature and future of the glacier itself'.27 Nevertheless, it was now the 'fringes of the glacier' ? those Jewish communities fortunate enough to have escaped the Nazi menace in North America, England, Ireland, South Africa and Latin America - which had the responsibility to make up for this loss of revenue. By 1940, for example, the JNF had decided to raise funds in cooperation with private capital in England and Ireland rather than Eastern Europe, where the Nazi conquest 25 See 'Reminiscences of Ireland before World War One: Louis Wigoder, Geoffrey Wigoder, Max Nurock, Larry Elyan', 28 May 1972, Project (in) 1, The Jews of Great Britain and Ireland, Oral History Project, Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 22-3. 26 DJMA, Box 29, L. Jaffe to the Keren Hayesod head office, Jerusalem, 18 Nov. 1931. 27 L. Namier, 'The Jews', Nineteenth Century CXXX 777 (Nov. 1941) 270-77. i95</page><page sequence="8">Rory Miller and war made it impossible to implement the plan.28 Dublin JNF rose to the challenge. In 1938 its income was ?336, but it raised ?576 in 1939, ?667 in 1940, ?790 in 1941, ?700 (over 9 months) in 1942, ?2915 in 1943, ?4540 in 1944, ?6786 in 1945, ?6856 in 1946, ?7200 in 1947 and ?8300 in 1948.29 These funds were remitted to London every month and, as the secretary of the Dublin branch informed the London head office in 1943, 'no money was held unnecessarily in Dublin'.30 During that same year Victor Waddington, president of the Dublin JNF, put forward a resolution, seconded by all the subsequent speakers, that 'we pledge ourselves to raise the sum of ?10,000 within the next three years'.31 It is these ambitious targets at a time of war that underline the growing importance of the Dublin branch of the JNF. This was evidenced by regu? lar visits during the war from senior JNF officials, such as the organiza? tion's general secretary, Maurice Rosette.32 It can also be seen in the letter received by Dublin JNF from Chaim Weizmann in 1943, thanking the all volunteer Dublin branch for its efforts. In 1944 the JNF Dublin Com? mission initiated fundraising to purchase land in Palestine on the occasion of Weizmann's seventieth birthday;33 and in 1945 JNF headquarters decided to establish a permanent office with full-time employees in Dublin.34 What is impressive about the fundraising achievements of Dublin JNF (as well as other groups like the DDZ) is the fact that there were no Jewish financiers or industrial grandees among Ireland's Jews. The whole commu? nity rather than a few wealthy donors were mobilized, posing a major chal? lenge to the JNF's workers and reflecting the view (in the words of the body's annual report for 1943), that 'No [Irish] Jew can afford to stand aloof from our effort to redeem the land of Israel for our People'.35 By mid-1941 there was general agreement among leaders of the Dublin JNF that in order to mobilize the entire community 'greater propaganda' was essential.36 This explains the group's 1943 decision to sponsor a 28 Katz (see n. 23) 239. 29 DJMA, Box 31, 'Income of Dublin JNF Commission during Recent Years', in JNF, Dublin Commission Annual Report and Balance Sheet of JNF, Dublin Commission, 1948, p. 3. 30 DJMA, Box 12, minutes of JNF, Dublin Commission meeting, 9 March 1943. 31 DJMA, Box 31, JNF, Dublin Commission, Annual Report and Balance Sheet, 1943, p. 2. 32 See DJMA, Box 12, minutes of special JNF, Dublin Commission meeting, 4 May 1941; minutes of JNF, Dublin Commission meeting, 1 June 1942; minutes of JNF, Dublin Commission meeting, 4 April 1943; minutes of JNF, Dublin Commission meeting, 7 June 1948. 33 Ibid, minutes of JNF, Dublin Commission meeting, 6 Dec. 1943. See DJMA, Box 31, JNF, Dublin Commission, Annual Report and Balance Sheet, 1945, p. 2. 34 DJMA, Box 31, JNF, Dublin Commission, Annual Report and Balance Sheet, 1946, p. 4. 35 \b\d.JNF, Dublin Commission, Annual Report and Balance Sheet, 1943, p. 3. 36 DJMA, Box 12, minutes of JNF, Dublin Commission meeting, 26 May 1941. 196</page><page sequence="9">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 magazine intended at first to be published every two months, entitled Nachlath Dublin.31 This magazine was, according to the chairman of Dublin JNF at that time, 'the realization of its ideal ? an informed opinion on Zionism in Dublin'.38 By 1946, the view was that Nachlat Dublin 'has created quite a lot of interest outside this country',39 and at Dublin JNF's annual general meeting of December 1947 it was noted that the magazine 'had done more to make the Community Zionist conscious than any other activity of the Commission'.40 Summing up the efforts of Dublin JNF over the preceding years, the body's 1946 annual report noted that during the war 'this Community has become more and more conscious of the impor? tance of the JNF and its place in redeeming the soil of Palestine. In general, the support of the Community has been good.'41 Dublin JNF continued its fundraising activities in the crucial years between 1945 and the establishment of Israel in May 1948. This was espe? cially so in the period following the November 1947 United Nation's deci? sion to partition Palestine into two independent states, one Jewish, the other Arab. In response to this new political reality, the JNF had to focus on purchasing land in areas assigned to the Jewish state by the United Nations, as well as in areas adjacent to land already owned by the JNF in territory included in a future Arab state. Dublin JNF rose to this challenge by raising a record ?8300 in 1948, which was channelled into, among other projects, the establishment of a kibbutz, Be'eroth Yizchak, in the Negev, on lands redeemed with money from Dublin.42 Writing in 1945, A. J. Leventhal, a well-known Irish Jewish intellectual and writer, summed up this communal support: 'The rich from their surplus, the middle class from their savings, the poor through further self deprivation, poured their money into the common chest to aid the national effort'.43 In 1948 the JNF head office in London, though less exuberant in its language, made the same point when it 'praised Dublin's good name in connection with Zionist work'.44 An emergency Joint Palestine Appeal QPA) was also launched in 1948, which took precedence over nominal JNF fundraising, as the JNF was a constituent organization of the JPA. This appeal focused on raising funds to 37 Ibid, minutes of JNF, Dublin Commission meeting, 28 June 1943. 38 DJMA, Box 31, JNF, Dublin Commission, Annual Report and Balance Sheet, 1943, p. 4. 39 Ibid. JNF, Dublin Commission, Annual Report and Balance Sheet, 1946, p. 4. 40 DJMA, Box 12, minutes of JNF, Dublin Commission, Annual General Meeting, 7 Dec. 1947. 41 DJMA, Box 31, JNF, Dublin Commission, Annual Report and Balance Sheet, 1946, p.2 42 Ibid. JNF, Dublin Commission, Annual Report and Balance Sheet, 1948, p.5 43 A. J. Leventhal, 'What it means to be a Jew', The BellX^ (June 1945) 212-14. 44 DJMA, Box 12, minutes of JNF, Dublin Commission meeting, 3 May 1948. See ibid., Box 31, Joint Palestine Appeal (hereafter JPA) letter, 'Urgent Appeal from Israel' to Dublin Jewish Community, n.d. [1949]; ibid., Chairman's Report, JPA, 1950. 197</page><page sequence="10">Rory Miller ameliorate the 'deprivations' faced by Palestine's Jews and to support the 'flood of immigrants' into the country. In response the community raised a further ?9000 between June and December 1950, despite the fact that the Irish economy was facing a downturn in this period. The entire sum was raised by direct contributions, the largest individual donation being ?500 by Morris Ellis, the JPA president. This figure was matched by the Jewish representative Council of Eire, which donated ?500 out of community coffers. Thus, following a visit to Dublin in 1950, Michael Comay of the Israeli Foreign ministry wrote to the JPA to congratulate it for being 'a community with so fine a record of service to the Jewish National Cause'.45 Notable as this was, the Irish contribution to the JNF prior to 1948 extended beyond fundraising. One of the senior officials in the worldwide JNF organization was the Irish-born Reverend Bernard Cherrick. He emigrated to Palestine in 1947, and in 1968, after two decades of service to the institution as a fundraiser and the head of its public relations department, was appointed vice-president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. On his death in 1988 this 'great son of Erin', as he was described in one obituary, was honoured with a centre on Jewish history in his name at the Hebrew University - the Cherrick Centre for the Study of Zionism, the Yishuv and the State of Israel. This was built with contributions raised by the worldwide Friends of the Hebrew University, including the Irish Friends group.46 Another dedicated member of Dublin JNF in the 1940s, who was also well known for his work on behalf of the World Zionist Organization, was Jacob Weingreen, along with his wife Bertha. The author of a renowned Hebrew Grammar and a professor at Trinity College, Dublin (where the Weingreen Museum is named in his honour), he travelled across Europe in the immediate post-1945 era as a JNF ambassador and a lecturer on Zionism. He had the unenviable job of heading educational planning at Belsen concentration camp following its liberation.47 The notable contributions of men like Cherrick and Weingreen, as well as the financial support of Dublin Jewry as a whole, was motivated by an all pervasive awareness that the Irish community had not only been spared the horrific experience of the Jews of continental Europe, but had avoided the suffering and harsh conditions of coreligionists in Palestine working for the establishment of a state. As Walter White, a senior figure in Dublin JNF in the 1940s, put it at the time: 'few of us have suffered anything like the sacri 45 DJMA, Box 31, letter of Michael Comay, Israeli Foreign Ministry, to Executive of Dublin JPA, 14 June 1950. 46 DJMA, Box 21, Report on Irish Friends of Hebrew University fund-raising appeal for the Bernard Cherrick memorial, 9 Jan. 1990. 47 See Zionist Review (hereafter ZR) 28 Sept. 1945, p. 7; Irish Jewish Yearbook, 1994-1995 (Dublin 1996) 59-60; IT, 3 April 1999, p. 9. ig8</page><page sequence="11">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 flees of the people of Israel, both before and after entry into Israel, and the only way we can show our solidarity with them is through our pockets'.48 The political Zionism of Irish Jews The Zionist consciousness of Dublin Jews was apparent not solely in their contributions of time and money to the JNF, but in every aspect of commu? nal life. Political Zionist consciousness supported, through political action, the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home with its own language, government and army. At no stage in this period was there any organized support for the spiritual Zionism put forward by Asher Zevi Ginsberg (Ahad Ha'am), which emphasized the need for a Jewish spiritual, rather than political, rebirth in Palestine. Nor was there any support or sympathy for the idea of territorialism, which argued that although Jews needed to gain their own autonomy in order to improve their physical and psychological condition, that goal could be pursued in any territory and did not need to focus on reclaiming the historic Jewish homeland of Palestine. The most famous early proponent of this idea was the Anglo-Jewish liter? ary figure Israel Zangwill, whose reputation was as large among Irish Jews as it was in Anglo-Jewry at the beginning of the twentieth century. Yet his promotion of territorialism had few takers inside Irish Jewry. Indeed, in 1903 Zionists in Cork convened an emergency meeting that voted to send an urgent telegram to the Sixth Zionist Congress, then taking place, because to their consternation Zangwill, who had been chosen to represent Cork at the Congress, had led the fight against prioritizing settlement in Palestine and instead called for the Zionist movement to accept the British offer to settle Jews in Uganda, East Africa.49 This devotion to a programme that looked to achieve a Jewish national rebirth in Palestine, over and above all other kinds of Zionist endeavour, can be seen in the community's response to the publication of the Balfour Declaration in November 1917, calling for the 'establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people' and pledging that the United Kingdom would 'use its best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine'.50 48 DJMA, Box 31, Chairman's Report, JPA, 1950; letter of Michael Comay, Israeli Foreign Ministry, to Executive of Dublin JPA, 14 June 1950. 49 See D. Vital, 'The Afflictions of the Jews and the Afflictions of Zionism: The Meaning and Consequences of the "Uganda" Controversy', in Jehuda Reinharz and Anita Shapira (eds) Essential Papers on Zionism (London 1996) 119-32. 50 For the Balfour Declaration see D. Vital, Zionism: The Crucial Phase (Oxford 1987) 280-93. 199</page><page sequence="12">Rory Miller The Irish Jewish community celebrated this event and, as A. J. Leventhal later recalled, the period following the announcement of the Balfour Declaration 'were proud days for the Jew'.51 The Dublin Board of Guard? ians, the body which continues to provide support to financially troubled members of the community, and the Dublin Jewish Young Ladies Association were among the 125 earliest organizations anywhere to pass reso? lutions welcoming the Balfour Declaration. Delegates from the Irish Jewish Community, including representatives from Waterford, Derry, Lurgan, Belfast, Cork, Limerick and Dublin, attended the London Opera House meeting in December 1917, held to celebrate the Balfour Declaration.52 Leading members of the Irish Jewish community were also among the more outspoken supporters of the Balfour Declaration at meetings of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, on which representatives of Irish syna? gogues sat until 1948. For example, Elsley Zeitlin from Dublin proposed the resolution passed in the wake of the Balfour Declaration that condemned the efforts of anti-Zionist Jews to oppose the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine.53 Back in Dublin, the whole community mobilized when the League of British Jews distributed anti-Zionist literature there. The League, estab? lished in 1917 by eminent members of Anglo-Jewry, including the journal? ist and diplomat Lucien Wolf and Claude G. Montefiore, the patrician theologian and father of Liberal Judaism in Britain, vehemently opposed political Zionist aspirations on the grounds that emancipation not national? ism provided a 'universally valid panacea for the contemporary Jewish condition'.54 The League existed from 1917 until 1930, though its member? ship fluctuated between 400 and 1300 over this period. It published a jour? nal, Jewish Opinion (later The Jewish Guardian), as well as regular pamphlets written by its members, including Laurie Magnus's The Need for a League in 1917 and Old Lamps for New: An Apologia for the League of British Jews, the following year.55 In response to the League's attempts at infiltration, a 'Mass Meeting of Dublin Jewry' was convened to show the community's solidarity with the Zionist cause. At this meeting, which was sponsored by various Irish Zionist groups including the DDZ and the Order of Ancient Maccabaeans (Mount Carmel Beacon No. 10), two resolutions were adopted. The first 51 Leventhal (see n. 43) 213. 52 Z#,8Dec. ioi7,p. 168. 53 S. Cohen, 'Ideological Components in Anglo-Jewish Opposition to Zionism before and during the First World War: A Restatement', Trans JHSE XXX (1987-88) 149-62. 54 G. Shimoni, 'From Anti-Zionists to Non-Zionists in Anglo-Jewry, 1917-1937', Jewish Journal of Sociology XXVIII1 (June 1986) 23. 55 See also S. Cohen, English Zionists and British Jews: The Communal Politics of Anglo-Jewry, 1895-1920 (Princeton, NJ, 1982). 200</page><page sequence="13">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 stated that 'this mass meeting of Jews being unanimously in favour of the reconstitution of Palestine as the National Home of the Jewish People trusts that HMG will use its best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this objective'. The second pledged to 'support the Zionist leaders in their efforts towards the realization of the Zionist aims'.56 Such communal unity in support of Zionism highlights a key difference between the Jewish community in Ireland and those in other countries - the lack of organized Jewish opposition to the Zionist movement. In the final period of the British mandate of Palestine between 1945 and 1948, the successor body to the League, the Jewish Fellowship, which was described as the 'last stand of anti-Zionism in Anglo-Jewry',57 also attempted to establish a presence in Dublin. But it had no success in making its voice heard or in gaining recruits, even though it included eminent names such as Viscount Bearstead, Lord Swaythling, Sir Robert Waley Cohen, Sir Leonard Lionel Cohen (who in 1946 became the first Jewish Lord Justice), Rabbi Dr Israel Mattuck (the Liberal leader), and despite the fact that it gained a following in provincial Jewish communities across Britain from Harrogate to Brighton, and in British Dominions from Melbourne to Montreal.58 Chief Rabbi Jakobovits later recalled how he took over a community in Dublin that had 'never counted anti-Zionists among its members as did other communities'.59 Max Nurock explained in an interview for the Oral History Project of the Hebrew University that in the decades before the establishment of Israel, the whole Irish Jewish community 'felt deeply about their faith, deeply about the eternal hope of Jewry to return to this country [Israel]'.60 United in Zionism Writing of his grandfather, the Reverend Meyer Elyan, the first minister of the Cork Hebrew Congregation, who was born in the Lithuanian town of Zhogger and arrived in Cork in 1881, Laurence (Larry) Elyan, a well known actor and director of the Dublin Theatre Guild before he emigrated to Jerusalem in 1962, asked 'What brought him from Lithuania to Ireland, 56 ZR, 7 Nov. 1917, p. 129. 57 G. Shimoni, 'The Non-Zionists in Anglo-Jewry', Jewish Journal of Sociology XXVIII 2 (Dec. 1986)102. 58 See the Jewish Fellowship's own newspaper, The Jewish Outlook, published between 1946 and 1948, and its pamphlets, esp. What the Fellowship Stands For (London 1944); A Challenge to All Jews (London, 1944); Calling All Jews (London, 1948). 59 Jakobovits (see n. 8) 11-12. 60 'Reminiscences . .. Max Nurock' (see n. 25) 22-3. 201</page><page sequence="14">Rory Miller from Zhogger to Cork?'61 The answers - pogroms, economic hardship and others - are no more interesting than those to the question of why such a small, marginal community embraced the idea of political Zionism in such a uniform fashion and from such an early date. First, it was a compact community. Virtually all Ireland's Jewish immi? grants settled in urban areas. By 1914 nine out of ten of Ireland's Jews lived in Dublin, Belfast or Cork. This gave them an advantage over bigger, more dispersed communities. As the Zionist Review, the official magazine of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, noted in 1946, provincial Jewish communities were more coherent and more compact than those in London, and had a degree of coordination and solidarity lacking in the capi? tal.62 Yet what had occurred in Ireland by 1900 was, to all intents and purposes, a new beginning for the Jewish community. By this time the Lithuanian Jews who had started arriving in Ireland in the 1870s had come to dominate Irish Jewish life. A Jewish population of 189 in Dublin in 1871, and of 353 in 1881, had increased by 1911 to about 3000.63 Nearly all came from the same northern part of the Russian Empire, from small shtetls like Akmyan, Wexna, Zhogger and Kurshany, all less than fifty kilometres from each other. The 1911 Irish census recorded that out of 2112 people in the 329 Dublin Jewish households surveyed (about two-thirds of all Jews in Dublin), 94 per cent of Jewish men and 83 per cent of Jewish women were born in either Lithuania or Poland.64 Thus, this immigrant group, whom Nurock later described as an 'incom? parable generation of Litvak [Lithuanian] pioneers',65 dwarfed the pre? existing Jewish community and swept away most of their influence. The rapid marginalization of the established oligarchy by the new arrivals provides one explanation for the universal support for Zionism in the Irish Jewish community in the half century after 1900. Members of the former group were traditionally the most assimilated and thus the most fearful that Zionist aspirations could jeopardize their status in their adopted home. This was certainly the case in England, the United States and Australia, where members of the long-established elite held onto their influence for much longer than in Ireland, and where bodies like the League of British Jews, the Jewish Fellowship and the Council for American Judaism were made up primarily, though not exclusively, of members of this longer established elite. The new Jewish arrivals to Ireland had also come from a part of the 61 jfC, 26 Sept. 1980, p. 6. 62 ZR, 28 Dec. 1946, p. 6. 63 O Gr?da (see n. 2) 11. 64 Ibid. 10. 65 DJMA, Box 14, letter from Max Nurock to the JPA, Dublin, 10 April i960. 202</page><page sequence="15">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 Tsarist Empire where Zionism had taken hold early on - Chovevei Zion held its annual congress in Vilna, Lithuania, in 1889 - and which developed into the most Zionist-oriented community in Eastern Europe.66 As such they arrived in their new home already imbued with the Zionist idea, and proceeded to create a small, highly nationalist Jewish community in Ireland like the one they had left behind. They had also left behind a creative centre of Judaism, at the forefront of both Yeshiva life and secular Jewish learning and publishing. As late as 1938, the young American student Lucy Dawidowicz, later a historian of the Holocaust, left New York City for Vilna because she wanted to study Jewish history where it was taught best. So at a time when Zionist education was taking off, the traditional empha? sis placed on education and learning by Lithuanian Jews was channelled into the Zionist cause in an Irish community that was Zionist from top to bottom. In the small archive of the Jewish Museum in Dublin one finds references to early Zionist works such as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda's Kitsur divrei ha-yamim li vnei- Yisrael be-shivtam al admatam (A Brief History of the Nation of Israel in its Land), published in 1891. This aimed to give children an 'understanding of the history of the people of Israel when it was a political nation which lived a complete life living its national language and striving to achieve political sovereignty'.67 Such textbooks undoubtedly had an impact on the Zionist education of Irish Jewish youth. Nurock remembered what he called his 'indoctrination in Zionism' and how 'we were all impregnated with this early Zionism'. In 1897 he had attended a Zionist meeting where he carried a 'little Zionist flag', and by 1903 much of his spare time was taken up with involvement in the Dublin branch of Chovevei Zion and in attending communal lectures on the achievements of early Zionist leaders (he won an essay competition on Herzl in the process).68 In 1919, after graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, Nurock settled in Palestine, where he held a number of posts in Zionist organizations and the Palestine administration, including assistant private secretary for Jewish affairs to the High Commissioner, Sir Herbert Samuel. According to Nurock, Samuel used to encourage him to sing Irish ballads when they were together, and particularly enjoyed his rendition of'The Mountains of Mourne'. On one occasion Nurock became the only Jew ever appointed Acting Chief Secretary of Palestine. In 1936, in the early days of the Arab Revolt, he was shot while walking in Jerusalem and was subsequently 66 E. Mendelsohn, The Jews of East Central Europe: Between the World Wars (Bloomington, IN, 1983)231-2. 67 Cited in D. Porat, 'The Nation Revised: Teaching the Jewish Past in the Zionist Present (1890-1913)',^^'$/? Social Studies XIII 1 (2007) 70. 68 'Reminiscences . . . Max Nurock' (see n. 25) 22-3. 203</page><page sequence="16">Rory Miller transferred to the Colonial Administrative service in Uganda. Then, in the latter part of 1944, he was transferred to the British Foreign Office, which attached him to the Allied Control Commission for Occupied Germany and then to the Control Commission in Austria. On the birth of Israel in 1949 he joined the Israeli Ministry of Finance, to help organize the administration of the new Jewish state. After reaching retirement age he continued to work as a consultant to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.69 It was in this capacity that in 1962, forty years after he had first left Dublin, Nurock returned on official Israeli Foreign Ministry business to ask why Ireland, which had granted Israel de facto recognition in February 1949, had not yet accorded it de jure recognition. In December 1963, almost two years after Nurock's visit to Dublin, the Irish government finally granted Israel de jure recognition.70 In his autobiography Chaim Herzog, twice the president of Israel, recalled how during his childhood in Belfast and Dublin 'the concept of a Jewish state emerged in our collective consciousness . . . [and] added considerably to our sense of pride. As that consciousness expanded, it strengthened our entire community'.71 Herzog's father was Ireland's Chief Rabbi, Isaac Herzog, who in 1936 left Dublin to take up the post of Chief Rabbi of Palestine, and who in 1948 became the first Chief Rabbi of Israel. Both Chaim and his older brother Yaakov, a long-time friend of Nurock,72 who later became Israel's ambassador to Canada and the Director General of the Prime Minister's Office, always looked back fondly on their intro? duction to Zionism while growing up in Ireland. The same is true of Geoffrey Wigoder, who emigrated from Dublin to Israel in 1949 and worked as the Israel correspondent for the BBC. Subsequently he headed Israel's Overseas Broadcast Service and became editor-in-chief of The Encyclopedia Judaic a. Louis Hyman, who left Dublin for Palestine in 1935, remembered how as a teenager he had been a found? ing member, with Chaim Herzog, of Dublin Habonim, which was 'strong and flourishing', and how he attended the Dublin Hebrew Speakers group that met once a week. As he later recalled, 'from these activities I developed a great love of the language, of the Bible, of the history of Palestine'.73 The 69 See Max Nurock Interview, 'State Administration in Palestine', 30 Aug. 1970, Project 1 (82), The Jews of Great Britain and Ireland, Oral History Project, Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2-4. See also B. Wasserstein, The British in Palestine: The Mandatory Government and the Arab-Jewish Conflict, 1917-1929 (Oxford 1990) 206-7. 70 National Archives of Ireland, Department of Foreign Affairs Files, 2001/43/119, minutes of meeting between Max Nurock and Frank Aiken, Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, 31 Jan. 1962. 71 C. Herzog, Living History: A Memoir (London 1996) 9. 72 See M. Nurock, Foreword, in M. Louvish (ed.), A People that Dwells Alone: Speeches and Writings ofYaacov Herzog (London 1975). 73 Max Nurock Interview (see n. 69) 2. 204</page><page sequence="17">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 visits of celebrated Zionist leaders also contributed to the Zionist indoctri? nation of young members of the community. In 1933, for example, Nahum Sokolow, then the president of the World Zionist Organization, spoke to Jewish youth in Dublin during a visit to Ireland. More than fifty years later, Hyman recalled how Sokolow's speech on that occasion made a 'profound impression on us all'.74 In 1972, four decades after he had made his home in Israel, Hyman published The Jews of Ireland: From Earliest Times to the Year 1910, the most detailed work on Irish Jewry up to that time. Interestingly, in a table compiled by the noted political scientist Michael Brecher in 1972, Ireland ranked higher in first quarter-century of Israel's existence, in terms of heads of departments or higher within the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs and in related civil or military branches, than many nations with far larger Jewish communities, such as Hungary, Italy and Egypt. Indeed, the contribution of Irish Jews was equalled only by those of Austria and Iraq and only surpassed by eight nations including Germany, Russia, Poland and the United Kingdom.75 In the decades before 1948, the main objective of Zionist propaganda was to instil the belief that nationalism and religion where inherently linked from the earliest time in Jewish history. This was an argument that Irish Jewry's religious leaders had no problem promoting and defending, for they were consistently more committed to the Zionist project than many in the Rabbinate in Britain. There were regular services in Dublin synagogues marking key points in the Zionist endeavour, such as the anniversary of Herzl's death. At the time of the Balfour Declaration, the Dublin Rabbi J. M. Wigoder caused a stir at a meeting in London when he compared the Zionists to the most faithful Israelites at the time of the exodus from Egypt.76 Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog epitomized the deep Zionism of the communal clergy. Louis Hyman recalled how Herzog was a 'great and inspiring figure',77 a view shared by Nurock who described him as a 'powerful and courageous champion of the national effort', adding that Herzog and other Hebrew teachers and clergy in Dublin 'instilled in us this love of language and study of the Bible. The prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah made us all Zionists.'78 Thus it is no surprise that in 1945 A. J. Leventhal remembered how, during his Dublin childhood, 'I was made aware of a rising Jewish national movement . . . slowly and almost imperceptibly a national 74 See DJMA, Box 20, 'Dublin Jewish News talks to Louis Hyman', n.d. 75 See M. Brecher, The Foreign Policy of Israel: Setting, Images, Process (London and Oxford 1972)440. 76 Cohen (see n. 53) 153. 77 'Dublin Jewish News talks to Louis Hyman' (see n. 74). 78 Max Nurock Interview (see n. 69) 2. 205</page><page sequence="18">Rory Miller consciousness was added to my religious background'.79 It was only in 1949, on the insistence of Jakobovits, the new Chief Rabbi, that the tradi? tion of singing Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem, at the end of Irish syna? gogue services was discontinued. A tale of two nationalisms: Irish and Jewish Writing in the Jewish Chronicle in December 1906, Edward Raphael Lipsett, a Dublin Jew and journalist, was frank in his view that 'You cannot get one native to remember that a Jew may be an Irishman . . . There is undoubtedly a mutual estrangement between the Jews and the Irish. The Jews understand the Irish little; the Irish understand the Jews less. Each seems a peculiar race in the eyes of the other; and, in a word, the position of the Jews is peculiarly peculiar'.80 This may well have been true in many walks of life, but for much of the period under discussion the one issue on which Jews and the host community in Ireland shared an outlook was nationalism. Irish Jews, like the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic popula? tion of Ireland and a not inconsequential group of the Protestant minority, wished to gain independence in their own homeland. At the beginning of the twentieth century, when the Jewish community was in its infancy, Irish Jews felt a sympathy for the British Empire that was not shared by a majority of the Irish population. Coming from Russia, they regarded the British monarch as a guarantor of their liberties, and had a deep suspicion of Roman Catholicism, as did Jews across Eastern Europe. Thus in 1900 the congregations of the Dublin and Belfast Synagogues declared their loyalty to Queen Victoria on her visit to Ireland. As one young member of the community at the time of the Queen's visit recalled half a century later, 'Queen Victoria's visit to Dublin at the turn of the century is one of the highlights in my memory', adding that she had defended the Queen in discussions with her non-Jewish schoolmates because her mother had told her that Jews 'had found sanctuary under the good Queen Victoria and we owed her our loyalty'.81 This support for Britain, and particularly the British Empire, among Irish Jews was evident during the Boer War of the late 1890s. The country's Catholic majority was sympathetic to the Boers, and many of the leading anti-British figures of the day rallied to the Boer cause. Arthur Griffith, a founder of Sinn Fein, spent eighteen months in South Africa and estab 79 Leventhal (see n. 43) 211. 80 Cited in Hyman (see n. 6) 177. 81 J. S. Bloom, 'The Old Days in Dublin: Some Girlhood Recollections of the 90's' Commentary Magazine XIV (1952) 31-2. 20?</page><page sequence="19">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 lished with James Connolly - the Irish socialist leader executed by the British following the 1916 Easter Rising - the Transvaal Committee that campaigned vigorously for the Boers.82 Michael Davitt, the founder of the Irish National Land League, resigned his Westminster seat as an MP in 1899 in protest at the Boer War, and in 1904 published a propaganda work, The Boer Fight for Freedom. The divide on this issue between Irish Jew and Irish Catholic generated playground reenactments of battles from the Boer War on the streets of Little Jerusalem, the mainly Jewish area of central Dublin. As one partici? pant in these mock battles remembered, 'My unwise parents dressed me at the age of six in a little Khaki suit like one [of] the pro-British volunteers in the war ? I walked proudly down Emorville Avenue, with a little wooden sword, and a small boy of another persuasion hit me one hit in the midriff which put me right out... we used to join with a group in the alleys around Lombard Street. . . and have battles with sticks and stones with Catholic boys, we representing the British and they the Boers.'83 Nevertheless, the pro-British sympathies of Ireland's Jews were gradu? ally changing. As early as 1880, Alfred Wormser Harris, a leading figure from one of the long-established Dublin Jewish families, had contested a Kildare constituency for a seat at Westminster for the Home Rule party.84 It was the founding of the Judaeo Home Rule Association in 1908 at a public meeting at Dublin's Mansion House that highlights this shift in sympathies. Joseph Edelstein, the group's honorary secretary, proposed a resolution calling for Home Rule which was seconded by a number of Westminster MPs. The meeting also heard messages of sympathy with the aims of the association from Irish political leaders such as John Dillon and John Redmond, the founders of the United Irish League. One of the founders of the Judaeo Home Rule Association was Philip Wigoder, later a leader of provincial Zionism in Britain. Another, Jacob Elyan, who had arrived in Dublin from Lithuania in his early teens, became a member of the Dublin executive of the United Irish League and Vice President of the St Patrick's Division of the United Irish League, Treasurer of the Dublin County Liberal Association and one of the first four Peace Commissioners appointed by the Irish Free State Government for the City of Dublin. At one point John Redmond, who saw having a Jew sitting as a member of the Irish Parliamentary Party in Westminster as a way of challenging the Unionist cry that 'Home rule is Rome Rule', asked Elyan to stand for elec? tion, but due to ill-health he had to decline. Elyan was also a friend and 82 IT, 28 Aug. 1992, p. 13. 83 'Reminiscences . . . Max Nurock' (see n. 25) 13. 84 Hyman (see n. 6) 150. 207</page><page sequence="20">Rory Miller confidant of James Larkin, the Irish Labour leader, and had close ties with leading figures including Griffith and the legendary Michael Collins.85 As Nurock later remembered, while he was back in Dublin on leave from Palestine in 1921, a group of gunmen entered his parents' house and threat? ened them before fleeing from soldiers. Nurock wanted to find out whether this was related to his role in the British army and administration, and within a few hours Elyan was at the house reassuring them that Collins had promised him personally that both Nurock and his family were perfectly safe.86 As this anecdote highlights, by the time of the establishment of the Irish Free State early in the 1920s, Ireland's Jews were involved in Irish national? ist politics. Chaim Herzog remembered how his father had been an 'open partisan of the Irish cause', adding that 'the Jewish community as a whole gave a lot of help to the Irish'.87 Indeed, when Herzog took up the post of Chief Rabbi of Palestine in 1936, British officials there were deeply suspi? cious of him because of his sympathy for, and close ties with, the Irish republican movement.88 It is interesting that the split in wider Irish society, between those who supported the peace treaty with the British and those who backed the anti treaty forces, was replicated inside the Irish Jewish community. Some, like Jacob Elyan, lined up behind Collins and the 'Free-Staters'. Others opposed the Free State and the partition of the country. In a speech in 1928, Herman Good, a law student who later became a judge and leading figure in Irish Jewish affairs, made the national newspapers when he argued that the only possible reason for supporting the partition of Ireland was 'a complete lack of sense of Irish nationalism', adding that 'a sense of Irish nationalism had yet to be born in the six counties [Northern Ireland] where the people had not yet become free'.89 This was a view adhered to most notably by Robert Briscoe, who was a senior officer on the anti-treaty side during the Irish Civil War and a confi? dant of Eamon de Valera. Other well-known Irish Jewish Republicans included the celebrated artist Estella Solomons, who enlisted in the Cumann na mBan, the women's branch of the Irish Volunteers, and who painted portraits of many patriots concerned with the Irish revolutionary movement, reproduced in a 1966 book, Portraits of Patriots. There was also Gerald Goldberg, a leading member of the Cork Jewish community and later Lord Mayor of Cork, and Michael Noyk, a Dubliner who defended 85 Ibid. 201-02. 86 Ibid. 344 n. 57. 87 Herzog (see n. 71) 12. 88 Eliash (see n. 3) 43. 89 Irish Independent, 8 Nov. 1928, p. 5. 208</page><page sequence="21">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 many Sinn Fein members during the Irish War of Independence, and who was a close friend and legal adviser to a number of civil war leaders. As a long-time member of the executive of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation, Noyk received on his death in 1966 an honour guard from the men of the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).90 At least until the late 1930s, when the forced partition of Palestine came to the fore and increasingly alienated Irish nationalist leaders from the Zionist movement, there was significant sympathy for the Jewish national movement across Irish society. Part of this sympathy was sentimental. There were obvious parallels between the suffering of the Irish under the Penal Laws and the restrictions of the Jews of Russia under the Tzarist regime, as well as the traumatic experience of large-scale migration in the nineteenth century, which fundamentally altered the demographic and cultural maps of both peoples. As William Field, a Home Rule MP, speak? ing at a 1915 Zionist meeting in Dublin, put it, his sympathy with Zionism was due to a shared Jewish-Irish history of facing persecution.91 Irish sympathy with Zionism also came from viewing it as a national movement fighting for self-determination, which was how Griffith described it.92 This explains why the 1917 Balfour Declaration was almost universally welcomed across Irish society. An editorial in The Irish Times declared that 'it is from every point desirable', concluding with the stirring words, 'The faith with which Jewry has never surrendered in an ultimate return to the historic seat of its national existence is at last to be redeemed'. Hugh Law, the MP for West Donegal, supported it on the grounds that he was 'a believer in the principle of nationalism, not only in respect of my own country, but all others'. William O'Malley, an MP from Connemara, welcomed it as an 'Irishman' and hoped that it bode well for the 'long suffering Irish people'. Even the influential Catholic hierarchy in Ireland welcomed the Balfour Declaration: the Bishop of Clifton saw it as evidence that the First World War was being waged for the 'reconstitution of small nationalities' and the Bishop of Clonfert called for the Irish to 'rejoice' at Balfour's decision.93 There was another interconnected reason why Zionism found widespread sympathy and interest in Ireland in these years, and that was its success in reconstituting the Hebrew language. In national movements, language is a key political issue. To revive the language is to break with the oppressor. For Douglas Hyde, De Valera and other founding fathers of the Irish nation, the revival of Hebrew as a living language was Zionism's greatest achievement. 90 IT, 28 Aug. 1992, p. 13. 91 JC, 11 June i9i5,P- n 92 See IT, 15 Aug. 1992, p. 14. 93 ZR, 8 Dec. 1917, pp. 3-14 209</page><page sequence="22">Rory Miller In October 1931 a senior Zionist delegation on a visit to Dublin met Hyde and W. T. Cosgrave, the president of the Executive of the Irish Free State, both of whom were keen to discuss the revival of the Hebrew and Irish languages with the Zionist visitors. Following this conversation one visitor reported back to Jerusalem that Hyde was 'greatly inspired' by the rebirth of Hebrew and had confessed that the Irish Zionists had 'more idealism than the Irish'.94 This positive attitude to Zionism and the rebirth of the Hebrew language made it much easier for Irish Jews to be openly critical of what were consid? ered British anti-Zionist actions in Palestine, than it was for their coreli? gionists in Britain, who had to take care that, when publicly opposing policies introduced by the British in Palestine, they were not seen as displaying dual loyalties in attacking their own government and troops. For Irish Jews, openly condemning British policies in Palestine was not only a way of promoting their Zionist beliefs, but of declaring their anti-British and Irish nationalist credentials. As Gerald Goldberg argued in a letter in The Bell, the leading Irish literary journal of the 1940s, it was British impe? rialism that was the root of the failure of Arabs and Jews to find a compro? mise in Palestine, adding that it was time that the 'British stopped their nefarious policy of divide and rule and got out of Palestine . . . Never let it be forgotten that the Irish people . . . have experienced all that the Jewish people in Palestine are suffering from the trained "thugs", "gunning tarzans" and British "terrorists" that the Mandatory power have imposed upon the country.'95 Goldberg's commitment to Irish and Jewish nationalism was common among Irish Jews and it is not surprising that when those who came of age in the decades prior to the establishment of Israel saw no contradiction between their religious and cultural life as Jews and their devotion to the Zionist cause, any more than they saw a contradiction between their Jewishness and their support for the cause of Irish nationalism in their adopted home. Following Israel's establishment in 1948, Irish popular and elite opinion became increasingly antagonistic towards the Jewish national movement. This was partly due to the importance attached to the Holy Land, and particularly the Christian holy places in Jerusalem, by the Irish clerical establishment, political parties, the media and the public at large. However, it was also related to the fact that from the late 1930s, when the Zionist movement had, however reluctantly, agreed to embrace the partition of Palestine, earlier sympathies for the Zionist struggle rapidly evaporated in 94 DJMA, Box 29, L. Jaffe to the Keren Hayesod head office, Jerusalem, 18 Nov. 1931. 95 Letter from G. Goldberg, The Bell XIII 6 (March 1947) 63-5. 210</page><page sequence="23">The look of the Irish: Irish Jews and the Zionist project, 1900-48 the face of innate Irish hostility towards partition as a solution to territorial conflict. At the same time, the nature of the Irish struggle for independence from Britain also infused foreign policy makers, and even wider society, with a belief, which remains firm to the present day, that the Irish had much in common with both the Arab and Jewish protagonists in the conflict. 211</page></plain_text>

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