Posts Tagged ‘Edward I’

Articles on Bristol’s Jewish Community

September 11, 2021

I found a couple of very interesting articles on Bristol’s Jewish community in Max Barnes’ Bristol A-Z: Fascinating Stories of Bristol through the ages, published by the Bristol Evening Post c. 1970. Bristol has had a Jewish community for centuries. There was a Jewish quarter in the city in the Middle Ages. Way back in the 90s a miqveh, a Jewish ritual bath, with the Hebrew inscription, ‘Zacklim’, ‘flowing’, was found on Jacob’s Wells’ Road. They were expelled by Edward I along with the rest of England’s Jews, but returned after Oliver Cromwell once again opened the doors to Jewish immigrants. They were certainly present in the 18th century, when one Bristolian, looking for a doctor, said that he had no objection to a Jewish doctor, provided he claimed to believe in Christianity. In the 1820s one outraged commenter complained that the city’s corporation included not just Anglicans, but also Protestant non-Conformists and even Jews! There was also a very imposing synagogue in Park Row. This had giant Hebrew characters over its entrance and seemed to be cut into the very rock of St. Michael’s Hill. I haven’t seen it recently, so I wonder whether it’s still around, or if it’s simply the case that more recent building work has covered up the Hebrew inscription.

The article ‘Jews’ in the book runs

The first Jews settled in a confined area between St John’s Gate and St. Gile’s Gate. As Jews they were banned from living inside the walled town itself.

Their sole business was money lending. Like Jews down through the ages they suffered a lot of persecution. Once their houses were pillaged and burned by a mob led by William Giffard, a man who had had many financial dealings with the Jews and in 1275 took this brutal course to destroy the records and clear his debts.

Another Jew who refused to pay heavy ransom money to King John was hauled off to Bristol castle.

The king’s torturers pulled out one of his molar teeth each day. He had lost seven teeth before he paid up.

I think it was the poor man’s daughter who persuaded him to pay the money before he lost all his teeth. I think money lending was the only trade Jews in this country could legally pursue. Giffard’s pogrom against them was, I think, part of a number of anti-Semitic attacks and riots led by members of the aristocracy. The real reason behind them was that aristocracy at the time was in debt to Jewish moneylenders, and this was their way of getting out of it.

There’s another article on the Jewish author, Israel Zangwill, who also apparently was educated in Bristol. I doubt many people have heard of him today except experts in modern Jewish literature, but from reading the article he seems to have been a powerful force in the development of modern Jewish literature. The article says

Novelist and playwright (1864-1926) went to school in Bristol.

He was the son of a Russian Jewish refugee who escaped from Russia in 1848 from a death sentence for a military offence. Zangwill was known as a richly gifted but outspoken humanist. He was a champion of unpopular causes. His novel “Children of the Ghetto” was dramatised in 1899 and played in Yiddish and English in New York.

Imperial Russia had a policy of conscripting Jews into the army. It was used as a method of forced conversion, with Jewish troopers singled out for bullying and beating. I suspect that Zangwill’s father may have not taken the abuse, hence the death sentence for some kind of military offence. More recent victims of such maltreatment in the Russian army included Seventh Day Adventists and Pentecostalist Christians under Communism. I can’t remember which one, but one of these sects was persecuted because they’re pacifists who reject military service. And the Pentecostalists were subjected to the persecution under the guise of all kinds of stupid conspiracy theories. They’re abstainers, refusing to touch tobacco and alcohol, and as a result tended to be wealthier than ordinary Russians. As a result, there was a story propagated that accused them of receiving money from the CIA through a ship that landed annually at a secret location. It’s the same kind of stupid, murderous rumour about treachery as the source of secret wealth that has been used against our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Bristol’s Jewish community seems to have had a fascinating history, and its monuments are part of the city’s rich architectural heritage.

And real persecution and conspiracy theories are wrong and dangerous, whether levelled against Jews, Christians, Muslims or anyone. They are not things to be cynically used to expel left-wing peeps and non-Zionist Jews from Labour.

Blairites and Jewish Establishment Join Racist Hate Fest Organised by Friends of the EDL

September 22, 2018

This is absolutely disgusting. Last Sunday, the Labour MPs Lucy Powell, Beverley Hughes and Louise Ellman, along with the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and current President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyle (below) attended a demonstration organized by the North-West Friends of Israel. The demonstration was ostensibly against anti-Semitism, but in reality it was another attack on the Labour party for not fanatically supporting Israel. And the organisers, the NWFOI, are also friends and supporters of the EDL and its former leader, Tommy Robinson, AKA Stephen Yaxley Lennon.

No, this is Dr. Who’s Sil, but he’s far more interesting and entertaining than the President of the Board of Deputies.

Tony Greenstein has an excellent piece about the demonstration on his blog, as has Mike over at Vox Political. Greenstein states that

The EDL, formed by Tommy Robinson aka Steven Yaxley-Lennon, was an organisation of Islamaphobic and racist bigots which managed to combine support for Israel with Hitler salutes. Tommy Robinson himself is popular with Zionists these days and completed a tour of Israel with his Zionist fan Dr Brian.

He continued, describing the NWFOI’s relationship with the EDL

In its opposition to Palestine solidarity demonstrations outside the Israeli Kedem shop protest in Manchester in 2014, NWFOI worked with the EDL… As a report at the time observed: ‘NWFOI warmly welcome the English Defence League to their demonstrations.’ The accompanying commentary by Natan Levinson of NWFOI, explained that: ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’

And his article goes on to give further details of the close relationship between the two.

Zyle’s attendance at the event marks a notable reversal of the Board’s attitude towards Robinson and his supporters. Previously they wouldn’t have had anything to do with them. The Board issued a statement against the EDL a little while ago, which said that

Tommy Robinson’s record of anti-Muslim provocation means that he could never be a partner of a respectable or mainstream Jewish organisation.

Mike stated that

This should signal the end of any credibility held by the people named at the top of this article, and the organisations they represent. The reaction on the social media has been damning.

He then goes on to give some of the comments on twitter by people, like John Clarke and Ms. G. Richards, who feel that their attendance discredited the anti-Semitism smears and those making them, and that it was inappropriate for Labour MPs to attend.

Absolutely. And Jewish Voice for Labour, who organized their own counterprotest at the event, and who represent British Jews as much as Mirvis and van der Zyle, issued the following statement

For the last three years there has been a concerted effort to discredit and unseat Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition, a man who is quite possibly the most consistent anti-racist leader the Labour Party has ever known.

This campaign has been led by a coalition of groups which are deeply opposed to Jeremy’s championing of Palestinian rights together with political opponents many of whom have shown little previous interest in combating antisemitism.

Rather than seeking to oppose genuine anti-Jewish hatred, they have cynically sought to amplify and manipulate the anxieties of British Jews in order to further their political aims.

Many of those organisations and individuals taking part this Sunday, including Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and the Board of Deputies, are the same instigators of the campaign against Jeremy.

That progressive Jewish organisations, including those supporting Palestinian human rights, were excluded from participating suggests that the organisers and speakers are not acting in good faith.

For some of the headline speakers, however, the demonstration is not just about antisemitism. Rather it concerns the uncritical defence of some of the actions of the Israeli government whilst giving voice to those who want to remove Jeremy Corbyn, a consistent and principled supporter of Palestinian rights, as leader of the Labour party. We cannot emphasise enough that they do not speak for us.

What is also very bizarre and grotesque is that members of Jewish Voice for Labour have both been accused of not being really Jewish, as well as sneered at by other Jews for being Jewish! Mike reproduces a tweet from Revolution Breeze containing a tweet from Ben Goren saying that an American rabbi called him a ‘Jew Boy’, while a British rabbi said he wasn’t a Jew!

Mike states that the demonstration was a racist event, organized by people using the banner of opposition to anti-Semitism to hide their own racism. In normal circumstances, those Labour MPs and activists, like Ellman and Powell, would get away scot-free with this, and would continue their activities conspiring against and trying to undermine and overthrow their leader. They would continue lying and smearing him, with their comments picked up and repeated by the right-wing press.

He concludes

But their appearance at this event shows that the current situation cannot be allowed to continue. MPs must support the leader, and the will of the party – or they must be replaced by those who will.

By appearing at this appalling event, Lucy Powell and the others have done the Labour Party a huge service.

Precisely what that service is, is shown very clearly in the title of Mike’s article: ‘Lucy Powell’s speech at festival of ‘racial hatred’ makes the case for mandatory reselection’.

And Mike’s right: it is absolutely unacceptable that these Labour rebels should support racist, islamophobic organisations against their own, democratically elected leader.

See Mike’s article
https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/09/18/lucy-powells-speech-at-festival-of-racial-hatred-makes-the-case-for-mandatory-reselection/

and Tony Greenstein’s at
http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/09/nw-friends-of-israel-tommy-robinson-and.html

Greenstein and the Electronic Intifada have published a number of articles exposing the connections between the Zionist British Jewish establishment and the EDL, which has a Jewish division, as well as the Jewish Defence League and the British branch of the Israeli far-right party, Herut. And these links with the EDL should utterly discredit everyone, who turned up to support this disgusting event.

Robinson claims that the EDL is not racist. It is just against Islam, which it presents as aggressive, exploitative and aimed ultimately at overthrowing democracy, secularism and the non-Muslim faiths here in the UK and elsewhere. But the ‘counterjihad’ movement, of which the EDL is a part, is very racist and intolerant. There are elements, which do believe that a war will come in the next decade between far-right European ‘patriots’ and Islam and the left. And I’ve also seen videos on YouTube by anti-Islam activists in the US which not only demonise Muslims, they also demand their expulsion from the US if not the West.

This is chillingly similar to the expulsion of the Jews from Britain in the Middle Ages by Edward I, which was then followed by a wave of other European nations.

The Zionist establishment clearly believe that supporting and collaborating with far-right movements which covertly support ethnic cleansing is acceptable, and does not present any danger to British Jews.

It does. You don’t give Fascists an entrance into mainstream politics. If they are seen to be supported by prominent, respected, if not respectable people, they will naturally exploit this as much as they can. Because as the example of the Nazis shows, they don’t stop with the persecution of only one group. They go on rounding up and killing others. And it wouldn’t surprise me if some members of the EDL, as well as hating Muslims, aren’t also bitter anti-Semites themselves. But perhaps Mirvis, van der Zyle only feel that, once the EDL and its allies expel Muslims, they only Jews they’ll persecute will be left-wing and anti-Zionist, you know, the people they regard as ‘the wrong sort of Jews’.

The event is also a slap in the face to organisations working to overcome prejudice between communities, and especially to bring to Jews and Muslims together.

This demonstration was a dangerous, racist farce, and the Blairites and members of the Jewish establishment – Mirvis and van der Zyle – who attended have betrayed the very people they claim to represent.

Book on Britain’s Medieval Jewish Heritage

July 10, 2017

Bristol is one of the few cities to have a miqveh, a Jewish ritual bath, surviving from the Middle Ages. It’s a chamber cut into hillside of Jacob’s Wells Road, if I remember correctly. It was identified as a miqveh as it has an inscription in Hebrew, ‘Zaklim’, which means ‘Flowing’. Not all archaeologists and historians are convinced that it is a ritual bath, as it’s some way away from the city’s medieval Jewry, and it’s also closer than was usually permitted to a Christian church, in this case that of St. Michael’s Hill. Nevertheless, they believe that it may still have been an important source of water for Bristol’s medieval Jewish community.

Looking through the Oxbow Book Catalogue for Autumn 2015, I found a book listed, Jewish Heritage in Britain and Ireland, by Sharman Kadish, published by Historic England, paperback price £20.00. The blurb reads

Jewish Heritage in Britain and Ireland celebrates in full colour the undiscovered heritage of Anglo-Jewry. First published in 2006, it remains the only comprehensive guide to historic synagogues and sites in the British Isles, covering more than 300 sites, organised on a region-by-region basis. The new edition has been completely revised and features many new images including, for the first time, of sites in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

I don’t know how many of this blog’s readers are interested in medieval history, but this book appears to be a useful exploration of this part of Britain and Ireland’s medieval heritage. One that came to an end in England when Edward I expelled them from England, which set off a series of similar ethnic cleansings which saw many other countries forcibly remove their Jewish citizens, expulsions which some medieval historians have compared to the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany.