THE JEWS AND PATRIOTISM
AN ADDRESS BY THE REV. RABBI JACOBS
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto March 9, 1916
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN,--It is with great pleasure that I accepted the invitation of your President to address you. I cannot say, like the Scotchman in Rob Roy, that my name is MacGregor and I stand on my native heath; nor can I even say that my name is MacJacobs and I am filled with the Scottish spirit. But I can declare with greater pride that I am of the Jewish race, and proud of my birthright as an Englishman and as a British subject. "Has history produced so noble a patriot as the Jew? "These are not my words, but they are the words of the Rev. John Watson, better known as Ian MacLaren, the writer of that charming book, "Beside the Bonnie Briar Bush." He used those words preaching some years ago at the Congregational Church in West Hampstead, London" Has history produced so noble a patriot as the Jew?" If you want any proof of this, my friends, all that you have to do is to turn to the pages of Holy Writ, and also to those of secular history. There you will find in Holy Writ that in the days of hoary antiquity, Abraham, the progenitor of the Jewish race, swears fealty to the king of the country in which he sojourns, and vows that he will not act falsely toward that land, but will do his utmost to serve it. Later-on in Jewish history we find Joseph serving the country of Egypt and keeping it from starvation. In Bible history we find such men as Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel and Mordecai sitting in the king's gate and in the palace of the king, serving their monarchs with fealty and with -devotion. When the destruction of the temple took place, the Jews then became wanderers and fugitives over the face of the earth. Antipater shows to Julius Caesar thirty odd wounds, which he had received whilst fighting in his cause and for the welfare of the Roman Commonwealth. The Ptolemies of Egypt entrusted all their finances, and very often the safety of their persons, to Jewish agents. Cleopatra selects a Jewish general to protect her against the usurpation of her son.
Later on we find that the Jews come into Europe; they located themselves in Spain, in Germany, in England, in Italy and in France. In all these countries in the course of years they acquired positions of great trust. When Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain they drove from that country 800,000 of their best subjects. Their conduct was marvelled at by the Sultan of Constantinople, who says: " What, do you call Ferdinand and IsabeIla wise monarchs, to have driven away their best and most serviceable subjects to become citizens of my empire and to enrich it? "He was right'! If you search the pages of Spanish history you will find how the Jews served that country as ministers, as financial advisers, as politicians and as soldiers. It is related in one of the old Spanish chronicles that when Don Henry rose in rebellion against the lawful monarch, Don Pedro, the Jews of Spain sided with Don Pedro. Eventually Don Pedro was defeated by the usurper, but the Jews would not give in, and they still defended the cities of Burgos and Toledo against the usurper. The usurper endeavoured to get their support, but they urged that they could not maintain his cause because, having sworn allegiance to Don Pedro, they could not forsake his house, but it was their duty to maintain the right of the deposed monarch's legal successor. Later on we find in Germany and in Italy the Jews doing active and faithful service on behalf of their respective monarchs.
Now the question may be asked, my friends, what constitutes citizenship in a country ? Is it to be born there, or is it to be a lineal descendant of one who has settled in the country , in years gone by? We Jews believe, in the old Roman proverb : "Ubi bene, ibi patria." "Where it is well with you, that is your country." No Jew believes that his claim to residence in a country rests on the fact that his ancestors took violent possession of the territory and that superior strength robbed the half naked savages of their- land. We believe that our country is the place where we enjoy the protection of the laws, where we can work for our living without being interfered with, where our home is; where we can bring up and educate our children; where the interest and welfare of our fellow citizens are bound up with ours; where we can worship our heavenly Maker according to the dictates of our conscience, and where we can fulfill the duties of life in every direction without let or hindrance. That is our fatherland to which we owe loyalty, and nothing whatever can free us from our patriotic duty to that country. That, my friends, is the Jewish ideal of citizenship. There are many people who think that the Jew is just here for a short time. Why, there are the most stupid ideas existing about us Jews. I remember some years ago, after preaching, a Christian lady who was there came up to me and congratulated me on the way that I had expressed myself and said I had quite an English pronunciation. I said to her "Why should I not have one? " She replied, " Weret you born in Jerusalem ? I thought all Rabbis were born in Jerusalem ?" I assured her I was not, that I was a Yorkshireman and came from the good old citwhere you have the best cutlery in the world; in other words, where they make the good, true blades, the Sheffield blade. Some people think that every pared to go to Jerusalem by the first train. I would not mind going to Jerusalem for a short time but I would take very great care I took a return ticket with me to come back. So, you see my friends, that we Jews make the country where we live, our home. Our native land, or the country of our adoption is as dear to us as to the other indwellers.
The Jew is not a newcomer to Canada. It may surprise some of you to know that whilst General Wolfe was battering away at the gates of Quebec, and whilst Amherst was investing Montreal, Jews were marching in their armies. There were Jewish soldiers under Sir Frederick John Haldimand helping in the attack on Montreal. I might mention the names of some of those Jews. First of all, Aaron Hart, the father of that Ezekial Hart who was elected member of Parliament for the constituency of Three Rivers in the year 1807, but who could not take his seat because he could not conscientiously take the oath, as it stood in those days. Then likewise there were officers of the name of Emanuel de Cordova, Hananiel Garcia, and Isaac Miranda who assisted to extend the boundary of the empire and to win dominions for England across the seas. So, you see my friends, the Jew is not a newcomer to Canada. Perhaps you may think, well he is a newcomer as far as England is concerned. Not at all. Because when I search some ancient manuscripts I find that before the year 690 A.D. there were Jews settled in England. At about this time Egbert, the Archbishop of York, passed certain regulations forbidding Christians to appear at Jewish feasts, or to take gifts. The Jews came over to England in greater numbers at the time of William the Conqueror. They were practically the bankers of the country. They financed the king; and were protected by him. They were still in greater favour with his son William Rufus. It is on record that (William of Malmesbury) once ordered a disputation on the grounds of the Jewish and Christian religion. Certain bishops were to defend the Christianity and the Rabbis were to speak in favour of Judaism, and he took a very profane oath, as William of Malmesbury tells us, swearing by the face of St. Luke that if the Jews were to get the better part of the argument he, himself, would become a follower of Judaism. But the monkish chronicles relate that fortunately, as a sign of heaven's displeasure, a terrible thunder storm took place which drove the disputants away and put an end to the argument.
The Jews became very wealthy in England under the Norman rulers, but these monarchs were so exacting to their subjects that unfortunately the poor Jews, as usual, had to bear the brunt of the ill-favour of the population and they were driven from England: in the year 1290. Some 365 years afterwards they, were readmitted under Cromwell. Cromwell was a wise statesman who could foresee what was best for the country, and he welcomed their return. Under his rule we find that one Jew of the name of Simon De Caerres offered to go to Jamaica and wrest that country from the dominion of the Spaniards. His offer was accepted and he was successful, and thus was instrumental in winning Jamaica as a part of the British Empire. A little after that he made the offer to Cromwell to go to Chili and furnish a regiment of his own coreligionists with a view of acquiring Chili for the English people. But Cromwell was then engaged in other matters of state and could not give that undertaking his countenance. It was Jewish money which helped William Prince of Orange to come to England and take possession of the British crown. His own subjects would not help him at all financially. He had spent so much money on the Spanish war and on the wars in France that they could not finance him, and it was an Amsterdam Jew who loaned him the money to come over to England and take possession of the crown which was offered to him.
From that date to the present day the Jews have been most serviceable to the crown and the country of England. In the year 1745 we hear of some young men in London volunteering to form a regiment to defend, London against the approaching army of the Jacobite Pretender. About the same time we read of a Jew of-, the name of Sampson Gideon lending the British Government £1,700,000, so that England could equip an army to fight against the French. About three years after that he rearranged the national debt and saved the country a great deal of money. This Sampson Gideon was rather an ambitious man and very broad-minded. It is on record that he gave most generous donations every year to a society, which some of you may have heard of, the Society for the "relief and Education of the Sons of the Clergy," and on his death he bequeathed to it what was, in those days, a vast sum,--the amount of £2,000.
The Duke of Wellington prided himself on the fact that he had fifteen officers fighting under him at Waterloo. Amongst them was Albert Goldsmith, who afterwards became MajorGeneral. But before we read of these officers who fought under Wellington we come across such names as Sir Jacob Adolphus, Lieutenant-General Alexander Schomberg, R.N., Sir David Ximenes, Lieutenant-Gen. Sir George d'Aguilar, Major-General George Salis-Schwabe and likewise Joshua Montefiore, who was the uncle of Sir Moses Montefiore. All these were officers in the British Army and did not scruple to endanger life and limb for the welfare of their native land.
I have not the time to go over the story of how the Jews in England obtained their civic rights. But one of the citizens of London who shed most lustre on the Jewish name and on his British citizenship was Sir David Solomon. It is on record when he was elected Lord Mayor of London in 1855, the London Times had an article that morning which stated: For the first time London has now a Lord Mayor who can speak and write the English language with propriety.
I would like to mention a few names to prove to you how patriotic and how public spirited the Jews have been and how they have appreciated the right of British citizenship. There is Sir Moses Montefiore, who gave away thousands and tens of thousands of pounds in his life time, and bequeathed vast sums in charity on his death. The Goldsmiths, who were the patrons of art and learning, who endowed beds in hospitals. The Rothchilds, whose names are proverbial throughout the world.
We might well ask ourselves the question: Where would the British Empire in the East be if it had not been safeguarded by the purchase of the Suez Canal shares. It was Lord Rothchild, then Sir Nathaniel Rothchild, who on the suggestion of Lord Beaconsfield, and at a few hours' notice, provided the millions necessary for that marvellous political coup d'etat. Then that Jewish product Lord Beaconsfield. See the marvellous services he rendered to Great Britain! He was instrumental in cementing the ties of affection between our Indian Empire and the Home country by having the Queen proclaimed Empress of India. It is Lord Wandsworth, also a well-known Jewish citizen, who bequeathed the sum of two millions for an orphanage for Christian children. Then I daresay you may recognize the name of the late Lord Pirbright better known as Baron Henry de Worms, Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Sir John Simon, and Lord Reading, who is now the Lord Chief Justice. The Right Hon. Herbert Samuel who is Home Secretary at the present moment. The Hon. Edwin Montague who is rendering such valuable assistance to the British Crown, as Financial Adviser. Then I here mention the name of David Lewes of Liverpool, who bequeathed the sum of t6oo,ooo, three million dollars, to found homes and hospitals 'and convalescent institutions for the benefit of the poor and the aged of the cities of Manchester and' Liverpool. Then I will conclude with the name of Frederick David Mocatta the man who had an income of many thousand pounds a year, and who was known to give away three quarters of his income for charitable objects.
Now, my friends, do we then live up to the ideals of citizenship? Do we prove ourselves worthy of the benefits we have received by being admitted to the hospitable shores of England? There can only be one answer and that is " We do." But, my friends, what; are all these sacrifices in comparison with those which we Jews are making at the present moment and which we have made as soldiers? What is all this financial- sacrifice and all these benefactions to public institutions compared with the lives and lives which we endanger now for the glory and for the defence of England and her Empire? Actually nothing!
Some years ago at the time of the South African war, three hundred Jews lost their lives and several hundred were wounded fighting the cause of England. And at the present moment we have some 18,ooo Jews fighting in the trenches, for the cause of England because they believe that it is a good and righteous one. To the present moment-according to figures which have been issued by the Chaplain of the British Armywe find that three hundred have been killed and seven hundred wounded. That in this small force of 18,ooo, there are -three who have gained V.C.'s; there are ten who have gained the D.C.M.; there are three who have gained the D.S.O. Three military crosses have also been granted. And this is only really a small estimate of the Jews who are serving at the present time in the army, who have been wounded and who have been killed. Because it is a wellknown fact that there are some thousands who have joined the army and have not registered as Jews. I think I could go on for a long time on this subject but I have been threatened by the pains and penalities of the Empire Club,--its displeasure-if I continue beyond the time, so I am going to close now.
I only wish to say if there are any people in the British Empire who have endangered life and limb for its aggrandizement, it is the Jewish people. With us, as I told you a few moments ago, patriotism is a religious duty. It is a sacred heritage with us. We pray for the welfare of the Empire Sabbath after Sabbath. We never have a religious service without we invoke the blessing of God on our King, on our country, or without praying for the success and the ultimate victory of the British arms. We think it a sacred duty to fulfil the words of the prophet: Pray for the peace and welfare of the country within which you dwell, for therein shall ye have peace and happiness. The Roman poet sings, " Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." "It is a sweet and pleasant thing to die for one's native land." He sings it but we Jews have always practised it. In every country where we have lived, in every clime we have always shed our blood for the welfare of our country. And we acknowledge, with pride, England our Motherland deserves it. For who has acted to the Jews as England has acted. She has enfranchised the Jew, she has ennobled him, she has given him full rights; she has widened the sphere of his liberties; she has given him every opportunity to prove that the Jew can be a citizen, and a patriot, and he has done it.
I am going to conclude, if you will permit me, with the words of the Rev. Archdeacon Black Scott, who preaching some time ago a sermon in a British cathedral on the Christian attitude towards Israel; concludes with these words: "The civilized world must Love the Jewish people much to repay what it owed to them. Some sincere people imagine that being kind to Israel meant facilitating the return of the race to Palestine. " Would you not like," asked an enthusiastic English woman of a Jew, "to go back to your own country, to Palestine? " " Would you like to go back to your German forests?" was the Jew's happy response. "Better"--and these are his concluding words--"better that all civilized people should go back to the forests of barbarism than that they should disgrace humanity and culture by denying to the Jew the comradeship in social life, in citizenship and in religion to which his unprofane belief in God, his highly developed intelligence and his patriotism entitled him."
I did not wish to exceed the time and I now conclude, thanking you for the very kind attention that you have given me. I must say I have not exhausted .the subject. It is really inexhaustible. If we once commence to read the history of the Jewish community as it is scattered throughout the world, as it has been for centuries, and how that community has acted, we will find ample proof that the Jew is worthy of his citizenship, and loves his native land.
A hearty vote of thanks was passed.