web analytics
July 30, 2015 / 14 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Montefiore Reports To Parliament On The Damascus Affair


Singer-Saul-Jay-logo-NEW

Editor’s Note: Saul Jay Singer, a nationally recognized legal ethicist, serves as senior legal ethics counsel with the District of Columbia BarHe is a collector of extraordinary original Judaica letters and documents and each month will share an item from his collection with readers of The Jewish PressHe welcomes comments and suggestions on these articles at saul.singer@verizon.net.

 

Singer-053014-Damascus-1Probably the most famous Anglo-Jew of the 19th century, the much-beloved Moses Montefiore (1784-1885) was scrupulously observant of his faith and used his personal standing to further the cause of oppressed Jews everywhere. He acquired land in Eretz Yisrael to enable Jews to become self-supporting through agriculture; established the Yemin Moshe quarter – and the famous windmill named for him; and launched modern Jerusalem by building Mishkenot Shaananim, the first modern Jewish housing project outside the walls of the Old City.

In this September 11, 1840 letter from Alexandria, Egypt (the full text is reproduced below) – likely carried by special diplomatic messenger from Egypt to London – Montefiore writes to J.A. Smith, a member of the British Parliament, on the successful outcome of his “Mission sent out to relieve the unfortunate and persecuted Jews at Damascus.” He declares that “Jews should have the same protection as other subjects” and thanks the British parliamentarian for his actions on behalf of the Jews in the East.

The Damascus Affair (1840) drew wide international attention as accusations of ritual murder were brought against members of the Jewish community of Damascus when eight notable Jews, falsely accused of murdering a Christian monk, were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered, and the Muslim populace of Damascus fell upon the Jewish synagogue in the suburb of Jobar, pillaged it, and destroyed the scrolls of the Law.

Montefiore, in his first of many missions as a shtadlan, led a delegation to Mohammed Ali, the ruler of Syria and Egypt. His now legendary successful negotiations in Alexandria (August 4-28) secured the unconditional release of the remaining prisoners and recognition of their innocence. Later in Constantinople, Montefiore persuaded the Sultan to issue a firman (edict) intended to halt the spread of blood libel accusations in the Ottoman Empire. He later convinced Catholic authorities to remove the epitaph from a Damascus grave identifying the site as the burial place of the Christian monk “murdered by the Hebrews on Feb. 5, 1840.”

Upon his return to London, Montefiore was given a hero’s welcome, including a big ceremony and special synagogue services and, when he met with Queen Victoria to present her with the firman, she honored him by permitting him to add the Lion of Judah holding a banner bearing the word “Jerusalem” to his coat of arms.

In a groundbreaking effort, the American Jewish community of some 15,000 protested on behalf of its Syrian brethren, and the affair launched modern Jewish politics on an international scale. In persuading President Martin Van Buren to file an official protest, Jews were the first among new ethnic immigrants to the U.S. to attempt to sway the government to act on behalf of their co-religionists abroad. Following this major blood libel, Jews considered how to organize for the protection of the Jewish reputation worldwide, and this new sense of Jewish solidarity gave rise to a host of new institutions and organizations dedicated to serving the Jewish community and protecting Jewish life.

John Abel Smith (1802–1871), a strong supporter of Montefiore’s mission in the Damascus Affair, was a British MP (1830-59, 1863-68) who won broad renown as a friend of religious toleration, leading the successful campaign to allow Jews to sit in parliament (1858). In particular, he presented Lionel de Rothschild to the House of Commons and successfully argued that Rothschild, as a Jew, be permitted to take the oath on the Old Testament only.

About the Author: Saul Jay Singer, a nationally recognized legal ethicist, serves as senior legal ethics counsel with the District of Columbia Bar. He is a collector of extraordinary original Judaica documents and letters, and his column appears in The Jewish Press every other week. Mr. Singer welcomes comments at saul.singer@verizon.net.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Montefiore Reports To Parliament On The Damascus Affair”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Stabbing at Gay Parade
6 Stabbed in Jerusalem ‘Gay Pride’ Parade by Haredi Repeat Gay Stabber
Latest Sections Stories

Personally I wish that I had a mother like my wife.

What’s the difference between the first and second ten-year-old?

What makes this diary so historically significant is that it is not just the private memoir of Dr. Seidman. Rather, it is a reflection of the suffering of Klal Yisrael at that time.

Rabbi Lau is a world class speaker. When he relates stories, even concentration camp stories, the audience is mesmerized. As we would soon discover, he is in the movie as well.

Each essay, some adapted from lectures Furst prepared for live audiences, begins with several basic questions around a key topic.

For the last several years, four Jewish schools in the Baltimore Jewish community have been expelling students who have not received their vaccinations.

“We can’t wait for session II to begin” said camp director Mrs. Judy Neufeld.

Chabad Chayil wishes all a happy and healthy remainder of summer.

It’s ironic that the title of terrorist has been bestowed upon a couple whose alleged actions resulted in the death of three turtles.

More Articles from Saul Jay Singer
Singer-Saul-Jay-logo-NEW

Jews who were considered, but not ultimately selected, include Woody Allen, Saul Bellow, David Ben-Gurion, Marc Chagall, Anne Frank, and Barbra Streisand.

Front-Page-072415

There are a variety of sources that, comics historians claim, served as sources of inspiration for the Superman character.

Not as well known is that long before Anderson was denied permission to sing at Constitution Hall, she was refused lodging at Nassau Inn in Princeton during her April 16, 1937 concert at the McCarter Theatre there, and Albert Einstein invited her into his home as a guest.

Marceau suggested a dark reason for his wordless art: “The people who came back from the [concentration] camps were never able to talk about it…. My name is Mangel. I am Jewish. Perhaps that, unconsciously, contributed towards my choice of silence.”

Any number of false narratives regarding the reason the Beatles did not perform at Ramat Gan continue to circulate, ranging from a dispute between Ori and another music promoter, Giora Godik, to the recalcitrance of Golda Meir.

Many properly cite Innocents as evidence that the Arab presence in Eretz Yisrael was so inconsequential before the arrival of the Zionist pioneers as to defeat any modern Arab claim to the land.

For the Jewish community, the influx of so many world-class musicians provided a tremendous cultural stimulus and generated great pride.

The establishment of Hebrew University was a cause much beloved to Einstein who in 1923, during what would be his only trip to Eretz Yisrael, delivered the university’s inaugural lecture on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and, discussing the theory of relativity, spoke the first few sentences of his address in Hebrew.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/features/features-on-jewish-world/montefiore-reports-to-parliament-on-the-damascus-affair/2014/06/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: