web analytics
April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 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
USAID recipient Tarek Abbas, son of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud.
Abbas’ Son Loses $10 Million Libel Suit in US Court
Latest Sections Stories
Food-Talk---Eller-logo

“People who never buy cookbooks are getting this one,” said Victoria. “They read it cover to cover and find it so interesting.”

South-Florida-logo

We have recently witnessed how other minorities deal with even perceived danger aimed at their brothers and sisters. They respond in great numbers.

South-Florida-logo

The Hebrew Academy students took part in all categories and used successful and innovative techniques to achieve their goals.

“The objective behind establishing small communities as places for relocation was a remedy for the excessive cost of housing and education in the large New York metropolitan market,” Mr. Savitsky explained.

Jewish Democrats did not entirely trust the son of Joseph Kennedy, a man broadly considered to be both anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi.

The teenage years are not about surviving. They are about thriving.

Every moment was a gift. I held each one, savoring.

We arrived in Auschwitz on Thursday, January 30, 2014. My seminary was taking us to see where the prisoners were kept. When we got there, I stepped off the bus in complete and total silence. I was in the back, and when we got to the gate I hesitated and started shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t […]

From the moment Israel was declared a Jewish state, it has been the subject of controversy and struggle.

Now that Pesach is over, we return you to your regularly-scheduled pressing questions:   Dear Mordechai, Can I use a nose hair trimmer during Sefirah? Harry Lipman   Dear Harry, Yes, as long as your nose hairs are so bad that they’re affecting your job. Like if you have a desk job, and they interfere […]

It is very natural for kids to want attention and to be jealous of each other, especially when there is a new baby.

During the Second World War, a million and a half Jewish soldiers fought in the Allied armies, the Partisan units in Eastern Europe, and the anti-fascist underground movements in Western Europe and North Africa. These Jewish fighters won over 200,000 medals and citations. The Museum of the Jewish Soldier in World War II in Latrun, […]

The 2-day real estate event will take place in Brooklyn on April 26 and 27.

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

Jewish Democrats did not entirely trust the son of Joseph Kennedy, a man broadly considered to be both anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi.

Singer-Saul-Jay-logo-NEW

French thinkers of the Enlightenment were generally not pro-Semitic, to say the least.

Szold was among the founders and leaders (she served on its executive committee) of Ichud (“Unity”), a political group that campaigned against the creation of an independent, sovereign Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.

The sense of the painting is that the old man has sacrificed himself to save the boy, as whatever meager provisions exist have been provided to the child.

It was only in the reign of George III (1760-1820) that Jews became socially acceptable in Britain, and Nathan became music master to Princess Charlotte and musical librarian to King George IV.

Agudat Yisrael led a forceful protest in the Knesset deploring the fact that these defenders of Israel had never been given a proper Jewish burial.

Though the CCAR supported the Jewish right to emigrate to Eretz Yisrael, it strenuously objected to defining Palestine as the Jewish homeland.

King was particularly concerned about the growing defamatory characterization of Zionism as racism, and he opposed the anti-Zionism in the “Black Power” movement.

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

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: