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Emet m'Tsiyon

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Abu Mazen's Mendacious Historical Monologue -- Did Cromwell Found Zionism?

Link added 3-21-2018

One of Mahmoud Abbas' elaborate and ludicrous lies was that Oliver Cromwell, the leader of Puritan, Protestant forces in the English civil war against the king and his established church, the Anglican church, had founded Zionism. I often find Abbas' speeches to be entertaining, though offensive at the same time. He also claimed that Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism, another one of Abbas' large fibs that I will take up later.

But back to Cromwell. Abbas claims that after staging a coup against the king and founding a republic, Cromwell:
came up with the idea of transferring the Jews from Europe to the Middle East, to this region, because they [who are they? Was Cromwell a plural person?] wanted this region to become an advanced post to protect the interests and the convoys coming from Europe to the East. He asked Holland, which owned the largest fleet in the world, to transfer the Jews. . . [here]
First, let's get rid of the last lie in the paragraph, that about Holland. England and Holland were bitter enemies in that period and indeed fought several wars with the main motive probably being trade competition. They were hardly about to cooperate.

Now did Cromwell found Zionism? Is there a tiny smidgen of truth buried among Abbas' lies? Did Cromwell have any contact or connection with Zionism? Actually: Yes. But as usual with Abbas, if he has anything to do with the truth, he reverses it.
Now, living in Amsterdam while Cromwell was the ruler of England was a rabbi named Menasseh ben Israel [מנשה בן ישראל]. Rabbi Menasseh was interested in the redemption of the Jewish people from their exile. And he had a theory: If the Jews were totally scattered throughout the world, if the Jewish Diaspora covered every country, then that would be the trigger to begin the messianic redemption of the Jews that would return them to their own land, the Land of Israel. Now to accomplish this total dispersion, Jews had to be everywhere. But just across the North Sea from Amsterdam was the island of Great Britain where England was located. Jews had been expelled from there in 1290. And still in the 1650s Jews were not allowed to live there, at least not openly as Jews. "The complete redemption would come after the complete Exile. This motivated him to seek permission for Jews to return to and settle in England. For this purpose he wrote a book, The Hope of Israel, which opens with a dedication to the parliament and state council" of England. "The book aroused the interest of Oliver Cromwell, the ruler of the state. . . In 1655 Menasseh ben Israel was given permission to come to England" [Jaacov Avishai, אלף אישים (Tel Aviv: Amihai nd), p 518] to plead his case. Many leading Englishmen supported Rabbi Menasseh's plea for readmission. But many others opposed it. So Cromwell decided to allow Jews to come and settle in England quietly without making a public pronouncement on the issue.

The historian Solomon Grayzel reports that the book was originally written in Spanish (maybe called La Esperanza de Israel, published 1650). The rabbi later translated it into Latin and it was this edition that had a dedication to the English parliament.

Grayzel believes that two reasons prompted Cromwell and others to promote the return of Jews to England. 1) The belief that Jews had helped Holland, their rival, become more prosperous and therefore that Jews could help England likewise; & 2) The messianic beliefs and the interest in the Hebrew Bible of many English Protestants at the time which opened them to Menasseh ben Israel's theory. (Solomon Grayzel, A History of the Jews [Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society  1959], pp 495-499). Just by the way, Rabbi Menasseh was friendly with the great painter Rembrandt who painted his portrait.

Now back to Mahmoud Abbas and his lies. We see that a Jew, Rabbi Menasseh, initiated or encouraged a certain interest in the Zionist idea in England. We also see that Cromwell reacted favorably to the rabbi's call to let Jews come back and settle in England. Cromwell did not initiate it. His main reason was likely to foster English trade and prosperity. But he did not collaborate with the Dutch on any scheme to transport Jews to the Land of Israel. And he did not establish any English colonies in the Land of Israel or Syria or Egypt of today. And he no doubt worried more about Dutch competition and rivalry and war with the Dutch rather than with conquering any Arab-inhabited or Arab-ruled land. The main consequence of Cromwell's support for Menasseh ben Israel was that Jews could come to England and openly live as Jews.

Zionism meaning the return of Jews to their Land existed long before Cromwell. It is prophesied in the Bible, such as in the book of Zechariah, and is found in the Jewish daily prayers. It is even prophesied in the Quran. At best, Abbas reverses the truth if he comes anywhere near it. So Abbas has all the credibility of a used car dealer who wears a greasy necktie.
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2-12-2018 BESA Center on Abbas' lying speech [here]

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