Monday, September 04, 2006

How Jews Got Respect in 18th Century England--And Don't Today

In Self defense & English antisemitism, Of Arms & the Law writes about Daniel Mendoza--the boxer--who gave dignity and respect to Jews in England in the 18th century:
Jews were unsafe on the streets -- a dog would not be used as they were (I think of of Dave Kopel's writings picked upon this).

Then a Spanish Jew, Mendoza, became a major boxing figure, and set up a school. London's jews decided to join the fad and studied under him. (One of his invention was Mendoza's Chop ... when the other guy swings a right at you, instead of blocking it with your left, you use your right fist to hammer his forearm and drive it away. Two or three of those and the other guy's right becomes very weak).

As a result, in a matter of a few years, London's jews were treated quite politely. An antisemite had to worry whether the fellow he meant to harrass had spent a few months with Mendoza, and was well suited to hammering the stuffing out of him. [emphasis added]
Would the fact that a Jew may have studied under Mendoza been enough to scare off an attacker? Are Orientals immune to attack because they may know karate?

There is another explanation for how Jews gained respect.
According to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame:
His acceptance by British royalty (he was the first Jew ever to speak to England’s King George III) helped elevate the position of the Jew in English society and stem a vicious tide of anti-Semitism that many Englishmen read into Shakespeare’s characterization of Shylock in his play The Merchant of Venice.
But that was then.
Today, in the US, Jews are not only accepted and recognized by the government--they hold important posts within it.
As a result, they are called neo-cons and accused of pressuring the US into taking actions that benefit Israel but are not in the best interests of the US.

And how are things in England today?
BRITISH Jews are facing a wave of anti-Semitic attacks prompted by Israel’s conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Synagogues have been daubed with graffiti, Jewish leaders have had hate-mail and ordinary people have been subjected to insults and vandalism.

On Thursday an all-party parliamentary inquiry will state that anti-Semitic violence has become endemic in Britain, both on the streets and university campuses. The report will call for urgent action from the Government, the police and educational establishments.

...The attackers, when visible, are from across society, he said. “When it’s verbal abuse, it’s just ordinary people in the street, from middle-class women to working-class men. All colours and backgrounds. We hardly ever see incidents involving the classic neo-Nazi skinhead. Muslims are over-represented.”

In 2004, Simon Sebag Montefiore wrote about being a Jew in England and how it is different than being a Jew in the US:
Being an English Jew is very different from being an American Jew. American Jews can never quite understand the insecurities of being a European Jew, for the 5.8 million American Jews feel totally secure. (Though it should be noted that in the US, there are still co-ops in uptown NYC, clubs in Miami, where Jews are inadmissible.) Here in Britain, we are only 275,000 out of 60 million. Most parts of Britain have no Jews at all. I constantly meet educated Brits who have never met a Jew. Such people can never quite believe it: "You're not, are you? Oh, you really are. Great! I've always thought you're a very clever people."
Hail Britainia.

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