Free to Cheat: “Jewish Emancipation” and the Anglo-Jewish Cousinhood, Part 2

Andrew Joyce, Ph.D.


The Cousinhood on the World Stage.

In 1847, London’s Jewish community had produced a statement for public consumption stressing that the election of Lionel de Rothschild would represent nothing more than the election of another politician who would work for “the welfare of the nation, and the prosperity of his country.”[33] However, later actions by members of the Cousinhood who had taken places in the legislature and in government would provide cause for pondering precisely which nation was being referred to. David Feldman has revealed that entry into the legislature facilitated greater Jewish involvement in the administration of the British Empire, and that the Cousinhood was involved in a succession of financial and political scandals which had at their root “family and religious connections,” “the pursuit of profit,” and attempts to “influence colonial affairs when it deemed [global] Jewish interests were at stake.”[34]

By 1900, through a process of ethnic and familial networking, the Cousinhood had secured many of the most significant administrative positions in the Empire. Feldman notes that the Nathan family alone had by that date secured the positions of Governor of the Gold Coast, Hong Kong and Natal, Attorney-General and Chief Justice in Trinidad, Private Secretary to the Viceroy of India, Officiating Chief Secretary to the Governor of Eastern Bengal and Assam,  and Postmaster-General of Bengal.[35] In Parliament, Lionel Abrahams was Permanent Assistant Under-Secretary at the India Office, working under his cousin Edwin Montagu who was then Parliamentary Under-Secretary for India.[36]

The first signs of the Cousinhood working for global ethnic interests came in the early 1890s. The Cousinhood, particularly the Montagu and Cohen families, had been instrumental in forming and leading the Russo-Jewish Committee throughout that decade, and as a branch of the aforementioned Anglo-Jewish Association, the Committee was also operating under the watchful eye of the Montefiore and Rothschild branches.[37] Readers of my previous work on the “pogroms” in Russia will be aware of the highly significant role of the Russo-Jewish Committee in sensationalizing and misrepresenting events in Russia, and their attempts to smother accurate reporting of those events. Acknowledgments of this elaborate fraud in mainstream scholarship are rare, although the truth has found some form of expression among a small number of non-Jewish scholars. For example Katherine Knox has described the tale of Jews fleeing pogroms as “classic mythology” and following close examination of the origins of “refugees” Knox was able to declare that millions of migrants left from areas entirely untouched by any form of disturbance.[38] Although Cousinhood funding, via the Russo-Jewish Committee, was directed at Russian Jews under the guise of aid, no historian has yet been able to provide evidence that this funding was used, or was ever intended to be used, in any way other than the facilitation of mass migration. Thus, it was Cousinhood financing that tapped what Lloyd Gartner called “the biological reservoir for the entire Jewish people” and, with the help of the wealthy American Jews led by Louis Marshall of the American Jewish Committee (see herepassim), brought about “American Jewry’s ascent from 260,000 in 1880 to 1,704,000 in 1907 and 3,197,000 in 1915″[39]. And of course, without this tremendous numerical ascent, it is difficult to conceive that there could have developed an AIPAC or an ADL which would be anything other than a noisy nuisance — but I lose myself in the “what ifs”…

Another example of the Cousinhood’s increasing grip on the direction of British politics came with growing Rothschild involvement in South Africa. Feldman states that during 1890s the Rothschild branch became “heavily involved in diamond and gold mining on the Rand.”[40] When the German-Jewish diamond and gold mining magnate Alfred Beit floated Rand Mines in 1893, he was crucial in ensuring the House of Rothschild received more than 25% of the shares. By 1899, Britain found itself at war with the Boers of the Transvaal over the vague cause of securing political rights for foreign gold miners.[41] Because of the obvious shared ethnic heritage of the mine owners and the diplomats who trod the path to war, “the view that the war was a Jewish war was commonplace among its opponents.”[42]

This opinion was reinforced by the fact that one of the conflict’s earliest supporters was J.H. Hertz — Chief Rabbi in South Africa. Hertz would later be rewarded for beating the war drum with an appointment to no less a position than “Chief Rabbi of the British Empire.”[43] In February 1900, Members of Parliament were openly acknowledging the Jewish complexion of the hostilities, with John Burns emphatically declaring before a full House of Commons that “Wherever we examine, there is a financial Jew operating, directing and inspiring the agonies that have led to this war…the British army which  used to be used for all good causes…has become the janissary of the Jews”[44] — a comment that rings true today as a description of the American armed forces as a tool of Israel and its powerful American lobby in the war in Iraq and the looming war with Iran.

The same year, the Trades Union Congress issued a statement that the war was being fought to “secure the gold fields of South Africa for cosmopolitan Jews who have no patriotism and no country.” Justice, the newspaper of the Social Democratic Federation pointed out the involvement of “unscrupulous Jewish financiers” and the “Semitic-capitalist press.”[45] It is difficult to conceive of such free public expression today in the mainstream media.

The year 1912 saw another two scandals which would reveal the hypocrisy of the Cousinhood’s emancipation-era appeals to humanity, justice, and equal opportunity. In the summer of that year, allegations began to surface that a number of Liberal Members of Parliament stood to gain from insider trading with the English Marconi Company, which was at that time under the direction of Cousinhood member, Godfrey Isaacs. Accusations centred in particular on two Liberal politicians who had shares in Marconi as well as advance information on the terms of an extremely lucrative government contract for the installation of an Empire-wide wireless network — the two politicians concerned were none other than Godfrey’s own brother Rufus, and their cousin Herbert Samuel.[46] British historian Colin Holmes has stated that the scandal had an “irreducible core of Jewish involvement,” and notable contemporary Hillaire Belloc saw the scandal as evidence of a fundamental conflict between the “Anglo-Judaic plutocracy” and the English “national interest.”[47] Although the  Cousinhood were successful in a subsequent libel suit, deft political and legal manoeuvring ensured they avoided a situation where they adopted the burden of proof, with the result that while Jewish historians such as Bryan Cheyette have crowed that the scandal was a figment of anti-Semitic imagination and that all involved were entirely innocent,[48] more sober and notably non-Jewish historians have maintained that the innocence of Isaacs and Samuel was “never finally elucidated.”[49]

The Cousinhood was of course multi-branched and quite busy. While the Samuels and the Isaacs were busy trying to disentangle themselves from one of their own webs, the houses of Montagu, Abrahams and Samuel (again) were caught out in yet another political and financial intrigue — the Indian Silver Scandal. Compared to the Marconi Scandal, Jewish historians have largely neglected this particular affair because the outcome was far from obscure and the role of Jews in it was clear-cut and easily proven. In short, because it doesn’t offer the slightest possibility of being turned into an exercise in the psychoanalysis of non-Jews or refuted with some gymnastic variant of Talmudic logic, Jewish historians have decided it is something best minimized or left alone, hopefully to die in a sufficient number of years, with the decay of the last yellowed and torn page to record it.

But let us survey the details. Until 1912, the Indian Government was partly financed by the purchase of silver through the Bank of England. This process was carried out by the Indian Office, and carried with it the benefit of avoiding dealing with a private bank and speculators, who could drive up the price. However, in 1912 Ernest Franklin, a merchant banker from the firm of Samuel Montagu and Co. approached Felix Schuster, then Chairman of the Finance Committee for the Council of India, with an offer to purchase £5 million in silver. The deal proceeded, overseen by senior civil servant Lionel Abrahams. The India Office, which had always carried out these transactions in the past, remained silent and was at that time headed by Edwin Montagu. Edwin’s cousin was Liberal Member of Parliament Stuart Montagu. There was some speculation that Stuart later became involved in attempting to “hush up” the scandal, and this takes on somewhat more significance when it is recalled that Stuart was then a partner in Samuel Montagu and Co. There are very few significant mentions of this affair in mainstream histories, though Anthony Julius states that “all these individuals were Jewish.”[50] Of course, Mr. Foxman would like us to believe that these men were linked by some other means, like a fondness for the color blue perhaps. Or maybe he could argue that it was family, rather than ethnicity that played a role, though this would run into difficulties when one recalls the involvement of Franklin and Shuster, and numerous others who were not part of the Cousinhood, but were certainly part of what appears to be a larger ethnic family.

*    *    *

To conclude, the history of Jewish ’emancipation’ and its aftermath in England is a long and sordid one, replete with hypocrisy, behind-the-scenes intrigues, and ethnic self-interest. There is no need for elaborate conspiracy theory here — the established and documented facts speak for themselves in a voice loud enough to bring reason to the honest man if only he will listen. One striking aspect to this history is that the abuse and expansion of power was concurrent with protestations of Jewish weakness and victimhood, a fact that brought to my mind the words of the great Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The sufferance which is the badge of the Jew, has made him, in these days, the ruler of the rulers of the earth.”[51] I should also answer that common critique made of any work dealing with the members of the Cousinhood: “But can you blame all Jews for the actions of a few individuals?” It has been abundantly demonstrated this history involves more than a few individuals, and that it was their Jewishness which linked them.

It is, moreover, arguable that as ‘ordinary’ Jews undoubtedly benefited from the corruption and power of their communal leaders, they themselves should be held accountable. After all, the synagogues, the charities, the communal organizations were all funded from the same corrupt source.

This type of logic, that the people should be held responsible for their leaders and their past actions, is of course a favorite among the Jews themselves. Does Stephen Brockman not typify the Jewish view on “collective guilt” when he writes: “Even Germans who had not themselves committed specific misdeeds were, at the very least, accessories to and had knowledge of them, since they had probably known about the crimes of their government and done nothing to stop them.”[52]

If I indict the Jews who supported Lionel de Rothschild, the Jews who received Cousinhood funding for their international voyage to the west, the South African Jews and their Rabbi who beat the war drum against the Boers, and the Jews of London who benefited from the philanthropy and the ethnic networking of their higher ups, then let it be known thatI am merely taking Jewish logic to its logical conclusion.

End of Part 2 of 2.

NOTES

[33] Bound and printed booklet entitled ‘Hymn and prayer to Almighty God on the occasion of the election of Baron Lionel de Rothschild as Member of Parliament for the City of London’. nd. RAL 000/375/2. Available at: http://www.rothschildarchive.org/ib/?doc=/ib/articles/BW2bPrayer.

[34] D. Feldman, “Jews and the British Empire c1900” History Workshop Journal, 63 (1), pp.70-89. Available at: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/655/2/655.pdf.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] J. Glass (ed) Sephardi Entrepeneurs in Jersusalem: The Valero Family 1800-1948, (New York: Geffen, 2007), p.123.

[38] K. Knox, Refugees in an Age of Genocide: National and Local Perspectives (London: Routledge, 1999), p.20.

[39] L. Gartner, History of the Jews in Modern Times, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p.215.

[40] D. Feldman, “Jews and the British Empire c1900” History Workshop Journal, 63 (1), pp.70-89. Available at: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/655/2/655.pdf.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] D. Feldman, “Jews and the British Empire c1900” History Workshop Journal, 63 (1), pp.70-89. Available at: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/655/2/655.pdf.

[47] B. Cheyette, Constructions of the ‘Jew’ in English Literature and Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993),  p.172 & 174.

[48] B. Cheyette, “Hillaire Belloc and the Marconi Scandal 1900-1914: A reassessment of the interactionist model of racial hatred” Immigrants and Minorities, 8 (1): pp. 128-139.

[49] H.J. Hanham, The Nineteenth Century Constitution 1815-1914: Documents and Commentary (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), p.79.

[50] A. Julius, Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), p.285.

[51] R.W. Emerson, Selected Essays (London: Penguin, 1982), p.381.

[52] S. Brockman, “The Consciousness of German Guilt” in German Literary Culture at the Zero Hour (London: Camden, 2004), p.26.

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