Lord Byron’s Proto-Zionist Poem and His Jewish Collaborator

In 1815, the British poet Lord Byron published a cycle of “Hebrew melodies,” among them a poem mourning the absence of “Israel’s scatter’d race” from “Judah’s hills.” This poem was the product of Byron’s collaboration with a Jewish musician, as Vivian Eden explains (with audio):

Isaac Nathan (1790-1864), music master to Princess Charlotte (1796-1817), was the son of a cantor who claimed to have been a Polish king’s illegitimate son. In a letter, he cold-pitched a collaboration to the poet, whom he had never met: Byron would provide poems and he, Nathan, would provide a “selection from the favorite airs which are still sung in the religious Ceremonies of the Jews. Some of these have . . . been preserved by memory and tradition alone. . . . But the latitude given to the taste and genius of their performers has been the means of engrafting on the original Melodies a certain wildness and pathos, which have at length become the chief characteristic of the Sacred Songs of the Jews.”

An impious Christian but a fan of “wildness and pathos,” as well as a supporter of disenfranchised nations (he died preparing to defend the Greeks against the Turks), Byron befriended Nathan and contributed 29 poems, not all of them connected to “Hebrews.” . . . Hebrew Melodies was a bestseller in its day.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: Arts & Culture, British Jewry, Isaac Nathan, Lord Byron, Poetry, Proto-Zionism, Romanticism

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas