Alexander Hamilton’s Anti-Semitic Enemies

Although they were likely unaware of Alexander Hamilton’s childhood connection to Jews and Judaism, the opponents of the first treasury secretary’s policies used the old, ugly stereotypes of Jews’ nefarious relationship with money to tarnish him. Andrew Porwancher writes:

He was repeatedly accused of pursuing policies to enrich Jewish financiers overseas.  When Hamilton’s vision for a Bank of the United States materialized and its stock subscriptions quickly sold out, an editorial in a Philadelphia newspaper . . . fingered “Amsterdam Jews” as among those who were bereft of “honesty or industry” and benefitting from the bank.

Anti-Jewish polemic could also inveigh against Christians for engaging in supposedly Jewish behavior. Before Hamilton took office at the treasury, many speculators had purchased deflated government bonds from veterans of the Revolution at a fraction of their face value. Hamilton was now poised to stimulate American credit and, as a consequence, those bonds would likely skyrocket in price. A newspaper columnist in New York assailed Christian speculators who stood to harvest revenues that would otherwise have gone to soldiers. . . . He analogized them to the notorious character of Shylock from The Merchant of Venice, bristling, “Shakespeare’s Jew, the character of a vigorous imagination, is surpassed in avarice by the real character of these Christians.” . . . This kind of Gentile-on-Gentile antisemitism was not unusual for the era.

Yet Porwancher also places such anti-Semitism in a wider context:

At a time when Jews were second-class citizens in much of Europe and banished from other countries, the U.S. Constitution granted America’s Jewish population a significant measure of civic equality by making them eligible for federal office. Two years after the Constitution’s ratification, George Washington became the first head of a modern state expressly to acknowledge Jews as citizens. And Hamilton’s financial system ultimately did pass into the law despite the fevered opposition. There is much in our early history to raise concerns about the deep roots of American anti-Semitism, yet there is much to give us hope.

Read more at Marginalia

More about: Alexander Hamilton, American founders, Anti-Semitism

An Israeli Buffer Zone in the Gaza Strip Doesn’t Violate International Law

 The IDF announced on Thursday that it is safe for residents to return to some of the towns and villages near the Gaza Strip that have been abandoned since October 7. Yet on the same day, rocket sirens sounded in one of those communities, Kibbutz Mefalsim. To help ensure security in the area, Israel is considering the creation of a buffer zone within the Strip that would be closed to Palestinian civilians and buildings. The U.S. has indicated, however, that it would not look favorably on such a step.

Avraham Shalev explains why it’s necessary:

The creation of a security buffer along the Gaza-Israel border serves the purpose of destroying Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminating the threat to Israel. . . . Some Palestinian structures are practically on the border, and only several hundred yards away from Israeli communities such as Kfar Aza, Kerem Shalom, and Sderot. The Palestinian terrorists that carried out the murderous October 7 attacks crossed into Israel from many of these border-adjacent areas. Hamas officials have already vowed that “we will do this again and again. The al-Aqsa Flood [the October 7th massacre] is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth.”

In 2018 and 2019, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad organized mass marches towards the Israeli border with the goal of breaking into Israel. Billed by Palestinians as “the Great March of Return,” its name reveals its purpose—invasion. Although the marches were supposedly non-violent, they featured largescale attacks on Israeli forces as well as arson and damage to Israeli agriculture and civilian communities. Moreover, the October 7 massacre was made possible by Hamas’s prepositioning military hardware along the border under false cover of civilian activity. The security perimeter is intended to prevent a reprise of these events.

Shalev goes on to dismantle the arguments put forth about why international law prohibits Israel from creating the buffer zone. He notes:

By way of comparison, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, France occupied the Saar [River Valley] directly until 1947 and then indirectly until reintegration with Germany in 1957, and the Allied occupation of Berlin continued until the reunification of Germany in 1990. The Allies maintained their occupation long after the fall of the Nazi regime, due to the threat of Soviet invasion and conquest of West Berlin, and by extension Western Europe.

Read more at Kohelet

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, International Law, Israeli Security