The Jewish Sailors of Trafalgar

On October 21, Britons marked the 217th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, at which the British navy, commanded by Admiral Horatio Nelson, defeated the combined maritime forces of France and Spain—ending Napoleon’s quest for naval dominance. Georgia Gilholy delves into the stories of the Jews who fought in the battle:

Possibly the youngest fighter at Trafalgar was John Edwards, born Menachem ben Shmuel, who is thought to have been a “powder monkey”—the crew who carried gunpowder—aged only ten on the Victory. Prior to his death in 1893 he was believed to be the last survivor of the historic battle. In June 1841 his occupation was noted as a slop-seller in London’s Radcliffe Highway. He later moved to Portsmouth where he became synagogue warden and a city councilor.

While the 1673 Test Act forbade all non-Anglicans from becoming naval officers until 1829, no such barriers existed for lower-deck seamen, and many Jewish men played their part at Trafalgar. The admiralty was known to bend its rules when convenient, and 71 of HMS Victory’s 820 crew were “foreigners,” most of whom were probably “pressed” into joining or received a bounty for volunteering.

Regardless of the impediments to promotion, many Jews volunteered for the Royal Navy. Joseph Manuel, Nathan Manuel, Henry Levi, and Benjamin Solomon, all London-based Jews, joined up on the same day, choosing to serve on the HMS Britannia, which lost ten men at Trafalgar.

A Hebrew ode commemorating the death of Nelson, on display at the Jewish Museum in London, speaks to the regard its commander was held in by the many who had fought under him on that perilous day.

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Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Jewish history, Jews in the military, Napoleon Bonaparte

 

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror