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.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

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

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security