The Tower of London and the Jews

Constructed in the 11th century, the Tower of London is one of the city’s most distinctive buildings. It also looms large in Jewish history, as Robert Philpot explains:

The first hard evidence of the relationship between Jews and the Tower dates back to 1190. In that year, the constable of the Tower of London—the royal official who was responsible for taxing and protecting Jews in the capital—recorded various receipts from Jews. . . . The powers of the constable were . . . wide-ranging. They included the right to arrest Jews—both in London and elsewhere in the country—and imprison them; to bring Jewish defendants and witnesses to court at the exchequer of the Jews and to enforce judgments against them; and to levy fines against Jews, as well as assist with the collection of . . . taxes.

In September 1189, Jews were offered shelter in the Tower when they came under attack during Richard I’s coronation in London. So serious was the killing that the 12th-century chronicler and diplomat Roger of Howden recorded that only those Jews who hid in the Tower or in the homes of friends escaped death.

The only practicing Jew known to have worked at the Tower was Jurnet, the son of Abraham, who was employed as a sergeant. Ironically, he had had a previous spell at the fortress, when he was imprisoned there for tax arrears.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Jewish history, London


To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy