Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Philo-Semites

Taking as her point of departure Andrew Porwancher’s The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton, which explores the first treasury secretary’s possible Jewish origins and many Jewish connections, Juliana Geran Pilon discusses the American Founders’ attitudes toward Jews:

John Adams described Jews as “avaricious,” as did Benjamin Franklin, who thought greed to be entrenched in the Jewish psyche. Yet they both expressed great admiration for the Hebrews. Adams declared them to have influenced the affairs of mankind more, and more happily, than any other nation, ancient or modern, going even so far as to describe them as “the most glorious Nation that ever inhabited the earth.” Franklin also exhibited an “inconsistent mix of bias and tolerance toward Jews and their faith.” (He always included synagogues among the beneficiaries of his donations to the building of houses of worship.)

Franklin’s ambivalence, writes Porwancher, “made him typical of several other Founders.” Only George Washington’s utter “lack of prejudice against Jews was of a piece with Hamilton’s, although the former never developed the extensive ties to Jews that the latter would.”

In 1787, [Hamilton] took up the cause of his alma mater, King’s College, renamed Columbia, whose 1754 charter had just come up for renewal. The New York State legislature wanted to wrest control from the board of trustees, but Hamilton was instrumental in thwarting that plan. The charter was also updated to revoke explicitly the administration’s power to “prescribe a form of public prayer.” It even abolished any requirements “which render a person ineligible to the office of president of the college on account of his religious tenets.” A new trustee was also named to Columbia’s board: Gershom Seixas, a Jew. “Seixas and Hamilton had previously sat together on a board of regents that oversaw education writ large in the state of New York,” writes Porwancher, “but now—for the first time since higher education began in America with the founding of Harvard in 1636—a Jew would serve as a trustee of a specific college. Columbia would not have another Jew on its board until 1928.”

Read more at Law and Liberty

More about: Alexander Hamilton, American founding, American Jewish History, Philo-Semitism

Hamas Has Its Own Day-After Plan

While Hamas’s leaders continue to reject the U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal, they have hardly been neglecting diplomacy. Ehud Yaari explains:

Over the past few weeks, Hamas leaders have been engaged in talks with other Palestinian factions and select Arab states to find a formula for postwar governance in the Gaza Strip. Held mainly in Qatar and Egypt, the negotiations have not matured into a clear plan so far, but some forms of cooperation are emerging on the ground in parts of the embattled enclave.

Hamas officials have informed their interlocutors that they are willing to support the formation of either a “technocratic government” or one composed of factions that agree to Palestinian “reconciliation.” They have also insisted that security issues not be part of this government’s authority. In other words, Hamas is happy to let others shoulder civil responsibilities while it focuses on rebuilding its armed networks behind the scenes.

Among the possibilities Hamas is investigating is integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA), the very body that many experts in Israel and in the U.S. believe should take over Gaza after the war ends. The PA president Mahmoud Abbas has so far resisted any such proposals, but some of his comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are less certain:

On June 12, several ex-PLO and PA officials held an unprecedented meeting in Ramallah and signed an initiative calling for the inclusion of additional factions, meaning Hamas. The PA security services had blocked previous attempts to arrange such meetings in the West Bank. . . . Hamas has already convinced certain smaller PLO factions to get on board with its postwar model.

With generous help from Qatar, Hamas also started a campaign in March asking unaffiliated Palestinian activists from Arab countries and the diaspora to press for a collaborative Hamas role in postwar Gaza. Their main idea for promoting this plan is to convene a “Palestinian National Congress” with hundreds of delegates. Preparatory meetings have already been held in Britain, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar, and more are planned for the United States, Spain, Belgium, Australia, and France.

If the U.S. and other Western countries are serious about wishing to see Hamas defeated, and all the more so if they have any hopes for peace, they will have to convey to all involved that any association with the terrorist group will trigger ostracization and sanctions. That Hamas doesn’t already appear toxic to these various interlocutors is itself a sign of a serious failure.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian Authority