Benjamin Disraeli

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Benjamin Disraeli.

Benjamin Disraeli (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881) was twice prime inister of the United Kingdom. He is the only British prime minister to have been of Jewish birth.

A less politically correct description: "Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria’s prime minister from 1868 to 1869, and from 1874 to 1880. From a family of Portuguese Marranos converted back to Judaism in Venice, his grandfather had moved to London in 1748. Benjamin’s father, Isaac D’Israeli, the author of a book on The Genius of Judaism, had his whole family baptized when Benjamin was thirteen, for purely mundane reasons — administrative careers were still closed to the Jews. Disraeli, a “race fanatic” according to Hannah Arendt, defined himself as “Anglican of Jewish race.”

Disraeli has been called the true inventor of British imperialism, since it was he who, by introducing the Royal Titles Act in 1876, had Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India by Parliament. He orchestrated the British takeover of the Suez Canal in 1875, through funding from his friend Lionel Rothschild (an operation that also consolidated the Rothschilds’ control over the Bank of England). But Disraeli can also be considered one of the forerunners of Zionism. Well before Theodor Herzl, Disraeli tried to add the “restoration of Israel” to the Berlin Congress agenda, hoping to convince the Ottoman Sultan to concede Palestine as an autonomous province.

So what was Disraeli’s motivation behind his foreign policy? Did he believe that the fate of the British was to conquer the world? Or did he see the British Empire as the instrument for the Jewish nation’s fulfillment of its destiny? In mooring the Suez Canal to British interests, did he just seek to outdo the French, or was he laying the foundation for the future alliance between Israel and the Anglo-American Empire? No one can answer these questions with certainty. But his contemporaries pondered them. William Gladstone, his longtime competitor for the prime ministry, accused him of “holding British foreign policy hostage to his Jewish sympathies.”"[1]

Another: "By the mid-1830s, English Jews led by the Cousinhood began to press for the removal of Christian oaths in Parliament and this for their ability to enter the legislature. [...] A remarkable but quite unsurprising detail about this time concerns the complicity of Benjamin Disraeli [...] never ceased to support Jewish ethnic interests, and became notorious for espousing a repugnant Jewish supremacism in his novels Coningsby (1844), Sybil (1845), and Tancred (1847). [...] The diaries of Louise de Rothschild, sister-in-law to Lionel, further reveal that Disraeli had become a regular dining companion with members of the Cousinhood, and that during one evening with the Rothschilds in November 1847, Disraeli had argued that “we [my italics] must ask for our rights and privileges, not for concessions.”"[2]

See also