June 04, 2016

Jews, the slave trade and Jackie Walker

Aha, I now have the letter that was being responded to in my previous post:

The matter of Jewish participation in slavery seems to be occupying many an antisemite at the moment.

The fact remains that the loan that made the abolition of slavery in the British Dominions possible was the last of the great financial transactions of Nathan Mayer Rothschild.

The slave owners had managed to ignore the 1807 Emancipation Bill to abolish slavery in the British Empire until Nathan raised the necessary loan of £15 million required to compensate them.

It would seem that the Jews paid [sic] a large part in the abolishing of this evil trade.

Doreen Berger
Vice-President, Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain,
Now this was a contribution to the Jackie Walker controversy where, at is wildest extreme, she was accused of saying that Jews were responsible for the slave trade.  I suppose the Community Security Trust's Dave Rich struck up a happy medium between what Walker said and what her most dishonest of detractors said she said.  Here he is on Twitter after she was readmitted to the Labour Party:

Now here's the response to the letter above again:

The part played by some prominent Jews with regard to the history of slavery is perhaps less savoury than Doreen Berger suggests (Letters, May 27).  The 1807 Act abolished the slave trade within the British Empire, but slave ownership remained legal.  The 1833 Act abolished slavery itself, awarding generous compensation to the slave owners, including a proportionate number of Jews.

Nathan Mayer Rothschild struck a "profitable" deal to fund the compensation.

According to Eli Faber, recently identified by Geoffrey Alderman as "a distinguished expert in American-Jewish history", Jews had once been prominent in Brazil's sugar industry, where, as creditors, they "dominated the slave trade". Faber also cites Salo Baron's advice to face up to "historically unpleasant truths".

Some Jews subscribed to abolition societies, others profited from slavery, in one form or another.

Roy Wolfe,
Reading, Berkshire
And here's what a friend wrote to me about this storm in a teacup:
Have checked what Jackie Walker actually said and it was "many Jews were chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade".  It would have been correct if she had said "at some specific times and in some specific places, many Jews were chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade"....so it was an exaggeration and distortion of a kernel of truth....but of course she was writing a Facebook post, not a scholarly article.
To which I replied that if she had simply inserted "among" before "chief financiers" it would have been entirely uncontroversial but still the zios are looking for blood so they would have made something of it.  I could also have said that it was neither a distortion nor a mere kernel of truth.  But what it definitely wasn't was an untruth or a claim or even a hint that Jews, still less the Jews were responsible for the slave trade.

And of course my friend only looked at what Jackie Walker said in isolation. I gather that she was in conversation with someone who unable to argue that Jews are a case for national self-determination because, er, Jews are not a case for national self-determination, decided to play the Jews as eternal victims card and Jackie Walker was pointing out that with all we now know, the Jewish victim card isn't the trump it used to be.

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