Page:Zionism 9204 Peace Conference 1920.pdf/21

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Zionism]
9
THE REFORMATION

and Christian beliefs as to the Messiah. At the time of the return of the Jews to England (1655), several Christians declared themselves to be Messiahs of the Jewish nation and imagined a Jewish kingdom of which they were to be the King. Many kept the Jewish seventh day Sabbath, and we are told of certain Quakers called Sabbatharii, that they were so pious that they killed a cat for eating a mouse on Saturday. Tovey tells us that the Anti-Semites of the time declared that the Jews saw in Cromwell their Messiah.[1]

This Messianic extravagance had its counterpart among the Jews in a renewed belief in quite a series of pseudo-Messiahs; but these, instead of being merely unsuccessful leaders of Jewish rebels against their oppressors, were now men who numbered distinguished Gentiles among their friends or followers and had diplomatic relations with the princes of their time. Their resistless call to their adherents was the announcement that they would bring Israel back to the Promised Land. Nor was it only mystics or impostors that cherished this hope. Thus Joseph Nasi, Duke of Naxos, a Turkish statesman, originally a maranno fugitive from Portugal, persuaded Sultan Soliman II in 1563 to give him Tiberias and the neighbourhood for colonization by the Jews.[2] He introduced the mulberry and culture of silk into Palestine, and started a trade in cloth with Venice. He invited all persecuted Jews, especially in the Papal States, to become farmers or artisans in the new Jewish community. And, although his particular colony had no great success, it was undoubtedly the first practical step to the repopulation of Palestine by the Jew.

Side by side with those colonists, there came to northern Palestine a number of mystics and legists impelled by a religious craving, and seeking to forget the horrors of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal. Schechter, in his Studies in Judaism,[3] paints

  1. L. Simon, Aspects of the Hebrew Genius [Introduction by E. N. Adler, xix]. London, 1910.
  2. E. Charrière, Négociations de la France dans l'Orient, II. p. 736. Paris, 1850.
  3. Second Series, p. 202.