Christian Europe, White colonies, and Jewish civic identity

Jefferson Schwartz writes:

This tradition continued with the formation of the next explicitly white identitarian nation, the Confederate States of America. The acceptance of Jews into the greater society was evident from the get-go. Famously, an open and professed Jewish Senator from Louisiana, Judah Benjamin, served first as the CSA Secretary of War then later as her Secretary of State. The biggest Jewish communities in America were located in the South, and Southern Rabbis authored some of the most beautiful prayers for the CSA. We have numerous correspondences between Confederate Jewish soldiers and their families expressing their love for cause and country. On Aug. 23, 1861, Rabbi Max Michelbacher of Richmond, who wrote a “Prayer for the Confederacy,” which was distributed to all Jewish Confederate soldiers, asked General Lee to grant a furlough for the Jewish soldiers to attend synagogue for the High Holy Days. Although Lee declined due to battlefield constraints, Lee responded that he felt “assured that neither you or any member of the Jewish congregation would wish to jeopardize a cause you have so much at heart.” In closing, he added: “That your prayers for the success and welfare of our Cause may be granted by the Great Ruler of the universe is my ardent wish.” Although the CSA was a short-lived nation, Jews were considered part of the white identity.

Some decades later, when Europeans took up the White Man’s burden in Africa, they established two nations, two gems: South Africa and Rhodesia. Both countries’ identities were clearly defined in racial terms. And while native Africans enjoyed far more sophisticated and capable governments as well as greater standards of living than other Africans, it was the White Man who controlled the countries’ destinies. Again, Jews were part of this order. Let us begin with South Africa.

During the years of World War II, when the Jews of continental Europe were trying to escape the Continent, there were fears in South Africa about letting them in. Prime Minister (PM) Daniel Malan, the first prime minister of the apartheid regime in South Africa in 1948, had argued that when the Jewish population became too large in a particular country, the potential for conflict would arise. He stressed that he was arguing in the best interests of Jews. Nevertheless, when the turmoil of war abated, the Jews who did live in South Africa enjoyed the fruits of the White regime, and enjoyed status equal to those of their European counterparts. Under Apartheid, (as well as today), South African Jews today were among the richest and most well connected in the country.

Rhodesia is a far less tumultuous story, and one where the connection between Jews and native Rhodesians was even closer. In 1957, the Rhodesian Board of Jewish Deputies reported that one of every seven marriages in Rhodesia are marriages between Jews and non-Jews, an alarming figure for both communities. And despite these high levels of assimilation, Jewish infrastructure (schools, synagogues, youth movements etc.) flourished. Sir Roy Welensky, a product of such intermarriage, served as the last PM of Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (a federation that lasted between 1953 and 1963 before its dissolution, and the establishment of the independent countries of Zambia, Malawi, and Rhodesia). With the demise of the white government in both South Africa and Rhodesia, the Jewish community of course has suffered and has begun to dwindle. Many have since immigrated to Israel.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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