Magna Carta's 800-year anniversary carries different lesson for Jews


Human rights laws existed before the Magna Carta by Ethel C. Fenig in American Thinker June, 2010

A few thousand years (18th to 15th century B.C.) before England's King John signed the Magna Carta against his will (800 years ago today) and the English were just another group of lawless, warring tribes- the Jews (former slaves who fled Egypt on their way to the Promised Land of Israel) willingly received the Torah at Sinai. Codified and interpreted by generations of rabbis, human rights were an integral way of life within Jewish communities, including those who lived in England in 1215 at the time of the signing of the Magna Carta. 



"Magna Carta's three Jewish clauses" by Rabbi Jonathan Romain (of Maidenhead Synagogue) in the Jewish Chronicle, 9/4/14

If you ask most people what they associate with Magna Carta, they may say: King John, barons, Runnymede, or the beginning of English democracy. What they will not say is: Jews.

Yet three of its clauses directly relate to Jews, and, in particular, their moneylending activities. It means that the document not only has enormous significance for English history, but also epitomizes the privileges and problems of medieval Anglo-Jewry.

RAF's Red Arrows decorate the comemoration of 8 centuries since King John sealed the original Magna Carta 


Magna Carta was signed on June 15 1215, and there will be many commemorative events for its 800th anniversary, but its Jewish roots go back to 1066. It is likely that individual Jews came to this country long before then, as far back as Roman times, whether willingly as traders, or by force as slaves. However, it is impossible to talk of a settled Jewish community until the late 11th century. It was then that William of Normandy brought over Jews from his French territory to help colonize his new kingdom.  Read more:
The toxic combination of religious and economic hatred led to a breakdown in relationships eventually resulting in the Jews' expulsion.

Unfortunately, England was a trend-setter, being the first country to expel its entire Jewish population, a move subsequently emulated by France and Spain. The English Jews - approximately 2,500 in number - went to France, the community from which they had originated, assimilated into its midst and disappeared from history as a recognisable group. 


Jews did not to return to British shores for another 400 years… and a summer's-day signing by the king and his barons along the banks of the Thames is the clue to that tempestuous period.

For more detail on historic anti-Semitism in Britain, please see also: Francine Carr Begbie's "Why Magna Carta celebrations will be missing two critical paragraphs"  in the Occidental Observer May, 2013

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