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Colchester/Israel/Jews

Since the beginning of the war, antisemitism throughout the UK has exploded like a volcano, with violent anti-Israel and antisemitic demonstrations occurring weekly. And London isn’t the only city experiencing this. In Colchester, for example, the city council, from the beginning, officially welcomed the government’s conditional, and weak, support for Israel, perhaps indirectly encouraging a hostile atmosphere, even towards the small local Jewish community. In mid-October, just a week after the Hamas atrocities, dozens of mob “protesters” joined together in the city to show support for the “Palestinians” – not with the victims of the massacre. Their usual meeting spot became an area next to the war memorial on High Street, the same street that contained a medieval synagogue. Intimidating anti-Israel and antisemitic demonstrations have taken place every Sunday in the city since then, supported by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. This isn’t the first time that the Jews of Colchester had to deal with such hatred in a history that would often alternate between periods of calm and hatred.

The first Jews settled in Colchester sometime between 1159 and 1182 during a time when English, along with French and German, Crusaders were occupying the Land of Israel, severely persecuting the Jews there. But it was one of the ironies of history that England, at that time, was actually a safer place for Jews than the ancestral homeland, however briefly. Local Jewish communities had developed and in time, Colchester became the ninth most important Jewish community in the County of Essex. Rabbinic activity flourished resulting in a flowering of literature specifically in the ancient Hebrew language which was never forgotten. Today, one of the few surviving examples of this, found in the collection of a local museum, is a mid-13th century bowl engraved in Hebrew and probably owned by one Joseph of Colchester.

By royal and church decree, Jews were only allowed to engage in the financial sector of society, and only according to the rules set by church and state. Thus, Colchester, along with the other Jewish communities, developed an influential merchant class causing the jealousy, resentment, and wrath of the local (gentile) population. By 1290, the Jews were expelled from England, forbidden to return until centuries later. At the end of the 18th century, a short-lived Jewish community was again established in Colchester but a permanent community wasn’t established until the early 20th century. A congregation was finally formed in 1957, and by 2004, the Jewish population increased to approximately 100.

About the Author
David currently lives in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles pursuing many interests. He is totally anti-Zionist and is a pro-Israel blogger who also blogs about the histories of the other Arab-occupied indigenous peoples of the Middle East and North (see IndMiddleEast.blogspot.com). His booklet, The Occupied Territories [by David Marc], about these indigenous peoples, is currently sold on Amazon.
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