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Jewish Britain

A History in 50 Objects

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Zangwill plate

This decorative plate was presented to the prominent writer and political activist Israel Zangwill in 1915 by Morris Myer, editor of the Yiddish newspaper, Di Tsayt. Myer commissioned Lazar Berson to produce the plate to commemorate Zangwill’s robust treatment of a heckler at a public meeting who described him as “an alien Jew”. In the centre of the plate is the text of Zangwill’s response to the heckler.

The heckler’s cry was typical of the concern caused by the mass migration of eastern European Jews to Britain from the late 19th century. Differences in language, religion, food and appearance made the immigrants stand out. People complained of an “alien invasion”, accusing immigrants of taking jobs and housing. Newspapers and politicians argued that the government should control who was allowed to enter Britain. The Aliens Act, the first peacetime law to control immigration to Britain, was passed in 1905.

Comments

15/03/2012

Elizabeth Selby

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your comment. We don't appear to have a translation of the outer ring of Yiddish text, but the inner ring reads "Israel Zangwill". The English text in the centre reads: 'I am a Jew, of course, and I am proud of it. The advantage of being of Jewish birth brought me into relation with a good deal of suffering all over the world, and I appreciate more than Englishmen possibly may do the great advantage the English enjoy in the possession of liberty in their constitution' Israel Zangwill".

15/03/2012

Mark Buggy

I Would very much like to read the plate text in English.

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