Page 68 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
56
and his Zionist fervor in 1915 rather amazed Asquith. The Jewish
tragedy is brought out in the book, as Lord Samuel describes the
great work for the relief of German Jewish refugees which he
headed. But the book is, above all, Jewish for the Jewish spirit
that pervades all the pages, the moral aspect which is stressed,
echoing prophetic yearnings and rejecting the materialistc inter-
pretation of history. There is much that may be criticized in
Lord Samuel’s Memoirs in regard to policy relating to Palestine,
as he presents it, but the volume undoubtedly reflects an essentially
Jewish spirit by one of the most striking personalities in con-
temporary Jewish history.
BIOGRAPHY OF RUFUS ISAACS
In marked contrast to the Jewishness of Lord Samuel’s Memoirs
is the biography of Rufus Isaacs, first Marquess of Reading
(Hutchinson), by his son. There is nothing Jewish in it, except
the fact that he was a Jew, and, of course, some of the inherent
Jewish qualities that are revealed in his personality. Indeed, the
biographer makes it appear that his father’s Jewish consciousness
was completely submerged in the English patriot. Remembering
that during the Marconi affair, in which Rufus Isaacs (as. he was
then) was involved, the Jewish element was greatly emphasized
in many political quarters, the Chesterton-Belloc group making
a vital issue of it and drawing implications from Jews holding
positions of importance in the State — Isaacs was then Attorney
General — his Jewish consciousness was inescapable. The biog-
rapher mentions that his father strongly disapproved of the title
of Raymond’s book on Disraeli,
An Alien Patriot
, which is sig-
nificant but not surprising. Disraeli himself might have been
amused at such a description. But Reading, who was sometimes
wrongly compared to that genius, feared that it was a reflection
on his own Britishism. The first Lord Reading was a man of
immense ability, flexibility, exceptional charm and tact, but he
lacked learning, imaginativeness and that quality of greatness
which distinguished Lord Beaconsfield. Hence, the absence of
conscious appreciation of his Jewish origin. At the end of his
great career, he was in some way identified with Palestine, thanks
largely to Lord Melchett whose daughter is the wife of the present
Lord Reading.
*
Different from the minutely chronicled biography of Lord
Reading, presented in two volumes, by his devoted son, is the
graceful portrait of Claude Montefiore in
Some Recollections of
Claude Goldsmid Montefiore
,
1858-1938
(Faber & Faber), by