Wednesday, October 07, 2015

  • Wednesday, October 07, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon


Alas, I fear he’s in no position to answer me! A clergymen’s son, Captain W.H.C Thring (1873-1949) was a clever and capable British naval officer who retired from the active list in 1911. The following year he joined the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as assistant to that force’s founder, Rear-Admiral (Sir) William Creswell. Given his expertise in gunnery and strategy combined with his foresight and industry, he did much to strengthen the RAN’s preparedness for the conflict that broke out in 1914. During the First World War he was pivotal in the administration of the RAN, moving back to Britain in 1920 as this country’s naval liaison officer with the Admiralty in London, a post he held until 1922.

The other day, being a naval history buff, I stumbled upon an article by Captain Thring published in February 1923 in the Naval Review, the highly respected and scholarly organ of the UK-based Naval Society. It was an article in an “Outlines of History” series he wrote on trade routes. On page 24 we read, inter alia: “England fought Spain in the 16th century, the Dutch in the 17th and the French in the 18th, emerging the sea carriers for the world. Under the Tudors England had developed into a nation with definite aims which were shared by her rulers; in this England was ahead of her rivals. The French suffered from oppression, monarchical wars and revolution; they did not shake off the personal rule of their monarchs until 1789, and then went to such excesses that they destroyed the best elements in the nation. Italy and Germany were divided; the Dutch suffered from corruption; Spain was torn by the Inquisition and by expelling the Jews and Moors lost their workers. The Jews formed the mercantile class in Spain and the Moors were the agricultural workers; the Spaniards themselves never succeeded in filling the vacant places. England's insular position gave her protection, she had a comparatively good political constitution and her merchants developed trade on broad lines. ….”

So far so good, I guess. But then we’re told, in a footnote on the same page: ‘These “Jews” were probably, like the commercial Jews of other parts of Europe, descendants of Phoenician and Carthaginian colonists who had adopted the Jewish religion, and had become known as Jews in order to escape from persecution by the Romans.’

So there we have it, a mirror image of the “Khazars” allegation that antisemites love to trot out in relation to the origins of Ashkenazi Jewry.

I don’t know enough about Thring to ascertain his attitude to Jews, or to hazard a guess concerning his receptivity, or otherwise, to the antisemitism that was swirling at the time he wrote that article, when Jews were widely seen as agents of Bolshevism. On the face of it, there appears to be nothing sinister in his straightforwardly-presented though unexpected remarks. He seems to have no agenda, and those remarks surely lack the malice inherent in, for example, John Harvey’s notorious claims about Jews in The Plantagenets (first published in 1948, reprinted 1972) which implicitly justify the medieval ritual murder charge. I doubt that Thring was trying to undermine Jewish claims on Eretz Israel. But I wonder where his assertions originated. Has anyone encountered such allegations before, and if so, in what source[s]? I’ve asked around, and nobody seems to have any idea.


This source seems to agree, although I could not access the footnote 13 that it referenced - EoZ




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