Menasseh Ben Israel

Manoel Dias Soeiro (1604–November 20th, 1657), better known as Menasseh ben Israel was a Jewish agitator, rabbi, kabbalist, founder of the first Jewish printing press in Amsterdam and most infamous for telling Oliver Cromwell that a readmission of Jews to England would make the nation richer and lead to the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Ben Israel was born on Madeira Island in 1604, with the name Manoel Dias Soeiro. A year later his parents left mainland Portugal in one of many Jewish global expansions (see Pogrom) making an opportune move to the Netherlands in 1610 while it was in upheaval. The Netherlands was in the middle of a process of religious revolt against Catholic Spanish rule throughout the Eighty Years War (1568–1648). Consequently, Amsterdam became the Jewish centre of operations in Europe at this time. As well as a rabbi, Ben Israel also became an author and printer, founding the first Jewish propaganda machine (named Emeth Meerets Titsma`h) in Holland, Amsterdam in 1626 from which his later corrupt writings would churn. Ben Israel’s financial situation improved in Amsterdam with the arrival of two Jewish entrepreneurs, the brothers Abraham and Isacc Pereyra. They hired Ben Israel to direct a small Yeshivah they had founded in the city. While this served as an ideal propaganda hub Ben Israel’s prime agenda was the occupation of Jews throughout the world. However, unlike the pogrom strategy his method was to convince the Christian population that Jewish global seizure would hasten the coming of Christ. In 1644, Ben Israel met Antonio de Montezinos, a Marrano Sephardic Jew who used Jewish propaganda to speculate that the South American Andes Indians were the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel. This gave Ben Israel the impetus to turn his attentions to England were, with the expulsion of Jews by Edward I in 1290 the Domus Conversorum (House of the Converts) established in 1232 became the only way for Jews to remain in the country. Yet their crypto status did not hamper their machinations and in 1594 secret Jew Dr Rodrigo Lopez physician to Queen Elizabeth I, was executed for plotting her murder. Nevertheless, Jewish agent Ben Israel worked hard to assert Jewish power and position; convincing Cromwell that a ‘readmission’ of Jews to England would make the nation richer and lead to the imminent return of Jesus Christ. The chief aim of Ben Israel’s writing’s was to back up his messianic claims and ingratiate a corrupt alien tribe into Europe and the world. He died at Middelberg in the Netherlands in the winter of 1657.

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