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Post History's "Alternate Israels": Angola
Created by John Eipper on 11/09/18 3:09 AM

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History's "Alternate Israels": Angola (Mendo Henriques, Portugal, 11/09/18 3:09 am)

JE asked about the "alternate Israels" that were proposed over the years.  (See Istvan Simon, 8 November.)

The idea of a colonization of parts of Portuguese Angola through the relocation of tens of thousands of Jews dates back to the second half of the nineteenth century.

After the 1910 proclamation of the Republic in Portugal, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved on June 15, 1912, the "Manuel Bravo Project," which provided for the granting of 60 to 100 hectares of land to Jewish immigrants. Despite final approval in the Senate, a year later (June 29, 1913), the project never materialized. A detail was missing: in order to become law, the project needed to be submitted to an approval by both chambers.

On the eve of World War II, in the face of an ever-decreasing number of states willing to absorb a growing number of Jewish refugees increasingly impoverished, the colonization of Angola became even more appealing. One of the most prominent voices in this process was the American press magnate, William R. Hearst. who wrote about an homeland for dispossessed or persecuted Jews in the San Francisco Examiner, 20 November 1938.

After the pogroms of November 1938, he defended the delivery of former German colonies to Jews who had fled from Germany; the territory should be expanded by the incorporation of Belgian Congo and the Portuguese Colonies of Angola and Mozambique. This Israeli territory on African soil would correspond to about half the area of the United States and would permit the formation of a new political superpower in Africa. The territories could be acquired in exchange for "cash or other concrete advantages."

This proposal provoked a reaction from the Portuguese consul in San Francisco, Jordão Mauricio Henriques, actually my grandfather. In his communiqué to the press, in The Monitor 3 December 1938, my grandfather emphasized the official position of the Portuguese government, that colonies were not on sale since they formed with the mother nation, Portugal, an indivisible whole with reciprocal interests and moral affinities.

The debate went on and it reached the British Parliament where a certain Cazalet M.P. proposed the colonization of Angola by Jewish refugees. It provoked an uproar in Portugal and the debate went on and on. It was good for my grandfather because his firm reaction brought him a promotion to Consul at São Paulo, Brazil and then first general Consul at Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Capital.

You can see more about this issue in "Portugal e os refugiados judeus provenientes do território alemão (1933-1940)," by Ansgar Schaefer. Coimbra: Imprensa da Universidade de Coimbra, 2014.

JE comments:  This is fascinating history, Mendo--I've said before that the very best WAIS posts mix the historical-international and the personal.   Dare I say the chances are very good your grandfather met Ronald Hilton in his early Stanford days?  Did you have the chance to discuss this possibility with Prof. H?

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