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memri
January 12, 2001 No.
175

On Antisemitic Statements Attributed to America's Founding Fathers

On December 19, 2000, MEMRI quoted antisemitic statements attributed to George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in an article by retired Egyptian General Hassan Sweilim, in the Egyptian government weekly October. Responding to requests from MEMRI's readers, we are supplying the following comments addressing Sweilim's libels.

Washington on the Jews

In August, 1790, in a letter to Moses Seixas,[1] the warden of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport (now the Touro Synagogue), RI, President George Washington, wrote: "It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support..."

"May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants while everyone shall sit in safety under his won vine and fig-tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid."[2]

Statements by Franklin

Addressing the comments Sweilim attributes to "President" Benjamin Franklin, The Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer writes, "This old and vicious forgery appeared in 1935 in German in the Nazi's "Handbook on the Jewish Question."[3]


[1] Abba Eban, Heritage: Civilization and the Jews. Summit Books, NY, 1984, pg. 268.

[2] This paragraph is a quotation from the Old Testament (Micah 4:4).

[3] The Washington Post, March 6, 1998.