This decorative plate was presented to the prominent writer and political activist Israel Zangwill in 1915 by Morris Myer, editor of the Yiddish newspaper, Di Tsayt. Myer commissioned Lazar Berson to produce the plate to commemorate Zangwill’s robust treatment of a heckler at a public meeting who described him as “an alien Jew”. In the centre of the plate is the text of Zangwill’s response to the heckler.
The heckler’s cry was typical of the concern caused by the mass migration of eastern European Jews to Britain from the late 19th century. Differences in language, religion, food and appearance made the immigrants stand out. People complained of an “alien invasion”, accusing immigrants of taking jobs and housing. Newspapers and politicians argued that the government should control who was allowed to enter Britain. The Aliens Act, the first peacetime law to control immigration to Britain, was passed in 1905.