Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party, has always been controversial but he raised the volume last week when he suggested that the best way to unite Europe was by recreating the Roman Empire.
His vision of the Roman Empire in the 21st century is based on a partnership that included Turkey and the North African states. At the NATO summit in Madrid last month, he told replrters that this would be based on the Mare Nostrum, the Latin term for the Mediterranean Sea.
It is interesting to note that 19th-century Italian nationalist fascists used the term to describe Italy as the successor state to the Roman Empire. The term was again taken up by Benito Mussolini for use in fascist propaganda, in a similar manner to Adolf Hitler’s lebensraum system of colonialism.
Johnson’s plan was in contrast to the ‘European Political Community’ presented by France’s President Emmanuel Macron to the European Parliament on May 9. This community would allow the EU to force closer ties with non-members, such as the UK and the nations of the western Balkans.
Though Britain left the European Union in 2020 in a move known as Brexit, some European leaders feel Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has created a greater need for unity in the face of a common threat. A parallel organization would enable Britain to join without reentering the EU.
Johnson and Macron had an opportunity to discuss their divergent visions at the G7 Summit in Germany last week.
“Emmanuel has an idea, which I actually claim paternity of this idea,” Mr. Johnson said.
“I had this idea back when I first became foreign secretary. My view is that we should rebuild the whole concept of … so I think that Turkey should be there, I think that Maghreb should be there, and I think we should basically be recreating the Mare Nostrum of the Roman Empire.
“That’s basically what I think. Of course Ukraine, Turkey, Maghreb, there’s got to be a role for all of us in a wider conversation about issues that affect all of us.”
“There’s a role for… I think Turkey is crucial. I think the North African littoral is also a very important area for the wider European debate. Israel. Come on.”
Johnson has compared his country to the Roman Empire on several occasions. Last year, he blamed the fall of the Roman Empire on uncontrolled immigration, adding that the same problem was to blame for the current global warming, a problem which threatened to return the world to the “dark ages.”
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) October 30, 2021
“When the Roman empire fell, it was largely as a result of uncontrolled immigration,” Johnson said in an interview at the G-20 in Italy. “The empire could no longer control its borders, people came in from the east, all over the place, and we went into a dark ages, Europe went into a dark ages that lasted a very long time. The point of that is to say it can happen again. People should not be so conceited as to imagine that history is a one-way ratchet.”
“Unless you can make sure next week at Cop in Glasgow that we keep alive this prospect of restricting the growth in the temperature of the planet then we really face a real problem for humanity.”
This claim citing immigration as the cause of the fall of the Roman Empire was widely contested on social media.
In Jewish tradition, Rome is associated with Edom, the nation that descended from Esau, the son of Isaac and the brother of Jacob. Additionally, Edom has been associated with the Catholic Church which was centered in Rome. Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a prolific end o days writer, noted that England is associated with Edom and Rome, though not directly.
“Even though England was under Roman rule, its origins are in Germany,” Rabbi Winston said. Britain was a part of the Roman Empire for almost 400 years after the Britons were conquered by Julius Caesar in 54 BCE. A distinctive Romano-British culture emerged. The Roman goddess Britannia became the female personification of Britain. But the Britons were Germanic in origin.
“English is a Germanic language, not a romance language. But even Germany saw itself as the inheritor of the title of the Roman Empire. The Nazis referred to themselves as the Third Reich, as the presumed successor of the medieval and early modern Holy Roman Empire of 800 to 1806 (the First Reich) and the German Empire of 1871 to 1918 (the Second Reich).”
“Britain was imperialist because it saw itself as the successor to the Roman Empire,” Rabbi Winston said. Johnson’s empirical aspirations are not unfounded and can be understood to be a part of the British national identity as the British Empire once spanned a quarter of the globe.”
“Because they are Edom, England has a tendency to hate Jews and like Arabs,” Rabbi Winston said. He noted that all of Britain’s Jews were expelled in 1290 by an edict that was not rescinded until 1655. Blood Libels which falsely accuses Jews of murdering Christian boys in order to use their blood in the performance of religious rituals originated in 12th century England.
One of the worst anti-Semitic massacres of the Middle Ages took place in York in 1190. The city’s entire Jewish community was trapped by an angry mob inside the tower of York Castle. Many members of the community chose to commit suicide rather than be murdered or forcibly baptized by the attackers.
“Imperialism is anti-Bible,” Rabbi Winston said. “If you believe in the world to come, in God’s judgment, you wouldn’t endanger that by cruelly conquering others. But if you don’t believe in the world to come, then you would try to take a bigger part of this world.”