Sunday 2 November 2014

November 2. The Balfour Declaration.

Today is the date in 1917 that the Balfour Declaration was signed whereby the British Government looked in favor of the establishment of the Jewish national home in Palestine. 
That was the conventional wisdom at that time.

The Balfour Declaration was to see its principles enshrined into international legitimacy at the 1922 League of Nations in which the Mandate for Palestine granted the re-establishment of the national home of the Jewish people.

This Treaty is as binding today as are all the other Mandates that received their birthrights from this League of Nations congress. Nations such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, even Hungary and Austria derive their legitimacy from these Mandates. You do not see anyone demonstrating opposition to their establishment. 

None of the other Mandates stipulated to whom the mandate was granted. The Mandate for Palestine was the only one that specified to which national group the mandate was designed to create, namely the Jewish people.

The recent British Parliamentary vote must be seen in the light of Balfour, San Remo and the League of Nations. As such it serves to dishonor the British who have a history of duplicity when it comes to the Jewish homeland.

This duplicity follows the behavior of the Arabs.
When Emir Faisal was anxious to grab a portion of the land of the defeated Ottoman Empire, having seen Syria and Iraq go to his Arab kin and rivals, he made a public pact with Chaim Weizmann in which, in 1919, he wrote “The Arabs admit the moral claims of the Zionists. They regard the Jews as kinsmen whose just claims they would be glad to see satisfied. No true Arab can be suspicious of Jewish nationalism and I say to the Jews - Welcome back home!"

In an act of dishonor to their own Declaration and commitment to the League of Nations Mandate, Winston Churchill  carved out 77%,a major part of Mandated Palestine, to appease a threatening Emir Abdullah. Churchill forced through an amendment to the British Mandate dividing it into two administrative areas, namely west of the Jordan River to become the national home of the Jewish people and the east of the river to become TransJordan under the rule of the Hashemite family from Saudi Arabia. The amendment stated that the TransJordan part of Palestine was to be except from the Mandate provisions for a Jewish national home.
This injustice to the Jewish people has never been compensated. The opposite is true. Despite this unilateral sacrifice the Jewish State of Israel has always been hit upon for even more land concessions. The Arabs were given Jordan, the bulk of Mandated Palestine as well as territory which is today Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Even Saudi Arabia obtained its independence as a result of the death of the Ottoman Empire and the post-Mandate political effect in the region, aided by Britain. Who can say that the Arabs were not more than adequately accommodated as a result of the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the division of the region? It has been the Jews that have not had their legitimacy accepted to this day.

Under their Mandated power the British prevented Jewish immigration into the land designated as their national home. In cruel incidents, the British deported arriving escapees from Nazi Germany back into the jaws of the Holocaust.

Since that time we have seen a history of constant violent attempts by the Arabs to destroy what was left of a Jewish State that transformed into the State of Israel. The British prevented the nascent Jewish State from arming themselves when faced by invading Arab armies which they armed and trained.

Rather than support the rightful and sovereign claims of Israel, the Europeans, now including a section of the British Parliament, is chipping away at Israel’s legitimacy in favor of a dubious entity that, given its dismal track record, shows no sign of living in peace alongside Israel, but instead has denounced the Balfour Declaration and all past history and present facts that give legitimacy to a Jewish State anywhere in the Middle East.

Let me state it clearly. No subsequent treaty, or legally binding resolution, has ever replaced the absolute international legitimacy that was granted to the Jewish nation in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate to which the Balfour Declaration was a precursor.

What the British morally gave ninety seven years ago, they are immorally degrading today.

Barry Shaw is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the  He is a member of the Knesset Forum on Israel’s legitimacy.

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