Balfour Declaration & Moral Courage


Raoul Wallenberg has been called the greatest humanitarian of the 20th Century. During the darkest days of the Holocaust, as a Swedish diplomat in Budapest, Raoul Wallenberg was a beacon of light. Over six months in 1944, he rescued 100,000 Jews.

In the words of my teacher Professor Irwin Cotler, Raoul Wallenberg showed that “one person with the courage to care, and the commitment to act, can confront evil and transform history.”

Today, on Sweden’s national Raoul Wallenberg Day, it is an honor for me to be addressing you here, in Stockholm’s Raoul Wallenberg Square, together with representatives of the Swedish Parliament.

Today, here in Sweden and around the world, all of us should take the opportunity to reflect upon and be inspired by the heroism of this great humanitarian.

Raoul Wallenberg was a diplomat representing a neutral country in time of war. But what he did teaches us that humanity is a higher value that neutrality.

As Eli Wiesel said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Whenever human beings are persecuted, we must never be silent. Each one of us has a duty to intervene.

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Jewish Action — Not Balfour — Created Israel

The campaign waged by Palestinians and their supporters to demand that Britain apologize for the Balfour Declaration, a century after it was issued, betrays yet again their fundamental misunderstanding of how and why the modern State of Israel came into being. Israel is the outcome of deliberate Jewish action — not of foreign hand-outs. Israel is a country attained – not a land given.
The Balfour Declaration — that short letter written in the fog of the Great War by Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild, expressing His Majesty’s Government’s favorable view of the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the ancestral land of the Jews — demonstrates the remarkable manner in which Zionism was able, in a few short decades, to infuse Jews with a sovereign spirit.
Multiple explanations are given as to why, in 1917, the British foreign minister would write such a letter to a prominent Jew: anything from British antisemitism, to British religious philo-Semitism, to British war interests. But all of these factors would have been irrelevant in the absence of deliberate Jewish Zionist action.
Without the preceding two decades of Zionist activism in making the case for Jewish self-determination in the Land of Israel, and without the Zionist can-do spirit of Chaim Weizmann, who deployed his connections and his powers of persuasion to that end, there would still have been British antisemitism, British religious philo-Semitism and British war interests, but no letter.

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Mahmoud Abbas Should Endorse the Balfour Declaration

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Rather than entrench itself in its century-long rejection of the “other” at the certain cost of prolonging its people’s suffering, the Palestinian leadership should accept the legitimacy of Jewish statehood. This was, in fact, acknowledged 100 years ago by the international community, including the world’s foremost Muslim power, the head of the pan-Arab movement, and most Palestinian Arabs.

“The Balfour Declaration promised Palestine – over which Britain had no legal right – to a people who had no claim whatsoever to the country, nor did even live there.”

So goes the standard Palestinian indictment of the British government’s pledge to facilitate “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” provided that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

It’s an emotionally gripping claim, but is also the inverse of the truth in at least three key respects. Britain had the right to make the declaration; the Jewish people had a claim to Palestine deriving from a millenarian attachment to the land; and no other nation that could stake a similar claim existed at the time.

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BBC Today’s disgraceful Balfour travesty

BBC radio’s flagship Today programme broadcast this morning (around 0720, then again at around 0735) a vicious historical travesty to mark today’s centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the letter from Britain’s Foreign Secretary in 1917 committing the government to work towards the establishment of a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people.

Presenter Nick Robinson revealed a degree of historical illiteracy matched only by the aggression he displayed towards Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely – who herself gave a master-class in catastrophically missing the point, and thus utterly failed to address the central calumny being hurled at Israel from the other side of the microphone.

Robinson stated first that this letter promised a homeland for the Jewish people alongside another homeland for the Arabs. It did no such thing. The relevant text of the letter was as follows:

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country” (my emphasis).

The crucial point is in the passage I have highlighted. For the British government did not offer, as Robinson falsely stated, a second homeland for the Arabs. Its undertook rather to protect the “civil and religious” rights of existing non-Jewish communities.

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Balfour and Beersheba: 100 Years Since Australian Cavalry Charge Opened Way to Modern Israel

On Tuesday, exactly one hundred years after the Australian 4th Cavalry Light Horse Brigade conducted its lightning attack to take the southern city of Beersheba from the Ottomans, one hundred Aussies mounted up and recreated the historic charge, reaffirming the deep connection between Israel and one of its earliest allies.

The Battle for Beersheba

In addition to its Biblical importance, the city of Beersheba was a strategic key in the World War I battle for the Middle East.  The battle for the city was a key part of the British-led campaign to knock the Ottoman Empire, Germany’s ally, out of the war.

Sitting aside one of the main routes from Egypt to Palestine, Beersheba contained water wells that were described in the Bible. These wells were a matter of life or death for the British army’s Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), far from home and running on overextended supply lines. Its initiative had been faltering and the leadership had been passed on to a new commander: British General Edmund Allenby.

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From Balfour to Nikki Haley: A Century of Christian Zionist Support for Israel

There were many driving factors behind Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour’s decision on November 2, 1917, to write a letter to Britain’s most illustrious Jewish citizen, Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, expressing the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

On the one hand, British imperialism was a driving force; the British parliament hoped to establish a Zionist state under British protection between the crucial territories of India and Egypt to ensure its dominance in the region. On the other hand, amid World War I, without promise of a sizeable infusion of American troops to arrive and support Allied forces, British leaders hoped a formal declaration in favor of Zionism would help gain Jewish support for the Allies in countries like the U.S. and Russia.

However, according to historian and Deputy Minister Michael Oren, there was another equal factor: Christian Zionism.

Christian Zionism is a belief by Christians that the return of the Jews to their Holy Land and the restoration of the Land of Israel is a promise made by God and in accordance with Biblical prophecy.

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The malevolent guest at London’s Balfour dinner

When Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to attend this week’s dinner in London to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, a dinner to which Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been invited as the guest of Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, Corbyn said Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry would attend in his place.

Now remarks made by Thornberry inescapably imply that, like Corbyn, she too regrets the fact that Israel was ever created. Instead she supports its mortal enemies whose agenda remains Israel’s destruction.

In an interview published today with the Middle East Eye news site, Thornberry said the UK should not celebrate the Balfour Declaration, which pledged Britain’s support for a Jewish national home, because there is not yet a Palestinian state.

“I don’t think we celebrate the Balfour Declaration but I think we have to mark it because I think it was a turning point in the history of that area and I think probably the most important way of marking it is to recognise Palestine.”

And she went on to blame Israel for the fact that there was no state of Palestine.

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