Comment: How a visit to Israel changed Churchill's outlook

By
October 25, 2017 09:13

The statesman had honest look at Israel during his stay, BDS activists need to do the same.

3 minute read.



 British Home Secretary Winston Churchill is escorted by High Commissioner Herbert Samuel, in Jerusa

British Home Secretary Winston Churchill is escorted by High Commissioner Herbert Samuel, in Jerusalem during the British mandate era. . (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)

For all the detractors of the State of Israel who have never actually had any first-hand experiences from the country, why not come visit in order to see what Israel is truly about.

One of the most influential statesmen of the 20th century, a Christian who saw the Bible as the literal truth, could easily tell us of a world of difference from making decisions in a closed office 4,000 kilometers away from actually being on the ground and seeing the true reality. 

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In a memorandum that Winston Churchill wrote to Prime Minister David Lloyd George on October 25, 1919, the secretary of state for war recommended that Britain insist that the partition of the Ottoman Empire was a mistake. By doing so, the Balfour Declaration, which was made public more than two years prior, would never be advanced and the British wouldn’t play any historic role in establishing a Jewish national home in Palestine.

Further trying to play down Britain’s role in the Middle East, more than half a year later he again asked Lloyd George to do what he could to pull the British Empire out of the region, saying that the “Palestine venture is the most difficult to withdraw from and the one which certainly will never yield any profit of a material kind.”

Before he was involved at all with Britain’s foreign policy, in March 1915, he wrote a note to Foreign Secretary Edward Grey, saying that should the United Kingdom win the Middle East theater, “Palestine might be given to Christian, Liberal, and now, noble Belgium.”
Abbas says Britain should apologize for Balfour declaration promising right to Jewish homeland (credit: REUTERS)

Churchill's positions in office put in him a difficult situation to express his real opinion on a Jewish state, some historians say, which in truth was a full support of returning the Jewish people to their homeland.

But something changed inside the secretary of state for the colonies, during his tenure from 1921-1922, which brought out the Zionist in Churchill, disregarding whatever dissenting public opinion may arise. Such a radical change it was, that in historian Oskar K. Rabinowicz’s 1956 work "Winston Churchill on Jewish Problems – A Half-Century Survey," he called the leader “among the greatest friends the Jewish people have had,” and in 2012, Anthony Rosenfelder, a trustee of the Jerusalem Foundation and the man responsible for gaining permission to put a statue of Churchill in the Holy City, permitted himself to call the British statesman “a passionate Zionist all his life.”

Simply breathing in the air of the Land of Israel, seeing the landscape and being impressed by the advancements the Jews had made in the territory had a significant influence on him. Seeing how they had turned a deserted and desolate marshland into a blooming oasis – and this was with less than a hundred thousand of them actually living in Palestine, proved that the Bible was being brought to life by the people of the Bible in the land of the Bible.

“Inspecting the agricultural, technological, and urban successes of the Zionist enterprise persuaded him of its value to Jews, the country, and civilization as a whole,” wrote Daniel Mandel in an essay for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Also, in the 1921 Report on the Middle East Conference held in Cairo and Jerusalem, Churchill is quoted as saying that if the Jews in Israel would work diligently toward their goal of establishing a Jewish state, then the Holy Land would turn into the promised land, as prophesied in the Bible, “a land flowing with milk and honey, in which sufferers of all races and religions will find a rest from their sufferings.”

The debate on whether Churchill was really always in favor of a return of the Nation of Israel to the Holy Land is still being debated by historians. But it must be said that the experience of visiting Israel and taking in and understanding the history of the land from the past 2,000 years is the only way to come to an honest conclusion of the magnificent enterprise that has taken shape and continues to take shape here.
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