Last week we in the UK learned that our government played a key behind the scenes role in drafting the UN resolution formally condemning Israel for allegedly violating international law by its policy of settlement building on 'Palestinian land'.  As an Englishman by birth, that news made me ashamed of the present British Government. Since then our Prime Minister has started a U-turn, but the damage is done.
 

George Santayana wrote (in The Life of Reason, 1905): “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” How true. Much of Western Europe has bought into the false narrative that modern Israel has become an apartheid state, much like the South Africa of the 1970s. Hitler's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels said it best:  “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie"
 
One has to ask how could so many governments and peoples in an information-rich 21st century be so completely ignorant of the facts of history and prejudiced against such an ancient, gifted and benign people group.  The answer to that question is that most people don't know the important history of the early 20th century which pre-dates the modern State of Israel. Sadly, it is just easier to believe the lie. Preoccupied as so many are with the cult of celebrity and the shallow pursuit of instant gratification, there just isn't enough interest amongst the chattering classes of the West to delve into the real facts of Jewish history and the foundation of the modern Jewish State.
 
Hardly anyone I speak to has even heard of the San Remo Conference of April 1920 and the resulting British Mandate for Palestine which reveals some important facts for all British people to consider today. In the San Remo resolution and the subsequent Mandate system which became international law on July 24th 1922, Palestine became for the first time in history a legal entity. Hitherto it was just a geographical area. By the unanimous agreement of the world powers of the day, comprising the Council of the League of Nations (arguably more powerful than the UN of today) sovereignty over Palestine was vested in the Jewish People. The grant of title to this land cannot be revoked except by the Jewish People themselves.
 
The language of the Mandate system under which the Arabs gained equivalent rights over 1.93 million sq.km of land in Syria, the Lebanon and Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) is interesting. The phrase 'sacred trust of civilisations' was used. It was a very solemn and serious obligation to the Jewish people that Great Britain undertook in 1922 and in so many ways we the British betrayed that sacred trust.
 
As we in England consider what the New Year 2017 will bring, there are a few words from the Britain of one hundred years ago which the present British Government would do well to re-visit: "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 should be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status of Jews in any other country" - Balfour Declaration 1917.
 
One of the conventions in the law of war is that if warring parties can be persuaded to come to a ceasefire, then the geographical position where hostilities ceased will never be used as the basis for territorial boundaries. Yet where Israel, the only functioning democracy in the Middle-East is concerned, ceasefire lines have in the international political parlance become 'historic borders' and disputed territories have become 'occupied territories'. What irony that the only nation in the region which actually protects political and religious rights and freedoms has in this false narrative become the aggressor, vilified on the very continent where in living memory the most appalling Jewish tragedy in history unfolded.
 
Back in San Remo in 1920 the United States had an 'observer' status and subsequently the Americans were charged with a responsibility to see that Britain fulfilled its Mandate obligations. Tragically, we failed and the Americans failed too.
 
In less than three weeks time America will have a new President, America's 45th. Mr Trump in 2017 has the opportunity to take a stand for the Jewish people.  I hope he has read the history books and the story of King Cyrus in the 45th chapter of Yeshayahu - Isaiah in the Hebrew scriptures.  I hope that he makes the right choices on Israel.
 
I may be ashamed of what my government has done, but I haven't lost hope. It is a New Year, and a new day for America. In Britain, the Brexit vote in June 2016 sent a shockwave which ricocheted around the world . A Donald Trump Whitehouse was Brexit x 10. A very unlikely U.S President is about to take office and that may be very good news for Israel.
 
Nicholas Szkiler
January 3rd 2017

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