Fundamentally Freund: Happy Balfour Day!

It is time for Israel to fight back and to wage a counteroffensive in the war of ideas. We cannot sit by idly and watch as lies, slander and defamation are hurled our way. Our right to this land is undeniable.

October 31, 2012 21:30
4 minute read.
Balfour lays the Hebrew University foundation ston

Balfour lays the Hebrew University foundation stone, 1918. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)


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Recent years have seen an intensified effort by Israel’s foes to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state.

From organizing flotillas to Gaza to pushing for boycotts and sanctions, these misguided militants have sought to rebrand Israel as a bellicose and aggressive nation.

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Consisting of an increasingly strident chorus of Islamist radicals, Western anarchists and pro-Palestinian activists, they have made it their mission to besmirch Israel on college campuses, in the international press and at every available opportunity.

Not content with critiquing Israeli governmental policy, this knot of knaves has gone a step further, seeking to undermine the validity of Israel’s existence by portraying it as an illicit entity in the region. Left unanswered, these charges may begin to stick, further weakening Israel’s image abroad and damaging her standing worldwide.

It is time for Israel to fight back and to wage a counteroffensive in the war of ideas. We cannot sit by idly and watch as lies, slander and defamation are hurled our way. Our right to this land is undeniable and inviolable and we must assert it with all the intensity and determination that we can muster.

A good place to start would be to give the world a quick history lesson and remind them that we are here by right and not out of pity.

After all, it was 95 years ago this week, on November 2, 1917, that the British government issued one of the most significant documents of the modern era – the Balfour Declaration – which reaffirmed the right of the Jewish people to renew their ancient Biblical homeland in Israel.

Written by foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour and approved by His Majesty’s government, the declaration stated clearly and unequivocally that Britain’s leaders “view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.”

Subsequently, when the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, approved the Mandate for Palestine in July 1922, it formally incorporated the Balfour Declaration.

In the preamble, it stated that, “the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The Mandate, which was approved by more than 50 member nations, also noted “the historical connections of the Jewish people with Palestine.”

In other words, Israel was later established with the full backing and support of the international community, and it was the Balfour Declaration which laid the conceptual groundwork for that to happen.

As Norman Bentwich, who served as the British-appointed attorney-general for mandatory Palestine, noted in his book, Mandate Memories, “The Balfour Declaration was not an impetuous or sentimental act of the British government, as has been sometimes represented, or a calculated measure of political warfare. It was a deliberate decision of British policy and idealist politics, weighed and reweighed, and adopted only after full consultation with the United States and with other Allied Nations.”

Hence, the creation of the Zionist state was neither a rogue act nor an unlawful deed. It was fully grounded in international law and approved by the nations of the world. Anyone who claims otherwise is simply twisting the truth.

And Balfour Day, the day it all began, therefore presents us with a wonderful opportunity to jog the world’s memory and silence those who say that we are sitting on stolen land. It is a day we should be celebrating as a seminal moment in Israel’s modern- day rebirth.

In case you think that the Balfour Declaration is little more than ancient history and that no one really cares about such things, think again.

For a number of years, the Palestinians have been waging a campaign specifically targeting the Balfour Declaration which has included rallies, protests and even calls by Palestinian officials for an apology from Britain.

An October 24 report on Iran’s Press TV stated that a London-based Palestinian group is launching a crusade to compel the UK government to express regret for its “past atrocities starting with the Balfour Declaration.”

Clearly, if the Palestinians deem it important enough to wage war against, the dusty old pages of the Balfour Declaration are still highly relevant.

And that is why it is imperative that we once again embrace Balfour Day each year and commemorate it as widely as possible. We must utilize this occasion to educate Jews and non-Jews alike regarding the justness of our cause, which far too many seem to have overlooked.

The battle over Israel’s legitimacy is well underway, and we must use every tool at our disposal to defend the truth. By restoring some historical consciousness and context to the dispute, we can even the playing field and make a better and more compelling case that Israel’s right to exist, regardless of what our critics might say, is not something that is open to debate.

Happy Balfour Day!

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