November 22, 2017: 1917 in Jerusalem

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
1917 in Jerusalem
While Barry Shaw (“1917 and the liberation of Jerusalem,” Comment & Features, November 20) refers to the times Britain went back on its obligations – especially after the 1939 MacDonald White Paper and during the Holocaust – we should remember the consequences of both the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate.
First, the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate encouraged and enabled Jewish immigration to Palestine.
Until the mid-1930s, the gates were wide open. It was David Ben-Gurion who said it was the Jews who let us down by not coming when they could.
In 1917, the Jewish population of Palestine was about 90,000. By 1948, only 30 years later, it had reached about 650,000, over seven times greater – and critical for declaring statehood. Without those numbers, it is doubtful whether Israel could have come into being as a viable state.
Second, while the British authorities did frequently support the Arabs when they were rioting, in the great Arab Revolt of 1936 to1939, the British were very much tougher with the Arabs than with the Jews. By 1939, all of the Arab leadership except for Abd al-Qader al-Husseini had been eliminated, either killed or exiled. As a result, when the Arabs began to leave Palestine from 1939, first in a trickle and then from 1947 in a deluge, there were no Arab leaders to persuade them to stay.
For us, the above-mentioned facts are the significant results of the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate.
Barry Shaw takes us on a somewhat comical yet serious journey.
We are told of cooks lost while searching for cooking water, wandering near the Jaffa Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City and being confronted by a large delegation of city officials – and becoming so scared that they ran back to their unit. Then we are told that at 8 the following morning, two British sergeants were scouting the Old City walls when they were approached by a group of Arab dignitaries holding a white flag. Being overwhelmed by the sudden responsibility of accepting the surrender of Jerusalem, they apologized after pictures were taken for posterity, saying they were unable to accept the surrender but promising to send a more senior officer.
After another such refusal by two artillery officers, an officer in the 303rd Brigade of the 60th Division arrived and was amazed to see the mayor with the white flag, and the surrender to the British was finally accepted.
Jews of Palestine who made up the Jewish Legion, serving in the 38th and 39th Regiments of the British Army, fought and died fighting alongside their British and ANZAC comrades to drive the Turks out of the land. The Jews of the NILI espionage network risked their lives, some being tortured or hanged, to bring vital intelligence to the British that led to this victory.
The Arabs never expressed any national longing throughout the Palestine Campaign, nor did they fight for national rights to the land, just as they never expressed any national longing during the 19-year illegal occupation by Jordan following 1948. In fact, as we know, during World War II, the Arabs fought for the Nazis – which didn’t make the Brits love them any less or hate the Jews any less.
The British Mandate was not implemented as intended by the Balfour Declaration, and in 1920, Jewish women were raped, Jewish men were killed and Jewish property was destroyed by the Arabs.
What provoked this terrorist atrocity? There were no “settlements”; there was no “occupation”; there was no “storming” of the Aksa Mosque.
Could it possibly be that these “peace-loving Arabs” – with whom US President Donald Trump and many others are holding negotiations over our historic, sovereign land and are hell-bent on making a deal – actually want the total destruction of the Jewish people and the State of Israel? It seems to me that the facts speak for themselves, and the only problem is that those who should be listening have chosen blindness and deafness instead.
Next year in Jerusalem
One might not be in a position to argue the point made by reader Ardie Geldman, that the Western Wall does not belong to all Jews and belongs solely to the sovereign State of Israel (“Western Wall conundrum,” Letters, November 20).
However, when Jews around the world says “Next year in Jerusalem” at the Passover Seder, it should be possible and only fitting for all Jews to commemorate past exile and do this in its truest sense – by having access for all to pray at the Wall. Only then will this holiday declaration have true meaning.
Tel Aviv
Banking on mother’s milk
With regard to “Mother’s milk bank to open with MDA” (November 19), I refer you to my letter of October 26, 2015. There, the potential of breast feeding for reducing autism in particular is explained.
In my latest scientific publication, the benefit of human milk, especially for premature babies, is described; it is proposed that such children should be breast-fed exclusively for the first full year of life.
Many new mothers either produce insufficient amounts of milk or, for career commitments, are unable to collect enough milk for such care of their newborns, making alternative sources necessary.
The writer is an obstetrician and gynecologist. He was lead editor of The Cause of Autism – Concepts and Misconceptions (2014).
Matter of wording
In his interesting report “Earliest proof of eggplant seeds unearthed in City of David” (November 17), Daniel K. Eisenbud refers to “Christ’s thorn jujube pits.”
As far as I know, the word “christ” means messiah, which to Jews he certainly wasn’t. I think the correct phrase should have been “Jesus’s thorn jujube pits.”
Kiryat Ono
The editor notes: The term was part of a passage in quotation marks that directly quoted a news release issued by the Antiquities Authority.
A ‘forecast’ is just that
I simply don’t understand the obsession this country has with regard to the weather. It is the first item on the news and in the newspaper, and is talked about to a great extent and in great detail – when most of the time the forecasts are inaccurate at best, and completely wrong at worst.
The forecasts are close to 100% accurate only in the summer, when it’s the same weather for almost nine months. Well, have I got news for the forecasters: I am just as accurate! November 21 is a case in point. For days we were warned about the terrible wind and rain storm that was going to hit Israel. What happened in reality? Some rain in the night followed by a very pleasant day.
So let’s take the weather forecasts in proportion and not get our knickers in a knot. We are given a “forecasts,” not a guarantee.
A Thanksgiving wish
With Thanksgiving coming in the United States, I wish for peace around the world at the holidays and in the coming months. I hope that all people can learn to put their differences aside and get along.
May countries and worlds come together in peace, and may we also have health during the holidays and beyond.
New York