Britain did not create Israel. Post-Balfour Britain did everything to prevent its creation. Israel is the ultimate anti-imperial state, defying all odds in it’s rebirth
The centennial of the Balfour Declaration offers a great opportunity to “reset” the record straight concerning the Jewish people and its ancestral homeland Israel. Especially to rebuke deeply ingrained myths that continue to block genuine peace between Arabs and Jews.
The late anti-Zionist Hungarian writer Arthur Koestler infamously summarized the position of Israel’s enemies regarding the Balfour Declaration: “One nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.”
The alluring simplicity of this false statement continues to fuel genocidal Jew-hatred worldwide.
Firstly, reborn Israel’s legal foundation is not anchored in the Balfour Declaration but in international law following the San Remo Conference of 1920, which recognized the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination in the land of Israel.
Secondly, Jews are not “colonial strangers” in Israel as anti-Zionist propaganda falsely claims.
The international recognition of Jewish right to self-determination in Israel was rooted in the recognition of the Jewish people’s historic and national rights in its ancestral homeland Israel. Almost a century ago, the Arab leader Emir Faisal recognized this in his address to the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann:“We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement…. We will wish the Jews a hearty welcome home…”
A hundred years before BDS propaganda poisoned countless minds with lies about “Zionist imperialism”, Faisal knew the truth: “The Jewish movement is nationalist and not imperialist.”
Thirdly, no Arab country and certainly no “Palestinian” state has ever existed in Israel.
In fact, much of the local Arab population were recent immigrants from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq attracted by the Zionist economic development. Most local Arabs at the time would have laughed at the idea of a distinct “Palestinian” people. Emir Faisal articulated the fact that to most Arabs in the early 20th century, “Palestine” was simply southern Syria: “And there is room in Syria for us both.”
The importance of the Balfour Declaration is symbolic and not legal. In 1917, Britain was the most powerful empire in the world and it recognized the national aspirations of the defenseless exiled Jewish nation. However, it is often ignored that the Christian Zionism of the British statesmen James Arthur Balfour and David Lloyd George was quickly abandoned by London’s anti-Zionism that appeased extremist Arab leaders at the expense of the Jewish people.
The Balfour Declaration was replaced by the infamous White Paper in 1939 that undermined and postponed the rebirth of Israel by a decade. As a result, millions of Jews perished in the Holocaust because they were homeless and had nowhere to go.
British leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn who refused to attend the Balfour Centennial ceremony, displayed ignorance of Britain’s history when he demanded a recognition of “Palestine”. Britain did that already in 1921 when it illegally carved out the artificial Arab state Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan on 78% of the territory of the British Palestine Mandate.
The Arab-Jewish conflict is fueled by an Arab refusal to recognize a Jewish state within any borders of the remaining 22% of the land.
Not only did Britain not create Israel. Post-Balfour Britain did everything in her power to prevent the rebirth of Israel. Israel stands out as the ultimate anti-imperial state that had to fight at every turn for its national freedom. With few exceptions of British Christian Zionists like John Henry Patterson and Orde Wingate, Britain sided with the Arabs against the Jews.
During the Arab genocidal aggression against the reborn Jewish state in 1948, London armed the Arab Legion that was led by the British officer John Glubb. In fact, Britain only recognized Israel’s existence in 1950.
British and French imperialism in the Middle East and North Africa was quickly replaced by Muslim Arab imperialism. Twenty-two Muslim Arab states were established on the ashes of indigenous populations like the Kurds, Berbers, Christian Copts, Jews, Druzes and Yazidis. It is ironic that those in the Middle East who accuse Israel of “imperialism” and “racism” are the true imperialist racists.
It has often been argued that the Jewish people deserve a homeland mainly due to a long history of persecutions. However, it is exactly the other way around: Jews were persecuted because of 2000 years of Jewish homelessness and defenselessness.
Despite the long Jewish exile, there has been a continuous Jewish presence in its ancestral homeland Israel for more than 3000 years. In modern times, Jerusalem had a Jewish majority already in the middle of the 19th century, long before Balfour Declaration. The ancient Hebrew language was revived and turned into a vehicle of modern communication long before David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel in May 1948.
Generations of Jews in exile from Russia to Iraq and from Poland to Morocco, vowed to return to their ancestral homeland Israel with the words “Next Year in Jerusalem.”
Israel’s national rebirth is not due to Balfour but to the reborn spirit of Bar Kokhba that reestablished Jewish national self-determination defended by Jewish military power. Israel’s legitimacy is not due to Christian Zionists like David Lloyd George but due to King David who founded Israel 3000 years ago, long before the establishment of the Roman colonies London and Paris.
It is not a coincidence that the Jewish state is a source of inspiration among oppressed indigenous populations worldwide. Reborn Israel is a remarkable success story of a tiny nation that defied history’s greatest empires and against all odds assumed its place among the family of nations.
Daniel Kryger is a writer and a political analyst. He lives in Israel.
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