Friday, 18 October 2013

The dream of Israel100 years ago

Since independence tiny Israel always declared itself willing make sacrifices for peace. Israel gave away territory to Egypt, to Jordan, to Lebanon and in 2000 to Palestinian Arabs, yet they continue to ask for more in their quest to destroy Israel

With Israel's miraculous achievements in mind, not least its very survival amidst a sea of arab and muslim hatred, it is easy to overlook that Israel is not even a century old! In the time since independence a tiny country with 600, 000 inhabitants absorbed a million jews ethnically cleansed from arab countries, developed a modern democratic system, and then again absorbed another million russian jews in the 1990's. And then Israel has gone on to be the 'startup nation', where innovation and invention are a powerhouse of new technology, rivalled only by its ally the USA (The old and the new Jerusalem together. Not for nothing does evil Iran describe the USA and Israel as the 'Great' and the 'little' Satan, the two countries bound by a common sense of humanity, freedom and a love of life).

Israel is still small with only 8 million inhabitants, 2 million of whom are non-jews with full and equal rights.

100 years ago the British government had still not formulated the Balfour Declaration which recognised the Jewish unbroken link with the Holy Land of Israel. It was only a few British christian statesmen like Lloyd George who believed that the Jewish People might once again rule themselves in their ancient homelands.

In 1913 one year before World War I broke out Herbert Samuel who was a member of the British political elite, a cabinet member and a jew hoped that at some future time a jewish state would arise but did not join the zionist movement because at that time before World War I Britain saw its strategic interests in propping up the 'sick man of europe, the Ottoman Empire'. The Ottomans were seen at that time as a bulwark against Russia, the old enemy and a main threat to British and French middle east interests. The Germans were also beginning to give Britain cause for worry. Britain's main interest was in keeping the Suez Canal safe, and a weak Ottoman presence in the Holy Land was for it the best option. But the Ottomans were not going to ever allow a Jewish State to arise. That had been made very unclearly to Herzl when he tried and failed to get an audience with Caliph Abdul Hamid II (Herzl did not receive a negative decision, he was just given the run around until he realised there was no way he would get to see the Caliph, or ever get permission to found a jewish state by way of the Caliph. Germany was a different and more promising option at the turn of the century however and Herzl did manage to get an audience with the Kaiser in Jerusalem).

Samuel confided in Sir Edward Grey (The War Minister on the outbreak of WWI - "Tonight the lights are going out all over Europe........"), that:
 'perhaps the opportunity might arise for the fulfilment of the ancient aspiration of the Jewish people and the restoration there of a Jewish State.' Such an entity, were it to be established, might become 'the centre of a new culture... a fountain of enlightenment and a source of a great literature and art and development of science'. (In The Question of Palestine: Isaiah Friedman p8)
 When Britain took the Land from the Turks the first civilian governor to be appointed was Samuel, something of a disaster the reverberations of which resound to this day. Being a Jew, Samuel had to always try and understand the arabs and how they felt. And when Britain soon after changed its mind about upsetting the arabs, and tried to curry favor with them by appointing the Haj Amin El Husseini as Muft of Jerusalem, Samuel agreed, despite the post being a religious one, despite Husseini being only in his twenties and quite ignorant of islamic laws (See Unholy Memories of the Holy Land - Samuel for an interesting and depth explanation of the machinations by Britain to get Husseini appointed, written by a contemporary, no relation to Herbert Samuel).

This one appointment, forced upon the arab community by Britain led to many thousands of jews' and British deaths in the Holy Land over the coming years such as in 1920,1921,1936-9 (and in europe; the mufti founded two SS muslim divisions which killed jews, gypsies and partisans in occupied europe during WWII) until the founding of the State of Israel. That other mass murderer of jews, Yasir Arafat was Husseini's nephew.

Nevertheless Samuel the zionist would be very happy to be alive today, to see that his dream came true beyond anyone's wildest dreams, and despite his great mistake.

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