We Are Our Own Worst Enemy

By Yaffa Abadi: It is a scary and somewhat daunting phrase that captures the truth about many aspects of interpersonal relationships. When it comes to the Jewish people as a unit, this too rings true. Most of the time our own worst enemy is, in fact, ourselves.

As the century mark of the Balfour Declaration is coming along, I have become engrossed in researching the process that led to the Declaration and what we can learn from it up until today. To me, this seems like a prime example where the Jews of the diaspora came together as a unit to fight for the continued existence of the Jewish people. But, as my research expands, a certain name keeps coming up. A thorn in the rosebush of this Jewish unity.

His name was Edwin Montague and in my mind, he represents one the biggest problems facing world jewry to this very day. Montague was the single Jew working in the British Cabinet during World War One and his family was one of the most prominent and influential families in British and Jewish affairs. With such a seemingly large influence in the secular world, you would assume that obviously this was a huge positive for the Jews at the time. One foot in the door of British politics!

Think again.

Montague was one of the most staunch anti-Zionists around, making it his life’s work to resist Zionist endeavors. In his writings, he makes his views clear, claiming ‘Zionism has always seemed to me to be a mischievous political creed, untenable by any patriotic citizen of the United Kingdom.

His attitude towards the Zionist movement came to life when he used his influence to try put an end to one of the most important letters leading up to the establishment of Israel and what led me to Montague in the first place – the Balfour Declaration. He tried his very best to stop this meaningful Declaration from being accepted. However when he saw that this was not possible, he was sure to add phrases that blurred the lines and added a sense of ambiguity about the nature of the homeland that the Jewish people would eventually receive.

Montague is an example in history that parallels some of the biggest threats we have today. From the anti-Israel Neturei Karta ‘a group of Orthodox Jews which rejects Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel. based off of their supposed religious ideals, to extreme left movements such as J Street who parade as Zionist organisations but whose actions, such as drawing parallels between Israel and Hamas and constantly condemning Israel’s protective efforts, proves it to be another Jewish movement that can act as a magnet to anti-Zionists.

While the size of movements such as these may not be large, any sort of threat coming from within our own people is something the Jewish Nation has suffered from the most throughout our history as a nation.

Going back to ancient times, we are reminded of the story of Kamsa and Bar Kamsa. A petty argument between these two Jewish men which led to the destruction of the second Beit Hamikdash (temple). This cruel destruction of our most Holy temple did not begin from an outer force, but rather from the hatred that was bred within the Jewish community.

It is strikingly clear that while, as Jews living in Israel, we face many threats from outer forces, one of our worst enemies is none other than ourselves. From the biblical times, seen throughout our history and highlighted with Montague’s involvement in the Balfour declaration, this threat of Jews against Israel is very real still today and must be countered by remaining loyal and united even in the face of our differences.

Let us learn from our mistakes, and take action to ensure the continuity of our people. Let us look forward to celebrating the century mark of the Balfour Declaration as a symbol where our unity as a Jewish nation overcame all.

People take part in the 51st annual Israel parade in Manhattan, New York May 31, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz.

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Sykes-Picot and the Zionists

Clearing up some misconceptions about Sykes-Picot on its centenary.

The Mandate For Palestine Still Relevant Nearly A Century Later

Successive Israeli governments have failed to recognize the supreme importance of the “Mandate for Palestine” [24 July, 1922]. The Mandate, a  historical League of Nations (the forerunner to the United Nations) document, laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered in international law.

Jewish leadership in Israel and the diaspora has done practically nothing effective with the best political weapon they will ever have. We simply cannot afford to ignore the valid rights granted to the Jewish people under the Mandate for Palestine. Justice is on our side; we must not let it slip away.

Israelis and friends of the Jewish State alike are accustomed to the never-ending scorn that the United Nations heaps on Israel, the Middle East’s only free democracy; never mind its desire for peace with all of its Arab neighbors. It may seem unfathomable then, that the very same institution was ultimately responsible for its creation.

The roots of the “Mandate for Palestine”– a legally binding document published by the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations – can be traced back to both the founding of modern Zionism in 1897 by Theodor Herzl, and the Balfour Declaration of November 1917.

After witnessing the spread of anti-Semitism around the world, Theodor Herzl felt compelled to create a political movement with the goal of establishing a Jewish National Home in historic Palestine, and assembled the first Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in August 1897. During World War I, Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour simply expressed Great Britain’s view with favor and sympathy for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

In contrast, the Mandate is the multilateral binding agreement which laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in the geographical area called Palestine, the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered in international law.

The Mandate was not an innocent vision briefly embraced by the international community. The entire League of Nations – 51 countries – unanimously declared on July 24th, 1922: “Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”

Washington went a step further: In September of that year, President Warren Harding signed the Lodge-Fish Joint Resolution, which had passed both Houses of Congress without dissent and read, “Favors the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people.”

The Mandate clearly differentiates between political rights referring to Jewish self-determination as an emerging polity – and civil and religious rights, referring to guarantees of equal personal freedoms to non-Jewish residents as individuals and within select communities. Not once are Arabs as a people mentioned in the Mandate for Palestine. Nowhere in the document is there any granting of political rights to the Arab population.

Article 5 of the Mandate clearly states that “The Mandatory [Great Britain] shall be responsible for seeing that no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign power.” The territory of Palestine was exclusively assigned for the Jewish National Home.

Article 6 states that “the Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.”

Accordingly, article 6 clearly states that the creation of Jewish settlements is not only permissible, but actually encouraged. Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (i.e., the West Bank) are perfectly legal. The use of the phrase “Occupied Palestinian Territories” is a disingenuous term that misleads the international community, while encouraging Palestinian Arabs, with the right to use all measures to attack Israel, including the use of terrorism.

The Mandate was subsequently protected by Article 80 of the United Nations Charter that recognizes the continued validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments including those adopted by the League of Nations. The International Court of Justice has consistently recognized that the Mandate survived the demise of the League of Nations.

Legal arguments aside, it is worth noting that the Arabs never established a Palestinian state when the UN in 1947 recommended to partition Palestine, and to establish a “Jewish” state and an “Arab” state – not a Palestinian state. Additionally, the Arab countries never recognized or established a Palestinian state during the two decades prior to the Six-Day War when the West Bank was under Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian control. Nor did the Palestinian Arabs clamor for autonomy, independence, or self-determination during those years.
It is important to point out that political rights to self-determination as a polity for Arabs were guaranteed by the same League of Nations in four other mandates – in Lebanon and Syria [The French Mandate], Iraq, and later Trans-Jordan [The British Mandate].

Any attempt to negate the Jewish people’s rights to Palestine, and to deny them access and control in the area designated for the Jewish people by the League of Nations, is in serious conflict with the Mandate’s legal framework

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