Esor Ben-Sorek

A Day That Will Live Forever in Jewish History

How it all began. On the 2nd of November, 1917, the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur James Balfour, sent a letter to the president of the British Zionist Federation, Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild.

The opening lines of the letter clearly stated that “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national Home for the Jewish people”

The Declaration continued “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine……” but the Declaration omitted mention of what constituted civil and religious rights of those communities, and additionally they were unnamed in the Declaration.

The Balfour Declaration was included in Britain’s 1922 League of Nations mandate over Palestine and the Declaration was accepted by the League of Nations, precursor to the United Nations, and was ratified at the San Remo Conference in 1922.

Some of its statements were considered contradictory to the earlier British-French deliberations made in secret and were known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Husayn-McMahon exchange of letters between the British High Commissioner in Egypt and the Emir of Mecca, Abdullah I, who soon after became the first king of Trans-Jordan whose territory consisted of 77% of historical Palestine, the remaining 23% given to the Jews as their national home.

In Palestine, 90% of the local Christian and Muslim communities vigorously opposed the Declaration seen as British betrayal of promises made to the Arabs for their aid in fighting the Ottoman Turkish rulers in 1914-1918.

At that time the population in Palestine consisted of 700,000 Arabs and 58,000 Jews.

Due to the acceptance of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the official recognition of a Jewish homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine by several European powers, the only option available to the Arabs in support of their protests was to take up arms against the Jews.

Pogroms and massacres of Jewish settlements in Palestine culminated in the slaughter of thousands of Jews by Arabs incited by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. Hundreds of religious Jews were slaughtered by their Arab neighbors and friends in the Hebron massacre of 1929.

The British mandatory police were inefficient in putting a stop to the massacres in both Hebron and Jerusalem.

The 1917 letter of Lord Balfour gave official recognition of the rights of the Jewish people to restore their 2000 year old homeland. It was a magnificent victory for the Zionist movement.

Although Dr. Chaim Weizmann, leader of the world Zionist organization, was not totally happy with some of the Declaration’s statements, he nevertheless accepted it and conformed to all its requirements.

In 1948 with the proclamation of the independence of the reborn Jewish state of Israel, Dr. Weizmann was chosen to be the first president of a Jewish nation after an exile of 2000 years.

In December 1941 when the forces of Imperial Japan bombarded Pearl Harbor, America declared war on the Empire of Japan. The American president, in his radio address to the American people, remarked “this is a day which will live in infamy”.

On November 2, 1917 when the Balfour Declaration was published, Zionist leaders throughout the world remarked “this is a day of victory, an historical day which will live in the memory of the Jewish people forever”.

On that day, millions of Jews throughout the world took to the streets in song and dance, in tears of joy and prayers of thanksgiving to Almighty God.

On that same day, the Arabs in Jaffa and Jerusalem took to the streets crying ‘itbach al yahud”.. slaughter the Jews. And our long war officially began. Except for later cool peace treaties with Egypt and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan were signed, the wars of terror continue almost daily.

Yesterday’s Gaza attack on Sderot’s homes and population are a constant reminder of the threat from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s response is weary and unacceptable. He is simply afraid of a war in which he could be overthrown by more militant members of the government who want to end the conflicts with Gaza not by cease-fires or bribery of millions of dollars from Qatar by rather by the necessary force of Israeli might in destroying Gaza’s Hamas homes and yes, even its civilian population which terrorizes our common border in the March of Return every Friday.

The leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Arab terror organizations must, as Avigdor Lieberman insists, be located and assassinated until there are no more leaders left in Gaza.

Fatah will reclaim the territory but, for the time being, we can exist with the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.

In the meantime we need a new brave prime minister who will not be afraid to fight force with force. With our strong military force. May God protect them.

Above all else remember…never forget… that November 2 is a great historical monument to our history.

Josef Trumpeldor and Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky would be exceedingly proud !

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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