Bring Back the Brits

How many remember the years prior to our independence when, since 1918, we were under the sovereign reign of Great Britain and our leader was His Majesty King George?

We took afternoon tea at Café Kassit on Dizengoff or at Pinati or Noga. Or kaffee mit schlagsahne. The elite of Israel’s literary society met there every day. It was difficult to find a seat at tables occupied by poets, authors, musicians, historians and notable politicians.

They were sitting at  tables adjacent to some occupied by British police… very cordial and amicable gentlemen. Much of their conversations which could be overheard revolved around underground activities of our two “illegal” “terrorist” gangs, the Irgun and Stern’s Lehi.

The continual search for Menachem Begin was always a failure. He was under their very noses in disguise, often smiling a polite “good morning sirs” if he passed them on the street unrecognized.

Arab terrorism was active under the Mandate and their activities against Jewish lives and property was often overlooked by what the British called “those damn Jews”. Hebron’s massacre was a primary example of British treachery by ignoring Jewish calls for help.  67 Jews were shot dead before the British arrived at the bloody scene.

But overall, life was comfortable to a great extent while the Brits governed us.  If we had later followed their example of limiting political parties we would not be in the entangled mess of the political circus from which we now suffer.

My late wife often retold stories of how the British soldiers, stationed across the road from her home in the Montefiore section of Tel-Aviv, in what is now the lovely tourist attraction of Sarona, once the home of the German Templars, then British military headquarters, would knock at the door of her home and demand to search for hidden weapons. If any concealed weapons had been found the family would have been arrested.

But my wife’s grandmother was a very wise old woman and she hid several weapons and ammunition intended for the Haganah under floor tiles in the kitchen. They were never discovered by the British.

In the Palestine of those days there was basic law and order. There were frequent curfews and anyone found outside during curfew hours would be arrested. Medical doctors were excused from curfews if they were needed to be at hospitals.

When ordinary Jewish civilians had needs to speak officially with government personnel they were usually greeted with courtesy.

In general, the British favored the Arabs. Whereas Jews were mostly demanding of rights, of feeling free to walk in their streets, the authorities would react with hostility. The Jews did not speak politely. They did not simply come to request. They came to make demands. The Arabs, however, spoke in gentle voices in conversations with the mandatory officials, often praising them or bringing small gifts for the British family and children. Arabs are noted for their hospitality and courtesy to guests. Jews in pre-State Palestine did not have that luxury. They were demanding their independence from British rule.

All that came to an end in May 1948 when the last British  High Commissioner lowered the British flag as he departed from Haifa port.

Sentimentally speaking, perhaps it would be nice to bring the Brits back. We would then become a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and any Arab attack upon us would be met with the full fury of the Commonwealth.

And like Canada, Australia and New Zealand we would still retain our democratic rule plus all the benefits of being a Commonwealth member. We lose little. We gain much.

In order to accomplish this impossible and impractical feat we would have to make certain clear demands upon the British authorities. Namely, we would require the return of the 77% of Eretz Yisrael which was taken from us in 1922 and given to the Emir Abdullah of Trans-Jordan.

77% of returned land minus the Arab inhabitants who presently dwell there would enlarge our territory to its original Biblical borders and our neighbourly King Abdullah II would rule over a smaller Hashemite Kingdom.  Of course, this is pure fantasy and a dream.

But bringing the Brits back would make our Knesset, minus a dozen or so of small parties, workable.

Bibi might be permitted by the Royal family to continue his Likud role but much more efficiently and with much less corruption..

And all that remains for us to do is to learn the words of the British national anthem to be sung following the Hatikvah.

Brittania no longer rules the waves and Englishmen never never shall be slaves.  God save the Queen.

Jolly good. And the freedom to enjoy the delights of Harrods on our next visit in London.

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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