Suing Britain

I am not a student of the law, but I know that fraudulent law suits and false claims are things to be scorned. Imagine ! The Palestinians propose to sue Great Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917 which gave international recognition, via a letter to Baron Walter Rothschild, to the Zionist claim for a homeland in its historic past, then in the Mandate authority of Great Britain.

Lord Arthur Balfour’s famous Declaration insisted that the Jews would respect the people already living in Palestine and would secure their rights and the rights of Jews not living in Palestine. Baron Rothschild transmitted the official letter to Chaim Weizmann, then world leader of the Zionist movement.

Interestingly enough, the Balfour Declaration was viewed with favor by the Emir Feisal, ruler of Syria and Iraq. In a letter he wrote to Dr. Weizmann he declared “we Arabs shall gladly welcome the Jews home”. He saw Jewish emigration into Palestine as an economic opportunity for Arabs to gain prosperity by cooperating with the leaders of the Zionist movement.

The Palestinians propose that their law suit should require Britain to rescind the terms of the Balfour Declaration. Issued in late 1917, the Declaration will celebrate its 100th anniversary in four more months.

There must be a statute of limitation for such a frivolous lawsuit.

The Jews, on the other hand, have an equal right to sue Great Britain for its betrayal of the Declaration’s original intention to give Palestine as a home for the Jewish people.

In 1922 the British Colonial Office acted to divide historic Palestine by giving 77 % of its territory to the Emir Abdullah of Trans-Jordan as a reward for Arab cooperation with the British against the Ottoman Turks during the first World War. The remaining 23% was designated to be shared by Arabs and Jews.

Although the Revisionist Zionist movement, led by Vladimir Zeev Jabotinsky, unanimously rejected the division, demanding “shtai gadot la Yarden, zu shelanu zu gam ken”…. Both banks of the Jordan are ours… the Zionist leaders accepted the British terms. “Better to build our future State on some of the soil of our homeland rather than none at all”.

That policy was followed in 1947 when the United Nations partitioned the remaining 23% of Palestine for the creation of a Jewish and an Arab state.

Once again, the Zionists regrettably succumbed to the partition plan, claiming that half a state was better than no state. The Arabs rejected partition totally and waged war once the Zionist movement declared the independence of the State of Israel in May 1948.

Of course it is ludicrous to even think that Israel would propose a law suit against Britain for its 1922 betrayal of the 1917 Balfour Declaration which was upheld and declared legally binding by the League of Nations at the San Remo conference in 1922.

The Arabs have no just claim against Britain. Their leaders acquiesced to the Balfour Declaration at the Treaty of Versailles.

The best thing the Arabs can do is to formally recognize the historic and legal right of the Jews to rebuild the homeland from which they were forcibly exiled by the Roman Legions in the year 70 C.E. When they do so, talks between the two enemies can be panim el panim…face to face…without the intervention of other nations.

Peace can only be realized when men and women of goodwill sit together at the same table. It is so written in the words of a traditional Hebrew song: “Hinai ma tov u’ma na-im shevet achim gam yachad”… Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to sit down together.

The Arabs may not be our brethren but we do share thousands of years of history with them.

Now that’s something to be talked about !

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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