Excerpts from: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By Cheryl Hancock-Watts, “Reporting from Israel,” Special to ASSIST News Service
ISRAEL (ANS – November 1, 2017) — November 2, 2017, marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, a historic statement issued by the British government for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. Lord Arthur James Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, penned the historic letter on behalf of the British Government, to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, a prominent leader of Britain’s Jewish community.
The Declaration expressed the British government’s recognition and support for the right of the Jewish people for self-determination in their historical homeland, the Land of Israel. (The Declaration refers to the Land of Israel as “Palestine,” since this was the common name of the area at the time, without any political or ethnic connotation. Everyone living there was called “Palestinian,” Jew and Arab alike, though Arabs did not like being called “Palestinian” because the Jews were referred to as Palestinians). Every Jew born before 1948 was born a Palestinian.
Balfour and England were not the only ones to Support Jewish Sovereignty. Great Britain coordinated with its allies, France, Italy, Japan, China, USA, Thailand and others who agreed and endorsed the establishment of a Jewish National Homeland.
The Balfour Declaration became part of the 1922 mandate issued by the League of Nations, (precursor to the United Nations). This granted official recognition from the International community, which led to Israel’s independence on May 14, 1948, and to Israel’s admission to the UN on May 11, 1949, as its 59th member. After almost 2,000 years of yearning, the Jewish people restored their home and sovereignty in the land of their ancestors, the Land of Israel.
The Balfour Declaration recognized not only the rights of the Jewish people, but also stipulated that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” In a similar vein, throughout the decades, the Zionist dream was respect and coexistence with all people in the region, including the Arabs of Palestine. In Israel’s Declaration of Independence, it states that all citizens, irrespective of race, religion or gender, have equal rights. Today, some 20% of Israel’s population is comprised of Arab citizens, who enjoy full rights and liberties and serve in prominent positions in law, politics, medicine and other fields.
Chaim Weizmann, who represented the World Zionist Organization, and Emir Feisal (one of the most prominent Arab leaders) signed an agreement in 1919 to work together to bring about the aspirations of both the Jews and the Arabs of the region. Unfortunately, throughout the 20th century, Arab leaders rejected Jewish rights to the Land, promoted a view that the land belonged only to them, and that the Jews are invaders and occupiers of their land, while encouraging violent attacks on the Jewish population. (This view is currently read in schoolbooks in over 700 Arab speaking schools.)
This rejection of the legitimate and internationally-mandated claim of the Jewish people to a national homeland in the Holy Land is the bedrock of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is the thread which connects every war, every atrocity, every diplomatic maneuver and every terrorist act initiated by the Palestine side, from 1917 to today.
Even now instead of looking forward and educating and building towards a future of peace, the Palestine side is still looking backwards, trying to turn back the hands of time, re-litigate and deny, and reject the world’s acceptance of the Jewish State.
Thus, at the July 2016 Arab League Summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced his intention to sue Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration. He also asked the Prime Minister of England to apologize for the harm the Balfour declaration has done to his people of Palestine. The vehement opposition to the Balfour Declaration was and has remained rooted in the anti-historical view that Jews are aliens, and in the false assumption that they have no connection to the land and no right of any kind to live there as a people. This view and reasoning continues to drive the Arab-Israeli conflict to this day.
The Balfour Declaration: November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet. His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
Photo captions: 1) Mural (Picture from Government Press Office Jerusalem). 2) Lord Arthur James Balfour and his famous “Balfour Declaration”. (International Christian Embassy). 3) Cheryl and her husband, Len, outside the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem.
About the writer: Cheryl Hancock-Watts is a native Californian who moved to Israel in May of 1999 as a Christian and Journalist. She gets involved with the various people groups of Israel taking aid and hope to those in need, while bringing truth concerning Israel via the media to the West. Cheryl has been a member of the International Press Association since 2001 and a member of the Government Press Office in Jerusalem. She provides radio interviews from Israel to stations in the U.S., and is a free-lance writer for various media outlets. Cheryl married Len Watts in 2014, and together they continue the work in Israel while speaking internationally in churches, and through radio and TV broadcasts. You can receive their “Israel Updates” at: email@example.com
Note: To listen to my recent interview with Cheryl on my “Front Page Radio”, please go to: http://frontpageradio.net/frontpageradiofiles/CherylHancock-WattsFPR20171001Mono.mp3
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