Arthur Balfour — the man behind Israel’s right to exist

Gws_balfour_02I really detest using the expression “right to exist.” How can anyone question the right to exist of any country or nation? But since Israel’s Arab neighbors use it so much, as they like to constantly question it and not recognize this right, the expression has unfortunately found its way to the common language.

But there really is no question. It’s the Arab propaganda that has created this issue and many people in the world have gone along with it, without properly knowing the history and without even wanting to know. But Israel’s “right to exist” was declared almost a hundred years ago in the well-known, but sadly often-neglected document called “The Balfour Declaration.”

Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, is one of the greatest names in the Conservative Party history. Although his career peak was being Prime Minister from 1902 to 1905, many remember him more for the fact that as Foreign Secretary in 1917 he took the first step towards creating the Jewish national homeland in the British Mandate of Palestine. He was the man who gave millions of Jews the right for Eretz Yisrael—the Land of Israel.

Arthur Balfour was born on July 25, 1848, in Scotland as a son of a Scottish MP. Educated in Eton and Cambridge, he became Conservative MP for Hertford in 1874. He carried several duties in Lord Salisbury’s government and after Lord Salisbury resigned, he succeeded him as Prime Minister in 1902.

But as important as his tenure as Prime Minister was, another highlight of his career was still to come. In 1916, he became Foreign Secretary in David Lloyd George’s government. In Foreign Office he wrote these famous words in a letter to Baron Rothschild, leader of the British Jewish Community, in November 1917:

Foreign Office,
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.

Yours sincerely
Arthur James Balfour

This was the first official document that declared the Jewish right to the Land of Israel in the British Mandate of Palestine. It is the very basis of Israel’s existence, the very document that affirms Israel’s right to exist.

When Arthur Balfour wrote this document, the British Mandate of Palestine comprised of today’s Israel and Jordan, and the Palestinian territories—Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Two years after the Balfour Declaration, in 1919 the Zionist movement envisioned the part of Mandate territory that was to become Israel, the Jewish national homeland. It was about 30% of the whole British Mandate of Palestine and its border was drawn abeam the Jordan River, slightly to the west of today’s border of Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Unfortunately, by 1923, things had changed dramatically and the Mandate territory was partitioned into two separate entities. The British divided the Mandate territory into two administrative districts and the Jews were permitted only west of the Jordan River. The British effectively chopped off 75% of the originally proposed Jewish homeland to form an Arab Palestinian nation called Transjordan. With this partitioning the Arabs got 75% of the mandate and the rest—25%—was to become the Jewish national homeland.

However, this wasn’t enough. The Arabs who remained to the western bank of the Jordan River launched many murderous attacks against the Jews on the land they thought would be their homeland. The whole situation got so intolerable for the British that the matter was turned over to the United Nations. Due to the UN, Israel lost another chunk of land from Eretz Yisrael and according to the UN partition plan, Israel was now supposed to be on only 15% of the land that was originally British Mandate of Palestine.

Israelis-to-be accepted even this utterly unfair plan, but the Arabs rejected, and attacked Israel the same day the state was proclaimed.

Throughout history, Israel has abode by what Arabs, Europe, and “international community” dictate. The Balfour Declaration clearly states that Israel has the right to exist in the former British Mandate of Palestine, and the 1919 proposed border is in accordance to the Declaration.

Arab organisations keep talking about pre-1967 and pre-1948 borders, the latter meaning the State of Israel wouldn’t exist at all. But the rightful thing to do would be going back to 1917, when the Balfour Declaration was made, and to 1923, when Transjordan was founded on the eastern bank of Jordan River. This is the rightful border of the State of Israel.

Any talk today about a “two-state solution” is nonsense. There already is a two-state solution, as two states were created in the former British Mandate—Israel and Jordan. Any other solution would already be at least a three-state solution.

The Israeli government, as the world community, need to take the Balfour Declaration as their role model and work towards implementing the final rightful borders. Hopefully it will be accomplished by 2017—the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

If Earl Arthur Balfour knew how his declaration is today constantly being stamped on, he’d roll in his grave.

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