This day, 2nd November, marks the one hundredth anniversary of the letter from Arthur Balfour, Britain’s Foreign Secretary in 1917, to Lord Rothschild as representing British Jewry. It is an indictment of Britain’s present government and many opposition members of parliament that they will be celebrating this event.
There is little for which to be proud. A degree of protection for Jews? Maybe, but at what cost. Might the Nazi holocaust have been averted had Zionism not been on the rise? That question may be impossible to answer, but it is well known that Nazis and Zionists wanted much the same thing: Jews out of Europe.
The Nazis didn’t much care where they went, it was Zionism that focussed on Palestine. Not because it was the best place in terms of space and population but because it was the only place that would have attracted the bulk of European Jewry, who, in the main, were not interested in Zionism.
Britain’s part in this, dating back to 19th century evangelicalism and beyond, should not be underplayed and should certainly not be celebrated. Apologising for the ‘sins of the fathers’ may seem pointless. It is unless it is accompanied by genuine action to put right the wrongs committed in our name. Britain and America together share major responsibility for the mess that is the Middle East. It is our duty to help people of goodwill – and they are there – to begin putting things right. If our leaders will not then we, the people, must.