Tuesday, November 03, 2009

92 Years since the Balfour Declaration

Yesterday (2nd November) was the anniversary of the one of the major steps on the way to the recreation of the State of Israel.

On 2 November 1917, Britain's than Foreign Secretary of Britain, Arthur James Balfour declared that the British Cabinet

"viewed 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".

Just thirty-one years later the Jewish people were able to declare their national home.

However, despite intense efforts the Palestinian leadership are still refusing to negotiate with Israel and to recognise Israel as the Jewish home.

This past week we also read the Torah portion of Lech-Lecha when Abraham was commanded to move to the Land of Israel. However, during the reading we also read of G-d's promise to Abraham that his descendents would receive the Land of Israel as his inheritance. This is the reason why Israel should be the Jewish homeland. However, it can also be seen as the source of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

This source, Chapter 17 of Bereshit (Genesis) sees a covenant between G-d and Abraham in which G-d makes the commandment of circumcision and in return promises the Land of Israel to Abraham's descendents. As Abraham only had one son at the time Ishmael (who I believe Muslems see as their patriarch), many people would have thought that this promise would be to him and his descendents. Indeed even Abraham at first thinks this as described in verse 18. However, G-d than makes clear in verse 19 that Abraham will have another son (Isaac) a patriach of the Jewish people, who will receive the covenant of the Land of Israel.

The Torah thus makes clear that Israel should be the Jewish homeland, which 92 years ago was supported by the Balfour Declaration. However, while a dispute continues to exist, maybe one day we will receive an answer like in Sam Bourne's novel 'The Last Testament'.

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