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Balfour, UNESCO, Jewish Destiny and Historic Travesty

On November 2, we celebrated the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917. On that day the British government published the Balfour Declaration, signed by its foreign secretary, Lord James Arthur Balfour. The Declaration — addressed to Lord Lionel Rothschild who was asked to bring it to the attention of the “Zionist Federation” — included an expression of support for the founding of a “national home” for the Jews in Palestine, and was met with great joy throughout the Jewish world.

Twenty years after the first Zionist Congress, The Balfour Declaration became the foundation of the subsequent League of Nations mandate, re-establishing a recognized Jewish national home in the land of Israel. Fifty years later — in 1947 — the UN Partition resolution recognized the right to an independent Jewish homeland.

Exactly 99 years after the Balfour Declaration, UNESCO — a UN-affiliated subagency — voted to approve resolutions initiated by the Palestinian Authority, declaring that the Temple Mount, the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City and other Jewish historic and holy places have no historic ties to Judaism, in essence denying Jewish rights to the Land of Israel. Twenty-four nations voted “yes” and only six (the US, Britain, Germany, Holland, Lithuania and Estonia) voted “no,” while 26 countries — including most of the European nations — abstained.

In effect, these resolutions are denying, subverting and rewriting known recorded and established world history. The sponsors of such resolutions wanted to reverse the historic impact of the Balfour Declaration by defining the Jewish state as illegitimate.

The original and subsequent resolutions passed without consensus support, as less than 50 percent of the nations involved cast positive votes. They might have also backfired against UNESCO itself. Even UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova, criticized the vote. The US issued a statement stating that these resolutions “undermine support for the very legitimacy of this organization.” For the time being, some of the nations that abstained are reconsidering their decisions, and realizing that their abstentions were a colossal mistake. Even the Pope, in a speech at the Vatican, declared that God promised the Holy Land to the people of Israel.

However, we, the people of Israel, cannot and will not rely on miracles. There is too much at stake.

The time has come for Israel and all the Jewish communities in the diaspora to proudly proclaim full sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and see a reunited Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the spiritual capital of the Jewish people. Israel and the Jewish people are the legitimate sovereign over their ancestral homeland, based on close to 4000 years of Jewish history and by current international law. This right has been recognized in recent times by the British Mandate as stipulated by the League of Nations and incorporated by the UN.

The months of Elul and Tishri are a period of tshuva, introspection and rededication, both personal and national. The parashot we read before Rosh Hashana — Shoftim, Ki Tetze, Ki Tavo and Nitzavim — deal in great detail with national governance, administration and justice and the spiritual level of the nation.

Every individual Jew is part of the nation, every one of us is called upon to act to preserve the welfare of the nation for the present generation or future ones and, conversely, is held responsible for committing actions that may cause damage to the nation in the present or the future. Every year Hashem is testing us as a nation, to see whether our faith in Hashem, our history and destiny, can withstand the pressures of the nations around us.

We are calling upon our chaverim and friends the world over to become active advocates for the Jewish state. Israel, its legitimacy and the legitimacy of its policies are being attacked diplomatically, politically and economically.

Diplomatically, a number of countries have already recognized a non-existing Palestinian state within the 1967 lines, while others are threatening to do so. Other countries keep issuing statements calling Jewish communities beyond the 1967 lines illegal and pressuring Israel to end the “occupation.”

Politically, anti-Israel espionage is growing, and countries feel free to interfere in Israel’s sovereignty by constantly issuing statements about Israel’s internal policies and supporting movements and organizations within Israel that oppose government policies and call for the other countries to increase their pressures on Israel.

Economically, BDS, the boycott and divestment movement, is waging economic war against Israel by pushing for a boycott of Israeli products coming from Judea, Samaria and the Golan, and pushing for divestment and sanctions.

Unfortunately, many Jewish groups in the diaspora are supporting the call for boycott and sanctions, as an expression of their opposition to the policies and actions of the current government led by nationally oriented and more traditional Jewish parties.

Religious Zionism is based on the principle that the Land of Israel is the recognized historic heritage and homeland of the Jewish people within biblical boundaries, based on the 3700-year-old biblical divine promise to our forefathers, and 3200 years of Jewish constant presence in the land.

We have to openly and clearly state our principles and positions, as follows:

Oppose the campaign of delegitimization, boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS); rebut the charges of apartheid and occupation by citing correct historical facts that establish the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in the whole Land of Israel.

Counteract the segment of the Jewish community who support and advocate anti-Israel policies and actions as proposed and undertaken by the international community.

Claim Jewish sovereignty over an undivided Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people, Israel and the spiritual center of the Jewish people.

Officially state Jewish rights to the whole Land of Israel, based on biblical and historic precedent and international agreements.

Rise up in defense of the Jewish communities of Yesha, under diplomatic and political siege and prevented from normal life and natural growth because of the de facto building freeze imposed by the government. We should encourage the government of Israel to adopt the Levy Report on the legality of the Yesha communities according to international law.

Call upon the responsible Israeli authorities to cease and desist from issuing decisions to destroy Jewish communities in Yesha, by adopting the necessary recognition legislation (Chok Hahasdara) currently pending on the government’s agenda.

Unfortunately some sizable segments of the Jewish community, both in Israel and the diaspora, are supporting the notion that most concessions have to come from Israel, thus supporting and encouraging the arguments of our adversaries. It is therefore up to us, the traditional and Zionist camp of the Jewish community, to take the lead in our communities to reach out to the authorities, candidates, incumbents and their challengers, insisting that they clarify their positions with regard to Israel.

It is incumbent upon our leadership to harness and unleash the creative forces and initiatives that will guarantee that the the reunited land of Israel — Eretz Yisrael — will remain under our sovereignty for the rest of Jewish history.

By Chanania Gang


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