Saturday, July 21, 2012

90 years ago: League of Nations supports Zionism

For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the Lord our God.
For thus saith the Lord; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O Lord, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.
They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
Jeremiah 31:6-10

On July 24, 1922, all 51 members of the League of Nations recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” The League also issued a Mandate validating France’s occupation of Syria and Lebanon.

The Palestine Mandate was a rewritten version of the Balfour Declaration. On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour had issued the Declaration, which read:

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.

The League of Nations Mandate entrusting Palestine to British control had recently been submitted to the British parliament for approval. On June 21, 1922, a non-binding motion in the House of Lords declaring that the Palestine Mandate (embodying the policy of the Balfour Declaration) was unacceptable passed by a vote of 60-29. On July 4, the House of Commons took up the debate, with Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill delivering a persuasive speech on behalf of the government’s policy supporting the Balfour Declaration. The House voted 292-35 in favour of the government’s Palestine policy, in effect accepting the Palestine Mandate from the League of Nations.

For a quick overview, see the Wikipedia entry on the British Mandate for Palestine. For further reading, I recommend A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin (1989).

The move by the League of Nations in 1922 stands in striking contrast to the many anti-Israel resolutions that have been passed by the United Nations in recent years.

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