The Geography-Diminished State of Israel"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."
Message from Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild, November 2, 1917
Jews praying at the Western Wall: 19th Century (Photo: Bonfils/SWNS.com)
It was somewhat of an amazing declaration, miraculous even, that a British government would assent to such an undertaking as to support the re-creation of the State of Israel where the nation once existed as a historical reality dating back thousands of years before a series of massive expulsions, (Babylonian and Roman) occurring in antiquity and the far distant past. Leading to a great diaspora, where Jews were forcibly disentitled from their heritage, having to seek haven elsewhere in the Middle East, and abroad.
Incredible that the British would give the passionate zeal of the Zionist-inspired return to Zion its stamp of approval, since Jews were a repressed and oppressed minority in Britain through the ages no less than elsewhere. Anti-Semitism in Europe was a pathology of knee-jerk reaction to the very presence of Jews anywhere as a debased ethnic group of a despised religion that should have dissolved itself into Christendom at the very least, and Islam much later, when it had the opportunity, pre-slaughter by the scimitars of the marauding Muslim hordes led by Mohammad.
The First World War saw British wartime authorities planning a Jewish battalion to be raised to fight against the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire. Turks had already expelled Jews from their Palestinian homeland where they had lived from time immemorial, certainly as long as history has recorded, and the sacramental history of the Old Testament, forming part of the Bible that as a precursor religion to both Christianity and Islam, Judaism represents. With the conquest of the Turks at the fall of their empire, Britain and France with the authority vested in them by the League of Nations, set about creating new borders for new nations.
Iraq, Lebanon and Syria became nations. British-administered Palestine was mandated to become the State of Israel. Both sides of the Jordan River were meant to comprise the reintroduced Jewish homeland. But then Arab tribalism and sectarianism reared itself as it generally does, and a dispute arose between two tribes each claiming authority over Arabia, slated to become the kingdom of the Saudis, while the Hashemites had to make do with moving their Bedouin people to TransJordan created out of land meant to be included in the State of Israel.
And since the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan absorbed Palestinian Arabs, Jordan is to all intents and purposes, with a majority Palestinian Arab population, a Palestinian state, administered by the Hashemites formerly of Mecca. In the 7th Century Medina, the second most holy site in Islam was also the homeland of Jewish tribes, vanquished by Islam for their refusal to surrender Judaism to Islam, and then slaughtered and banished from Medina leaving it to Mohammad and his warriors.
Detail from miniature painting The Prophet, Ali, and the Companions at the Massacre of the Prisoners of the Jewish Tribe of Beni Qurayzah, illustration of a 19th-century text by Muhammad Rafi Bazil. Manuscript now in the British Library.
The parcel of land reflecting the origins of Israel in antiquity that was meant to be restored to Jews as their new homeland recreated where history records it to have been originally, became victim to a British government need to placate the Hashemites at their tribal military rout from Mecca, the holiest site in Islam, by the House of Saud, which succeeded in its conquest and was allowed by Britain to rename its new country from Arabia to Saudi Arabia (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).
Leaving the nascent Jewish state with a far slimmer parcel of land in the Middle East where the aspiration was to create a massive return of Jews to their homeland, to add to the presence of those Jews who had never left the ancient land, much less its capital, Jerusalem. At the time, the majority population of Old Jerusalem, now claimed by the Palestinians, was Jews. Jews were, after all, the original "Palestinians", a designation that the Arabs have co-opted for themselves in an effort to 'prove' that the land belongs to them.
Now, the holiest place in Judaism, the Temple Mount, long co-opted by Islam as its third holiest site they call the Noble Sanctuary where Islamic legend has it that Mohammad mounted on a winged steed rose to Paradise, is outlawed to Jewish prayer. To appease the demands of Muslims, Jews are forbidden to pray at the most sacred site in Judaism. And the city of Solomon and David is claimed by Palestinian Arabs as their heritage site for Arabs only.