Opinion: Does Britain Seek a Mandate Over Palestine? An Open Letter to David Cameron
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
Born and bred a British-Jew, I have often been confused in dealing with that hyphenated identity in the context of U.K. policy.
Last month you led a “light brigade” to Edinburgh to quell an attempt at Scottish independence. Last week, in some contradiction, your party supported a Parliamentary motion to recognize a State of Palestine. Indeed, one member of your Conservative Party used the occassion for an anti-Semitic attack on “ well-funded powerful lobbying groups and the power of the Jewish lobby in America…”
Though I left Britain more than a half century ago, I maintain a respect for its bonhomie, humour, often exasperating “muddling through,” and its history of fair-play”:
- 1290, the Jews are expelled by Edward the Confessor
- 1655, they are welcomed back by my childhood hero – Oliver Cromwell
- 1850, the “Don Pacifico incident,” when then Foreign Minister, Lord Palmerston, sent the fleet to blocade Athens until David Pacifico – a British-Jew – was compensated for damages perpetrated by an anti-Semitic mob. Palmerston’s response to criticism in Parliament: “As the Roman in days of old held himself far from indignity when he could say ‘Civis Romanus sum’ (I am a Roman citizen), so also a British subject in whatever land he may be,should feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England will protect him from injustice and wrong as ‘Civis Britannus sum’ (I am a British citizen)”
- 1917, the Balfour Declaration, acknowledging a Jewish National Home in our ancestral land under a British Mandate
- 1922, London betrayed its Mandatory authority by lopping off 80% of that Promised Land to create TransJordan, as compensation to the Hashemites for their loss of Arabia to the Saudis in the Great Game of British oil politics
- British permission for unlimited Arab immigration to the 20% rump remaining of the homeland
- British closure of the Mandate’s gates to Jewish fugitives from Nazism
- 1948, British backing of the Jordanian (successors to the TransJordanian) Arab Legion in conquering the West Bank and East Jerusalem
The pendulum swings backwards and forwards.
Bottom-line, I will always thank Britain for my life and the lives of my parents, children, and grandchildren – in fighting alone against the Nazi monster. The Channel saved us from the Holocaust on the Continent, only thirty miles of water away.
Yet, I can only imagine the harsh identity crisis for British-Jews in the 1945 – 1948 period.
British troops, who had shaken in disbelief at the gates of the death-camps they had liberated, were then to prevent the survivors from reaching the Jewish National Home.
Westminster, the “Mother of Parliaments,” sadly has endorsed not a State, but a terrorist movement and its allies bent upon deleting the Jewish National Home from the face of the earth, instead of conferring recognition according to established practice as a prize for conflict resolution.
As Lord Palmerston made clear in 1848, “Britain has no eternal allies and no perpetual enemies, only interests are eternal and perpetual.”
Methinks, Mr. Prime Minister, that Britain – in asserting its interests – is, once again, seeking a Mandate in Palestine.
Dr. Shimon Samuels
This article was originally published by the Times of Israel.