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April 21, 2021 12:34 pm

Remembering the San Remo Conference and Israel’s International Legitimacy

avatar by Eytan Meir


Delegates at the San Remo conference in 1920. Photo: YouTube.

Many Jews around the world love Israel. They have a strong intrinsic connection to the Jewish state, visit it, financially support it, and some even decide to move there.

But although loving Israel is certainly important, it isn’t enough.

In the face of increasing attacks on Israel’s right to exist, Jews and all supporters of Israel must be properly educated about Israel. They need to be able to defend Israel against the incessant accusations of apartheid, occupation, and ethnic cleansing.

They must be able to explain how Israel has the legal, moral, and historic right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

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Israel-haters, particularly on college campuses, take advantage of the fact that many supporters of Israel cannot articulately defend their pro-Israel positions, and instead resort to ineffective talking points, like Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East.

For example, if someone is accusing Israel of being an apartheid state that perpetuates ethnic cleansing, how does saying that Israel is LGBT friendly help refute that charge?

Imagine how much more effective Israel advocates would be, if, in the face of anti-Israel attacks, they would be able to tell their opponents: “You are lying and are factually incorrect; here are the facts…”

There is a lot to learn about Israel, and not everyone has the luxury of devoting hours toward studying it all — but even the basics can go a long way.

The best place to start would be learning about Israel’s legal rights, beginning with the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the San Remo Conference in 1920, and the subsequent approval of the Mandate for Palestine in 1922.

In order to properly defend Israel, it is crucial to understand and be able to explain that the Allied powers of World War I met in San Remo, Italy, in April 1920, and passed a legally binding international resolution that charged the British government with implementing the Balfour Declaration and establishing a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine (which at that point consisted of modern-day Jordan as well as Israel).

It is for that reason that Chaim Weizmann famously labeled the San Remo Resolution as, “the most momentous political event in the whole history of our movement, and it is, perhaps, no exaggeration to say in the whole history of our people since the Exile.”

Two years later in 1922, the League of Nations — the precursor to the United Nations — officially ratified the resolution, which is still binding and applicable today according to the UN’s own charter.

How many Israel haters know this information? How simple would it be to shut down their arguments by relaying simple facts like these? The answer is, I believe, very.

That is why we must arm ourselves with information. Because when we are able to complement our love for Israel with knowledge of why our cause is just, we can’t lose.

Eytan Meir is the director of external relations and development for Im Tirtzu, Israel’s largest grassroots Zionist movement.

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