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The Conflict — Part 3
Christian persecution of Jews turned into Muslim persecution of Jews after the seventh century Islamic conquest of Israel. The Muslim victory raised the ire of Christendom and sparked the Crusades to the ‘Holy Land’ which, during the third Crusade, finally brought about the defeat of the Muslims; and another slaughter of the Jews. The Crusader conquest was subsequently overthrown by other Islamic armies under the leadership Saladin; and the Jews suffered yet again. The land had no rest – a succession of conquering armies: Muslim, Christian, Mongol, Turkish, etc., kept the blood flowing; each new master of Israel brought a different brutality to the Jew living there.
Many Jews had started life afresh in other lands when they fled to escape the wrath of the Romans. These Jews, however, fared no better than their kinfolk who had remained in the land. Unrelenting persecution haunted them in practically every country they entered. Their hopes of finding refuge from the storm were dashed upon the rocks of Jew-hatred. The waves of anti-Semitism reached their crest in the Nazi Holocaust during World War II, which took the lives of some six million Jewish people – one third of all world Jewry.
At this point we can return to where we began in Part 1, to 1917 and General Edmund Allenby who had succeeded in defeating the Turkish forces of the Ottoman Empire.
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France from the affair’s inception in 1894 until its resolution in 1906. The Dreyfus affair is usually viewed as a dreadful cases of injustice due to reasons of state; the affair remains one of the most extreme cases of a miscarriage of justice. A major role in the affair was played by the media and public opinion. The 1894 Dreyfus Affair shocked Jews worldwide and the realization settled in that Jews would never be safe from random acts of anti-Semitism until they had their own country again.
The Balfour Declaration was a November 2, 1917 letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild that made public the British support of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine. Balfour wrote inter alia: “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 favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.”
In a letter to Felix Frankfurter, who represented the Zionist Federation’s negotiations with the Arabs, Emir Feisal, the leader of the Arab world at the time, wrote inter alia: “We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. … We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through; we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home.” Feisal later wrote: “All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible.”
Great Britain initiated the establishment of a national home for Jews back in their ancient land and the leader of the Arab world at the time extended a lively “Welcome Home!” to the Jews and desired them to immigrate to Palestine quickly and in large numbers. So what went wrong?
In 1922, following the breakup of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations moved to entrust Great Britain with the Palestine Mandate by which it was to establish the Jewish national home in their ancient land that had been deeded to them by God Almighty (Genesis 15:18 – 21). However, Britain dreamed of an overland empire extending all the way to India; the Jews were now the proverbial fly in the ointment. Britain did all in its power to prevent Jews from returning to their ancient land.
Britain reneged on its obligations and promises. With a single stroke of a pen in 1922, they cut off a huge 77 percent of the entire area and gave it to King Abdullah who formed the Kingdom of Transjordan (now Jordan), from which the Jews were and still are barred from settlement. Britain also sliced off the entire Golan Heights area and deeded that to the French who were controlling Syria.
The British not only gave away the greater part of the promised Jewish homeland, but proceeded to restrict Jewish immigration into the balance of Palestine. Later, they even denied Jews entry to the ancient land in their hour of greatest need. Ships bringing Jews fleeing the Nazi Holocaust were turned away from the shores of Palestine. Some ships were towed to Cyprus where the Jews were imprisoned in steel cages. One ship was forced to return to Germany from where it had fled with its passengers from the Nazi extermination machine. Other ships were made to wallow about at sea, refused permission to unload their cargoes of Jews; they were forced to rely upon the mercy of the seas. Some ships sank; they took their human cargo down with them.
British hostility against the Jews became so intense that no effort was spared in their attempts to prevent the Jews from ever establishing the National Home in Palestine. Early in the piece British forces both instigated and also encouraged Arab riots against the Jewish presence. Arabs were allowed to have weapons while Jews were forbidden to have anything with which they may defend themselves. Arab massacres of Jews became common place during the British mandate period. The thinking in Whitehall was that if sufficient trouble broke out in Palestine then the government and the League of Nations would drop the idea of a Jewish national homeland.
To be continued
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