Winston Churchill’s Defense of the Balfour Declaration in 1921
“It is manifestly right that the Jews, who are scattered all over the world, should have a national centre and a National Home where some of them may be reunited.” – Winston Churchill
On March 28, 1921, British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill visited Jerusalem where he attended a tree-planting ceremony on the site of the future Hebrew University on Mount Scopus. At the Government Office of the British High Commissioner, Churchill also met with Emir Abdullah of Jordan, Jerusalem’s Arab political and religious leaders, and the Jewish chief rabbis.
Winston Churchill was a key player to the formaton of modern Israel. He also met and heard from a former mayor of Jerusalem, Musa Kazim el Husseini who denounced the Balfour Declaration, petitioned Churchill to stop the immigration of Jews into Palestine, and claimed that life for the Arabs was better under the Ottomans. Churchill responded, defending the Balfour Declaration and the reestablishment of the Jewish homeland.
(Picture left) Winston Churchill in doorway receiving Mousa Kasim Pasha el Husseini at reception at Government House, Jerusalem. Emir Abdullah of Jordan stands on the left behind Mrs. Churchill. (Library of Congress)
Husseini was related to the infamous Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini and father of the notorious Arab militia fighter, Abdul Khadar el-Husseini. The Husseinis’ hatred of Jews was only matched by their hatred for King Abdullah, and Husseini clan members were involved in Abdullah’s assassination on the Temple Mount in 1951.
“You have asked me in the first place to repudiate the Balfour Declaration and to veto immigration of Jews into Palestine. It is not in my power to do so, nor, if it were in my power, would it be my wish. The British Government have passed their word, by the mouth of Mr. Balfour, that they will view with favour the establishment of a National Home for Jews in Palestine, and that inevitably involves the immigration of Jews into the country. This declaration of Mr. Balfour and of the British Government has been ratified by the Allied Powers who have been victorious in the Great War; and it was a declaration made while the war was still in progress, while victory and defeat hung in the balance. It must therefore be regarded as one of the facts definitely established by the triumphant conclusion of the Great War. It is upon this basis that the mandate has been undertaken by Great Britain, it is upon this basis that the mandate will be discharged. I have no doubt that it is on this basis that the mandate will be accepted by the Council of the League of Nations, which is to meet again shortly.
“Moreover, it is manifestly right that the Jews, who are scattered all over the world, should have a national centre and a National Home where some of them may be reunited. And where else could that be but in this land of Palestine, with which for more than 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated? We think it will be good for the world, good for the Jews and good for the British Empire. But we also think it will be good for the Arabs who dwell in Palestine, and we intend that it shall be good for them, and that they shall not be sufferers or supplanted in the country in which they dwell or denied their share in all that makes for its progress and prosperity. And here I would draw your attention to the second part of the Balfour Declaration, which solemnly and explicitly promises to the inhabitants of Palestine the fullest protection of their civil and political rights.”
“I was sorry to hear in the paper which you have just read that you do not regard that promise as of value. It seems to be a vital matter for your and one to which you should hold most firmly and for the exact fulfillment of which you should claim. If the one promise stands, so does the other; and we shall be judged as we faithfully fulfil both.”
– Winston Churchill
Churchill (beneath the tree) speaks at the Hebrew University tree-planting
ceremony. Note the translator (standing left of Churchill) and the two chief
rabbis of Palestine. (Library of Congress)
Read the rest of the article on Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs website here – http://jcpa.org/article/winston-churchills-defense-balfour-declaration-1921/