An Inconvenient Truth

(Spectator-UK) Andrew Roberts - For all the undoubted statesmanship implicit in Arthur Balfour's Declaration of November 1917, promising "a National Home for the Jewish People" doesn't mean that Britain has ever been much more than a fair-weather friend to Jewish national aspirations. There was the notorious 1939 White Paper, which severely limited Jewish immigration into Palestine at precisely the period of their greatest need, during the Final Solution. A total upper limit of 75,000 Jewish immigrants was set for the fateful years 1940-44, a figure that was also intended to cover refugee emergencies. The White Paper was published on 9 November 1938, the very same day as the Kristallnacht atrocities in Germany. The Manchester Guardian described the White Paper as "a death sentence on tens of thousands of Central European Jews," which in sheer numerical terms was probably an underestimation. In April 1948, Transjordan's Arab Legion was actually commanded by a Briton, Sir John Glubb. On New Year's Eve 1948, the British government actually issued an ultimatum to Israel threatening war if Israel did not halt its counter-attacks on Egyptian forces in Gaza and Sinai. Britain was the only country in the UN that came to Egypt's aid in this regard. Although Her Majesty the Queen has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her reign, neither she nor one single member of the British royal family has ever been to Israel on an official visit - even though Prince Philip's mother, Princess Alice of Greece, who was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" for sheltering a Jewish family in her Athens home during the Holocaust, was buried on the Mount of Olives. As an act of delegitimization of Israel, this official boycott of royal visits is the direct fault of British Foreign Office Arabists. William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, called for Israel to adopt a proportionate response in its struggle with Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2007, as though proportionate responses ever won any victories against fascists. In the Second World War, the Luftwaffe killed 50,000 Britons in the Blitz, and the Allied response was to kill 600,000 Germans - twelve times the number and hardly a proportionate response, but one that contributed mightily to victory. Who are we therefore to lecture the Israelis on how proportionate their responses should be? The writer is a British historian and author of numerous books including A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900.

2009-12-10 07:45:37

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