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Britain Should Apologize Not for the Balfour Declaration But for Failing to Uphold It

Last week marked the 99th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration—the British pledge to create “a Jewish national home in Palestine.” For this occasion, the House of Lords perversely sponsored a panel supporting Mahmoud Abbas’s urgings that the UK apologize for issuing the declaration in the first place. Richard Kemp notes that, if the UK is to do any apologizing, it should be for neglecting to uphold Lord Balfour’s promise:

Arab Jew-hatred certainly did not start with the Balfour Declaration. But it did intensify afterward. It was this intensification, with its accompanying slaughter, revolt, and rioting against both British and Jews that caused Britain to falter and fail. . . . It caused the British government to introduce White Papers in 1922 and 1939 that sought to appease Arab violence and resistance by imposing restrictions on Jewish immigration into Palestine and on the development of the millennia-old Jewish presence in the historic Jewish homeland.

It caused Britain to deny Jewish immigration into Palestine even as Jews were being butchered in the millions in Europe. . . . It caused Britain to abstain from the 1947 UN General Assembly resolution that brought about the re-establishment of the Jewish state in 1948. And even to appoint a British general—Sir John Glubb—to lead the Arab Legion’s invasion of Israel immediately afterward.

It has caused Britain up to the present day to sometimes fail to condemn Arab aggression against Israelis, and to find excuses for such violence. All in the name of appeasing the Arabs and their supporters in the Muslim world and even at home.

Despite all of this, with Britain sometimes sinking into moral weakness over its subsequent failure to support the state that it incubated, the country can be intensely proud that Britain alone embraced Zionism in 1917. And it was the blood of many thousands of British, Australian, and New Zealand soldiers that created the conditions that made the modern-day state of Israel a possibility.

These men fought and died in the Palestine campaign to defeat the Ottoman empire that had occupied the territory for centuries. One month after the Balfour Declaration, on December 7, 1917, British imperial forces under General Allenby drove the Ottomans from Jerusalem. The day the last Ottoman soldier left the Holy City was the first day of Hanukkah, the celebration of the Maccabean liberation of that city 2,000 years earlier.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Balfour Declaration, British Mandate, Israel & Zionism, United Kingdom, World War I

How Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy