The Balfour Declaration Is Important Because It Recognizes Something Already There

Enemies of Israel have characterized the Balfour Declaration—the centenary of which is tomorrow—as “one nation’s promise to another of the land of a third.” Less hostile observers have pointed to the woe caused by Britain’s later abrogation of it. Dore Gold explains why it still matters:

The Balfour Declaration is important because it recognizes the historical bond of the Jewish people to the Holy Land, a bond which existed long before the declaration. What was significant was its public and formal recognition and its incorporation into international law. . . .

The Balfour Declaration is a tremendously important document because it contains world recognition of the historical rights of the Jewish people to a national home. . . Thus, the [League of Nations’ Palestine] Mandate and the Balfour Declaration, upon which the Mandate was based, did not create Jewish historical rights, but rather recognized a pre-existing right.

The Jewish claim to the Holy Land is based on facts, as we may understand from Chaim Weizmann’s language and choice of words when he explained that it was a major historical event. He called the Balfour Declaration an “act of restitution” and emphatically described it as a “unique act of the world’s moral conscience.” Expressing his deep awareness of historical continuity over millennia, he called it “the righting of a historical wrong” and an “act of justice.” . . .

[Precisely for this reason], the tendency to justify Zionism on the basis of the Holocaust is totally misconceived.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Balfour Declaration, British Mandate, Chaim Weizmann, International Law, Israel & Zionism

Jerusalem’s Economic Crisis, Its Arabs, and Its Future

Oct. 18 2018

The population of Israel’s capital city is 38-percent Arab, making Arab eastern Jerusalem the largest Arab community in the country. Connected to this fact is Jerusalem’s 46-percent poverty rate—the highest of any Israeli municipality. The city’s economic condition stems in part from its large ultra-Orthodox population, but there is also rampant poverty among its Arab residents, whose legal status is different from that of both Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Jerusalem’s Arab inhabitants are not Israeli citizens—in part because Palestinian society views acceptance of Israeli citizenship, [available to any Arab Jerusalemite who desires it], as acceptance of Israeli claims of sovereignty over the city, and in part because Israel is not eager to accept them, even as it formally views itself as having annexed the area. Nevertheless, they have a form of permanent residency that, unlike West Bank Palestinians, allows them unimpeded access to the rest of Israel. . . .

There are good reasons for this poverty among eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs, rooted in the political trap that has ensnared the Arab half of the city and with it the rest of the city as well. Right-wing Israeli political leaders have avoided investing in Arab eastern Jerusalem, fearing that such investments would increase the flow of Palestinians into the city. Left-wing leaders have done the same on the grounds that the Arab half would be given away in a future peace deal.

Meanwhile, eastern Jerusalem’s complicated situation, suspended between the Israeli and Palestinian worlds, means residents cannot take full advantage of their access to the Israeli economy. For example, while most Arab women elsewhere in Israel learn usable Hebrew in school, most Arab schools in eastern Jerusalem teach from the Palestinian curriculum, which does not offer students the Hebrew they will need to find work in the western half of the city. . . .

It is not unreasonable to argue that Jerusalem cannot really be divided, not for political reasons but for economic ones. If Jerusalem remains a solely Israeli capital, it will have to integrate better its disparate parts and massively develop its weaker communities if it hopes ever to become solvent and prosperous. Arabs must be able to find more and better work in Jewish Jerusalem—and in Arab Jerusalem, too. Conversely, if the city is divided into two capitals, that of a Jewish state and that of a Palestinian one, that won’t change the underlying economic reality that its prosperity, its capacity to accommodate tourism and develop efficient infrastructure, and its ability to ensure access for all religions to their many holy sites, will still require a unified urban space.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli economy, Jerusalem