The Centenary of Winston Churchill’s Visit to the Land of Israel

April 1 2021

One-hundred years ago last week, Herbert Samuel—the Anglo-Jewish politician who had just been appointed high commissioner for Palestine—T.E. Lawrence (a/k/a Lawrence of Arabia), and Winston Churchill arrived in the Holy Land by train from Egypt. Churchill, himself recently made the secretary of state for the colonies, remained in Palestine for eight days. Lee Pollock describes the visit:

Churchill’s experiences during that visit served to solidify both his admiration for the Jewish people and his support of Zionism. He set himself up in Government House in Jerusalem, meeting with both Arab and Jewish delegations. A talented amateur painter, he also found time to create a beautiful landscape of sunset over the city, a work still owned by his descendants.

On March 27, he dedicated the new British Military Cemetery on the Mount of Olives and the following day met with Emir Abdullah, the newly designated king of Trans-Jordan, to assuage his anxiety about the pace of Jewish immigration into the area. While Abdullah was not wholly mollified, Churchill agreed that Jewish settlement east of the River Jordan would be proscribed.

Two days later, he planted a tree at the site on Mount Scopus of the future Hebrew University, telling the assembled dignitaries, “My heart is full of sympathy for Zionism. The establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine will be a blessing to the whole world.”

Before returning to Cairo the evening of March 30, Churchill visited the then-twelve-year-old Jewish town of Tel Aviv, meeting with its Mayor Meir Dizengoff, and the agricultural settlement in Rishon LeZion. On his return to London, he told the House of Commons: “Anyone who has seen the work of the Jewish colonies will be struck by the enormous productive results which they have achieved from the most inhospitable soil.”

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Read more at Librarians

More about: Hebrew University, History of Zionism, Mandate Palestine, T. E. Lawrence, Tel Aviv, Winston Churchill

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism