Celebrate the Balfour Declaration—But Don’t Overdo It

Citing Martin Kramer’s essay in Mosaic on the history of the Balfour Declaration, Gil Troy admits the historical importance of the document whose anniversary was celebrated yesterday. But he cautions his fellow Zionists against overselling its significance:

The Jews’ legitimacy as a nation doesn’t depend on one Balfour declaration from 1917—or many of them [as Kramer shows there were]. Jews didn’t need an international permission slip: not in 1917 or even in 1947 from the United Nations, and certainly not today. Such affirmations are welcome. They should help legitimize Zionism. But these documents are window dressing.

No such papers compare with the Bible. They don’t rank with 3,500 years of Jewish ties to the land, which make Jews, as the human-rights activist Irwin Cotler [puts it], the original aboriginal people, still reading the same Bible, speaking the same language, continuing the same culture, on the same land. . . .

I am touchy on this point because our enemies are using the Balfour centennial to reduce the Zionist claims to these 67 words of diplo-speak rather than 3,500 years of nationhood. . . . [D]id Great Britain or the United States need some Balfour-type permit? Like most countries, in the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence these nations seized the moment, emerging proudly, unilaterally, without anyone’s permission—simply asserting their national identities and resulting rights. . . .

Jews don’t need a Balfour green-light when authorities in Abu Dhabi won’t play Israel’s anthem [at an international Judo tournament]. The Israeli champion Tal Flicker started singing “Hatikvah” anyway, without anyone’s permission.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Balfour Declaration, Israel & Zionism

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy