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Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Earl of Balfour wrote a letter to the New York Times:

In 1917, my forebear Arthur Balfour, as British foreign secretary, wrote the Balfour Declaration, a great humanitarian initiative to give Jews a home in their ancient lands, against the background of the dreadful Russian pogroms. We are conscious, however, that a central tenet of the declaration has all but been forgotten over the intervening decades: respect for the status of (Arab) Palestinians.

The increasing inability of Israel to address this condition, coupled with the expansion into Arab territory of the Jewish settlements, are major factors in growing anti-Semitism around the world.

If this situation is to have a chance of being neutralized, Israel must respect the United Nations resolutions (the same United Nations that gave Israel legitimacy 70 years ago) and look to allow the Palestinians their own state. Of course, this will mean disruption and Israeli political upheaval, and it’s disappointing that this week President Trump looked more like Janus on the issue.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu owes this to the millions of Jews around the world who suffer essentially because of the results of internal Israeli politics, as well as to the unenfranchised Palestinians.

Thus, we don’t believe that the declaration centenary can be properly celebrated this year unless progress is made, and soon. Simultaneous work toward making Jerusalem an internationally protected capital for all three Abrahamic faiths could see original intentions realized.

RODERICK BALFOUR
London
There is a lot wrong with this letter - for example, the Balfour Declaration promised a Jewish homeland but not a "Palestinian homeland" that Roderick implies it does, and he ignores history like the San Remo Conference and the partition of Palestine that created Transjordan specifically to create an Arab state.

But the worst part is that Balfour believes that Israeli policies are causing antisemitism.

For someone who invokes the Russian pogroms, Balfour sure hasn't learned the lesson of historical antisemitism: people don't hate Jews because of what they do.

Antisemites will come up with any excuse to hate Jews - Jews are capitalist/Jews are communist; Jews are wretched/Jews are too powerful.Jews keep themselves separate/Jews are infiltrating our hallowed institutions. We don't want Jews in our country/we don't want Jews to have their own country.

Settlements aren't the reason for modern antisemitism. Palestinians who are being supposedly oppressed by Jews living a few miles away mostly live in better circumstances than their Arab neighbors. Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria would gladly trade their lives with their fellow Palestinians in Nablus and Ramallah.

I would argue that using Israeli policies as an excuse for antisemitism is a form of antisemitism itself.


(h/ David B)




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