Skip to comments.Winston Churchill and the Foundation of Israel
Posted on 12/26/2017 1:19:41 PM PST by beaversmom
For the first half of this century, during one of the longest active political careers in this country, Winston Churchill was interested and sympathetic to Zionism. Hating tyranny in all its forms, he had reacted strongly against the Tzarist pogroms in the first years of the century and always understood the desperate need of a haven for Jews. I recognise, he wrote in a private letter on 2 January 1906, the supreme attraction to a scattered and persecuted people of a safe and settled home under the flag of tolerance and freedom. Two years later, on 30 January 1908, he wrote in another letter of his sympathy with the ultimate goal of the Jewish people. As he explained in his letter: Jerusalem must be the only ultimate goal. When it will be achieved it is vain to prophesy: but that it will some day be achieved is one of the few certainties of the future. Churchills own efforts to help establish a Jewish national home in Palestine were at their most intense throughout 1921 and 1922 when, as Colonial Secretary, he was directly responsible for the evolution of British policy in the Middle East. As early as 8 February 1920, Churchill had declared in a newspaper article: If, as may well happen, there should be created in our own lifetime by the banks of the Jordan a Jewish State under the protection of the British Crown which might comprise three or four millions of Jews, an event will have occurred in the history of the world which would from every point of view be beneficial.
While Churchill was in Jerusalem, in March 1921, he spoke sternly to the Palestinian Arab leaders telling them: It is manifestly right that the Jews, who are scattered all over the world, should have a national centre and a National Home where some of them may be reunited. And where else could that be but in this land of Palestine, with which for more than 3,000 years they have been intimately and profoundly associated?
Churchill envisaged Britain holding the ring in Palestine until such time that the Jews formed a majority of the inhabitants, whereupon the Jewish State would come into existence. Pressed as to whether he meant that the Jews would have control of the government, Churchill replied to the Canadian Prime Minister at the Imperial Conference on 22 June 1921: If, in the course of many years, they become a majority in the country, they naturally would take over.
This the Palestinian Arabs refused to accept, and in London on 22 August 1921, they once more urged Churchill to bring a complete halt to Jewish immigration. Churchill rejected this appeal, telling the Arabs: The Jews have a far more difficult task than you. You have only to enjoy your own possession; but they have to try to create out of the wilderness, out of the barren places, a livelihood for the people they bring in they were in Palestine many hundreds of years ago. They have always tried to be there. They have done a great deal for the country. They have started many thriving colonies and many of them wish to go and live there. It is to them a sacred place.
Churchill reiterated this view when he spoke to the Peel Commission in 1937, telling them that he had always believed that the intention of the Balfour Declaration was that Palestine might in the course of time become an overwhelmingly Jewish State. During the Second World War, although most of his Cabinet colleagues rejected this idea, Churchill clung to it and on many occasions intervened with senior Cabinet Ministers to prevent an Arab solution of the Palestine question being permanently fixed.
On 19 May 1941, in a secret memorandum, he wrote of his hope for the establishment after the war of a Jewish State of Western Palestine with not only the fullest rights for immigration and development, but also with provision for expansion in the desert regions to the southwards which they would gradually reclaim.
His electoral defeat at the end of the war meant that he could not carry out the policies he had outlined and had to watch powerless as Labours Palestine policy was put into effect. In 1952, four years after the establishment of the State of Israel, Churchill wrote, comparing the Greeks and the Jews: Centuries of foreign rule and indescribable, endless oppression leave them still living, active communities and forces in the modern world, quarrelling among themselves with insatiable vivacity.
Personally I have always been on the side of both, and believed in their invincible power to survive internal strife and the world tides threatening their extinction.
© Martin Gilbert
Originally published in Jewish Observer and the Middle East Review as How Churchill Fought for Zionism 26 November 1976
Photo: Great-grandson Randolph Churchill with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at the unveiling of an Oscar Nemon bronze bust of Winston Churchill at Mishkenot Shaananim, Jerusalem, 4 November 2012; Photograph: Abir Sultan, EPA
I saw Darkest Hour (Gary Oldman as Churchill on Christmas Eve. I LOVED it. I don't go to see many movies to put it mildly, but I had to go see that one.
And I rented Dunkirk on Amazon last night. Christopher Nolan made a most excellent movie. I will definitely watch this one again. It was not overdone. Unique in its style. No fluff. And best of all, no silly love stories about the worried girl back home...thank you Mr. Nolan! Hans Zimmer did the score...he created quite eerie music to go along with the style of the film. Excellent per usual.
If you have NetFlix, try to watch this documentary on Churchill. I watched it again last night with my daughter. It's really, really good.
Also, not directly related to the subject at hand, during the previews of the Churchill movie, I was excited to see a movie about Entebbe will be released in March of 2018.
Sorry admin moderator, but would you mind making the source as “Martin Gilbert”? I always forget something.
Despite Churchills bad jokes, Roosevelt was unabashed in his adoration of the Prime Minister. He once told Churchills closest Royal Navy commander, Charles Thompson, to take care of his friend: Hes about the greatest man in the world. In fact he may very likely be the greatest.
Hubby and I rented Dunkirk last night. I was not all that impressed. Found it confusing in the beginning, thought the soldier was dreaming on the beach. We both thought the main soldier in the story was a bit of a coward; he was thinking of ways to survive, pushing past others carrying a wounded soldier to get on board the ship that was leaving. I also found it hard to understand what they were saying with the Brits.
I took my 93 year old Father to see Darkest hour last week and he really enjoyed it. He is a WW2 vet who fortunately made it to France / Germany in late 1944 so he safely made there and back.
He has always been a Churchill fan. We also watched Dunnkirk on Christmas eve.
Sadly, I agree - I had missed Dunkirk in theaters last summer, and was greatly looking forward to it, so I streamed On Demand on Christmas Eve night.
What a disappointment.
Oh, well, going to see Darkest Hour tonight.
I agree with you and then some. I did not like this version at all and was very disappointment in it. The 1958 version, also called Dunkirk, with Richard Attenborough and John Mills is MUCH better. It was on TV the other night so I recorded it.
I actually agree with all of what you said, but I would still give it 5 stars overall on how it made me feel inside.
Thankfully, I watched it with my 15 year old son who was cluing me into what was going on. It’s one of those films that would take at least a couple of watches for me to pick up on everything fully.
I didn’t believe at first that the soldier was carrying (with another soldier) the wounded military man to the ship for his own ends. I thought my son had it wrong when he told me that was what they were doing. I thought they had a more noble motive...lol.
But it didn’t bother me as it explored an aspect of human nature that I’m sure many people had...even the Greatest Generation. He looked so young. Maybe the character was 18 years tops. That would be perfectly in keeping with the thought of processes of someone that age/maturity.
And the soldier picked up on the civilian boat had reached the end on what he could handle psychologically. He wasn’t bad, but he had just reached his breaking point.
I like when characters are human.
My mom is from England, but I found some of the dialogue hard to make out, too.
That’s great on your dad!
I was looking at the credits of the new Dunkirk last night and noticed the name Attenborough come up. Will Attenborough. Looked him up...grandson to Richard. Not sure what part he played, but he was in there. I didn’t realize Richard was in the original.
First half of "last" century?
I think article was written in 70s.
Thanks. That makes sense.
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