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Thoughts on Yom HaShoah

Four of FZY’s members – Joe Woolf, Sammy Kemp, Joseph Eskenazy and Imi Wise – give their reflections on March of the Living UK youth movement bus 2018.

FZY in Berlin, and in the Press

Since December, this Movement’s been making headlines and bylines all over the place.

After raising £6,000 for #PaintOverPrejudice, our campaign to re-commission artist Gunther Schaefer to repaint his ‘Vaterland’ on the Berlin Wall, we’ve been covered in a number of different articles, including in The Jewish News​, The Jewish Chronicle​ and The Jewish Telegraph​. Scroll down to read about us there.

This weekend, a group of the Movement’s chaveirim from London, Manchester and Glasgow (pictured above) will join Schaefer in Berlin as he repaints the mural. They are making the most of their time in Berlin by meeting with representatives of the local community, forming strong Zionist links in the diaspora, and also hearing from some of the best Holocaust and tolerance educators in the world.

FZY chanchim at Reichstag

FZY delegates outside Berlin’s ‘Reichstag’ during a city tour.

Rhianna Bongart, from Essex, is one of the trip’s delegates. ‘I think that learning about our heritage is so important,’ she writes. ‘Not many people get opportunities like this, and the fact we have this opportunity, and the ability to make such an impact with our project, speaks volumes.’

We’ve also hit the headlines for other reasons. This year, we’re joining the Yellow Candles Project with Shoah Yellow Candles​. The project will ensure the distribution of 13,000 candles in the UK for Yom HaShoah, which is four times the number distributed in 2017.

“The candles, which come with the name, age, date and place of death of a victim of the Holocaust, are to be distributed to over 50 cross-communal organisations and lit on the evening of April 11.

Joe Woolf, Mazkir, said that FZY had taken on 30 candles which would be distributed among its younger members.

“It is the simplest of ideas that make the most impact,” he said.

The 21-year-old said he was “moved to find candles with kids’ names on them as young as two”.”

More on the Yellow Candles Project here 

Yellow Candle Project

The Yellow Candles Project will be distributing 13,000 candles this year for Yom HaShoah

*****

The Paint Over Prejudice campaign has the support of the UJIA​, Chief Rabbi Mirvis​, The Jewish Agency for Israel​, The Jewish Agency for Israel UK​ and March of the Living UK​.

Further coverage of the campaign can be found here in the Jewish News and here in the Jewish Chronicle.

Why we Remember

FZY’s central shlicha, Dagan Livny, whilst in Budapest, shares with the Young Zionist why we remember and uses monuments of Budapest to give her thoughts.

“I wasn’t one of the six million”

To commemorate International Holocaust Memorial Day 2018, Josh Marks (FZY Rakaz Darom 2017/18), with the help from Dagan Livny (FZY’s Central Shlicha), share with the Young Zionist some thoughts on Yehuda Amichai’s poem “I wasn’t one of the six million”.

An Active Activist Movement

Josh Marks, FZY Rakaz Darom 2017/18, explains how FZY is an active/activist movement.

Trump and Jerusalem: The views from our members

FZY is a pluralist youth movement. We have as many different Zionist opinions as we have members (if not more). In light of recent news about President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, we wanted to share with you a selection of ideas and opinions, as broad and as thoughtful as our members are.

A missed opportunity but not the end of the world

From my dinner table, watching the US President announce that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel I could hear the sounds of American flags burning the world over.

The announcement was both remarkable and a non-story. Presidents G.W Bush, Obama and Trump had all before taking office publicly stated that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. The Russian foreign ministry announced in April they recognised West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and now the Czech Republic and the Philippines are holding a similar position. What is remarkable as no US President has said that as President, making it official US foreign policy.

Jerusalem has been, since the 1949 armistice the capital of Israel as defined by Israel as a sovereign state. All the key factors that make a city a capital e.g seat of legislature and executive exist in Jerusalem. Beyond that, Jews have been the owners and settlers of Jerusalemite lands from as early as the time of Joshua.

I Chronicles explains that Joshua bought the site of the Temple Mount for 600 gold shekels (Verses 21:22-22:1). We don’t just have, as Jews a right to live in Jerusalem by conquest, but by recorded financial transactions that go from Joshua to Moses Montefiore buying the area that became Mishkenot Sha’ananim and more.

The US, Russian and other countries recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a logical recondition of the status quo.

Crucially, all the recognitions have had the proviso that it not change the status quo of the Temple Mount or prejudice the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump also made clear that while he recognised Jerusalem was the capital, its exact borders were not fixed. This leaves it clearly open for the expected deal to be Israel retaining sovereignty over West Jerusalem and Jerusalemite settlements like Ma’ale Adumim and the Palestinians getting East Jerusalem neighbourhoods as a capital. As for the sovereignty of the Old City, squaring that circle will be tricky to say the least.

Yet, the announcement by the US President could have been more, if it had been paired with clear Israeli concessions. This would have been the perfect time for the Israeli government to announce a moratorium on West Bank construction (with the exception of the Amona relocation). Then, trying to watch the international reaction being universally against the Jerusalem recognition would be fascinating, as the one issue the international community cares about is settlements. Whether justified or not, the UN and regional powers would have been on much weaker ground contemning the move as they would ahem seen clear Israeli concessions, and Israel still gets the Jerusalem recognition it has dreamed of.

Trump should have made that deal, but for reasons best know to him, he made a decision which was hugely divisive and benefits Israel infinitely more that it does his Arab allies or the Palestinians.

Dr. Husam S. Zomlot, the PLO’s representative in the US said yesterday ‘We recognise Israel on 78% of our land’. Unless this attitude towards Israel’s existence changes, even dividing Jerusalem won’t ensure there is lasting peace between Israeli’s and Palestinians.

Jerusalem compromises are still possible, Israel has in the past provided reparations to displaced Old City families after the 1967 war. Doing so for displaced Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem would be doable as well, subject to new free housing provided to the displaced. As for the reparations money, if the Israeli’s conceded on some East Jerusalem settlers the International community would happily foot the bill.

Peace is still possible, hard decisions and compromises must be made by Israelis and Palestinians. The US announcement on Jerusalem has not changed anything in that regard.

Yes to Jerusalem (No to Trump)

The Zionist movement is no stranger to controversy. Though its goal – summed up in FZY’s vision of the Jewish People living in peace in the State of Israel as one nation and as a light unto the nations – is an admirable one, it is an enormous understatement to say that there have been lapses in ideological clarity along the way.

One such lapse belongs to Herzl, the often credited visionary of the Zionist movement and of the Judenstaat, the Jewish State. One of his strategies for the creation of a Jewish Homeland in Eretz Yisrael, protected by law, required the support of the Ottoman Empire, under whose jurisdiction the land fell. Europe’s Jews would pay off the Ottoman Empire’s huge debt in return for the land and the establishment of a Jewish State therein. In 1901, after endless loose ends and raised funds, Herzl met with the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II to persuade him towards a deal. The meeting was only partially fruitful: the Sultan hoped that Herzl would improve the Ottoman Empire’s poor reputation during the period. Herzl, a journalist, would comply.

Herzl’s positive write-up of the Ottoman Empire was an implicit whitewash of Hamid’s massacre of unto 300,000 Armenians just five years previously. In extending a hand to Hamid, Herzl ignited fury within the Zionist movement. Bernard Lazare, another Zionist, resigned from the Zionist Committee in protest: if the history of the Jewish People was written in blood, how could Herzl “extend a welcoming hand to murderers”?

Fast forward. It’s 2017, and the President of the USA has rightfully recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It shouldn’t be such huge news. Surely, the greater shock should be that the USA has long operated a de facto embassy to Palestine in West Jerusalem. So do France, Italy and Greece. Surely there should be little controversy in these nations recognising Jerusalem as an Israeli city if they already recognise its uncontested areas as Palestinian? Indeed, it was not that long ago that the BBC listed the capital of Palestine as Jerusalem, but failed to list the capital of Israel. UNESCO’s frequent challenge to the city’s Jewish heritage is well covered. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city should be unanimously recognised and respected.

So yes. Yes to Jerusalem. Yes to recognising the rightful capital of the State of Israel, where Jews have lived since always. (The only time there was no Jewish presence in the Old City was between 1948-67, when Jordan razed Jewish settlements there to the ground.)

But no to Trump. No to Trump. No to Trump.

The Zionist Movement recognised women’s suffrage in 1898, long before women could vote in the US or in Europe. It should reject the man who bragged of sexual assault and who is embroiled in over fifteen separate allegations thereof.

The Zionist Movement cannot countenance a President who, when running for President, Tweeted a picture of Hillary Clinton with the caption “most corrupt candidate ever”. The caption appeared blazoned across bank notes and in the shape of a Magen David, a clear antisemitic slur.

The Zionist Movement should reject the man who called Jon Stewart Jonathan Leibowitz, drawing attention to his Jewish heritage. The Zionist Movement should reject the man who refused to disavow David Duke, the white supremacist and former head of the Ku Klux Klan. The Zionist Movement should reject the man who imposed a travel ban on people for their ethnicity or faith, even when those people may have been fleeing violence or death. The Zionist Movement should reject the man who has defended violent neo-Nazi rallies under the guise of their entitlement to opinions.

Herzl slipped up when he defended Sultan Hamid II. Though we should recognise the integral centrality of Jerusalem to the Zionist principle – the Land of Zion and of Jerusalem, according to our anthem – we should reject fully Trump’s involvement in the process.

Trump and the Jerusalem Embassy

U.S. president Donald Trump’s recent decision to relocate the nation’s embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has created a great deal of controversy throughout both the Middle East and the international community. The schism between the state of Israel and the quasi-official Palestinian organisations which lay claim to the same territory has been clear for the duration of the Jewish nation’s official 69 year existence, and one must acknowledge that similar heightened periods of contention have often been inconsequential with regard to their effect on remedying this confrontational relationship. Living as a Jew in Britain and attending a school where opinions towards the state of Israel are generally apathetic or inherently negative, one must ask the essential question of why the British media generally adopts a similarly harsh attitude towards Zionism.

The overwhelming majority of the British population cannot judge Israel unequivocally due to their inability to view the country for themselves. The general public must therefore view Israel and the conflict that surrounds and occasionally engulfs it through the lens of the British media and – with increasing frequency – the views of major politicians. These two sources of information are intrinsically linked, with politically polarising major newspapers such as the Labour-oriented Guardian and the often brash Daily Mail usually aligning themselves with the personal views of the respective party leaders whom they support. The relevance of this to public opinion towards Israel is more apparent than ever, with the British media becoming increasingly left wing as a response to the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn is a self-proclaimed supporter of a Palestinian state, and inherently opposes Zionism more than any other politician in recent memory. His bold publicity machine has galvanised the youth of Britain to oppose Zionism, and the left wing press’ often biased coverage of Israel’s conflicts with the disgruntled Muslim population living in the area has simply accentuated this process.

In order to understand the significance of foreign powers’ actions in what would otherwise be a localised dispute (the physical magnitude of the so-called ‘Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’ is insignificant when compared to that of other global hostilities), one must study its roots. The principle of Zionism – the belief that the area specified in the Torah which extends from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea should be recognised as a sovereign Jewish state – was legitimised by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in 1917. The conditions under which the retrospectively named ‘Balfour Declaration’ was created were undoubtedly dubious, as British diplomats used Chaim Weizmann’s movement as a pawn in their power struggle with France following the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The Declaration is often hailed as a key moment in Israel’s history, although the unbecoming reality was that it was simply used as a ploy to destabilise the French colonial claim to neighbouring Syria, and that fundamental British political support for Zionism was no more entrenched than promises that it made to Feisal of Mecca, political leader of the Arab Revolt which had overthrown the Ottomans. The turmoil created when the British government failed to honour any of the promises it had made (to either the Arabs or the Jews) isolated all of the aforementioned parties, and was arguably the defining cause of the deterioration of modern relations between the Jewish and Arab worlds (this of course excludes fundamental religious opposition).

The very existence of the Jewish state is contentious, as was evidenced by the great opposition faced by Zionists in the United Nations in the lead-up to the organisation officially recognising its sovereignty in 1948. The nature of relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours dictates that both sides often refuse to negotiate directly with each other, and this has had a profound effect on international diplomacy ever since the early 1970s. This particular time-frame is especially relevant to today’s U.S Embassy crisis, as Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s initiation of ‘shuttle diplomacy’ – whereby he would act as an intermediary between Israeli and Arab negotiating parties – following the Yom Kippur War of 1973 cemented the Americans’ place as the primary external influence on Israel’s foreign policy. The U.S. retains that position to this day, and this is the fundamental reason why President Trump’s (arguably the most pro-Israel première this century) decision to move his nation’s embassy to Jerusalem is of such great importance. In other words, the American decision to unanimously recognise Israel’s true capital may mark an essential turning point in international relations towards Zionism and Judaism as a whole. While much of the British media has criticised Trump for igniting tensions between Israel and pro-Palestinian groups, there is a compelling argument to suggest that any hopes of a two-state solution to the conflict are ill-conceived, and that while the President’s actions have lacked nuance and appeared as callous towards the Muslim world, his decisiveness will hopefully propel the conflict towards a final peace and end the current stagnation of the process.

A statement that’s pushed the boundaries

The 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump declared on Wednesday that “it is officially time to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel” as he prepares to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is a statement that has already started to have huge implications. Jerusalem is one of the most religious places in the world which holds holy sites for Jews, Muslims and Christians hence the reason declaring that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital is so controversial. Just a day after Trumps speech conflicts have started to reemerge between Israel and Palestine with 31 Palestinians being wounded in clashes in the Gaza Strip and West Bank after protestors were setting fire to tyres and throwing stones at Israeli troops.

Mr Trump is no stranger to controversy and his latest statement has provided just that. Met with obvious support from Bibi and Zionists alike due to a major world power showing clear support for Israel it has not been so popular on the other side. Whilst Netanyahu said Israel was profoundly grateful to Mr Trump, on the Palestinian side Ismail Haniya, the leader of Hamas called for a “day of rage” on Friday and said it should “be the first day of the intifada against the occupier”. In addition to this the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed Trump was “throwing the region in to a ring of fire”.

In my personal opinion I do not agree with Trumps statement. Whilst it is well known Trump is an established advocate for Israel I feel even this statement have pushed the boundaries. I fear that already implications are being felt with riots and protests starting to emerge which is obviously not healthy for a region as fragile as the middle east . Personally asa zionist whilst I feel the support for Jerusalem and Israel from a major world power is extremely promising for Trump to publicly declare that Jerusalem was Israels capital and that is the reason he is moving his embassy there was unnecessary and has already started to cause more problems than it will solve and if I was an Israeli citizen it would be something I would be fearing a lot more.

Will it get the two sides sitting round the table?

Wow, what a day. As I sat around a kitchen table with some friends watching President Trumps’ speech I thought to myself is this what it felt like in 1947 on the 29th of November? As people waited for the votes form the United Nations on the partition plan of British Palestine. We waited in anticipation and then the President made the announcement that he had, ‘determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.’ The room let out a sigh of relief. It’s amazing to think that 70 years ago the United States was the first country to recognise Israel as a sovereign nation and now 70 years later it’s the first country to recognise Jerusalem as her capital. My personal view is that America and indeed Britain should move their embassies to Israel. I would consider myself centre left on the political spectrum in Israel and pray for peace frequently however, the notion that Israel will give up West Jerusalem in any future peace deal is simply wrong in my opinion. I would continue to advocate for peace and a two-state solution, with West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as the capital of a newly formed Palestinian state. I think Trump’s move brings up deeper and much more complex issues around borders and land, which I won’t address now, but given that Israel has its Parliament (Knesset), Supreme Court and official residences of the Prime Minister and President I think it would be foolish to think Israel is moving anywhere. A rather frequent argument I’ve heard on LBC today is that it is a barrier to peace. I think the opposite, we haven’t seen real peace talks since 2000 at Camp David and I think such a bold statement from President Trump will hopefully get the two sides to sit down at a table and begin to try and make long lasting peace. However, unfortunately at the time of writing this I saw a notification form Haaretz confirming that Israel has struck targets in Gaza after Gaza launched a rocket this afternoon. My current worry is that before we can get both sides around a negotiating table this could turn into rocket fire and casualties on both sides. So my departing message is to pray for a peaceful end to the conflict but also that the situation doesn’t escalate any further.

Has there even been any real shift?

Trump’s midweek announcement that Jerusalem is to be recognised as Israel’s capital was not a fundamental ideological shift, but an acknowledgement of a decades-old political reality. Trump’s predecessors insisted that the status of Jerusalem was an issue for the future, with Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama repeatedly delaying the implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. Trump, however, has delivered a long overdue change in policy which will see the relocation of the American embassy to a city which has served as Israel’s capital since the country’s establishment.

The move has been construed by many as an abandonment by Trump of his “ultimate deal”; the declaration will please AIPAC, it is argued, but by further unbalancing peace talks it will only jeopardise Palestinian cooperation. The announcement, however, is an acceptance that there are far more challenging obstacles to a two state solution; the construction of settlements in the West Bank, the continued existence of armed terror groups in Gaza, and the question of Palestinian refugees are all of far greater importance. The 1947 “corpus separatum” proposal for Jerusalem has been all but discarded by the international community, and no peace agreement would involve the removal of Israeli sovereignty over the Western half of the city. In proclaiming her disagreement with Trump’s announcement, Theresa May reaffirmed the British position that Jerusalem should be the “shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states”. But Trump has made no judgement on the specific boundaries of the city, with the US president stopping far short of Netanyahu’s “eternal and undivided” rhetoric. Trump’s announcement cannot, therefore, be interpreted as an endorsement of settlement construction in East Jerusalem (over which Israel’s 1980 annexation remains unrecognised), nor does it remove the issue of Jerusalem from the negotiating table altogether, with the status of East Jerusalem and the Old City still subject to future discussion.

Home to the Knesset and Israel’s Supreme Court, Jerusalem has, since December 1948, been Israel’s capital city. Jerusalem’s administrative borders are of little historic or religious significance, and Israel’s claim to the entirety of the city is, at best, questionable. But Trump is merely acknowledging the reality, and in doing so, delivers a long overdue break with convention.

Trump acknowledging reality

Trump’s midweek announcement that Jerusalem is to be recognised as Israel’s capital was not a fundamental ideological shift, but an acknowledgement of a decades-old political reality. Trump’s predecessors insisted that the status of Jerusalem was an issue for the future, with Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama repeatedly delaying the implementation of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act. Trump, however, has delivered a long overdue change in policy which will see the relocation of the American embassy to a city which has served as Israel’s capital since the country’s establishment.

The move has been construed by many as an abandonment by Trump of his “ultimate deal”; the declaration will please AIPAC, it is argued, but by further unbalancing peace talks it will only jeopardise Palestinian cooperation. The announcement, however, is an acceptance that there are far more challenging obstacles to a two state solution; the construction of settlements in the West Bank, the continued existence of armed terror groups in Gaza, and the question of Palestinian refugees are all of far greater importance. The 1947 “corpus separatum” proposal for Jerusalem has been all but discarded by the international community, and no peace agreement would involve the removal of Israeli sovereignty over the Western half of the city. In proclaiming her disagreement with Trump’s announcement, Theresa May reaffirmed the British position that Jerusalem should be the “shared capital of the Israeli and Palestinian states”. But Trump has made no judgement on the specific boundaries of the city, with the US president stopping far short of Netanyahu’s “eternal and undivided” rhetoric. Trump’s announcement cannot, therefore, be interpreted as an endorsement of settlement construction in East Jerusalem (over which Israel’s 1980 annexation remains unrecognised), nor does it remove the issue of Jerusalem from the negotiating table altogether, with the status of East Jerusalem and the Old City still subject to future discussion.

Home to the Knesset and Israel’s Supreme Court, Jerusalem has, since December 1948, been Israel’s capital city. Jerusalem’s administrative borders are of little historic or religious significance, and Israel’s claim to the entirety of the city is, at best, questionable. But Trump is merely acknowledging the reality, and in doing so, delivers a long overdue break with convention.

Logic Vs Emotion

Critics of this measure argue that President Trump is now approving of Israeli ‘occupation’. Ever since the creation of the state of Israel, West Jerusalem has been part of the state of Israel. Only since 1967 has the issue of Jerusalem become such as contentious one, with the world claiming that Israel has ‘occupied’ East Jerusalem ever since. Therefore, the fact that West Jerusalem (the most likely location of the new US embassy) is not even contested territory, legitimizes any claim that Donald Trump is condoning Israeli occupation. Furthermore, the continued denial by other countries of the right of Israel to choose its own capital; is incongruous with every other nation in the world which has the prerogative to do so. Jerusalem is the location of the Israeli legislature (the Knesset), the Israeli Supreme Court, the homes of the Israeli President and Prime Minister as well as the location of almost every Israeli government agency. Consequently, it would be irrational for the Israeli capital to be anywhere but Jerusalem and a denial of Israel’s ability to do so would be a continuation of a complete double-standard against Israel. Fundamentally, I would contend that the condemnation of Trump’s action rather than being based on an objection to the measure to move the embassy, is more of a criticism of the symbolic message of this decision. This message is one that world leaders have either not yet realised or refuse to admit to themselves, which is that no peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians will ever result in Israel not have sovereignty (or at least joined sovereignty) over Jerusalem. Therefore, whilst the world anxiously awaits to see whether this action of President Trump may have just catalysed the start of a third intifada as well as the outcome of the meetings of the UN Security Council and the Arab League on the issue this weekend, hopefully the world will put logic above emotions.

BogSem in Budapest: Legacy of Herzl

Leo BroshWritten by Leo Brosh, an FZY Boger

Theodore Herzl is a legend within the millennia-old movement to return the exiles of Judea and re-establish our national home in the Land of Israel.

For the first time in FZY’s 107-year history, the Bogrim Seminar (BogSem) took place outside the UK, in Budapest.

Budapest is where Herzl was born, in what is now the complex of one of the largest synagogues in the world. 120 years ago a man was born who lit the fire of political Zionism which had been on a quiet simmer for too long.

He famously wrote:

“It goes without saying that the Jewish people can have no other goal than Palestine and that, whatever the fate of the proposition may be, our attitude toward the land of our fathers is and shall remain unchangeable.”

Today FZY, a movement born just thirteen years after the first Zionist Congress, returned to pay respects to the dream of Herzl and show that the fire he breathed into Zionism remains burning fiercely in the moment that fights to pursue his dream.

BogSem was longer than normal, starting with an early morning flight to Hungary and then a bus to our site in central Budapest.

Before long, we were engrossed in the classic FZY Shabbat, the best kind of Shabbat a person can have.

After the full array of services, we went to a kosher restaurant to eat. In doing so, we raised the roof and the smiles of the restaurant and the other diners with our energy and ruach. It was truly amazing to be a part of.

The Oneg and kumzits were the funniest in a long time: full of games, challenges, banter and ‘high kicks’!

Shabbat day began with services and Open Spaces which were focused on Magen of the Jewish people, whether on campus or in the media. Lunch again was a powerhouse of ruach where even the older diners were clapping and singing to our classic Shira.

An afternoon of peulot and food culminated in Havdallah. We waived goodbye to a unique FZY Shabbat and embraced the new week.

That new week began with us enjoying all the delights Budapest had to offer be it food, drink or showers!

Sunday was supposed to be a day of touring Jewish Budapest. Instead our contingency plans kicked in and we went riding scooters around the city, going over bridges, past palaces and in between bemused locals and tourists.

We could not get enough but sadly it was necessary to move on and have lunch with our Hungarian compatriots to learn more about their lives. During a cultural exchange with food and conversation between British and Hungarian Jews, Tarbut was brought to the forefront in a way we have never done before as a movement.

Herzl would have been proud today of the fact that not only is there a State of Israel, but that Zionists are thriving and working continuous both within and outside of Israel to make the world a better place (Tzedakah).

While this trip did not conclude with us our aliyot to Israel, the commitment of the Bogrim to do more for the movement, to inspire, to lead and to live out our values was far greater than a standard British BogSem.

Leaving Budapest was sad as we knew we needed to return to our ordinary lives at work or university. However, we left with a new appreciation for Hungary, a strong relationship between Bogrim and a renewed passion for the movement we believe so passionately about.

Herzl, I’m sure, would have been proud.

BogSem in Budapest

Balfour 100

Joe Woolf, FZY Mazkir 2017/18, gives a greater insight into the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration

Celebrating Balfour

Josh Marks, FZY Movement Worker 2017/18 takes a closer look at the sixty-seven words that paved the way for a Jewish State

Today, 2 November, marks the centenary of The Balfour Declaration. On a scrap of paper no larger than A5, Lord Arthur Balfour dictates the all-important sixty-seven words to Lord Walter Rothschild:

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

One hundred years later, the letter has become a contentious marker of the fine line that Israel has had to tread as an independent, democratic state, Jewish in nature and responsible also for its non-Jewish inhabitants. In an atmosphere of soundbite comments, hot-headed and short on nuance, here is an almost word-by-word of the promises that Lord Balfour makes, and an analysis of their respective successes.

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…

This is the easy bit. Note how the Conservative Balfour speaks on behalf of the Government, outlining the stance taken by the Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George. The coalition was broadly echoing an opinion that the Labour party had endorsed just three months earlier in their War Aims Memorandum. That means that support for Zionism was truly a cross-party matter.

…and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object…

Did they? On the one hand, the British Mandate for Palestine had the establishment of a Jewish home as a stated aim, recognised by the League of Nations. It facilitated the establishment of the Jewish Agency and oversaw an estimated 360,000 legal Jewish migrants between 1920 and 1945.

On the other hand, the British Mandate in Palestine allotted 87,500 acres of land to Arabs to be cultivated and only 4,250 to Jews. A 1939 White Paper forbade land sales to Jews in 95% of mandatory Palestine.

…it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…

British Jew Herbert Samuel, the first High Commissioner of Palestine, limited Jewish immigration to protect ‘the interests of the present population’. In 1980, the Jerusalem Law ‘secures rights of members of all religions’. All Orthodox religious ceremonies performed in Israel, under any religious auspice, are recognised. The Basic Law (1992), which outlines the ‘values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state’, protects the lives, bodies and dignities of all people. There have been two Arab judges on the Supreme Court of Israel.

After gaining control of the West Bank in 1967, Israel guaranteed Muslim access to mosques and Christian access to churches. The Israeli Defense Forces foiled a Jewish attempt to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and continues to protect this site from attacks by non-Muslims. The city of Jerusalem has given financial support to religious Muslim activities.

There is still some way to go for this promise to be realised. All 137 official designated holy sites recognised by Israel are Jewish, and there is markedly less civil liberty guaranteed in the areas that fall under the governance of the Palestinian Authority. In spite of that, there is de facto recognition of other faiths and their religious rights, as demonstrated.

…or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

Unfortunately, this was the promise that was hardest for Balfour to ensure. In the decade that followed Israel’s declaration of independence, approximately 850,000 Jews were persecuted, expelled or evacuated from Arab and Muslim countries. In 1948, there were approx. 35,000 Jews in Libya. Today there are none. In 1948, there were approx. 135,000 Jews in Iraq. Today there are 5. In 1948, there were approx. 30,000 Jews in Syria. In 2014, there were just 17.

To conclude, then, we should celebrate with pride the Balfour Declaration, with its historic promise of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. We should be unapologetically proud of the role that young people played in establishing a Nation-State for a displaced people. And whilst we should note that some promises remain unfulfilled, we should continue to struggle towards the ‘infinite dream’ that is Herzl’s Zionism, and that is beautifully and succinctly summarised in Balfour’s sixty-seven words.

Succot & Bar Kochba

Joe Woolf: Mazkir 2017/18

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