The Legal Aspects of Jewish Rights to a National Home in Palestine / Eli Hertz

The Two Most Significant Events in Modern History Leading to
the Creation of the Jewish National Home:
I. The Founding of Modern Zionism
Benjamin Ze’ev [Theodor] Herzl (May 2, 1860 – July 3, 1904)
After witnessing the spread of antisemitism around the world, Herzl felt
compelled to create a political movement with the goal of establishing a Jewish
National Home in Palestine. To this end, he assembled the first Zionist Congress
in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. Herzl’s insights and vision can be learned from
his writings:
“Oppression and persecution cannot exterminate us. No nation on earth
has survived such struggles and sufferings as we have gone through.
“Palestine is our ever-memorable historic home. The very name of
Palestine would attract our people with a force of marvelous potency.
“The idea which I have developed in this pamphlet is a very old one: it is
the restoration of the Jewish State.
“The world resounds with outcries against the Jews, and these outcries
have awakened the slumbering idea. ... We are a people—one people.”1
II. The Balfour Declaration
The British Foreign Office, November 2, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s
Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist
aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.
“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.”
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the
Zionist Federation.2
Arthur James Balfour
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

The Origin and Nature of the “Mandate for Palestine”
The “Mandate for Palestine,” an historical League of Nations document, laid
down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, a 10,000-
square-miles3 area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
The legally binding document was conferred on April 24, 1920 at the San Remo
Conference, and its terms outlined in the Treaty of Sèvres on August 10, 1920.
The Mandate’s terms were finalized and unanimously approved on July 24, 1922,
by the Council of the League of Nations, which was comprised at that time of 51
countries4, and became operational on September 29, 1923.5
The “Mandate for Palestine” was not a naive vision briefly embraced by the
international community in blissful unawareness of Arab opposition to the very
notion of Jewish historical rights in Palestine. The Mandate weathered the test of
time: On April 18, 1946, when the League of Nations was dissolved and its assets
and duties transferred to the United Nations, the international community, in
essence, reaffirmed the validity of this international accord and reconfirmed that
the terms for a Jewish National Home were the will of the international
community, a “sacred trust” – despite the fact that by then it was patently clear
that the Arabs opposed a Jewish National Home, no matter what the form.
Many seem to confuse the “Mandate for Palestine” [The Trust], with the
British Mandate [The Trustee]. The “Mandate for Palestine” is a League of
Nations document that laid down the Jewish legal rights in Palestine. The
British Mandate, on the other hand, was entrusted by the League of
Nations with the responsibility to administrate the area delineated by the
“Mandate for Palestine.”
Great Britain, the Mandatory or Trustee, did turn over its responsibility to
the United Nations as of May 14, 1948. However, the legal force of the League of
Nations’ “Mandate for Palestine”, The Trust , was not terminated with the
end of the British Mandate. Rather, the Trust was transferred over to the United

Recognition of the Historical Connection to Palestine
Fifty-one member countries – the entire League of Nations – unanimously declared
on July 24, 1922:
“Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the
Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their
national home in that country.”6
Unlike nation-states in Europe, modern Lebanese, Jordanian, Syrian, and Iraqi
nationalities did not evolve. They were arbitrarily created by colonial powers.
In 1919, in the wake of World War I, England and France as Mandatory (e.g.,
official administrators and mentors) carved up the former Ottoman Empire, which
had collapsed a year earlier, into geographic spheres of influence. This divided the
Mideast into new political entities with new names and frontiers.7
Territory was divided along map meridians without regard for traditional frontiers
(i.e., geographic logic and sustainability) or the ethnic composition of indigenous
The prevailing rationale behind these artificially created states was how they served
the imperial and commercial needs of their colonial masters. Iraq and Jordan, for
instance, were created as emirates to reward the noble Hashemite family from
Saudi Arabia for its loyalty to the British against the Ottoman Turks during World
War I, under the leadership of Lawrence of Arabia. Iraq was given to Faisal bin
Hussein, son of the sheriff of Mecca, in 1918. To reward his elder brother
Abdullah with an emirate, Britain cut away 77 percent of its mandate over Palestine
earmarked for the Jews and gave it to Abdullah in 1922, creating the new country
of Trans-Jordan or Jordan, as it was later named.
The Arabs’ hatred of the Jewish State has never been strong enough to prevent the
bloody rivalries that repeatedly rock the Middle East. These conflicts were evident
in the civil wars in Yemen and Lebanon, as well as in the war between Iraq and
Iran, in the gassing of countless Kurds in Iraq, and in the killing of Iraqis by Iraqis.
The manner in which European colonial powers carved out political entities with
little regard to their ethnic composition not only led to this inter-ethnic violence,
but it also encouraged dictatorial rule as the only force capable of holding such
entities together.9
The exception was Palestine, or Eretz-Israel – the territory between the Jordan
River and the Mediterranean Sea, where:
“The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country [Palestine]
under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will
secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home, as laid down in
the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and
also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants
of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.”10

I hope that the situation

I hope that the situation will get better soon

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