Wednesday, April 06, 2022

The Holocaust is Not the Reason for the State of Israel (Judean Rose)

Delegates to the San Remo conference in Italy, 25 April 1920

People are always saying that the Holocaust is the reason and justification for the creation of the Jewish State. I find this a terrible concept. The Jewish nation has no need for justification in getting our land back or having self-rule. The land was ours thousands of years before the Holocaust took place, and if you don’t believe in God, we can back that fact with ancient texts and artefacts. And yet people of every stripe, from President Obama on down to the Holocaust survivors themselves, continue to say that the Jewish State was created on the ashes of the Holocaust.

It is quite fair to say that without the Holocaust, those fleeing Europe would have had no place to go. There is nothing dishonest in saying so, and in fact, in my opinion, it is a fine thing to thank God that Israel exists. And still, we would have had this state, in one form or another, with or without the Holocaust. The State of Israel was a done deal all the way back to San Remo, as stated by Salomon Benzimra, P. Eng. Founder Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR):

Ninety five years ago, prime ministers, ambassadors and other dignitaries from Europe and America gathered in the Italian Riviera. Journalists from around the world reported on the pending San Remo Peace Conference and the great expectations the international community placed on this event, just a year after the Paris Peace Conference had settled the political map of Europe at the end of World War One.

On Sunday, April 25, 1920, after hectic deliberation, the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S. acting as an observer) adopted the San Remo Resolution -- a 500 word document which defined the future political landscape of the Middle East out of the defunct Ottoman Empire.

This Resolution led to the granting of three Mandates, as defined in Article 22 of the 1919 Covenant of the League of Nations. The future states of Syria-Lebanon and Iraq emerged from two of these Mandates and became exclusively Arab countries. But in the third Mandate, the Supreme Council recognized the “historical connection of the Jewish people to Palestine and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country” while safeguarding the “civil and religious rights” of the non-Jewish population.

Subsequently, the British limited the Jewish Homeland in Palestine to the area west of the Jordan River and allowed eastern Palestine to be gradually administered by the Hashemites. The territorial expansion to the east eventually gave birth to the Kingdom of Transjordan, later renamed Jordan in 1950 . . .

 . . . The San Remo Conference should be more than a mere remembrance. It enjoins us to consider the legal reach of the binding decisions made in 1920 and to ensure that we do not entertain incompatible positions when political expediency clashes with unassailable rights enshrined in international law, namely the acquired rights of the Jewish people in their ancestral land.

Of course, one must make the distinction between the Land of Israel and the State of Israel, two different things. For one thing, the Land of Israel is larger. Also, from a Jewish perspective, the Land of Israel existed before the founding of the state. The State of Israel, in other words, does not cancel out the Land of Israel, which is something tangible. You can hold its soil in the palm of your hand, smell or even taste the land, irrespective of official state status. That official state status does, however, speak to access as much as it speaks to the right to Jewish rule.

Think about it. It’s actually incredible. The Jews had self-rule only until 135 BCE, yet we never let go, not really, and not in actual fact. Some of us always clung on, and we spent our lives in remembering. For 1,813 years then, the Jews had no sovereignty in their own land, no self-rule in their national home. This is a tragic thing. In that sense, and not only in that sense, the State of Israel is a triumph.

And still, it’s important to remember that these are just desserts. We have a right to this land. We have a right to self-rule. These are not rights that go back to the Holocaust, but long before. Dr. Elana Heideman, Holocaust scholar and Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, points out the inherent opportunism in drawing a link between the Holocaust and the creation of Israel (emphasis added):

The idea that the Holocaust is the reason or justification of the existence of Israel denies the history of Jewish sovereignty and the thousands-year old dream of a return for which Jews prayed fervently from every corner of the world. There is great danger to imposing this causal relationship, especially in a world that continuously seeks to erase the Jew and Jewish rights for the sake of universalist agendas or ideologies often steeped in traditional antisemitic tropes.

Israel exists because of our ancestral right of return to our indigenous homeland, recognized by every nation for 3000 years and affirmed again and again in international law both before and after the Holocaust. The Holocaust served as the impetus for the political establishment of the reborn Jewish state primarily because of its influence on human emotions - when the world had little choice but to recognize the extent to which people would go in order to eliminate the Jew. Both Jewish sovereignty and refuge in our homeland were established fact throughout the centuries long before the Holocaust, and any attempt to claim otherwise is little more than charged propaganda of those who seek to revise history or, worse, continue to apologize for the mere existence of a Jewish state to such an extent that any and every excuse possible will be conceived.

It’s important to speak out and say these things because the other side uses the Holocaust argument to say that we only have the land because of the Holocaust—that the world took pity on us and gave us land that isn’t ours because of, to paraphrase Caryn Elaine Johnson, white Europeans fighting each other. Whoopi wasn't the first to distort the meaning of the Holocaust to make an ideological point, and she won't, unfortunately, be the last. 

Obama did it at Buchenwald--used the Holocaust, while standing on the bones and blood of Jewish people, to suggest an illegitimate European landgrab of Arab land (emphasis added):

When the American GIs arrived they . . . never could have known the world would one day speak of this place. They could not have known that some of them would live to have children and grandchildren who would grow up hearing their stories and would return here so many years later to find a museum and memorials and the clock tower set permanently to 3:15, the moment of liberation.

They could not have known how the nation of Israel would rise out of the destruction of the Holocaust and the strong, enduring bonds between that great nation and my own.

These words hint at the words behind the words. The idea that it's not fair that the Jews have the land--that they only have it because of the Holocaust. As if there were no Jewish connection to the land before that time. As if it were only the State of Israel, and not the Land of Israel.

We should not help them by agreeing that this is so. These are things they say out of hatred and antisemitism. They are saying we have no right to the land. 

Well then. They can say it, but it won’t make it true. Because since the time of Abraham, the Jews have been in Israel, sometimes hanging on only by our bare, bloodied fingernails. When forced to leave, we yearned to return, and spoke of it all day long, in our prayers.

We had no inkling that a Holocaust of our brethren--a Holocaust of mythic proportions--would someday occur. We knew only that the land was ours, and prayed in the language of our people.

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