No member of the Jewish race can renounce the incontestable and fundamental right of his people, without at the same time denying the history of the Jews and his own ancestors.
...Ernest Laharanne, The New Eastern Question
The holy spirit, the creative genius of the people, out of which Jewish life and teaching arose, deserted Israel when its children began to feel ashamed of their nationality....
...Moses Hess, Rome and Jerusalem
Eighty years ago, on November 2, 1917, the Balfour declaration opened a new page in the history of the Jewish people. Anyone versed in the subject knows the famous text of the letter addressed to Lord Rothschild that speaks of "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." Much less known is the original draft of this letter that was to be signed by Balfour. Shmuel Katz presents it in the Lone Wolf; the letter states,
"In reply to your letter of July 18, I am glad to be in a position to inform you that His Majesty's Government accepts the principle that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish People. His Majesty's Government will use their best endeavors to secure the achievement of this object and will be ready to consider any suggestions on the subject which the Zionist Organization may desire to lay before them."
This text was free from ambiguities. It was "Palestine," i.e. all of Eretz Israel where the Jews were supposed to "reconstitute" their statehood. The word "reconstitute" was much stronger than the diluted "establish". Moreover, nothing was mentioned about "existing non-Jewish communities." The draft clearly and unequivocally proclaimed the indisputable connection between the Jews and Eretz Israel, or Palestine, as Europeans used to call it.
Alas, by the time the draft was transformed into the declaration it was substantially changed. The infamous glory of the changes lies with Sir Edwin Montagu. He was horrified with the proposed draft. He was afraid that his own rights would be hindered. This became clear from his speech during one of the August, 1917 Cabinet meetings, where he stated: "When the Jew has a national home, surely it follows that the impetus to deprive us of the rights of British citizenship must be enormously increased. Palestine will become the world's Ghetto. Why should the Russian give the Jew equal rights? His national home is Palestine."
Montagu's fierce fight against the declaration culminated in a revised text that, as Katz wrote "added a complete new section 'protecting' the status of the Jews in the various countries of the world and a reservation to protect the 'civil and religious rights' of the existing communities in Palestine." It is worth noting that the latter clause was introduced only half an hour before the Cabinet meeting after Montagu's pressure. Montagu's betrayal of the two-millennia-old Jewish dream is even more disgusting in light of the fact that the overwhelming majority of the British Government was sympathizing with the Zionist dream. Chaim Weizmann quoted British Prime Minister Lloyd George in Trial and Error, who said,
There can be no doubt as to what the Cabinet then had in their mind. ...When the time arrived, if the Jews responded to the opportunity afforded them and had become a definite majority of the inhabitants, then Palestine would thus become a Jewish Commonwealth. The notion that Jewish emigration would have to be artificially restricted in order that the Jews should be a permanent minority never entered the head of anyone engaged in framing the policy. That would have been regarded as unjust and as a fraud on the people to whom we were appealing.
It was not the Englishmen who questioned the legitimacy of the Jewish connection to Eretz Israel, but a Jew--the only Jewish member of the British Cabinet. Before blaming Britain for their later change of heart in regard to re-creation of the Jewish state, one must consider all statements and deeds of the Jewish leaders themselves. Katz mentioned in Lone Wolf that, in 1931, Chaim Weizmann "had sworn to the six members of the Royal commission.... that the Jews, given parity, would never, even if they attained a numerical majority, demand the creation of a Jewish state; and Ben-Gurion had derided a state as an evil to be shunned."
The same parallel can be seen today in the relations between the United States and Israel. Israel's Labor Government rushed into the PLO's embrace at the time when all contacts between the US and this murderous organization were banned (No wonder they were forbidden in the Jewish state, too). When Israel legitimized this terrorist group and its leader, Yasser Arafat, one of the arch criminals, America did not have much choice, but to accept this Israeli decision. If Arafat is good for Israel, even though he is directly responsible for murdering hundreds and hundreds of Jews, he should be good for America, too, since the number of Americans murdered by the PLO is much smaller.
In 1852 the Frenchman Ernest Lahranne in his book The New Eastern Question accused the "so-called progressive Jews of indifference to the fate of the Jewish people; for whenever a project for the restoration of the Jewish state is being considered, they display towards it a naiveté that neither does credit to their reasoning power nor to their heart. The explanations offered by them on such occasions are inadmissible both from a moral and from a political point of view."
It is painful to read Lahranne's words and to realize that the "progressive" Jews of our days are no different. The simple truth is that under the façade of their "progressiveness" there is always a subconsciously hidden attempt to escape from their Jewishness. They use beautiful words and convincing arguments to prove the necessity of fighting for somebody else's abstract rights instead of proudly defending their own. They say that they ennoble the world community by defending the interests of other nations, while disregarding the fate of their brethren. They rush to a cosmopolitan universe, where all the uniqueness of the nations disappears and where they can call themselves citizens of the universe.
In his recently published book Rubber Bullets one of the leading "Peace Now" Israeli intellectuals, professor of political science Yaron Ezrahi wrote about his visit to the Grand Canyon in Colorado: "I must have sought a retreat from Jewish history, a place where rocks and geological time humble us, not as Jews but simply as human beings." This involuntary confession explains a lot. The "progressive" Jews do not want to be Jews. They are Israelis, they say, therefore, there should not be difference between the Jewish and the Arab Israelis. They want a democratic, not a Jewish state; if they could choose, they would pick a democratic one. They believe that universal human values are preferable to Jewish values, not realizing that the former were derived from the later ones. Leah Rabin declared that, given the choice, she would prefer that her children be Arabs, rather than Orthodox Jews. It is about people like her that Moses Hess wrote in Rome and Jerusalem,
"Judaism... is misconceived by our enlightened Jews. These legal and religious precepts and commandments, which permeate the whole life of the Jew, are condemned and mocked at by blockheads, who have not the least conception of the patriotic significance of these precepts and who consider themselves progressive only because they have turned their back on the traditions of their people."
Therefore it is not a surprise that the "progressive" Jews stand for the creation of an Arab state on the Jewish land of Judea, Samaria and Gaza and are ready to give the Old City to the Palestinian Arabs. They embarked on this suicidal road as the fastest way to stop being Jews and become "human beings" There should be little doubt that the continuation of the "Oslo process" will help to bring nearer this "retreat from Jewish History." The only problem is that, as a result, the Israeli Jews will cease to exist. [11/10/97]
Boris Shusteff works as an engineer in upstate New York and is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.