Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy (26 November 2017, 8 Kislev, 5778)
Did the British have the right to grant the land known as Palestine to the Jews?
You are evidently referring to the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate over Palestine. Historically these events did make possible the establishment of the State of Israel. The British had found themselves in de facto possession of the land. They could leave it as it was with an Arab majority or they could help the Jews develop it. The situation was such that assisting the Jews was what the world most wanted of them, what their own history and historical traditions inclined them towards, and what they perceived to be the best for everyone.
They were not wrong despite what others may say. The British through World War-1 gained possession of Palestine. They declared in 1917 they were in favor of a Jewish National Home being established in the Land. The League of Nations in 1920 gave the British a Mandate over Palestine to establish such a National Home for the Jews. The British were therefore acting as agents of the League of Nations. The League of Nations at that time represented a consensus of world opinion. It was an age of population transference. Greeks were being moved out of Turkey, Turks out of Greece. Protestants were moving from Ireland into the UK and Northern Ireland, etc. Later when the State of Israel was established more Jews fled from Muslim countries into Israel than Muslims who left Palestine. The British in effect were helping history along in a way that was considered progressive. The Jews would bring progress to the Land. The Arabs if they so wished could have cooperated with the Jews, shared in and contributed to their mutual prosperity. Alternately they could resist as they did.
For the sake of an historical perspective: The British did not really create the Zionist presence. It already existed and the British permitted it to grow. Nor did the British explicitly grant the Land to the Jews. The British facilitated Jewish immigration and the creation by both the Jews and British of an infrastructure that led to the State of Israel. In the Bible the Land had already been promised to the Jews as an everlasting possession. This gave them a right to it. In Britain there were Gentiles of like mind.
Jacob had been promised:
Genesis (NKJV) 28:
3 May God Almighty bless you,
And make you fruitful and multiply you,
That you may be an assembly of peoples;
4 And give you the blessing of Abraham,
To you and your descendants with you,
That you may inherit the land
In which you are a stranger,
Which God gave to Abraham.ï¿½
The Jews had been constantly attempting to establish settlements in the land. Despite Muslim opposition they had had some small measure of success before World War-1. The Jews had also suffered from persecutions in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. The world was changing. This culminated with the Holocaust and the expulsion of the Jews from most of eastern Europe. The emphasis henceforth was on nation-states. This meant less tolerance and less autonomy for minorities, less room for Jews in other places. The Jews needed a land of their own and the only land that really interested them was what they considered to be their land. The Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate set in process a dynamical development from which there was no turning back.
The British did try here and there to curtail Zionist growth and even to reverse the process. There were a few British Governments and personalities who took an anti-Zionist stance. Nevertheless British support on the whole was constant and more important than either side wishes to acknowledge at present.