After his retirement Salomon Benzimra has chosen a difficult line of work – educating the Canadian public about the legal rights of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. It is difficult, because there are very few areas of historical research, which are more saturated with ignorance and deception than this one.
For the first time I attended one of his lectures in 2010. At the time he and Goldi Steiner had already created an organization to promote that issue – Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights (CILR). Since then the word about his work has spread. CILR published a book outlining his findings in a simple and concise way – “The Jewish People’s Rights to the Land of Israel”.
So it was natural that he was invited to be one of the keynote speakers at Israel Truth Week 2013, which took place in Hamilton. Since “truth” was the main theme of the conference, Salomon started his presentation with a curious, though disturbing observation.
In the 1771 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, truth was defined as a term that “…answers, or accords, to the nature and reality of the thing [which is] affirmed or denied.” Two hundred years later, in a 1971 edition of the Webster’s New International Dictionary, one of the definitions of truth is “…a notion having wide and uncritical acceptance among a group or in a field…”
That’s the “fluid” truth we are dealing with when Israel is discussed. Fabrication and outright lies, which are “widely and uncritically accepted”, are common in that field, all of them created by Palestinian Arabs, academics and forces hostile to Israel. Not only are they accepted uncritically, but they are also perpetuated by the media and politicians, including some in Israel.
The long succession of legal decisions and documents affirming the Jewish rights has been ignored and replaced by a view that sees the creation of Israel as an act of charity designed to absolve the Western guilt over the Holocaust. However, regardless of any “creative” interpretation of the truth, the real facts can’t be suppressed forever.
Not only the Biblical records, but also the archaeological research prove that the Jews have had a continuous presence in those lands since antiquity. The necessity of the restoration of the Jewish state was articulated acutely by Theodor Herzl, who saw the Captain Dreyfus trial as a sign of the coming backlash against the Jews in Europe.
The European politicians realized that necessity. In 1917, while World War I was still raging, but it was already clear that the Ottoman Empire, which occupied the Holy Land, will lose, Lord Balfour issued the famous Balfour Declaration, which stated the intent to establish a “national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.”
After the war that intent was followed by real actions – with the support of the USA and following the decisions of the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the newly established League of Nations adopted in its Article 22 the concept of Mandates. Then in 1920, the San Remo Conference established Mandates, one of which, under British control, was supposed to become the newly restored Jewish state.
The practical handling of the Mandate was marred by the British betrayal and disregard for the initial agreements. Large pieces of the land were chipped off and given away to the Arabs. Even the Jewish immigration was curtailed, which after the infamous White Paper of 1939, severely limiting the number of Jews allowed into the Mandate, had catastrophic consequences for the European Jewry. However, regardless of the turbulences, the rights of the Jews to those lands were never revoked or even questioned. All of that is covered in detail in Salomon Benzimra’s book.
He didn’t want to go into all the details – his goal was to emphasize why knowing all that is so important. The college campuses are one of the major battlefields where the truth about Israel is constantly under attack.
He made his point by presenting the dialogue of two imaginary students – Ahmed and Yossi – who argue about the conflict between Israel and the Arabs. The arguments they use are very real and could be heard in conversation on campus or read in university publications.
The main Arab arguments are that the whole land, where Israel is located, has been occupied illegally and the Jews have taken away the Arabs’ rights. That is used as a reason to justify terrorism and all other forms of fight against Israel.
In such situations Jewish students often feel lost, trying to justify their counterarguments by focusing on the democracy in Israel. Although that approach has its merits, the knowledge of the decisions and events, which firmly established the legal rights of Israel, provide much more powerful background, from which the Arab deception can be confronted.
Still, this is not an easy task – just like in the story about David and Goliath, the tiny state of Israel is confronted by the huge ocean of Muslim fanaticism, which is supported by politicians and anti-Israeli media. Courage is required to overcome fear and tell the truth. Everybody, who possesses that courage, should be supported.
The organizers of the Israel Truth Week Conference definitely helped their audience to get a deeper knowledge about Israel by inviting Salomon Benzimra.
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