If I wasn’t an atheist I think I would react OMG: I can’t believe I’ve just read that.
Properly understanding history may be a lefty thing, but it certainly knocks spots off the rightie thing of inventing it. Thank you Jonathan for an excellent and much-needed response to Kerry’s fairy story.
“[P]alestinians have started to use [B]alfour as a point of attack” – no they haven’t: they have always been outraged that their land could be given away by an imperial Britain that had no claim upon it and had already twice gifted it away (McMahon-Hussein correspondence and Sykes-Picot agreement).
“so-called human rights” are not a stick to beat Israel; they are the means universally adopted by men of goodwill to avoid any repetition of the horrors that befell Europe and the world under Fascism. They are in fact a very Jewish thing. Prime mover in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the French Jewish jurist Rene Samuel Cassin. Rabbi Daniel Polish argued that, whilst the concept of “human rights” is a modern juridical notion, “the system of values and ideas” on which human rights are grounded
are among the beliefs which constitute the very core of Jewish sacred scripture and the tradition of ideas and practices which flows from it.” David Daube argued that foundations for human rights may be found in the religious literature of Judaism, and S. D. Goitein asserted that “human rights, and relations among men in general, had been fully established in the Bible and the Talmud, and these formed the very substance of medieval Jewish beliefs and practices.” The consequences of this tradition may be seen in the active involvement of Jews in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when “the support for universally valid laws and human rights became almost a self-understood Jewish concern.”
Zioinist attacks on the concept of human rights came about only because Zionism as a colonial, occupying, exclusionist, ethnic cleansing ideology turned its back on centuries of a cultural tradition in which Jews had fought for tolerance, liberty and pluralism.
The Balfour Declaration may have been totally illegitimate, but that, per se, does not undermine Israel’s legitimacy. Israel, of course, has no right to exist, and states frequently structure themselves in such away that they eventually collapse (Soviet Union, Apartheid South Africa, etc.). Nevertheless, Israel has as much legitimacy as any other state that seeks to live in peace within its own borders.