Letters to the Editor: Balfour Declaration, Arye Dery and Climate Change

The Balfour Declaration, written by British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, on November 2, 1917.

Israel owes much to Weizmann, Britain

In response to “Legacy of Balfour Declaration is toxic for Israelis and Palestinians” (Anshel Pfeffer, October 20).

It is not often that one reads an article so full of misrepresentations, of misreadings of the historical facts as that penned here by Anshel Pffeffer. He writes: “The Balfour Declaration was not only [Chaim] Weizmann’s moment of glory, but also his political downfall.”

What nonsense! Throughout the mandatory period Weizmann was acknowledged – by Zionists and the Jewish world, as well as by Britain and the representatives of other powers – as the Zionist movement’s premier diplomat, laboring to ensure that the Balfour Declaration was enshrined in the terms of mandate; negotiating with the Great Powers, with Britain, the mandatory power, with France and the United States, and others. All to guarantee that the terms of the declaration remained an international obligation. These efforts continued, in far more dangerous circumstances as the international situation deteriorated, until 1947-48.

Pfeffer claims that Weizmann was “pushed aside” by “pioneering Zionists led by Ben Gurion.” Matters were far more complex. The truth is that an uneasy partnership existed between these two very different, often thorny, characters. It was a problematic relationship, often strained, at times acrimonious. But it held. Ultimately, it was the Weizmann-Ben Gurion partnership, each dominant in his own field, that led to the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948.

Pfeffer also claims that “successive British governments did everything possible to stymie Jewish statehood.” Really? Alas, once again this fanciful ruling will not hold water. At the time Britain was a great imperial power, and its overall imperial commitments sometimes clashed with its obligations towards the Jewish National Home. Compromises – owing mainly to Weizmann’s persistence – were usually (thought not always) sought and found.

But whatever the difficulties, whatever the disagreements, the Jewish National Home in Palestine developed under British auspices and consent. There were inevitable differences of opinion as to its rate of progress. But the yishuv developed its own educational and health systems, its own government (the Jewish Agency), with its own treasury and foreign office departments. In short, as the British themselves described it, the Palestinian Jews had erected “a state within a state.” And it reaped its just reward in May 1948. Surely this must count for something.

Pfeffer has indulged in some counter-factual history. Counter-factual can be an amusing pastime. But it’s merely indulging in abstract mental acrobatics. Counter-factual history remains: counter factual.

Prof. Norman Rose

Hebrew University

The gall of Arye Dery

Once again I am writing, this time to ask the question: How dare Dery? This is a man who served time in prison for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and is currently under investigation again for similar crimes, and he is the one who can ignore the Justice Ministry ruling and the cabinet resolution to keep public places open to both men and women as participants and presenters.

If he is so interested in keeping men and women separate, how about in the bedroom, to prevent them from procreating and placing more pressure on the public economy, which they expect to pay for their sexual pleasures.

I apologize for being so crass, but I am appalled that this man has the power to make these decisions, to mistreat Ugandans who have converted to Judaism and been observant Jews since their decision to convert, and refuse them entry into Israel and our universities and yeshivot because they don’t conform to his interpretation of Judaism.

When are we going to follow the dictates of our Declaration of Independence and become a truly democratic country that respects the rights of all who live here regardless of race, ethnic background, country of origin, religious beliefs or gender?

That’s the day I’m waiting and praying for.

Judy Telman

Mevasseret Zion

Facing climate abyss

The world appears to be tilting towards a climatic abyss. Widespread hunger, droughts, hurricanes, sweltering temperatures, melting glaciers and ice sheets, rising sea levels, burgeoning populations and mass displacement threaten rich and poor countries alike. This is more grave in countries on the receiving end of tides of refugees and experiencing water scarcity where there might be increased competition for arable lands and water. This could ignite a new conflict whose repercussions have never been felt before. Who should bear the brunt of mass influx of refugees: countries they fled or countries receiving them? It is time to tap into the vast potential of people and resources, initiate partnerships between governments, peoples, civil societies and public and private sectors, and scale up efforts to crystallize a vision founded on blossoming economies, global governance and sustainable development.

Dr. Munjed Farid Al Qutob


Letters should be exclusive to Haaretz and must include the writer’s name, address and telephone number (an email address is not sufficient). Please note that letters are subject to editing. Please send your letters to letters@haaretz.co.il