I am pleased to hear that Marlborough College Summer School is offering a course which supports the aims of the Balfour Declaration. The Balfour declaration called for the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine and celebrated its centenary in 2017.
Christopher Barder will obviously give the pro-Zionist point of view which will come as a relief, as there is endless negative reporting on Israel in the British media.
The Declaration in 1917 came at the end of many decades of persecution of Jews in Tsarist Russia. These persecutions had caused many Russian Jews to flee to the west. Many went to Palestine where they caused the desert to bloom and the land to flourish.
The solution of partition suggested by the UN in 1948 was accepted by the Jewish population but rejected by the Arab Nations. Six Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq & Saudi Arabia) with a much superior force failed in their objective of crushing the nascent Jewish State and the State of Israel survived against the odds.
There were major wars in 1956, 1967 and 1973 in which Arab States tried again to destroy the State of Israel.
There was an opportunity for a “Two State Solution” in July 2000 which gave 90% of the West Bank to a Palestinian State but this was rejected at the last minute by Yasser Arafat.
The background to the Israeli/Palestine conflict is very complex and deep rooted and I don’t think a short visit is sufficient to make a judgement of the rights and wrongs.
Our churches (Anglicans and Quakers) seem to encourage a one sided view of this conflict. This is partly because it is quite easy to visit the Occupied West Bank from the UK.
Israel is an open society and one cannot imagine the same access being granted to visitors to for example Syria, Iran or Indian occupied Kashmir where human rights abuses are far worse.
Israel is surrounded by extraordinary hatred and there really should be more of an appreciation and understanding in the West of the huge difficulties that the Jews in Israel face.