Hebron unrest: dozens of Palestinians riot in the West Bank town of Hebron, throwing rocks and firebombs at the IDF outpost dividing the Jewish part and the Palestinian part of the town  Peace talks delay: a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed after the killing of an Israeli in a shooting attack in the West Bank on Monday  Mideast security: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is committed to the continuation of the security coordination with Israel, regardless of whether the ongoing peace talks are extended or successful  West Bank attack: Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habash condemns the attack that occurred near Hebron on Monday evening which killed Israeli police officer Baruch Mizrahi

Jerusalem neighbourhood honours Churchill

 
15 november 2012

A statue honoring Sir Winston Churchill – arguably the most important British statesman of the 20th century -- has been unveiled in Jerusalem's Mishkenot Shaanim neighborhood…

 

Known for valiantly leading the Allied war against Hitler and stirring the fighting spirit of his people, Churchill was also an early and staunch supporter of the establishment of a Jewish State.

 

Hebrew Univ. History Prof. Robert Wistrich:

 

“Churchill was a lifelong Zionist, we know that already before the first world war, when he was a young member of Parliament representing a constituency of England in Manchester, he was already sympathetic to Zionism and I think he maintained that sympathy, understanding and support for the Zionist movement throughout his long political career which really ended when he ceased to be Prime Minister in 1955 so that was a commitment that stretched over roughly 50 years. That's a long time.”

 

Even though he wasn't in the government, Churchill voiced his support for the 1917 Balfour Declaration which was England's official promise to help establish a Jewish national home in Palestine.

 

In later years as his political prominence grew, Churchill staunchly defended the Declaration against those who sought to revoke it.

 

Hebrew Univ. History Prof. Robert Wistrich:

 

“When he came to Palestine as secretary of the colonies in 1921, he was very impressed by the… This phase in Zionist settlement of the land, the way they were developing the land. Again, it was the hard work, the enterprise, the industry all that impressed him very favorably. He was very resistant at that time to Arab pressures for Britain to repudiate the mandate.”

 

Sitting in the opposition, Churchill spoke out against the White Paper of 1939 which essentially closed the gates of Palestine to European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

 

Some historians believe it was Churchill's open and sweepingly broad world view that shaped his positive image of Jews and their national aspirations…

 

Hebrew Univ. History Prof. Robert Wistrich:

 

“He considered the Jews as the race which had contributed more than any other in the history of civilization to developing its core values. He never forgot that so the Jewish people, in terms of its broader historical significance it was immensely important in his eyes, he referred to it as the most formidable race in the history of mankind. 

 

Churchill had no tolerance for anti-Semitic views which historians say he found grossly base and low.  He publicly denounced anti-Semitic remarks from colleagues in and out of Parliament.  Perhaps even more revealing, he once rebuked his mother for including an unfair description of New York Jews in a letter to him.

 

Hitler's pathological hatred of Jews was an early sign to Churchill that the German leader and his Nazi ideology were trouble.

 

Despite his overwhelmingly positive image of Jews and his consistent support for the Zionist enterprise, historians say Churchill's record is still not without its problems. The British White Paper which tried to stop all Jewish immigration to pre-state Israel in the 40s was a document that Churchill could have revoked but didn't when he was in power. And other questions remain about his leadership during the 2nd world war. When did he find out about the Holocaust and why didn't he do more to stop it.

 

Some historians say new evidence shows Churchill likely had early clues about Hitler's plan to exterminate the Jews…

 

Hebrew Univ. History Prof. Robert Wistrich:

 

“Most probably he was one of the first people that knew without perhaps all the pieces being clear, because we now have access to British intelligence documents that show that around September 1941, several months after the Nazis had invited the Soviet Union. British Intelligence picked up very quickly that massacres are going on of Jews and they also knew by early 1942 that the scale of the killing of Jews was massive.”

 

But despite the growing proof of genocide, Churchill did nothing to destroy the death camps or derail the transport trains. He did sign off on military action once…

 

Hebrew Univ. History Prof. Robert Wistrich:

 

“The documentation shows the following: initially, when Churchill was informed, his response was go to the air-force, meaning the RAF, and get out of them whatever you can and he approved the idea that Auschwitz should be bombed. However, there was no follow-up. The Air- force was not interested in doing that and they stone-walled, as did other British officials and indeed the American officials and nothing was done.”

 

Churchill's failure to push through those bombing orders is, for some, a stain on his otherwise sterling record of wartime leadership.

 

Like FDR, Churchill prioritized taking Hitler down and not saving Jews – some believe he could have done both.

 

Following the war, Churchill continued his support of the Zionist cause not without condemning the attacks on British targets by the Jewish underground…

 

When the British mandate ended and Israel later declared itself a state in 1948 – Churchill reprimanded his colleague Ernest Bevin for refusing to recognize the Jewish State…

 

Hebrew Univ. History Prof. Robert Wistrich:

 

“Churchill very severely criticized his position and said something I think very profound. He said that the Honorable foreign secretary seems to have forgotten the fact that the establishment of Israel is a major event in world history, which is not to be judged by the needs of the moment. It has to be seen in the perspective not nearly of a hundred years of even a thousand years but 2 thousand, 3 thousand years to understand its full significance.”

The bronze bust of Sir Winston Churchill is a tribute to the respect, justice and loyalty he showed the Jewish people for over 5 decades…

 

The sculptor Oscar Nemon fled Nazi Germany and found refuge in England. He's famous all over the world for his busts of the most famous British Statesman.

 

Winston Churchill's great grandson Lt. Randolph Churchill attended the recent unveiling of the sculpture and said it means so very much to his family. Randolph was the fourth generation Churchill to visit Israel and likely won't be the last…

 

Jordana Miller, JN1, Jerusalem

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