May 15 is Israel’s Neighbor Day

On May 14, 1948, Israel declared itself a new independent country, as the British Mandate of Palestine expired. The declaration of independence stated that the country will be “for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

It welcomed everyone.

Unfortunately, at that same time, the Arabs in Palestine had been rioting and killing Jews for many months in attempts to stop the Jewish State from coming into existence. Once Israel declared its independence, five armies from neighboring Arab countries came to destroy the nascent state. The war would go on for months. Israel survived.

Despite the Arab war against the Jews before Israel’s independence and after, Israel remained true to its vision of welcoming non-Jews as full citizens in the country. Approximately 156,000 non-Jews became citizens of Israel at the Jewish State’s rebirth, around 18% of the population. In 2018, 70 years later, the non-Jewish population in Israel stands at over 2 million people, representing over 25% of the Israeli population.


Israeli Arabs having a picnic in the shade under the ancient aqueduct in Caesarea
(photo: First.One.Through)

The Arab citizens of Israel have availed themselves of the open society that Israel created. 

  • There are currently 18 Arabs in the Israeli Knesset, 15% of the parliament. By way of comparison, there are only 50 blacks (9%) in the US Congress
  • Israel has non-Jewish Arabs on the Supreme Court, Salim Joubran being the first in 2004
  • Non-Jews have served as Israeli ambassadors around the world, including to Norway and the Dominican Republic
  • Non-Jews serve as generals in the Israeli army

Non-Jews are a key fabric of Israeli society, as envisioned in the Israeli declaration on May 14, 1948 that welcomed non-Jews to “participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.

It is appropriate to take the time to celebrate Israel’s non-Jewish citizens that chose to make peace with Israel, not war; that chose to help build the state, not to dismantle it; that chose to stay and be friends and neighbors with Jews, not to run and fight alongside the Jewish State’s enemies.

Regrettably, there are anti-Zionists that continue to undermine and attack Israel, who refer to the failed 1948 war to destroy the Jewish State as a “Nakba,” a “catastrophe.” As they channel their hatred on May 15th with angry calls to “Free Palestine,” let Zionists around the world commemorate “Neighbor’s Day,” a day to mark and celebrate the many non-Jews who stayed to become citizens of Israel in 1948 and continue to help the country thrive 70 years on.


Related First.One.through articles:

Arabs in Jerusalem

An Inconvenient Truth: Population Statistics in Israel/Palestine

Israel, the Liberal Country of the Middle East

Nakba 2: The Victory of a Democracy

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Arab women entering the Kotel Plaza in Jerusalem
(Photo: First.One.Through)

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From the Balfour Declaration to the San Remo Conference

On November 2, 1917, Lord Arthur Balfour wrote a letter to Lord Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, that the British government supported the establishment of a Jewish home in the land of Palestine. It became known as the Balfour Declaration:

“Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours,

Arthur James Balfour”

The letter became the basis of international law in following years which expanded on the principle of a Jewish homeland.

In April 1920, Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan met in San Remo, Italy to consider what to do with the collapsed Ottoman Empire after its defeat in World War I. On April 24, the powers decided to adopt the key essence of the Balfour Declaration (being in favor of a Jewish homeland) as a basis for the disposition of Palestine. The language of the San Remo Convention expanded on the theme with several additional declarations:

  • Historical basis for the Balfour Declaration:Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country;
  • Provide safety for the Jews: “The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home, as laid down in the preamble, and the development of self-governing institutions, and also for safeguarding the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.” (Article 2)
  • Jews to have autonomy (possibly an independent state or something short of it): “The Mandatory shall, so far as circumstances permit, encourage local autonomy.” (Article 3)
  • Facilitate Jewish immigration and land ownership: “The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” (Article 6)
  • Citizenship. “The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.” (Article 7)
  • Access to Holy Places. “All responsibility in connexion with the Holy Places and religious buildings or sites in Palestine, including that of preserving existing rights and of securing free access to the Holy Places, religious buildings and sites and the free exercise of worship, while ensuring the requirements of public order and decorum, is assumed by the Mandatory, who shall be responsible solely to the League of Nations in all matters connected herewith, provided that nothing in this article shall prevent the Mandatory from entering into such arrangements as he may deem reasonable with the Administration for the purpose of carrying the provisions of this article into effect; and provided also that nothing in this Mandate shall be construed as conferring upon the Mandatory authority to interfere with the fabric or the management of purely Moslem sacred shrines, the immunities of which are guaranteed.” (Article 13) “A special Commission shall be appointed by the Mandatory to study, define and determine the rights and claims in connection with the Holy Places and the rights and claims relating to the different religious communities in Palestine. The method of nomination, the composition and the functions of this Commission shall be submitted to the Council of the League for its approval, and the Commission shall not be appointed or enter upon its functions without the approval of the Council.” (Article 14)
  • Freedom to Worship and Live throughout the land:The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.” (Article 15)
  • Hebrew an official language.English, Arabic and Hebrew shall be the official languages of Palestine. Any statement or inscription in Arabic on stamps or money in Palestine shall be repeated in Hebrew and any statement or inscription in Hebrew shall be repeated in Arabic.” (Article 22)

As detailed above, the San Remo Conference took many more exhaustive steps in broadening the rights of Jews to a homeland beyond the simple statement of support in the brief Balfour Declaration.

It would ultimately be the Palestine Mandate of 1922 that would repeat the terms laid out in the San Remo Convention and cement them into international law. The British would assume their role as the administrator for the Mandate in 1924.


On November 2, 2017, Zionists around the world celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which declared Britain’s approval of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. That short letter became the basis for the global powers formally laying out the historical and legal rights of Jews to reconstitute their autonomy and live, worship, own property and have citizenship throughout Palestine.

As they celebrate, they appreciate the emergence of the Jewish State as a leading democracy, military and economic powerhouse, and environmental and technological marvel. Unfortunately they will have to also acknowledge that much of the world  refuses to recognize Jewish history in the land, thinks that Israel should be limited in its defenses against hostile forces, believes Jews should not have rights to worship at their holiest location, and not be allowed to live and own land throughout Judea and Samaria.

Still much to do 100 years on.


Related First.One.Through articles:

In Defense of Foundation Principles

Heritage, Property and Sovereignty in the Holy Land

Dignity for Israel: Jewish Prayer on the Temple Mount

The Original Nakba: The Division of “TransJordan”

Obama’s “Palestinian Land”

Squeezing Zionism

The New York Times will Keep on Telling You: Jews are not Native to Israel

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The Original Nakba: The Division of “TransJordan”

This year marks 100 years since the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917 which endorsed “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People.” The declaration became the basis for the League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations) to endorse the Palestine Mandate which clearly articulated the history and rights of Jews to a reconstituted national homeland in the area now commonly thought of as Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

Article 25 of the Mandate allowed the administrator (Britain) to change the contours of the reestablished Jewish homeland.

“In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.”

On September 23, 1922, the League of Nations adopted the suggestion of the British to divide the territory in two, in a document called the “Transjordan Memorandum.” That memorandum stripped away any mention of Jewish history in the land, facilitating the emigration of Jews to Palestine or the creation of a Jewish homeland in the area east of the Jordan River.

The memorandum also facilitated a complete abrogation of key components of Article 25 of the Palestine Mandate that allowed such separation: that “no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.” Those provisions specifically enumerated non-discrimination clauses that were to be kept in place in the new TransJordan:

Article 15:

The Mandatory shall see that complete freedom of conscience and the free exercise of all forms of worship, subject only to the maintenance of public order and morals, are ensured to all. No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants of Palestine on the ground of race, religion or language. No person shall be excluded from Palestine on the sole ground of his religious belief.

The right of each community to maintain its own schools for the education of its own members in its own language, while conforming to such educational requirements of a general nature as the Administration may impose, shall not be denied or impaired.

Article 16:

The Mandatory shall be responsible for exercising such supervision over religious or eleemosynary bodies of all faiths in Palestine as may be required for the maintenance of public order and good government. Subject to such supervision, no measures shall be taken in Palestine to obstruct or interfere with the enterprise of such bodies or to discriminate against any representative or member of them on the ground of his religion or nationality.

Article 18:

The Mandatory shall see that there is no discrimination in Palestine against the nationals of any State Member of the League of Nations (including companies incorporated under its laws) as compared with those of the Mandatory or of any foreign State in matters concerning taxation, commerce or navigation, the exercise of industries or professions, or in the treatment of merchant vessels or civil aircraft. Similarly, there shall be no discrimination in Palestine against goods originating in or destined for any of the said States, and there shall be freedom of transit under equitable conditions across the mandated area.

Subject as aforesaid and to the other provisions of this mandate, the Administration of Palestine may, on the advice of the Mandatory, impose such taxes and customs duties as it may consider necessary, and take such steps as it may think best to promote the development of the natural resources of the country and to safeguard the interests of the population. It may also, on the advice of the Mandatory, conclude a special customs agreement with any State the territory of which in 1914 was wholly included in Asiatic Turkey or Arabia.”

International law was clear that any division of the territory would ensure that no discrimination of any kind be allowed on the basis of religion.

But that is exactly what Transjordan/Jordan became: an anti-Semitic country established by the United Nations which prohibits Jews in a variety of areas.

No Citizenship

Consider Jordan’s Nationality Law of 1954:

“Article 3:

The following shall be deemed to be Jordanian nationals:

Any person who, not being Jewish, possessed Palestinian nationality before 15 May 1948 and was a regular resident in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan between 20 December 1949 and 16 February 1954;”

Can you think of anything more explicitly anti-Semitic than a law that specifically separates Jews from others and bans them from becoming citizens?

No Land Purchases

Jordan prohibited Jews from buying any land in the area that had been part of the Palestine Mandate in an edict, Law No. (40) of 1953 Concerning the Leasing and Selling of Immovable Properties from Foreigners, as amended by Law No. (12) of 1960; and  Law No. (2) of 1962.

Jordan has continued along this path even post its 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

In March 2016, the Jordanian government singled out Israelis as being banned from buying or renting property around the city of Petra. No other country is subject to such provision.


The League of Nations considered at the outset of its endorsement of a Jewish national home in 1920 and 1922 that perhaps the contours of such homeland should exclude the land east of the Jordan River. But international law has – and continues to fail – in two major respects:

  • In JORDAN: The provision (Article 25) to cut the eastern part of the Mandate (and ONLY the eastern part) from the Jewish homeland specifically did not allow the discrimination against Jews from buying land or obtaining citizenship there;
  • In the WEST BANK: All of the land west of the Jordan River was allocated for a Jewish homeland, and obviously with full legal authorization for Jews to purchase homes and obtain citizenship, despite calls by the current Palestinian Authority leadership to have a Jew-free country

The division of the Palestine Mandate in September 1922 to create Jordan was a disgraceful tragedy which denied Jewish history and rights east of the Jordan River. Despite this, people have attempted to expand upon Article 25 almost a century later to divide the land WEST of the Jordan River in an identical course of anti-Semitic charges that the West Bank should not have a single Jew.

The Palestinian Arabs coined the term “Nakba” (catastrophe) for the founding of the Jewish State on just a part of the Palestine Mandate on May 15, 1948. However, the original Nakba happened 26 years earlier, when the British gutted the essence of international law set out in the Palestine Mandate: for all of the land west of the Jordan River to be the Jewish homeland, and the land east of the river to have full legal rights for Jewish worship, land ownership and citizenship.

Remarkably, the Jewish Nakba of September 23, 1922 is seeking a second coming.


Related First.One.Through articles:

Oh Abdullah, Jordan is Not So Special

Jordan’s Deceit and Hunger for Control of Jerusalem

Palestinian Jews and a Judenrein Palestine

Regime Reactions to Israel’s “Apartheid” and “Genocide”

A “Viable” Palestinian State

Israel was never a British Colony; Judea and Samaria are not Israeli Colonies

“Ethnic Cleansing” in Israel and the Israeli Territories

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