Was European guilt over the Holocaust responsible for the establishment of Israel?
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See also: Was Israel founded because of the Holocaust?
'Holocaust' is the name given to the attempted extermination of the Jewish people by Nazi Germany and its sympathizers during WWII. By its end in 1945, six million Jews (one third of the world's Jewish population) had been annihilated.
While it is true that the horrors of the Holocaust caused many people to sympathize with the plight of the Jews, it would be wrong to say that European guilt was the principal reason for the establishment of a Jewish state. Rather, the Holocaust can be viewed as an accelerant to a process of state-building that was already well under way.
The Zionist movement began in the previous century, and already by the 1880s, Jews were beginning to settle in the Land of Israel. Over the years, they not only established farms, towns and cities, but began to lay the foundations of the state-to-be.
A flourishing society, with its own government-in-waiting, was actively striving to establish sovereignty over those parts of the country granted to it in the numerous peace plans of the pre-state era.
International support for the goal of the Zionist movement - the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people - began long before World War II. Indeed, the initial key step towards the Jewish state was taken in the aftermath of the first World War, when in July 1922, the League of Nations granted Great Britain the Mandate for Palestine/The Land of Israel. In a decision taken by the 52 governments of the League, the Mandate called upon Great Britain to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national homeland in the land of Israel.
The next crucial step was the 1947 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, which called for the partition of the Mandate territory into two states, one Jewish, the other Arab. Clearly this resolution was not aimed solely at providing the Jews with a homeland, but at rather the equitable resolution of the conflict between the two peoples.
Moreover, while most European members of the UN voted for the resolution, so too did most Eastern European, Latin American and African countries. It should be remembered that in 1947, the British Empire was already starting to crumble around the globe and the process of decolonialization was beginning in much of the developing world.
Given the abovementioned facts, the question should not be whether European guilt is responsible for the establishment of Israel, but rather how a state for the Arab residents of Palestine was not established at the same time. The answer lies in the Arab rejection of the partition plan, and their attacks on the nascent Jewish state. However, this issue is largely ignored by those clinging to the 'European guilt' fallacy, since this claim is part and parcel of the theories presented by those who try to delegitimize the very existence of Israel.
These texts are taken from material published by the Israel Ministry of Foreign affairs. with additional comments and hyperlinked materials. They were apparently published in connection with the Annapolis peace conference of 2007, but they have extensive applicability beyond it. They explain fundamentals of Israeli policy as well as the meaning of Zionism and history of the conflict.
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs text is at Israel, the Conflict and Peace. Original text is copyright by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel Center.
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