Jewish Letter Opposing Balfour Declaration, 1919

My friend, Yousef Munayyer unearthed this remarkably prescient letter from 1919, ahead of the post-WWI peace conference. It was published in full by the Times, in the wake of its having been presented to President Woodrow Wilson. It was brought to Wilson by Julius Kahn, a Jewish Congressman from San Francisco.

The objections raised to the Zionist enterprise and the disagreement with the recently presented Balfour Declaration are interesting. They are, primarily, rooted in concern for the welfare of Jewish people around the globe, although due consideration is given to the Palestinian population. The case they made was a pretty powerful one, though it did not sway Wilson or the other world leaders of the day, who, as history has well noted, were tantalized by the ideas of fulfilling biblical prophecy with the Jewish return to Zion, having a permanent European presence in what was quickly becoming the most important region of the “oriental” world, and ridding their own countries of Jews. Continue reading

Learning from Syria

It seems the overwhelming opinion, from across the political spectrum and around the globe, is that we must stand aside and let Syria

A US protester in support of the late, lamented Egyptian revolt. (photo courtesy of Sasha Kimel, published under a Creative Commons license)

A US protester in support of the late, lamented Egyptian revolt. (photo courtesy of Sasha Kimel, published under a Creative Commons license)

burn, offering a bit of humanitarian aid but doing nothing else substantive. This arises for a variety of reasons, including the sordid history of outside intervention and a binary bit of thinking where the only options are to support Assad or to support the dominant militias like al-Nusra and ISIL (sometimes referred to as ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Syria). Personally, I’m not satisfied with any of the options being proposed, but I also recognize why we are so limited and why the international community is stymied.

Rather than simply bemoan the horror, I propose a new idea for how such tragedies might be addressed. If it, or something like it, were even attempted, it would be too late, at this point, for it to help Syria, more than likely. But the world needs some new system, some new entity, that provides a third choice, that addresses both regional and great power interests that are causing the current paralysis. I describe my ideas in Souciant today.