AJC eBook: Israel’s Triple Anniversary - Page 15

2 01 7— I SR A E L’ S T RIP LE ANNIVERSARY YEAR 13 The View from 2017 The peace treaty with Egypt—by far the dominant Arab power—has held up until today. It demonstrates what the Zionist movement has claimed since Balfour’s time, that cooperation with the Jewish national movement would bring far greater benefits to the Arab world than continual denial and delegitimization. The Kingdom of Jordan has drawn the same conclusion: in 1988 it officially severed all ties with the West Bank, which it had lost to Israel in 1967, and in 1994 established full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. In recent years Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have shown interest in following a similar course and developing diplomatic and economic ties with Israel—if only out of a shared fear of Shi’ite, non-Arab Iran—but no concrete steps have yet been taken. Sadly, the Palestinian leadership—now divided between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority on the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza—remains saddled with the obsolete mindset that the Jews have no legitimate right to a state, and hence the repeated Palestinian refusals to negotiate face-to-face with Israel for a peaceful two-state solution, and the ludicrous Palestinian diatribes against Balfour, his country, and his 100-year-old Declaration. All too often, the international community goes along with the farce—as happened when UNESCO denied the historical Jewish link to Jerusalem. Balfour maintained his interest in the Zionist project in retirement, and in 1925 traveled to Jerusalem for the laying of the cornerstone of the Hebrew University. Balfour, who died in 1930, could hardly have imagined that a century after his Declaration the “national homeland” he envisioned for the Jewish people would be the democratic, confident, prosperous, boisterous State of Israel of today, and that the Arab enemies of peace would be reviling his name. But he did have a premonition that he had laid the groundwork for something of lasting importance. Toward the end of his life Balfour told his niece that of all the accomplishments over his long public career, the Declaration—he referred to it as what he did “for the Jews”—was “the thing he looked back upon as the most worth his doing.”10 10 Barbara W. Tuchman, Bible and Sword: England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour (New York, 1956), p. 203.