By Rabbi Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism
30 October 2017
Liberal Judaism representatives and communities, in common with much of world Jewry, will mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration at a series of events with thanks, pride and hope.
Conscious of the 3,000 year old historic link between the Jewish people and the ancient Biblical land, and aware that the Balfour letter was the first external recognition of the rights of Jews to a national revival in the land of the Hebrew Bible, we recall with appreciation those early pioneers who, as exemplars, drained swamps, built kibbutzim and revived the Hebrew language.
The ramifications of the Balfour letter included the establishment of the State of Israel which was to serve as a refuge for the broken souls, hearts and bodies of the victims of the Shoah, the attempt to destroy European Jewry in the middle of the 20th century.
We cherish with pride many aspects of modern Israel including, for example, its impressive Supreme Court, its robust free press, and its life-giving development work on the African continent.
At the same time as we rightly commemorate this event in the Jewish story and the achievements of a Jewish homeland and the State of Israel, we are conscious that this is not paralleled in the perceptions and realities of other communities in the region whose ‘civil and religious rights’ were not to be prejudiced, according to the Balfour letter.
Therefore, aware that all narratives contain their share of truth and history, intrigue and legend, we acknowledge that the current situation in Israel/Palestine results in suffering for both peoples.
We hope and pray for a just and lasting resolution in which the State of Israel and its Palestinian neighbour will dwell together in mutual respect and security.
The Hebrew Biblical prophet Isaiah (19:23) foresaw:
On that day let there be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.
What is our hope and vision?
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