Article published in The Jerusalem Post, 26 January 2020. © Richard Kemp
Despite the closest of ties between our intelligence services and armed forces today, the Foreign Office has maintained its bias against the Jewish state.
What was Britain’s role in the Holocaust? What was its role in the establishment of the State of Israel? The Holocaust first fully entered my consciousness at the age of 13 when I read Simche Unsdorfer’s The Yellow Star. The disgusting brutality inflicted on the author – who wrote the book in Britain after surviving the Nazi terror – and his fellow inmates of Auschwitz, shocked me to the core and never left me from that day to this.
The Yellow Star is a story of the utmost savagery but also of the most profound courage. During a 30-year military career, recollection of 19-year-old Unsdorfer’s personal bravery and moral strength inspired me to overcome challenges I myself faced – all paling into insignificance alongside his own existential struggles with the devil incarnate.
Knowledge of the Holocaust increases my pride as a former British soldier over our army’s decisive role in re-creating the State of Israel, which followed close on its heels. At a cost of 168,000 casualties, British Empire forces freed the land of Palestine from the malignant rule of the Ottoman Empire in a defensive campaign from 1915 to 1918. Had our troops not secured victory, the Turks would have maintained dominion over that land and there could never have been a Jewish state.
Britain’s military campaign, with Jerusalem liberated on Hanukkah 1917, the Balfour Declaration immediately beforehand, and the 1920 San Remo Resolution that formalized Balfour’s intent to establish a Jewish national homeland, gave hope to Jews everywhere. That hope was dashed, and the San Remo mandate (more…)