Sorrow amidst the joy
British delegation repents over shameful episode
A DARK SHADOW OF IMMINENT WAR hung over Israel’s 70th anniversary celebrations, just as it had done at the nation’s rebirth in 1948.
President Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran hastened the prospect of the rogue state taking out its frustration on Israel for striking its military installations in Syria.
Also coinciding with May’s big birthday was an event marking a particularly shameful episode in Britain’s history.
At a special ceremony organised by Love Never Fails (an alliance of Christian groups supporting the Jewish state) and held in Atlit, near the port of Haifa, Israelis spoke of how they suffered at the time and UK representatives responded with expressions of sorrow.
Granted a League of Nations mandate to prepare a safe homeland for Jews, we instead severely restricted immigration just when it was needed most during the Nazi genocide.
And in the immediate aftermath of World War II, we shattered the hopes of traumatised survivors by turning their ships away or by herding them into detention camps. Some were even sent back to Germany where millions of their fellow Jews had been slaughtered.
Thousands of Jewish refugees were held in the Atlit Camp, interred behind barbed wire complete with watchtowers.
As part of a prepared declaration of sorrow on 11 May, the 50-strong delegation of British Christians told around 220 of their Jewish friends: “We grieve that [Britain’s policies] led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews who could have escaped Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ if the gates to their ancient homeland had been fully open.”
A particularly shocking incident – on 18 July 1947 – involved an attack by British forces on a ship carrying 4,515 Holocaust survivors in order to deter the immigrants from landing.
I have touched on this and many other aspects of Britain’s role with Israel in my new book, ‘A Nation Reborn’.
Yet out of the ashes of the Holocaust – a valley of dry bones – rose a new nation reflecting something of the resurrection power of Christ.
Britain further betrayed the fledgling Jewish nation by selling arms to Egypt, Jordan and Iraq before they massed to attack the nation in 1948.
Surviving a series of wars against overwhelming odds to emerge as a world leader in hi-tech innovation and much else besides has been nothing short of miraculous.
And they have been so keen to live at peace with their neighbours that they have given up land to which they were legally entitled. But that hasn’t proved enough for Iran and their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, who have vowed to wipe Israel off the map.
However, we are called to comfort God’s people (Isaiah 40:1f). And we are especially charged to tell them that their “sins have been paid for” – in other words, that the Lord Jesus, whom we Christians serve, also died for them.
But a furious battle for truth rages on as belligerent rioters further inflame tensions on the Gaza border in the mistaken belief that they have been robbed of their land and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is forced to counter Iranian propaganda about their nuclear programme.
Citing intelligence reports, he said Iran had lied about never having pursued nuclear weapons and had continued to preserve and expand its knowledge of them even after signing the 2015 deal with global powers designed to curb Iranian capabilities.1
The Bible speaks of such deceit, thus: “Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies.” (Psalm 5:9)
All who desire to follow the truth – specifically manifested in Jesus Christ (John 14:6) – must surely see where the path leads.