Menahem Rahat

A few days ago, without our even being aware of it, the 95th anniversary of the San Remo Conference was marked, where the League of Nations signed an international deed regarding the Jewish people's ownership of its land.

San Remo. Who remembers - who knows about it? A poll that was held of a representative sample of the Jewish public in Israel on the question of what was the meaning of the name San Remo, reveals that only six out of every thousand Israelis are aware of its meaning. Amazing.

It is true that the event this week, more precisely on the 25th of April, marked something that had occurred exactly 95 years ago, but its impact in international law is alive and well even now and there is, therefore, significance that touches on the foundation of our rights under the Middle Eastern sun.

In other words: the international congress that was convened in the small Italian city of San Remo on April 25th, 1920, signed the first deed in two thousand years that granted the Jewish people total and exclusive ownership, with no co-owners, of the Land of Israel, from then to eternity.

And nevertheless, it is surprising that only a few Israelis are aware of this internationally recognized legal foundation, cast in concrete, regarding our essential rights here. But what is the big surprise? In the schools they do not deal with San Remo, even tangentially, and do not equip the students with facts regarding our legal standing in this tract of land. What is this like? It is like the person who lives in an apartment without holding the document that constitutes the deed of ownership on it. So here, contrary to the apartment dweller in the example, the People of Israel actually does have an internationally recognized deed of ownership, since San Remo, April, 1920.

Of course, the People of Israel itself does not need this deed. Its original deed is written in the Torah, repeated in the Prophets and again in the Writings. It is first seen as the divine promise to our father Abraham. But in actuality, there are, among the faithful in Israel, those who actually do need the deed that was obtained in San Remo.

"The Enlightened Kingdoms of San Remo"

And why is this so, if the Bible is truly our deed? Because those who felt that perhaps the activity of the Zionist movement to settle the Land of Israel in the beginning of the past century was a sort of violation of an oath (according to one Talmudic legend, which did not become religious law, and forbade the resettlement of the Land of Israel, since this would be a sort of "scaling the wall": rebellion against the nations of the world). At San Remo they understood that this decision negates the concept of "scaling the wall" and opens wide the gates to the Land.

And this is how the greatest authority of Jewish law of that generation, Rabbi Meir Simha HaCohen from Dvinsk, writer of Meshech Hochma and Ohr Sameah expressed himself, after the great turning point in San Remo: "... many rabbis were against it, and even those who in their hearts wished to embrace it, did not speak out in its favor, because they feared... to violate the three oaths in Writings 111:1 but now, Divine Providence has changed things, with the gathering of enlightened kings in San Remo, the commandment was given that the Land of Israel will be for the People of Israel, and since the fear of violating a vow has passed, and with the permission of the kings - the commandment to settle the Land of Israel, whose weight is equal to all other commandments in the Torah, has resumed its position... and every person is obligated to support this commandment to the best of his ability".

San Remo is a turning point in the history of the People of Israel in its Land, also from a religious point of view. And these days, when we mark the anniversary of this momentous turning point, we must return to it. A little history: In January 1920, two years after the defeat of the ancient empires in the First World War, the League of Nations, which comprised 51 countries, was established. These countries dealt with the fate of the territories left by the four empires that were dismantled: the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Czarist and Ottoman Empire, which left behind vast territories with no ownership in the Middle East. This dismantling generated new nation states: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.

Only the question of the territories under Ottoman rule in Asia was left: Syria, Iraq and Palestine. It was to solve this matter that the San Remo Conference was convened, which decided to divide the territory between France and Britain, which would hold them in temporary trusteeship for the states that would arise in them.

The Conference had two documents that deal precisely with the subject under discussion: the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which was signed between France and Britain in 1916, regarding the division of the Middle East between them after the victory; and the Balfour Declaration, in which Britain declared that she sees as desirable, the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the Land of Israel.

This was how the division of the spoils of war was decided upon between the two superpowers who would take upon themselves temporary trusteeship: Syria and Lebanon would be under French control; Iraq and Palestine within its biblical boundaries would be under British control. Before the decision was taken, 3 delegations appeared before the conference: two Arab (and neither of them was Palestinian, because at that time the Palestinian people did not exist, and because in the Arabs' eyes, Palestine was considered part of Syria ever since the Persian conquest in the 7th century), which were only interested in the fate of Syria and Lebanon; and the Jewish, Zionist delegation, headed by Haim Weitzman, which sought to have the Mandate of Palestine given to the British, only so that they would fulfill their obligation according to the Balfour Declaration.

The "Palestinians" were invented 40 years later

In the absence of any objection to Weitzman's request, it was decided unanimously to respond positively to the request. The 51 countries of the League of Nations supported the decision, as well as the United States' two houses of Congress (which was not then a member of the organization). Even in the prologue to the decision, the Conference recognizes the Jewish People's historical connection to Palestine as a basis for building the Land anew. On the other hand, the decision promises "civil and religious rights" to all of the residents of the Land. And note: it does not speak in any way of political rights and the word "Arabs" is not mentioned at all, rather, "residents of the Land". Only more than 40 years later was the "Palestinian" people invented.

The San Remo decision became a binding international document. But unfortunately, two of its original supporters ignored this. Most of the 12 million European Jews preferred their countries to the Land of Israel, which opened its arms to accept them, except for a few who responded to the call and immigrated to the Land of Israel (which, perhaps doomed the European Jews to the horrors of the holocaust); the British wantonly partitioned the Land, and handed over the entire eastern part to the Hashemite dynasty, and in violation of the commitment, supported the battle against the Jews.

Until today, San Remo represents a legal, foundational cornerstone, from the point of view of international law, determining the Jews' exclusive rights to build their state in the Land of Israel. Last Shabbat marked the 95th anniversary of the reconfirmation of the irrevocable Jewish rights to the Land.

Return _________________________End of Story___________________________ Return