(Courtesy Nachamu Ami)

A group called “Nachamu Ami” (Comfort ye my people, Isaiah 40:1) is circulating a “Declaration of sorrow for the failures of the British Mandate” for endorsement by British Christians with written signatures. 

By: Anne Heelis

Having observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day last month, it is salutary to remember that hundreds of thousands of Jewish people could have escaped death in the Nazi concentration camps if they had been allowed free entry into their ancient homeland by the British.

Britain was given the responsibility to create a national home for the Jewish people when the Balfour Declaration was incorporated into international law in the San Remo agreement in 1920, and this agreement was subsequently ratified by the League of Nations in 1922.

Tragically, Britain seriously betrayed this trust by opposing Jewish immigration to mandatory Palestine, and severely restricting it under the terms of the 1939 White Paper, just at the time when Jews were most desperate to escape from the Nazis.

This policy was not only totally contrary to the terms of the Mandate, but we were opposing Almighty God and His purpose to return His people to the Land of Israel which is clearly set out in the Bible. Here are a few Scriptures from the many on this theme:

“The Lord builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.” (Psalm 147:2)

“I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west.  I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not keep them back!’” (Isaiah 43:5-6)

“He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd does his flock.” (Jeremiah 31:10)

“I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all my heart and with all my soul.” (Jeremiah 32:41)

“For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36:24)

Britain Should Have Helped the Jewish People

Britain should have helped the Jewish people to return to their homeland and welcomed them there, but instead, unseaworthy ships, carrying Jewish immigrants in cramped, insanitary conditions were intercepted by the British Navy and the immigrants prevented from landing. In the case of the Exodus ship, they were even returned to Germany.

Many thousands of Jews were held in detention camps on the islands of Mauritius and Cyprus, and in Atlit Camp near Haifa – camps which should never have been built under the terms of the British Mandate.

I know an Israeli lady whose grandmother died of typhus in Theresienstadt because she could not get out of Germany. Her son in Jerusalem made many visits to the British immigration office but was refused a certificate for his mother to enter the land of her forefathers. As someone from Britain I have expressed my deep sorrow to my friend. She once told me she had visited Theresienstadt and seen her grandmother’s name, and she also said to me, “The British helped the Germans.”

Several British friends of Israel have grown to know and love a gentle Israeli man, Gidon, and his wife Aliza. In 1940 he suffered as a very young baby on the immigrant ship the Atlantic. His young parents escaped from Czechoslovakia when it was already under Nazi occupation and made a perilous journey with their precious baby to mandatory Palestine, crammed into this rickety old ship with 1800 Jewish refugees.

On arrival at Haifa harbour they learned they would not be allowed to land and that the British were preparing to deport them to the island of Mauritius on an old ship, the Patria. Soon after mother and baby were transferred to the Patria there was a deafening explosion and the ship keeled over and sank. Though initially separated. they both survived and were detained in Atlit camp. The father was sent to detention in Mauritius. You can read the whole heart-rending story in a book titled “Where are you my child?” by Aliza Ramati. (Available from  http://zaccmedia.com/bookstore/product/where-are-you-my-child/ and from Amazon)

Memorial for Avraham Kirschenbaum in Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem

Memorial for Avraham Kirschenbaum in Yemin Moshe, Jerusalem (Courtesy Nachamu Ami)

I would also like to tell you about two sisters whose family lived in poor circumstances in Yemin Moshe, one of the oldest areas of Jerusalem outside the walls of the Old City. In 1948 their brother Avraham bravely defended his neighborhood against an Arab terrorist attack almost single-handedly. He was injured by a British bullet, and as he was being put into an ambulance on a stretcher, a second British sniper shot him from a nearby high building with a dumdum bullet, which explodes inside the body. Despite hours of surgery he died two days later.

After hearing about this shameful incident we had a booklet about it translated into English and eventually it was possible to meet one of his sisters and hear the whole story from her. She had never received an apology from a British person before. We remained in contact, and later a small group of British Christians was privileged to meet her and her sister on Yemin Moshe at the memorial for their brother.

They told the story again and the British expressed sorrow for Avraham’s cruel death. Then one of the British ladies sang a beautiful lament for Avraham, and the sisters took a copy of the song which is now in Avraham Kirschenbaum’s file in the library of the Menachem Begin Heritage Centre in Jerusalem.

Declaration of Sorrow

British readers are requested to consider endorsing a Declaration of Sorrow for the Failures of the British Mandate. With the help of other UK Christian ministries, we are preparing to take it to Israel in May 2018 for a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the Jewish state. The declaration can be found at www.nachamuami.com