Do you know why a place called San Remo is so vitally important to the Jewish People and Israel? Do you even know where San Remo is?
102 years ago, this Italian resort town hosted world leaders who gathered to grant the Jewish People their inheritance by legitimizing the re-establishment of our ancient homeland in a destroyed Palestine (no connection with Palestinian Arabs) following the Great War of 1914-1918.
The talked for seven days and published their resolutions on April 25, 1920.
Their decisions created 22 Arab states and one Jewish state. Apparently that Jewish state was one too many for the Arabs.
At San Remo, Chaim Weizmann, who was to become the 1st President of the State of Israel, correctly declared, “This is the most momentous political event in the history of our movement and in the history of our people since our exile from our homeland."
And yet, too many people, particularly those in government and leaders of the most prestigious Jewish organizations either don’t know, or act as it they don’t know, the significance of this event.
In San Remo, the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers officially recognized “the historical connection of the Jewish people to Palestine and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country” while safeguarding the “civil and religious rights” of the non-Jewish population.
If the goyim declare this to be true, why don’t we?
Note the word “reconstitute.” It signified a global acknowledgement, the first in two thousand years, that the Jewish People possessed an ancient kingdom in the geographic location of Palestine, and the world powers gathered in San Remo to bestow a renewal of that legitimate right specifically to the Jewish people to re-establish their homeland on their land.
In all the other mandates, the identities of the recipients were not named.
Protecting civil and religious rights of Israel’s non-Jewish population is something that Israeli governments have studiously observed to this day, no matter what malevolent detractors may say to the contrary.
What anti-Israel adversaries hate is the absolute legitimacy that San Remo bestowed on the Jewish People and Israel.
But they need to be reminded of an agreement between Emir Faisal, the principle Arab leader at that time, together with Chaim Weizmann, signed on 3 January 1919, on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hejaz, that “mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people, and realizing that the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations” to collaborate in the development of two states, one an Arab State, and the other the Jewish State in Palestine.
That was the spirit of the agreement between Arab and Jew in 1919, but a rabble-rouser in Jerusalem named Haj Amin al Husseini had other ideas.
In advance San Remo, at the annual Muslim festival of Nebi Musa, al-Husseini exhorted the Arabs in Palestine to gather in Jerusalem and express their hatred against the Jews of the Old City.
There is plenty of evidence that leading British officials that controlled Palestine at the time colluded with al-Husseini, particularly Colonel Harry Waters Taylor who absented himself from Jerusalem rather than be on duty on the day of the festival.
The rioting Arabs attacked the Jews, destroyed property, raped women, and killed and injured many Jews as they rampaged through the Old City. The British held guard at the gates and prevented former members of the Jewish Legion led by Zeev Jabotinsky from rescuing the defenseless Jews.
The Jews constituted a majority in Jerusalem and, although the world powers were granting legitimacy to Jews in San Remo, in Palestine Jews were defenseless against Arab mobs. Murderous Arab riots spread throughout Palestine.
Jabotinsky’s Jewish Legion comrade, Joseph Trumpeldor, died with others defending the Jewish Galilee settlement of Tel Hai from repeated assaults by heavily armed Arab brigands one month before the San Remo gathering.
For those who downplay the legitimacy granted to the Jewish People both at San Remo and later in the League of Nations, remember this.
Prior to San Remo there did not exist any independent Arab nation. All twenty-two Arab states that exist today became independent because of San Remo. So, by delegitimizing Israel’s legitimacy they also delegitimize the existence of much of the Middle East as we know it today.
World leaders agreed to meet in Geneva to ratify their San Remo decisions at a special meeting of the League of Nations.
That meeting took place in July 1922 and confirmed the agreements signed both at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and the San Remo Conference of 1920 to confirm the legitimate rights of the Jewish People to establish a Jewish national home in Palestine that would ensure the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities under their governance as well as safeguarding their holy places, a condition that Israel has honored.
Although San Remo did not decide borders, the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine designated there be an eastern border between a Jewish Palestine and an Arab Palestine later to be called Transjordan, and a northern border with French Mandated Syria later to become Lebanon which was agreed in another agreement signed on 23 December 1920.
Why did the Allied Powers affirmatively support a Jewish homeland in Palestine?
Could it have been because Palestinian Jews fought and died fighting with the allied forces against the Turkish-German enemy in the Palestine Campaign, but no Arabs fought to secure victory west of the River Jordan?
In fact, Arabs joined the Turkish army in Palestine and Arab mercenaries only joined in the war at Faisal’s request east of the river only after Britain rewarded them with money and weapons but melted into the desert when bounty or booty was not forthcoming. On the other hand, the Jewish Legion forged a river crossing in the Jordan Valley and joined the Anzac horsemen in a victory over Turkish forces at the e-Salt mountaintop town on the east side of the river.
The borders relating to the signed agreement between Faisal and Weizmann were not settled even at the Paris Peace Conference. They talked about a border some ten kilometers east of the Jordan River that would have reached to the heights of the Moab Mountain range captured by the Allies, including the Jewish Legion, in the Palestine Campaign. The territory east of that line was to be Faisal’s Palestine to create his Arab fiefdom. This kingdom was to have been ruled by Faisal from his base in Damascus but Faisal was to become King of Iraq and Transjordan was added to the mandate following the Cairo Conference of March 1921 in which it was agreed that Abdullah bin Hussein would administer the territory down to the Arabian peninsula.
In the post Ottoman Empire, not only did the Turks have no further rights to the territory they had lost but the creation of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, not to mention Saudi Arabia, should have satisfied the Arab thirst for territory, with the Jews given legitimacy to the western part of Palestine to create their national home. But even this was unsatisfactory to the Arabs who looked on the creation of the Jewish State as an abomination despite the absolute legitimacy granted by international legitimacy of San Remo and Geneva, both passed with unanimous votes, for the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
This brings us to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 on 29 November 1947 that gave a majority vote for the creation of a Jewish State with 33 votes for and only 13 against, with ten abstentions. A vote that brought five Arab armies to try and annihilate the newly formed Jewish State of Israel just days after the new Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, declared independence.
Decades have been wasted by Arabs more determined to eradicate Israel than make peace.
When conventional armies failed to destroy us, they helped arm and train a Palestinian terror insurgency against Israel.
This armed rejectionism is based in territory relinquished by Israel, proving the point that the Jewish state has been willing to accommodate an enemy in the cause of peace, but our territorial gestures has been met with more violence and more rejectionism that ignores the legitimacy that repeated international conventions have bestowed on us.
And finally, the 4th of March 2022. This date commemorates Israel’s 74th anniversary. Seventy-four years of legitimacy, despite all the international pressure against us.
Only in the past few years are seeing signs of accommodation by moderate Sunni states as witnessed by the expanding Abraham Accords. But there remains a heavy residue of rejectionist Palestinian violence aided and abetted by their cohorts who attempt to delegitimize Israel.
As we celebrate 74 amazing years of Jewish renewal in our land, let’s resolve to remember San Remo and to educate ourselves and others to the absolute legitimacy granted to us by international mandates, enshrined in Article 80 of the founding documents of the United Nations, that are as valid today as they were a century ago.
They are valid today not matter what non-democratic regimes, sitting on malevolently anti-Israel UN committees, may try to spin against the Jewish State.
And let’s demand that Western diplomats, who supinely vote for, or abstain from, dastardly anti-Israel resolutions learn to grow a spine and properly support Israel by voting with us and for us against all attempts to delegitimize and criminalize the Jewish State of Israel in the year ahead.
Barry Shawis the International Public Diplomacy Director at the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the author of books including ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative’ and ‘1917 From Palestine to the Land of Israel,’ and is the host of The View from Israel social media video show.