From Disraeli to Bevin
Should the Oldest Nation Be Excluded
From the Conclave of Nations?
One day during the last century, when the British House
of Commons was deliberating on a bill to abolish restrictions against
Jews holding seats in Parliament, and when many influential members were
demanding that the Christian character of that body be preserved,
Disraeli, later Lord Beaconsfield, a builder of the British Empire, made
a memorable speech; I read it years ago and I quote from memory.
Honorable Gentlemen: I sincerely hope that their House
will exist always. But I cannot omit to remind you that the Egyptian Pharaohs,
the Assyrian kings, and the Roman Caesars are dead and their empires have
vanished, but the Jewish people have outlived them all.
* * *
These words came to mind on reading that Sir Alexander Cadogan
has let it be known that Great Britain will oppose the admission of the
State of Israel to membership in the United Nations. The British Delegate
to the Security Council has indicated that Great Britain may use its power
of veto to bar the admission of Israel to the conclave of nations.
The veto power in the Security Council belongs to each of
the Big Five. There is some question as to whether this power can be used
in this sort of case. It is also open to question whether a state that
exists on subsidies is independent and morally free to use a veto power.
It is certainly paradoxical that a country like China is among the Big
Great Britain, under the leadership of Bevin, swiftly approaches
the international status of the Heavenly Empire, now a republic
under Chiang Kai-shek. These Big Two exist on subsidies.
* * *
The British Empire that grew under Lord Beaconsfield and
Joseph Chamberlain, its two great builders, is in our theme what the Turkish
Empire was at the end of the last century, the sick man of Europe.
She has many possessions. But like Turkey in the past, she depends on
others to defend them.
It is characteristic that the great statesmen of EnglandBeaconsfield
and Chamberlainthe Great Joedreamed of a Jewish State even
before there was a Zionist movement. Beaconsfield expressed his ideas
in his novel Tankred; at the Berlin Congress of 1878 he vainly
looked for an organization in world Jewry that would be willing and able
to found a Jewish State in Palestine, for at that Congress the fate of
Turkey was being decided. It was 17 years before the first Zionist Congress.
In 1903 Joseph Chamberlain offered Uganda in Africa to Dr.
Herzl as a refuge for persecuted Jews, where the Zionist Organization
could build a State; he regretted that he could not offer Palestine, then
in Turkish hands; but he was willing to let the Zionists have the adjacent
In 1917 Lloyd George and Lord Balfour bound their government
to create a Jewish National Home in Palestine.
But all this was in the days when Great Britain was in the
ascendancy, and at its helm were men of unusual stature. Compare the state
of Britain and the record of Lord Beaconsfield or Lord Balfour with the
state of Britain and the record of Bevin, and you will realize how far
the Empire has sunk: from the top of the world to the status of an empire
on relieflike the old Turkey or present-day Chinaand a growing
enemy of liberty to boot.
* * *
The idea of the United Nations and of international peace
originated with the Hebrew Prophets. The nations shall beat their
swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall
not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more
The time is not yet come; but the purpose for which the
United Nationsand the Security Councilwere created and the
idea underlying their existence were conceived by the Jewish people 2,500
When their ancestors were announcing eternal truths
to humanity in the hills of Judea, said Disraeli to the members
of Parliament, your ancestors, my dear Gentlemen, were wild herdsmen
trotting behind herds of pigs in the hills of these isles.
* * *
In the three years of its existence, the United Nations
has done nothing to improve the position of millions of slaves in Africa.
The war in China has not been ended. Relations between the United States
and Russia have greatly worsened, and the One World has become
definitely two worlds.
Nothing has been done to ameliorate the condition of the
homeless millions in every part of the globe; nothing appreciable has
been achieved in the field of public hygiene. In Egypt there was a a large
pogrom; the United Nations kept silent.
The oil empire has undermined the U. N. in Israel and the
Arab countries, but the U. N. received a gift from an oil magnatea
plot of land on the east side of Manhattanand we have not heard
in the world organization much criticism of the international grab for
oil and the political methods employed. The atom bomb race goes along
unchecked, with every passing hour bringing humanity closer to its destruction.
I wonder if Israel should enter this organization. The Hebrew
Prophets certainly had in mind a brotherhood of greater integrity.