Israel marks 100th anniversary of San Remo Conference that paved way for Jewish state

Famous conference of allied leaders in 1920 determined the fate of the former Ottoman Empire and gave international legitimacy to the right of the Jewish people to a national homeland in Palestine.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

On Sunday, Israel and Jewish communities around the world are marking the 100th anniversary of the San Remo Conference and its closing resolution that paved the way for the rebirth of an independent Jewish state.

Representatives of the victorious allied powers met on April 26, 1920 in San Remo, Italy to divide up the lands that had been part of the defeated Ottoman Empire, giving new independence to the peoples who lived there.  The document created new countries like Syria and Iraq, but also “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

While some Middle East countries gained quick independence, the leading nations of the world recognized the concept of an independent nation state for the Jewish people for the first time since Jewish independent rule was ended by the Romans in 136 CE. The leaders gave Palestine to the British who had captured Jerusalem during World War I.

The Mandate for Palestine gave Britain the job of preparing the groundwork to “secure the establishment of the Jewish national home.” However, for almost three decades Britain did the opposite, actively working to undermine Jewish sovereignty until finally the newly established United Nations voted in 1947 to partition the land, establishing Jewish and Arab states.

“There is probably no more understated event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict than the San Remo Conference of April 1920,” said Prof. Efraim Karsh of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University. The outcome of the conference “created a new international order on the basis of indigenous self-rule and national self-determination.”

Karsh said it marked the first time the international community gave “unqualified recognition” to the Jews as a national group rather than simply as members of a religious community.

“It was an extraordinary feat of diplomacy … recognizing the Jews as a nation deserving self-determination in its ancestral homeland,” Karsh wrote in a paper released to mark the century since the conference. “This is something that successive Palestinian leaderships have been loath to acknowledge to date.”

“The world powers recognized the ancient connection of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and the right of the Jewish people to a national home on that land was given the force of International Law,” U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said it a tweet marking the anniversary.

A live online broadcast by the European Coalition for Israel and hosted by the Christian Broadcast Network’s Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchel was scheduled for later Sunday featuring senior Israeli diplomats and greetings from world leaders.