The four short statements read out in the Royal Albert Hall on 7th November express the heart of many Christians in Britain towards the Ta’anach (Old Testament) scriptures concerning the return of Israel to her Land and our feelings towards some of the negative aspects of history as Britain took on the mandate to govern Palestine in the 1920s. The last of the four, the “Balfour 100 Declaration” was composed by the group of “millennials” who came on stage and read it out. It expresses their heart for continued support for Israel and the Jewish people going forward from this anniversary.
Reconnect (read by Pastor Dennis Greenidge)
The early disciples of Jesus were predominantly Jewish. But as the Church grew and became more Gentile it left its Judaic roots, took on anti-Semitic attitudes and began to persecute the Jewish people.
For over a thousand years, many Christian priests stirred and encouraged violent anti-Semitism. During this time, most ordinary people were unable to read the Bible, which was written in Latin. But with the invention of the printing press, followed by the Reformation, the Bible was translated into the common languages of Europe.
As it became more widely read, many realised that God did not hate the Jews and had not rejected them. In fact the Scriptures showed how He still loves them and has plans to give them “a hope and a future”.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, a significant proportion of Bible-believing Christian leaders in Britain were ardent advocates of “restorationism”; the belief in the return of the Jews to Israel. They were Zionists before Zionism!
As Christians, on this significant anniversary we declare our desire and intention to reconnect with the Bible’s positive picture of Israel and the Jewish people. We reject totally the anti-Semitic attitudes of the past, including the errors of “replacement theology” and the violent anti-Semitism of today’s Israel boycotters.
With the restorationists of the last five hundred years we affirm warmly our love
for the people God loves,
for the city where His Name dwells
and for the Land He says is His.
We do this in the Name of the God of Israel and in friendship towards our Jewish brothers and sisters.
Remember (read by Rev David Campbell)
When Theodor Herzl set forth his vision of a Jewish State as a haven for his persecuted people, the Christian minister William Hechler stood alongside him, encouraging him and introducing him to influential men. Together, their partnership put Zionism on the world agenda.
One of those Zionists, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, advocated strongly in Britain for a national homeland for the Jewish people. He became good friends with Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour and Prime Minister Lloyd-George, giving them insight into Zionist ideology. Both of these influential leaders ardently supported the Zionist dream because of their biblical faith. They were instrumental in the issuing of the Balfour Declaration and its later incorporation into International law.
General Jan Christian Smutts, a Christian member of the War Cabinet in 1917, regarded the Jewish resettlement of Palestine as an act of moral reparation due from Christendom to the Jewish people. He called the Balfour Declaration one of the greatest acts of history.
The strong Christian background of these leaders was a crucial influence upon the Balfour Declaration and we see God’s hand in the Jewish-Christian partnerships of a hundred years ago.
Many Jewish-Christian partnerships exist today: Aliyah (bringing Jewish people home to Israel); social assistance; caring for the needy in the Land; expressing the love of God in many practical ways.
May these partnerships between Jews and Christians multiply and flourish as we work together!
Recognise (read by Pastor Clive Urquhart)
Through the Balfour Declaration, Britain issued a pledge to act on behalf of God’s chosen people, the Jews. The post-war Mandate for Palestine contained the Balfour Declaration and enshrined it in international law. It tasked Britain “to secure the establishment of the Jewish national home.” We believe that God chose Britain for this task.
Under the Mandate, Britain began to establish the institutions of government, encourage economic development and build infrastructure.
However, most of the military serving in Palestine at that time did not carry the same vision. They even acted against their own government’s policy, sometimes with tragic results. For this and many other reasons, Britain ultimately failed to live up to her obligations.
Matters came to a head in the late 1930s. Under severe pressure from violent opposition in Palestine, Britain drastically reduced the number of Jews allowed to enter the Land to 75,000 over 5 years through the White Paper of 1939.
Thus, during the Holocaust and in the years after the end of the war, Jews trying to flee Europe were denied this route of escape.
Britain failed both the Jewish people and God.
As Christians we express our profound sorrow and repentance for the failures of our nation before God, and to the Jewish people. May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob extend His mercy and forgiveness to our nation and heal the wounds of the Jewish people.
The Balfour 100 Declaration (read by Emily Emmanuel and Jameel)
As representatives of the current and emerging generation of the Judeo-Christian faith we stand together in agreement to honour and celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which was a statement of support for the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland.
This declaration came about because of Christian men such as Lord Balfour who had a biblical understanding of God’s plans and purposes for the restoration of the Jewish people and the land of Israel. Similarly we are standing here today holding steadfast to the same biblical foundation that these men of faith had.
Today we honour the declaration by acknowledging Israel as the national homeland for the Jewish people, as well as supporting and encouraging peaceful coexistence, equality and cooperation between all communities in the nation. We also recognise Israel’s outstanding contribution to the world in areas such as technology, medicine and agriculture and in leading democracy in the Middle East.
As followers of the Jewish Jesus, we commit ourselves to encouraging and helping the Church in the United Kingdom to return to its biblical roots; and to repairing any broken bridges with the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Finally we acknowledge God’s everlasting covenant with Israel.
Jeremiah 31:35 says :
“He who appoints the sun to shine by day,
Who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night,
Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – the Lord Almighty is His Name.
‘Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the Lord, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.‘”