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How Britain gifted Uganda for the creation of Israel territory

By Jacky Achan

Added 29th June 2016 11:38 AM

In 1896, Jewish-Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl published an influential political pamphlet called The Jewish State.

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In 1896, Jewish-Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl published an influential political pamphlet called The Jewish State.

Modern Israel has its origins in the Zionism movement, established in the late 19th century by Jews in the Russian Empire. The Jews called for the establishment of a territorial Jewish state after enduring persecution.

In 1896, Jewish-Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl published an influential political pamphlet called The Jewish State.

It   argued that the establishment of a Jewish state was the only way of protecting Jews from anti-Semitism.

Herzl became the leader of Zionism, convening the first Zionist Congress in Switzerland in 1897.

How Uganda was given as Jewish territory

When Herzl began his quest to establish a homeland for the Jewish people, he sought out the support of the great powers to help achieve his goal.

 In 1903, Herzl turned to Great Britain and met with Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary and others high ranking officials who agreed in principle to Jewish settlement in East Africa.

At the Sixth Zionist Congress at Basel on August 26, 1903, Herzl proposed the British Uganda Program as a temporary refuge for Jews in Russia in immediate danger.

By a vote of 295 to 178 it was decided to send an investigatory commission to examine the territory proposed (the Karamoja region in Northern Uganda).

Three days later the British government released an official document allocating a Jewish territory in East Africa on conditions which will enable members to observe their national customs.

While Herzl made it clear that this program would not affect the ultimate aim of Zionism, a Jewish entity in the Land of Israel, the proposal aroused a storm and nearly led to a split in the Zionist movement.

The Jewish Territorialist Organization (ITO) was formed as a result of the unification of various groups who had supported Herzl's Uganda proposals during the period 1903-1905.

The Uganda Program was finally rejected by the Zionist movement at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905.

But Nahum Syrkin and Israel Zangwill called an alternative conference to continue the plan of the Uganda scheme.

Zangwill became the movement's undisputed leader. After the rejection of the Uganda scheme on the grounds of impracticability by the British, Zangwill turned his attention to settlement in Canada and Australia.

But opposition from local residents led him to abandon the scheme. Expeditions were sent to Mesopotamia (Iraq), Cyrenaica (Libya) and Angola but little came of these expeditions.

Other areas reported to have been considered include Siberia (USSR), Alaska in Canada, Madagascar, Grand Island on the Niagara River in USA, Japan, British Guiana, Tasmania.

But the Jews had deep roots in the western half of the Soviet Union, in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia proper.

In fact, there had initially been proposals to create a Jewish Soviet Republic in the Crimea or in part of Ukraine but these were rejected because of fears of antagonizing non-Jews in those regions.

Why Palestine for an Isreali state

The opposition to Uganda and all the other proposed territories for an Isreali state was primarily that Palestine was the only acceptable place for a Jewish State.

Ottoman-controlled Palestine, the original home of the Jews, was chosen as the most desirable location for a Jewish state, but Herzl unsuccessfully petitioned the Ottoman government for a charter.

After the failed Russian Revolution of 1905, growing numbers of Eastern European and Russian Jews began to immigrate to Palestine, joining the few thousand Jews who had arrived earlier.

The Jewish settlers insisted on the use of Hebrew as their spoken language. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Britain took over Palestine.

Creation of Isreal

In 1917, Britain issued the Balfour Declaration which declared its intent to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Arab opposition to the establishment of any Jewish state in Palestine, British rule continued throughout the 1920s and '30s.

But as a result of the Holocaust in Europe, many Jews illegally entered Palestine during World War II.

At the end of World War II, in 1945, the United States took up the Zionist cause. Britain, unable to find a practical solution, referred the problem to the United Nations, which in November 1947 voted to partition Palestine.

The Jews were to possess more than half of Palestine, although they made up less than half of Palestine's population.

The Palestinian Arabs, aided by volunteers from other countries, fought the Zionist forces.

However on May 14, 1948, the Jews had secured full control of their UN allocated share of Palestine and also some Arab territory as Britain withdrew control of the area with the expiration of its mandate.

In Tel Aviv, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the State of Israel, establishing the first Jewish state in 2,000 years. Ben-Gurion became Israel's first premier.

The next day, forces from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded.

The Israelis, though less well equipped, managed to fight off the Arabs and then seize key territory, such as Galilee, the Palestinian coast, and a strip of territory connecting the coastal region to the western section of Jerusalem.

Israel gaining more territory

In 1949, U.N.-brokered cease-fires left the State of Israel in permanent control of this conquered territory.

The departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel during the war left the country with a substantial Jewish majority.
During the third Arab-Israeli conflict–the Six-Day War of 1967–Israel again greatly increased its borders, capturing from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria the Old City of Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.

Israel in its pre-1967 borders was 8,019 square miles or 20,770 square kilometres. It makes Israel 12 times smaller than Uganda.

To commemorate 40 years after the raid on Entebbe Airport in which Israel commandos rescued hostages at Entebbe, New Vision will run stories about the raid. If you have any pictures about the raid or your visit to Israel, send them to smiria@newvision.co.ug or nnaturinda@newvision.co.ug or Whatsapp number 0757144000

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