July 24, 2024

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Today is the 90th anniversary of the British War Memorial dedication on Mt. Scopus


The Sun reports:

PRINCE Charles is at the centre of a diplomatic row after plans for him to visit Israel were dropped by the Foreign Office.

The heir to the throne was set to become the first Royal to carry out an official state visit to Israel since it was created in 1948.

On May 7, 1927, the central memorial of the Jerusalem British War Cemetery on Mount Scopus was dedicated by Lord Allenby for soldiers who fell during World War I.

Prince Charles was set to travel to Israel to honour thousands of British war dead at the centenary of the WW1 Palestine Campaign and the historic Balfour Declaration.
But insiders say the controversial trip – unofficially pencilled in for later this year – has now been binned.
It is feared the decision may have been taken to avoid upsetting Arab nations in the region who regularly host UK Royals.

It is likely that Charles would have visited the British War Cemetery at Mount Scopus.

Before 1948, British officials would routinely visit the cemetery, whose war memorial was dedicated 90 years ago today.

Photo circa 1930

It has over 2500 graves, including a Jewish section.

The 1927 dedication ceremony itself was not well reported. Reporters were not allowed to cover the story directly, something that upset the Zionist community, as the Palestine Bulletin reported:

The Chief Rabbi of Palestine was also upset because the ceremony was on a Saturday and he couldn’t attend:

Clearly, the Palestinian Jews were most interested in participating in these ceremonies.

The cemetery itself makes it appear as if it its land was a gift from all the people of Palestine, with mostly identical inscriptions in English, Hebrew and Arabic:

The Hebrew one adds the initials of Eretz Yisrael after the word “Palestine.”

I don’t know if this early example of political correctness reflected the feelings of the Arab residents of British Mandate Palestine. I cannot find any mention of Arab officials attending the ceremony, and most Arabs were on the Ottoman side of the Great War.

This newspaper article (from a small California paper) on the dedication put the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in distinctly religious, almost messianic terms, which again would make the participation of Muslims seem unlikely.

Looking at articles in the Palestine Post in the twenty years afterwards, I see that there were annual Armistice Day ceremonies at the cemetery, often with Jewish groups placing wreaths. Again, I could not find any record of Arab dignitaries at any of these ceremonies.

So Prince Charles choosing not to attend this year is especially jarring, after so many decades of Jews honoring British war dead and the Arabs mostly ignoring them. (Although from all accounts, Gazans have been taking care of the British war cemetery there very well.)

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