Leadership/statesmanship

From the Editor – “Churchill, Judaism, and Islam”

Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 04

By David Freeman, October 2015


The Middle East is never not in the news. Winston Churchill’s involvement with the Jewish and Muslim worlds, however, began well before his first extended travels in the region and continued throughout his long life. His association with both cultures greatly influenced him, and his own impact upon the Middle East remains strong today.

The upheaval of the First World War destroyed the centuries-old Ottoman Empire. Churchill emerged as the key figure in the reconfiguration of the Middle East following the end of Turkish colonial rule. Warren Dockter describes how the counsel of T.E. Lawrence influenced Churchill’s decision making.

Churchill’s fulfillment of the pledge made in the Balfour Declaration opened the way for the establishment of a new nation for the Jewish people in their ancient homeland. Progress towards this goal became inextricably linked with the rise of Nazi Germany and the ensuing tragedy of the Holocaust. David Patterson illustrates these developments and Churchill’s reactions to them. Trying, and with much success, to influence Churchill along the way was Chaim Weizmann. Fred Glueckstein describes the relationship between Britain’s self-proclaimed “Zionist” prime minister and the first President of Israel.
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Winston Churchill Visits Leeds in May 1942 'We see the Ridge ahead.'

Winston Churchill visited Leeds on 16 May 1942 at the height of the Second World War. Jane Brechner, the great-granddaughter of Lord Mayor, Hyman Morris, provided the accompanying family photos of her great-grandfather accompanying Churchill during his visit.

We shall go forward together. The road upwards is stony. There are upon our journey dark and dangerous valleys through which we have to make and fight our way. But it is sure and certain that if we persevere – and we shall persevere – we shall come through these dark and dangerous valleys into a sunlight broader and more genial and more lasting than mankind has ever known. Winston Churchill, Leeds, 16 May 1942

On this occasion of his visit Churchill ChurchillChusssaid in part, “In the height of the second great war, it is a great pleasure to come to Leeds and bring to the citizens a word of thanks and encouragement in all the work they are doing to promote the common cause of many nations and in many lands. That cause appeals to the hearts of all those in the human race who are not already gripped by tyranny or who have not already been seduced to its insidious voice. That cause is shared by all the millions of our cousins across the Atlantic who are preparing night and day to have their will and rights respected. It appeals to the patient millions of China, who have suffered long from cruel aggression and still fight with faithful stubbornness. It appeals to the noble manhood of Russia, now at full grips with the murderous enemy, striking blow for blow.”

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The International Churchill Society (ICS), founded in 1968 shortly after Churchill's death, is the world’s preeminent member organisation dedicated to preserving the historic legacy of Sir Winston Churchill.

At a time when leadership is challenged at every turn, that legacy looms larger and remains more relevant than ever.