OpinionJewish & Israeli Holidays

Honoring ourselves

Israel needs to create a Yom San Remo.

Delegates to the San Remo Conference in Italy on April 25, 1920. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Delegates to the San Remo Conference in Italy on April 25, 1920. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Douglas Altabef
Douglas Altabef
Douglas Altabef is chairman of the board of Im Tirtzu and a director of the Israel Independence Fund. He can be reached at: dougaltabef@gmail.com.    

Everything in Israel is now seen through the lens of before and after Oct. 7. We focus, of course, on the way we have approached matters geopolitically and militarily in the security and intelligence fields.

We recognize that our pre-Oct. 7 conceptia—concept or paradigm—was not only erroneous but dangerous. New thinking and new perspectives are clearly required. To this, I say both “amen” and that we need to include measures to celebrate ourselves.

We have underestimated the antipathy to Israel’s legitimacy. The cries of “from the river to the sea” inherently declare Israel illegitimate, created because of European guilt over the Holocaust. Israelis are interlopers, it proclaims, invading the indigenous land of the “Palestinian people.” Thus, it is said, the persecution and removal of Jews are fully justified.

In this context, I would like to suggest a small but meaningful act that can further our unity at home and foster greater—certainly no less—support for us abroad.

It is time for us to honor ourselves by declaring that April 25 will henceforth be known as “Yom San Remo”—San Remo Day.

This April 25 will mark the 104th anniversary of the declaration issued by the San Remo Conference enshrining the Jewish right to the Land of Israel in international law. The conference was led by four of the Allied victors of World War I: Britain, France, Italy and Japan, with the U.S. attending as an observer. The attendees dealt with the status of the territories of the former Ottoman Empire, including a mandate for “Palestine.”

The mandate was given to Britain and it incorporated the Balfour Declaration’s stated intention of establishing a Jewish national home in the Land of Israel. The British Mandate was thus to be a preparatory stage in the creation of an independent Jewish state. The San Remo Declaration was adopted by the League of Nations and passed on to its successor, the United Nations.

The San Remo Declaration expanded on the Balfour Declaration by expressly incorporating the latter into international law. While the geographic parameters of the British Mandate were to be determined later, the declaration was an important standalone endorsement of the legitimacy of Jewish efforts to reestablish a sovereign entity in their ancestral homeland.

San Remo’s importance rests not only on its declaration but its age and lineage. Its declaration is more than 100 years old, showing that efforts to create a Jewish state were not a reaction to the Holocaust. Instead, they reflect the success and international acceptance of Zionism. The world needs to be reminded of this, and so do we. It is a reminder to ourselves of where we come from and the pillars upon which we stand.

When I first thought about a San Remo Day, I ruled it out because we are at war and our focus must be on victory. But I now believe that the establishment of such a holiday can be seen as part of the war effort.

It is a reminder to the world that we are legitimate actors and therefore legitimate defenders. It is a consensual unifying gesture to us at home.

Ironically, the positive benefits of such a move have been borne out by recent reports of specific Knesset legislation being withdrawn because it might harm the national unity we are seeking to maintain.

Declaring a Yom San Remo would be a consensus decision and completely uncontroversial. To those who say that it accomplishes little or nothing, I would disagree. Taking even the small amount of time necessary to enact such a holiday would be a powerful reaffirmation of our legitimacy and our right to exist.

Ultimately, we cannot expect the world to give us the respect and legitimacy we deserve and demand unless we are willing to provide the basis of it and the reasons for it. Reminding ourselves and the world of the reality and significance of the San Remo Conference with a declaration of a Yom San Remo is a smart and appropriate step.

Here’s to Yom San Remo and to Israel!

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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