Jerusalem honors Winston Churchill

Monday, November 05, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Israeli officials and foreign dignitaries gathered on Sunday in Jerusalem's Mishkenot Shaananim, the first Jewish neighborhood outside the Old City walls, for the unveiling of a bust of late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

As in many Western countries, Churchill is widely revered in Israel for his steadfastness and inspiration during World War II. What is less known is that Churchill was also a fierce opponent of the anti-Semitism that was permeating all of Europe at the time, and firmly backed the "Zionist cause."

"He stood up for the rights of the Jewish people to a Jewish homeland long before it became fashionable, if it was ever fashionable," said British Ambassador Matthew Gould at Sunday's event.

Gould lamented that not enough Israelis know of Churchill's support for and contributions to the founding of the State of Israel.

The event was also attended by Sir Winston's great grandson, Lt. Randolph Churchill and his wife Catherine. Randolph Churchill recalled how Sir Winston and his father before him had behaved contrary to the prevailing attitude of the upper class of their time and spoke out against anti-Semitism.

More than that, Winston Churchill had become a great supporter of Jewish causes, none more so than the re-establishment of a Jewish state in the Holy Land.

Churchill's often forgotten relationship with the Jews and Israel is chronicled in the book Churchill and the Jews: A Lifelong Friendship by official Churchill biographer and famed Jewish historian Martin Gilbert.

While some of Churchill's policies irked Jewish Zionists during his days, such as his support for limiting Jewish immigration to the Holy Land just years before the Nazi Holocaust was to start, the former British leader did more than anyone else to set in stone the legal right of the Jews to reclaim their ancestral lands.

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