The invaluable educational opportunities made available by the launch of the Internet Exhibition encourages me to commend this project to the widest possible audience.

With the advent of the Internet over 2 billion people now have the opportunity of access to information drawn both from the pages of history and current world developments. The use of multimedia is a means of translating a dull form of encyclopaedia reading into a lively, interesting, challenging opportunity and, like a tree whose branches constantly spread out, so do the facets of the Internet broaden/spread in ever widening spheres.

The great achievement of the Internet Exhibition is that it utilises the modern arms of science and technology, adds this to a wealth of knowledge of a unique chapter in modern Jewish history and is now made available to the wider public. I hope our existing educational institutions will take full advantage of it.

We must ensure that this exhibition fulfils the ambitious hopes of its organisers.


I am neither a Holocaust nor a Herzlian Zionist, and I do not believe that I require validation of the promise made by The Almighty to the Jewish people that they had an inalienable right to their Homeland.

In current Zionist history there are three outstanding dates, all of which have an association with Manchester and with the foundation of the State.

  1. In 1897 when the first Congress was set up by Herzl, Manchester was represented by Joseph Massel, Printer, Hebraist and Philospher.
  2. In 1917 the Balfour Declaration arose directly as a result of the contacts in Manchester between Weizman and Lord Balfour.
  3. In 1948, when the State was established, its first President was Chaim Weizman who had lived in Manchester and worked at the University for some years.

So we see how apposite it is that Manchester, the University and the Alliance Chair of Modern Jewish Studies should play a prominent part in the project, linking as it does all three together.

None of us can forget the state of euphoria which swept through the Jewish World in November 1947 when the United Nations voted in favour of the establishment of a 'Jewish Homeland'. Some of my older contemporaries compare this with the wave of emotion and happiness that swept through the Jewish World when the Balfour Declaration was promulgated in 1917.

Even with international recognition of its claim, Israel had no easy birth in 1948, following the withdrawal of Great Britain from its mandatory position in May of that year. The Arab world, with its teeming millions, refused to accept the existence of the newly born Israel, and set in motion military activities to crush the fledgling State. The odds seemed heavily in favour of the Arabs. The poorly armed and inadequately trained Jewish forces numbered only 650,000 whilst the Arabs could draw on 1 million Palestinians and the regular armies of five Arab States. The Arabs had the advantage of tactical superiority in being the ones who were about to start the war and significantly they appeared to have the tacit support of the British.

Israel was facing a desperate situation. World Jewry in general, and Manchester Jewry in particular, swung into action to give whatever help and support they could in defence of their newly created Homeland. From the very easy task of simply giving money, to the most meaningful ­ that of the offer to fight with Israel Defence Forces - there came innumerable volunteers ready to play their part in this battle. Doctors volunteered to go out, Social Workers joined the flood and many young men and women went to work on the Kibbutzim to replace members of the Israel Defence Force who had been called up.

Those of us who had been left behind found we had a new role to play, that of Public Relations on behalf of Israel. Not everyone was sympathetic and letters and pro Arab activity were soon seen operating in the wider community. We, the Jewish community, held mass meetings, demonstrations, we lobbied Parliament, Statesmen and Politicians; and we pleaded with the British Government that the meagre supply of arms for which Israel had contracted should not be halted.

All these were parallel activities in which we were involved, but in the same way as Beveridge had during the wartime planned his new social world to be in place when peace occurred, so we, the Jewish community, at the time when the skies were dark and the clouds were low, had to plan the future of our State. We organised our youth groups and they accepted the commitment of Aliyah (emigration to Israel) as a top priority. Our women not only increased their efforts for fund-raising but they planned Creches and Baby Homes, whilst we set up Tarbut Groups because, as Ben Gurion had said, "A people without a language is no people".

We created organisations like the 'apolitical' 'Friends of Israel'; in the political sphere organisations like 'Labour Friends of Israel' and 'Conservative Friends of Israel' were established.

1948 was a year when, with the support of the United Nations behind us, we all thought the doors were open ­ and then the mass military attack by the Arabs saw it slammed in our face. World Jewry united, we in Manchester co-ordinated the activities of all segments of the community, young and old, rich and poor, orthodox and less committed. This was certainly an opportunity which might never present itself in our lifetime and we had to ensure that the State of Israel was preserved in safety and security.


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