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Burg: Israel is Not About to Lapse into a ‘masada Complex’

November 2, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel’s Minister of Interior Yosef Burg told the World Jewish Congress here last night that the Jewish people need not be concerned about Israel “lapsing into the Masada complex” because “the spirit in Israel is that of Yavneh.”

Burg, who spoke in English, Hebrew, Yiddish and greeted the Moroccan delegation in French, was alluding to the suicide of the Jewish zealots at Masada and the founding of the first yeshiva after the fall of the Second Temple at Yavneh, which helped enable the Jewish people survive through the centuries.

Addressing some 800 delegates, Burg said the spirit of Israel is high despite the fact that they have not had a single night of peace since the founding of the State and at present 22 percent of its manpower is engaged in some form of security task either in the armed forces or the defense industry.

Burg, a member of the National Religious Party, praised the Begin government’s latest economic decision saying it is a “courageous step in the right direction.” In a play on words, Burg drew laughter when he said “we are willing to go to Geneva provided it won’t be a ‘geneva,'” the Hebrew and Yiddish equivalent for “ripoff.”

Israel accepted the “working paper” of Oct. 11 in cooperation with the United States “with a heavy heart,” Burg said. He described the paper as “close to the border of the possible and impossible.” He said “Israel is willing to struggle for peace at the table but not on the table.”

Referring to Jewish settlements on the West Bank, Burg said they are not as important as some have been led to believe, and not as dangerous as some want the people to believe. “Only those who want to see our settlements as an obstacle to peace will see them as an obstacle to peace,” Burg said. In another context, he said, “Israel shall not be sold down the river whether the name of this river is Jordan or the Potomac.”


Lord Fisher of Camden, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and chairman of the WJC’s European branch, traced the history of the Balfour Declaration issued on Nov. 2, 1917 by Britain. (See separate story for text.)

“At the time it seemed a world-shaking act,” he noted. “The Balfour Declaration must not be belittled. It gave an enormous impetus to the Zionist movement, an overwhelming encouragement to the Jewish people who saw a noble political act in their favor which was unprecedented in the history of their dispersion…”

Lord Camden warned that “two lessons are relevant to our day” from the Declaration. “Its ambiguous and watered-down text was due more to Jewish opposition than to anything else,” he said. “Jews were their own worst enemies. And secondly, had the Jewish people the world over taken proper advantage of the opportunity afforded them by the terms of the Declaration embodied in the Mandate, and flocked in large numbers to Palestine and poured in more of their wealth and abilities into that country at that time–and not waited until the Holocaust forced them to try to do so–then our history would have undoubtedly been different.”


Following is the text of the Balfour Declaration favoring the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine:

Foreign Office

November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Arthur James Balfour

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