Home Who Activities Events Past History Gallery John Other GAs


    TEL AVIV 7TH NOV 2018

    LORD BALFOUR'S SPEECH TO THE IBCA ANNUAL BALFOUR DINNER

    YOUR EXCELLENCIES, CHAIRMAN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN - IT'S A GREAT HONOUR TO BE INVITED TO YOUR ANNUAL ISRAEL, BRITAIN AND COMMONWEALTH ASSOCIATION 'BALFOUR' DINNER.

    I AM NO HISTORIAN, BUSINESS MAGNATE, POLITICIAN OR PHILOSOPHER - AS I SEE MOST OF YOUR SPEAKERS THIS CENTURY HAVE BEEN - I'M JUST THE BEARER OF A NAME SO REVERED IN THIS COUNTRY. I CAN ONLY ASSUME YOU RAN OUT OF HIGH ACHIEVERS TO INVITE!

    BUT I AM HAPPY TO STEP FORWARD TO DO THE NAME HONOUR AT THIS ANNIVERSARY TIME BECAUSE THERE HAS PROBABLY NEVER BEEN SUCH A HUMANITARIAN TURN OF HISTORY - AND ASSOCIATED WITH ONE MAN - AS THE BALFOUR DECLARATION - ALTHOUGH AT THE TIME THE WORST FOR THE JEWISH RACE IN EUROPE WAS YET TO COME - AND FOR WHICH THE DECLARATION PROVED TO BE EVEN MORE JUSTIFICATION. ARTHUR JAMES' DESCENDENTS OWE IT TO RECIPROCATE THE ENDURING RESPECT SHOWN TO HIM.

    BUT TONIGHT I WANT TO LOOK ON ANOTHER ASPECT OF AJB'S - AS I WILL REFER TO HIM - LINK WITH - AND ADMIRATION OF - JEWRY IN THE FIELDS OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. IN HIS SPEECH OPENING THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY HE ALLUDED TO DEVELOPMENTS WHERE HE PERSONALLY KNEW THE JEWISH PROTAGONISTS, CLAIMING THAT EINSTEIN'S e=mc2 WAS THE MOST FAR-REACHIN. JEWISH INNOVATION STILL LEADS THE WORLD

    BUT WE HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE SECOND HALF OF THE 19TH CENTURY WHEN AJB - AS A YOUNG MAN - HAD INHERITED WHITTINGEHAME, THE HUGE SCOTTISH HOUSE HIS GRANDFATHER HAD BUILT OUTSIDE EDINBURGH - ALWAYS SAID TO BE TO OUTDO HIS WEALTHY OLDER BROTHER TO THE NORTH. HE KEPT IT AS THE HUB OF THE FAMILY, NEVER MARRYING HIMSELF

    THERE ARTHUR AND HIS SIBLINGS WERE IMMERSED IN SCIENTIFIC LEARNING AND DEBATE;

    AMONG HIS SIBLINGS - HIS SISTER ALICE WAS A LEADING ENTOMOLOGIST AND GENETICIST OF HER DAY

    FRANK WAS SIMILARLY REGARDED IN THE FIELD OF EMBRYOLOGY AND WAS FOR SOME TIME THOUGHT OF AS THE NATURAL SUCCESSOR TO DARWIN UNTIL HE DIED CLIMBING MONT BLANC

    ELEANOR MARRIED HENRY SIDGWICK, FOUNDER OF NEWNHAM COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE - AND PRESIDENT OF THE SOCIETY OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH WHERE

    THEY WORKED TOGETHER WITH LORD RAYLEIGH ON THE ROLE OF ELECTRONS IN THE BRAIN

    AND RAYLEIGH, OF COURSE, WAS MARRIED TO ANOTHER AJB SISTER, EVELYN, AND WENT ON TO BE AWARDED A NOBEL PRIZE FOR DISCOVERING ARGON.

    IN FACT A CONTEMPORARY WROTE “IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT TO FIND A PARALLEL AMONG ANY GROUP OF RELATIONS, UNDER MIDDLE AGE, FOR THE INTELLECTUAL DRIVING POWER ASSEMBLED IN THAT HOME'.

    SO WHY AM I SADLY NOT BLESSED WITH THESE GENES? THE ANSWER IS THAT AJB HAD TWO SIBLINGS WHO WERE ODD MEN OUT, ONE OF WHICH WAS MY GREAT GRANDFATHER - EUSTACE. NOT THE SHARPEST KNIFE IN THE DRAW AND - TO BOOT - HORRIBLY HEN-PECKED BY MY FEARSOME GREAT GRANDMOTHER, LADY FRANCES - WHO WAS ALWAYS TELLING AJB HOW TO RUN THE COUNTRY! SHE DROVE HIM - EUSTACE THAT IS - TO DRINK AND HE DIED PICKLED.

    I SHOULD MENTION THAT I DO ENJOY MY WINE AND WHISKY SO THAT PARTICULAR GENE HAS BEEN HANDED DOWN. BACK TO AJB - COMMENTATORS WHO THINK HE WAS ONLY INTERESTED IN POLITICS AND PHILOSOPHY - AND HE WAS A FORMIDABLE PHILOSOPHER - ARE SOMEWHAT SIMPLISTIC AND WIDE OF THE MARK

    ENTER DR CHAIM WEIZMAN - AJB HAD BEEN INTRODUCED TO HIM BY HIS JEWISH PARLIAMENTARY AGENT IN MANCHESTER, MR DREYFUS, BACK IN 1906, WHERE DR W WAS A CHEMIST AT THE VICTORIA UNIVERSITY. AT THIS MEETING DR W EXPOUNDED THE ZIONIST CAUSE WHICH LEFT AN INDELIBLE MARK ON AJB.

    IT OFTEN COMES AS A SURPRISE TO LEARN THAT THE TWO DID NOT MEET AGAIN UNTIL DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR WHILE OTHERS SUCH AS LORD ROTHSCHILD AND MY GREAT AUNT BLANCHE ACTED AS MESSENGERS FOR THE ZIONISTS.

    THE NEXT MEETING WAS SERENDIPITOUS AS BY 1916 AJB WAS FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY - HAVING TAKEN OVER FROM CHURCHILL - AND DR W HAD BEEN SECONDED TO THE ADMIRALTY ON ACCOUNT OF HIS HAVING PUT AT THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT'S DISPOSAL HIS PROCESS FOR PRODUCING ACETONE WHICH WAS VITAL TO THE NEW AND POWERFUL EXPLOSIVE ARMAMENTS BEING DEVELOPED FOR THAT HORRIBLE WAR WHOSE ENDING A 100 YEARS AGO WE COMMEMORATE THIS COMING SUNDAY.

    AT THE END OF ONE OF THEIR MEETINGS AT THE ADMIRALTY AJB MADE THE UNRELATED THROW-AWAY REMARK - “YOU KNOW - DR WEIZMAN - IF THE ALLIES WIN THIS WAR YOU JUST MAY GET YOUR JERUSALEM” - THIS A FULL YEAR BEFORE THE DECLARATION.

    THERE IS NO DOUBT, HOWEVER, THAT DR W'S ENTRY INTO THE CORRIDORS OF LONDON POWER WAS IMMENSELY HELPFUL TO FOSTERING THE ZIONIST CAUSE WITHIN THEM.

    THUS THE IMPORTANCE OF SCIENTIFIC ADVANCE WAS WELL-IMPLANTED IN AJB'S MIND AND WHILE AT THE ADMIRALTY HE WAS FAMED FOR HIS THIRST FOR TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE - AND INDEED HE INITIATED THE WAR CABINET RESEARCH COMMITTEE - AFTER THE WAR THIS MORPHED INTO THE COMMITTEE FOR THE COORDINATION OF GOVERNMENT RESEARCH. AS IF THAT WASN'T ENOUGH, HE WAS ALSO CHAIRMAN OF THE MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL - AND HAD GIVEN DISSERTATIONS ON THE LIKES OF PASTEUR, FARADAY, BACON, SIMPSON AND OTHERS.

    THUS IT MUST HAVE BEEN WITH GREAT EXCITEMENT THAT AJB SET OFF BY SHIP FOR WHAT WAS TO PROVE TO BE HIS ONLY VISIT TO PALESTINE IN 1925

    ONE ANECDOTE ABOUT HIS JOURNEY I ENJOYED WAS THAT HIS PARTY STOPPED OFF AT ALEXANDRIA TO MEET THE ECSTATIC JEWISH COMMUNITY THERE - AND FROM WHOM I AM SURE SOME OF YOU HERE ARE DESCENDED - ONE LOCAL RESIDENT WAS PARTICULARLY INTRIGUED BY THE HUBBUB - ONLY TO BE TOLD BY HER ARAB MAID THAT ALL THE SHOPS WOULD BE SHUT THAT DAY SINCE - AT LAST - 'THE KING OF THE JEWS' HAD ARRIVED!

    AMID TUMULTUOUS WELCOMES IN PALESTINE, THE HIGHLIGHT FOR AJB WAS THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY ON MOUNT SKOPUS, AN EVENT CELEBRATED IN THE WONDERFUL PAINTING WHICH HANGS IN THAT INSTITUTION'S MAIN ENTRANCE.

    IN FACT THE UNIVERSITY HAD BEEN IN FULL SWING FOR SOME TIME, THE FOUNDATION STONE HAVING BEEN LAID BACK IN 1918 BY ALLENBY WHO - AS IT HAPPENS - WAS AJB'S HOST IN ALEXANDRIA.

    INTERESTINGLY HIS SPEECH DID REFER TO THE ENORMOUS ISSUE OF RECONCILIATION OF RACES AND RELIGIONS FACED BY THE NEW COUNTRY 7 YEARS AFTER THE DECLARATION - SO HE WOULDN'T FIND MUCH CHANGE THERE.

    SO WE MOVE ON TO TODAY. AJB MUST BE LOOKING DOWN INCREDULOUS AT WHAT THE DECLARATION GAVE BIRTH TO OVER THE NEXT 100 YEARS - A PERIOD UNPRECEDENTED IN NUMBER AND SPEED OF INNOVATIONS IN THE SCIENTIFIC AND MEDICAL WORLDS - AND TODAY THOSE ARE EVER-ACCLERATING. I MYSELF AM TRANSFIXED BY THEM AND PARTICULARLY THOSE COMING OUT OF ISRAEL - FROM THE WEIZMAN INSTITUTE, THE TECHNION AND THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY TO NAME BUT THREE AND WHICH RANK HIGH ON THE WORLD STAGE.

    ONE IS RELUCTANT TO SAY THE EUROPEAN PERSECUTION HAD ANY SILVER LINING BUT THE EXODUS OF BRILLIANT MINDS TO THE HOLY LAND HAS TO BE A CORNERSTONE OF THE CONCENTRATION OF TECHNOLOGICAL GENIUS RESIDING

    HERE. I MYSELF AM A COMMITTED INVESTOR IN THAT GENIUS. IN FACT I SPENT THIS MORNING MEETING LEADING EDGE, LOCAL COMPANIES IN THE FIELD OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. I WAS NEVER VERY GOOD AT LOGARITHMS MYSELF AT SCHOOL BUT THEY LOOK TO BE THE KEY TO EVERYTHING GOING FORWARDS.

    OF PARTICULAR NOTE WAS THE FACT THAT MOST OF THE FOUNDERS I MET HAD SERVED ON THE CYBER SIDE OF THE IDF WHERE THEIR JOB WAS TO DEFEND ISRAEL'S COMBAT TECHNOLOGY. AS ONE PUT IT TO ME - “WHEN YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO WANT TO ANNIHILATE YOU, IT FOCUSES THE MIND”. IT ALSO ILLUSTRATED TO ME AJB'S MANTRA THAT SCIENCE AND GOVERNMENT MUST WORK TOGETHER

    LET US REMIND OURSELVES - AND AJB UP THERE - WHAT HAS BEEN ACHIEVED IN THE NAME OF JEWRY. THERE HAVE BEEN 900 NOBEL LAUREATES AND - OF THESE - NEARLY 200 HAVE BEEN JEWISH WITH A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF THOSE RESIDENT OR HAVING STUDIED IN ISRAEL. THE COUNTRY HAS A BIG LEAD IN THE FIELD OF A.I. - AND DERIVATIVES SUCH AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES - BUT FOR ME - AND I SUSPECT FOR AJB WITH HIS MEDICAL COUNCIL HAT ON - THE STAND-OUTS ARE THE PHARMACUTICAL ONES WHICH HAVE DONE SO MUCH TO RELIEVE SUFFERING AROUND THE WORLD.

    I WOULD PARTICULARLY SINGLE OUT PROFESSOR SELA AND THE DRUG COPAXONE TO COMBAT THE DEBILITATION OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS - A PROJECT WHICH TOOK FROM FIRST TRIALS IN 1977 RIGHT UP UNTIL 1996 TO OBTAIN U.S. FDA APPROVAL - WHAT PERSISTENCE - A QUALITY ON WHICH MORE LATER.

    THEN THERE IS PROFESSOR ROSIN AND EXELON TO MITIGATE ALZHEIMER'S - AN EVER-INCREASING SCOURGE AS PEOPLE LIVE FOR LONGER.

    ANOTHER ISRAELI WORTHY OF MENTION IS DR ARIE BELLDEGRUN, EDUCATED HERE - BUT WHO OPERATES MAINLY FROM UCLA - AND WITH WHO I AM FORTUNATE TO BE ACQUAINTED. THE LIST OF TREATMENTS ASSOCIATED WITH HIM IS TRULY ASTOUNDING INCLUDING ZYTIGA FOR PROSTATE CANCER AND NOW YESCARTA, A GROUND-BREAKING T-CELL IMMUNOTHERAPY FOR BLOOD CANCERS. HE DOES NOT SIT ON HIS HANDS FOR A MOMENT.

    AND OF COURSE ISRAEL IS HOME TO TEVA OF GENERIC FAME - OFTEN DESCRIBED AS 'THE WORLD'S MEDICINE CABINET' - DRIVEN FORWARD BY THE LATE ELI HURVITZ WHO STARTED HIS SCIENTIFIC LIFE WASHING UP IN THE LABS OF HIS FATHER-IN-LAW'S BUSINESS.

    ON THE NON-MEDICAL FRONT I'VE ALREADY ALLUDED TO MOBILEYE - BUT THE FATHER OF DESALINATION - SO VITAL TO ISRAEL - ALEXANDER ZOUCHIN, CAME TO ISRAEL FROM UKRAINE - BUT ONLY AFTER ENFORCED SERVICE IN THE RED ARMY, HAVING BEEN GAOLED FOR 5 YEARS FOR THE CRIME OF 'ZIONISM'. THAT MEN LIKE ZOUCHIN MAINTAINED THEIR BRILLIANCE AND DRIVE THROUGH SUCH SUFFERING IS

    VERY REMARKABLE AND WE SALUTE THOSE PEOPLE. (MY CO-SPEAKER IS NATHAN SHARANSKY WHO ENDURED A SIMILAR ORDEAL 40 YEARS LATER)

    AND THAT SEGUES NEATLY INTO THE CORE OF A SPEECH AJB MADE IN LONDON IN 1920 - AND I QUOTE -

    “ALTHOUGH GREAT THE PLACE PALESTINE OCCUPIES IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD - IT IS BUT A SMALL AND PALTRY COUNTRY - SO WHAT ARE THE REQUISITES FOR SUCH DEVELOPMENTS IN PALESTINE AS MAY ACCOMMODATE AN IMPORTANT SECTION OF THE GREAT RACE I AM ADDRESSING?

    ON ONE SIDE (WILL BE NEEDED) SKILL, KNOWLEDGE, PERSEVERANCE AND ENTERPRISE - ON THE OTHER, CAPITAL - AND I AM CONVINCED - WHEN YOU ARE TALKING OF THE JEWS - THAT YOU WILL FIND NO WANT OF ANY OF THESE REQUISITES”

    AJB WAS SURELY RIGHT - AND YOU ALL LIVE AMONG THE LOCAL SKYSCRAPERS AND NOW GLOBAL NAMES WHICH ARE A TESTAMENT TO HIS CONVICTION AS TO ALL THOSE QUALITIES.

    AJB LEFT A HUGE LEGACY FROM WHICH THE HUMAN RACE HAS - AND WILL CONTINUE - TO BENEFIT - FOR SURE. I MAY SAY THE FAMILY LEGACY WAS IGNORED AND HAVING INHERITED FROM HIS FATHER AS ONE OF THE WEALTHIEST HEIRS IN BRITAIN, VIRTUALLY THE WHOLE LOT HAD BEEN DISIPATED BY THE TIME OF HIS DEATH IN 1930. HENCE ME HAVING TO PUT BREAD ON THE TABLE FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE!

    WHITTINGEHAME - IT IS WORTH NOTING - WAS TURNED INTO A SCHOOL FOR JEWISH REFUGEE CHILDREN OR KINDERTRANSPORT IN THE 30S AND AJB WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE THAN PLEASED ABOUT THAT. ABOUT 400 PASSED THROUGH THE SCHOOL, MOST MAKING ALIYA

    IT IS VERY POIGNANT THAT AJB'S LAST NON-FAMILY VISITOR - AS HE FADED AWAY - WAS NONE OTHER THAN DR WEIZMAN. MY GREAT AUNT BLANCHE - ALSO A GREAT FRIEND OF THE DOCTOR - WAS THE ONLY OTHER PERSON PRESENT AND RECOUNTS THE MEETING

    “NO ONE BUT MYSELF SAW THE BRIEF AND SILENT FAREWELL BETWEEN THESE TWO, SO DIVERSE FROM ONE ANOTHER, WHOSE MUTUAL SYMPATHY HAD BEEN SO POWERFUL AN INSTRUMENT IN THE HISTORY OF A NATION”

    PRIOR TO THIS HE HAD CONFIDED TO BLANCHE “ ON THE WHOLE, I FEEL THAT WHAT I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO FOR THE JEWS HAS BEEN MY MOST WORTHWHILE ACHIEVEMENT.”