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December 11: Allenby Enters Jerusalem

Lawrence Bush
December 11, 2016
British General Edmund Allenby entered Jerusalem on this date in 1917, following victory over the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Jerusalem two days earlier. Commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Allenby made his formal entry into Jerusalem on foot, in an expression of respect for the “holy city.” “[S]ince your city is regarded with affection by the adherents of three of the great religions of mankind,” he said in a proclamation, “and its soil has been consecrated by the prayers and pilgrimages of multitudes of devout people of these three religions for many centuries . . . every sacred building, monument, holy spot, shrine, traditional site, endowment, pious bequest, or customary place of prayer . . . will be maintained and protected according to the existing customs and beliefs of those to whose faith they are sacred.” A Jewish soldier from New Zealand, Corporal Louis Isaac Salek, hung a Star of David flag from the Tower of David, but within twenty minutes it was taken down by the new British authorities. Nevertheless, the replacement of the Ottoman Empire by the British Empire in Palestine put wind in the sails of the Zionist movement, which had been newly emboldened by the Balfour Declaration. To see a newsreel of Allenby entering Jerusalem, look below. “Made a field marshal in 1919, he remained in the Middle East as High Commissioner for Egypt and Sudan until 1925. Allenby was often abrupt with his subordinates and a stickler for presentation and discipline; traits that combined with his physical stature led people to nickname him ‘The Bull’. Nevertheless, he can be regarded as one of the most successful commanders of the war, using strategies in Palestine that he developed from his experiences in South Africa and on the Western Front. His leadership at Megiddo in particular, with its skilful series of manoeuvres and use of aeroplanes, artillery, infantry and cavalry, is considered by many to be a forerunner of the German ‘Blitzkrieg’ tactics of 1939-40.”--National Army Museum

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.