Israel is the ultimate riposte to the Nazis’ attempt to exterminate the Jewish people, Simon Schama has declared.
The acclaimed historian gave the Balfour Centenary Lecture on Wednesday evening, celebrating Israel as a “living, breathing, thriving democracy” of “six-million Jews who are nothing short of a crushing retort to Hitler and the Shoah.”
The historian discussed the persecution of European Jewry before the Second World War, emphasising that a “first Holocaust” had already taken place before the advent of the Third Reich.
He said: “Israel still stands as a living, breathing, debating, thriving, rejoicing democracy. Israel’s six million Jews are the ultimate retort to the number that Adolf Hitler exterminated.
“The life of Israel is Hitler’s failure.”
The lecture, at the Royal Society in central London, was the centrepiece of the Jewish community’s Balfour celebrations which has included over 160 events up and down the UK.
More 300 people attended, with hundreds gathering at at the JW3 community centre in London, and at venues across the UK to watch a livestream of the event.
Simon Johnson, on behalf of the Balfour 100 steering committee, said: “Simon Schama gave a mesmerising and thought-provoking talk on the Declaration’s significance. It is vital that inspiring, educational events like this lecture exist to engage the wider public, and preserve the integrity of the events in history that matter most.”