Jan Smuts given honor where honor was due

While I have no objection to Daniel P. Moynihan being honored by Israel in any way which Gil Troy would see fit, I take great exception to the fact that Moynihan’s name is even mentioned in the same context as that of Jan Smuts.

Smuts was an international statesman of great repute who bestrode the world political stage like a colossus for the first half of the 20th century, while Daniel Moynihan was, at best, thrust onto the world stage for a short period as the United States ambassador to the United Nations. The only commonality I have found, is that prime minister David Lloyd George sent Smuts to Ireland in 1921 for discussions aimed at ending the violence with Irish nationalist leader Eamon de Valera, while 60 years later in 1981, Moynihan, together with other Irish American politicians, Ted Kennedy and Tip O’Neill, established a bipartisan group to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. Neither Smuts nor Moynihan were particularly successful in that worthy endeavor.

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Gen. Jan Christiaan Smuts was the architect of the Union of South Africa, established in 1910 as a self-governing dominion of the United Kingdom, becoming a totally committed and loyal Anglophile, despite having fought against the British during the Anglo Boer War (1898-1901). Smuts enjoyed a great friendship with Chaim Weizmann, which lasted from their first meeting in 1917 until Smuts’ death in 1950.

Smuts and Weizmann had much in common, sharing a great interest in science, with Smuts becoming the first president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1931. Weizmann was a Zionist. Smuts, as a devoted Christian, held a firm belief in the right of the Jewish people to their homeland in Palestine.

Smuts was partial toward the Jews and Jewish problems globally, being sympathetic to Jewish immigration to South Africa as early as 1910. In 1917, as Minister of Defense, in which capacity he would become a member of the Imperial War Cabinet in Britain, he promised the South African Zionist Federation that he would support the movement for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. Shortly after his appointment to the war cabinet, he met with, and developed his lasting friendship with Weizmann, and lent his not-insignificant support to the Balfour Declaration.