Balfour declaration’s disastrous legacy for Palestinians

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Crescent International

Rabi' al-Awwal 06, 1441 2019-11-03

Daily News Analysis

by Crescent International

Some people may take comfort in the fact that Britain is facing its Brexit moment. It is twisting and turning as it tries to find a solution to a dilemma of its own making.

Britain’s Brexit travails, however, bring little comfort to the Palestinians. On November 2, 1917, Lord Arthur Balfour, then serving as British Foreign Secretary, promised without any legal basis the Palestinians’ land to create a homeland for the Jewish people.

Balfour was not motivated by sympathy for the Jewish people. Britain and Europe in general have had an appalling record of anti-Semitism that dates back centuries.

The British Foreign Secretary was motivated by two sinister motives.

First, Britain was desperate for American participation in the First World War.

For this, Balfour wanted the British Zionist leader Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild to use his links with American officials to convince them to join the war effort on the side of Britain.

Second, Britain wanted to transfer its “Jewish problem” to the Middle East for others to deal with.

This was not predicated on any sympathy for the Jewish people; rather it was Britain’s colonial enterprise to create problems for others.

This is precisely what Britain did with the state of Jammu and Kashmir whose disastrous consequences have bedeviled not only the Kashmiris but held back the progress of nearly 1.4 billion people on the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent.

If the Palestinians are not thrilled by Britain’s colonial decision-making that consigned them to become the dispossessed of the world, who can blame them?

On November 2, 2019, marking the 102nd anniversary of the Balfour declaration, PLO Secretary General Saeb Erakat, issued a statement saying:

“It’s time for Britain to act with responsibility to realize the political rights of the Palestinian people, which were denied a century ago.”

Erekat added: “Palestine remains a victim to this colonialist pledge… which denied the political rights of our people and their legitimate right to self-determination.”

Jerome Chanes, a contributing editor of the Jewish magazine, Forward, and a fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, wrote an interesting article about the “Dark Forces” behind the Balfour declaration.

Published in Forward on August 23, 2014, while the Israeli onslaught was underway on Gaza, Chanes wrote:

“Conventional wisdom has it that the Balfour Declaration was all about Zionism, that British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and Arthur Balfour were nice guys, “Zionists” both — whatever that meant in 1917 — and that the declaration written was motivated by some kind of Zionist inspiration.

“Alas, the genesis of the declaration had little to do with Zionism and everything to do with World War I, British interests in the war, power politics — and anti-Semitism.

“Indeed, the declaration derived from classic European anti-Judaism and from the gentile English version of anti-Semitism.”

In 1917, while the Palestinians numbered more than 650,000 the Jewish population was less than 50,000, or about 5% of the total population.

Until then, Palestine was part of the Ottoman State. Muslims had had control of Palestine including Jerusalem since 638 CE except the 88-year-long Crusader interregnum from 1099 – 1187.

Throughout Muslim rule, Jews were allowed into Palestine, especially Jerusalem to worship despite the Crusaders’ horrific massacre of Muslims, Jews and Palestinian Christians.

The Christian Crusaders from Europe considered Palestinian Christians to be too cozy and comfortable with Muslim Palestinians, hence they had to die.

The Balfour declaration followed by the Versailles Conference in 1919 supported Jewish immigration into Palestine without taking into consideration the rights and feelings of the majority Palestinian people.

Despite such betrayal by the great powers, the Palestinians harbor no ill-will toward the Jewish people. Their antipathy is toward the racist ideology of Zionism.

To understand this monstrous ideology of racism and what it produces, consider this.

On October 28, an Israeli military court sentenced an Israeli soldier to one month’s labour for killing a Palestinian child during the Great Return March protest in the besieged Gaza Strip.

An unarmed 14-year-old Palestinian youth, Othman Hilles, was shot during a demonstration on July 13, 2018, the Times of Israel reported.

The military court ordered the soldier’s name be banned from publication.

Israeli snipers have shot more than 30,000 Palestinians since March 2018, firing live ammunition at unarmed protesters on their own land. At least 270 Palestinians among them doctors, journalists and children have been killed.

Palestinians have participated in the thousands in the Great Return March to draw attention to the illegal usurpation of their land and for being bottled up in the open-air prison called Gaza.

To understand the true nature of Zionist ideology, the Israeli sniper using high velocity rifle, shot and killed Hilles who was unarmed and posed no threat to the soldier.

Yet, the military court convicted him of merely “disobeying an order leading to a threat to life or health.” There was no mention of deliberate killing and a youth that posed no threat to the soldier.

Only a racist ideology can produce such a verdict.


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