Balfour Declaration and the ongoing tragedy for Palestinians
Source: Vyara Gylsen
The Balfour Declaration was a pledge from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to the influential Zionist Walter Rothchild for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, promising to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine.
The Balfour Declaration was a pledge in the form of a letter, made up of 67 words, that still shapes our present today. It was received by Lord Rothschild on 2nd November 1917.
"His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country".
The Balfour Declaration has kept only one side of it's promise, for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. However, it has failed to protect the rights of the indigenous Palestinians in every aspect. A colossal failure, that has contributed to a bitter 100 year old conflict, of which we cannot currently see the end of.
Agreements such as the Sykes-Picot and Balfour Declaration were the starting points that led to the British colonisation of Palestine under the British Mandate and evolved to the problems we see today.
The Declaration was an illegal and immoral promise from one country to offer the land of second people to third people. This paved the way for the Nakba (Catastrophe) that is the mass displacement of Palestinians and the theft of their land, mostly under military assault, causing Palestinians to be one of the largest refugee population in the world.
The British government then surrendered their occupation of Palestine to the United Nations, that in turn with no moral or legal authority got involved to establish and legitimise Israel as a State. To do so, it partitioned Palestine and in essence gave rights to Jewish people by taking away the indigenous Palestinians' rights, despite a number of UN resolutions resolving against this.
One such resolution is the 1948 UN resolution 194 that resolves Palestinian refugees' right to return to their homes and be financially compensated for their losses. Despite this, Israel forbids to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their land, while encouraging Jews from all of the world to settle in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
Since it's establishment, Israel has refused to stick within the borders of the UN partition and instead enforced a brutal military occupation on the Palestinian people remaining outside of the Israel border, relentlessly building illegal settlements that are internationally recognised as an obstacle to peace. The Zionist settler colonial project with its ever-growing illegal settlements and apartheid laws in the West Bank, racist policies in Israel and a deadly blockade on Gaza, are all part of this the Zionist political ideology and agenda. Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion stated:
“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”—David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978.
This impact has been a menace to the world's peace and relations between Muslims and the West, having caused resentment that Britain did not only stick to their end of the deal, but continue to stand by and support a project that is taking away Palestinians most basic human rights and threatening their very existence.
'The tragedy in Palestine is not just a local one; it is a tragedy for the world, because it is an injustice that is a menance to the world's peace.' Arnold Toynbee, British Historian
However, what we witness today in the region, such as colonisation, checkpoints, extrajudicial killings, collective punishment and so on, was not an invention of the Zionist leaders. It was learned from the British, who financed and trained them, until they eventually gave away their rights to Palestine after Jewish terrorist attacks on the British, for the establishment of the Israeli State. Yet, the British government has announced it wants to mark the Balfour Declaration in 2017 for it's centenary without a hint of shame or guilt.
Palestinians leaders and members of the international community have called on the British Government to apologise for the mess they have created. The Palestinians are still waiting. It doesn't seem that the British Government has any intention of rectifying their mistakes as they keep fuelling Israel with arms, diplomatic and economic support and a staunch relationship with Israel and it's notorious lobby.
Meanwhile, campaigns from all over the world, including within Palestine and the UK, have taken to ensure that the event is marked fairly.
Tomorrow 2nd November 2016, Palestinians officials and activists will be launching a year long campaign in Palestine and around the world with an aim to remind the international community and particularly Britain that they should face their historic responsibility and atone for the big crimes committed against the Palestinian people.
The Balfour Project, a UK based initiative, aims to highlight what the Balfour Declaration means for both Jews and Palestinians; to acknowledge that while a home for the Jewish people has been achieved, the promise to protect the rights of the Palestinian people has not yet been fulfilled. The initiatives is also campaigning to urge the people and elected representatives of the UK to take effective action to promote justice, security and peace for both peoples.
The Palestinian Return Centre in London has launched a Balfour Apology Campaign to urge the British establishment to apologise for the Balfour Declaration, that they say marked a historical breach against the aspirations of the Palestinian people and shattered their hopes for freedom and self determination.
Activities taking place around the world include demonstrations, talks and lobbying, in addition to a lawsuit being prepared by the Palestinian Authority against the British government over this 1917 document that has paved the way for the brutal reality we see today.