Today marks 70 years since the massacre at Deir Yassin. The latest repression in Gaza is a reminder that the spirit of this massacre lives on in Israel. In 1948, as today, massacres to push and keep Palestinians off of the land were dictated by core Israeli policies. It is past time to confront the Western part in this tragedy.
Category Archives: History
On the 70th anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre Jamal Najjab interviews historian Matthew Hogan on the events that transpired on April 9, 1948 and their lasting legacy today.
Olive branches, a huge Palestinian flag, a large cardboard drawing of Lord Arthur Balfour, and Theresa May cartoons were some of the creative props displayed during the 15,000-strong ‘Justice Now: Make it Right for Palestine’ march and rally in London to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.
The Balfour Declaration was a wartime play by the British government to win international Jewry to its side. This meant the Russian masses in the U.S., and banker Jacob Schiff, who were against American entry into the war. The British may have exaggerated Jewish power, but Zionists lobbied successfully for the declaration by citing such power, marking the entry of the Israel lobby on the world stage.
As the hundred year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration takes way, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, as well as various other Palestinian politicians are calling on the United Kingdom to not only apologize to the Palestinian people for the “suffering” caused by the declaration, but to also recognize Palestine as a state. Meanwhile, the UK is planning quite the opposite, as Israeli Prime Minister heads to a state dinner organized by UK Prime Minister Theresa May to celebrate the centennial.
Mohammad Arafat writes, “‘Once we heard about the declaration, we knew the future of Palestine and the Palestinians was in danger,’ Um Abed so softy I could barely hear her. She couldn’t say more without crying.”
It is time that British Government declare that Israel has never lived up to the revered Balfour Declaration and rescind it once and for all. For if Great Britain believes in human rights and democracy, it will demand that Israel recognize the right of Palestinian refugees and their offspring to return home and to live as equal citizens under a representative government.
Rana Askoul writes to British Prime Minister Teresa May: “I hear you will be celebrating the centenary of the Balfour declaration with ‘pride’. I hear you also said that you will be conscious of the sensitivities that some people have about the Balfour declaration and that there is more work to be done. Pride, sensitivities, some people, more work. In my mind, I picture you standing in front of my paternal grandmother, as she walked on her journey out of Palestine to Lebanon in 1948, clutching my father as a baby to her chest. I see you uttering these words to her. Pride, sensitivities, some people, more work. It seems Ms. May, you also have not the slightest clue as to how we Palestinians can move on. It seems Ms. May that you too, like your predecessors have chosen the easier wrong, over the harder right. It seems Ms. May, that you too need a lesson as to why we need to apologize when we have done wrong.”
Britain fulfilled its promise to the Zionists in full, but broke even its feeble commitment to the Palestinians to protect their civil and religious rights. An apology from Britain is long overdue, as are efforts to repair the damage it initiated 100 years ago.
The 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, on November 2, is turning out to be an important occasion for Palestinians to register their sense of betrayal by Britain for colonial-era promises that still govern the lives of so many people in Israel and Palestine, and to call on Britain to make the declaration “right” by assuring Palestinians’ rights at last.
Sixty-seven words. That is the full extent of the Balfour Declaration, and yet few documents have had as devastating an impact as this historical document. Still, Nada Elia writes that the cursory nature of its wording indicates a twentieth-century awareness that the dispossession of the Palestinian people was already considered anachronistic when the declaration was written 100 years ago.
Former BBC Middle East Correspondent Tim Llewellyn says Great Britain is a nation split between government and governed when it comes to Israel and Palestine: “If the British Conservative Government of Teresa May represented the views of the people of Britain rather than the preferences of the state of Israel on the disastrous outcome for the Palestinian Arabs of the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, she would not be planning to celebrate this 100th anniversary with Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister. This will happen at a cosy London dinner party at the home of Lord Rothschild, heir to the recipient of that infamous letter from Arthur J. Balfour, Britain’s then Foreign Secretary.”
At a British Labour Party gathering, Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest applause came when he said the oppression of Palestinians must end. No wonder he snubbed an invitation from the Jewish Leadership Council to commemorate the Balfour Declaration at 100. And no wonder a UK diplomat says Balfour’s promise to non-Jewish communities has gone unfulfilled. Balfour anniversary is dividing British opinion on Israel.
The 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration has set the stage for some long overdue historical truth-telling. On November 11 in Cambridge, MA, two dozen speakers will examine how the Zionist project was implemented in historic Palestine, and consider its long-term consequences for Palestinians, world Jewry, the United States, the United Nations and international law during the all-day conference: ‘Balfour’s Legacy: Confronting the Consequences.’
Dan Freeman-Maloy writes, “The worsening crisis in Palestine reflects more than a local record of colonial crimes, severe as these have been. Responsibility for it is global. Arundhati Roy was right to describe the Palestine tragedy as one of “imperial Britain’s festering, blood-drenched gifts to the modern world.” It is also a product of a history of racism and empire that extended across most of the West. On this centennial of the Balfour Declaration, reflection on this shared culpability should serve as a reminder of the responsibility for the political action that comes with it.”
The American Jewish Historical Society in New York was set to host a discussion later this month of the Balfour Declaration by civil rights lawyer Robert Herbst, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace, and Palestinian lawyer Jonathan Kuttab. Then the event came under attack from far-right pro-Israel supporters and the history organization folded, canceling the discussion as well as a play reading on the US relationship to Israel.
British Jews condemn the Balfour Declaration ahead of the 100th anniversary and call for a British reckoning with its consequences. “What came out of Balfour is something that Jews should be ashamed of,” says Antony Lerman. “This is for me a tragedy,” says Jacqueline Rose. “I have nothing to celebrate,” says Avi Shlaim.
The 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration is nearly upon us and its 67 words of apparent British imperial generosity towards the Jewish people are already taking on sacred status. Robert Cohen writes, “For the sake of future Jewish generations, not to mention historians of the 20th century, it would be a good idea to put a stop to this manufacturing of holiness, this muddling of religion and nationalism. It’s only adding to the mountain of historical and political deceit that blocks the road to a place of justice and peace.”
At NYU, Rashid Khalidi says four Arab countries have been destroyed and ISIS would cut the throats of a quarter of the Syrian population, so he can’t blame Arabs for worrying about other issues more than Palestine. The historian also says that Palestinians faced a unique colonial problem because Zionism had 3 sources of support, international legitimacy at a time of decolonization, British backing, and a “river” of money from international Zionist movement.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews is bullying the Church of Scotland, over its report on how to sensitively mark 100 years since the signing of the Balfour declaration.
Rev. Alex Awad, who served as Dean of Students at Bethlehem Bible College, writes British Prime Minister Theresa May: “Britain was among the first in creating this tragic conflict but shouldn’t be the last in taking positive steps to resolve it. Let 2017 be the year that Britain conducts its policy for Israel and Palestine independently of the influence and dictates of the United States. A first step would be for Britain to recognize an independent Palestinian State in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.”
Jerusalem at a boiling point: The “Zionist endeavor” is “the strengthening of the Jewish presence.” And clashes with Palestinian demonstrators have injured 28 over the weekend
Dexter Filkins, Richard Engel and Brooke Gladstone all see the secret Sykes Picot agreement of 1916 as fueling religious extremism in the Middle East today. When will they turn to the role of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, another construction of the imperial west that ignored self-determination
The land of Lord Balfour hosted a rare but much needed conference on his infamous 1917 declaration. The event was convened by the appropriately named organisation, the Palestine Return Centre (PRC) on the 19th January 2013 in London. The aim of the meeting was to inaugurate a campaign for British “mistakes” and to “make reparations to Palestinians […]
Today is the 95th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. The declaration is best understood in the context of the British Empire’s need for security for Egypt and specifically the British owned Suez Canal.