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.
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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.”
At least seven Palestinians were killed, and 12 others were wounded after Israeli forces blew up an underground tunnel between the southern Gaza Strip and Israel on Monday. “We will exercise our right to respond – this is our duty,” Daoud Shehab, a leader in the Islamic Jihad movement, told Al Jazeera, adding that it is a legitimate right of resistance groups to respond.
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.
Gideon Levy has described Zionism as “Israel’s fundamentalist religion.” But what happens to those Israelis who reject it? Jonathan Ofir describes his journey away from Zionism, and the societal exclusion that befalls those who drift away from the ethos.
“Marwan [Barghouti] told Fadwa that she should take a week to think over the proposal and decide whether she was willing to dedicate herself to someone whose life would be fully committed to the Palestinian resistance.”–Jaclynn Ashley reports on the unconventional marriage of the imprisoned Palestinian leader and his wife.
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.”
In a lecture to the Tantur Ecumenical Institute on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his book Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation, Marc Ellis asks, “what are Jews to do with the permanent occupation that leaves Jewish identity permanently infected with atrocity?”
Israeli colonists flooded dozens of Palestinian olive trees with sewage water Tuesday, near Nablus, according to the Israeli Rabbis for Human Rights organization, as the olive harvest begins. Human rights groups documented ten cases of settler violence and theft directed at Palestinian groves.
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.
Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, Italy, Ireland, and Denmark are demanding that Israel pay over €30,000 ($35,400) in compensation for destroyed solar panels and classrooms the countries had installed in Bedouin communities in the West Bank.
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.
In Hebron, Palestinians are prevented from entering the Ibrahimi Mosque for two days over the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
The Ken Burns Vietnam documentary on PBS left out what the U.S. did during the Cold War era in numerous other places including Iran, Guatemala, Latin America in general, Indonesia, and sub-Saharan Africa, both during and after the Vietnam War. It is not a pretty story.
Zohra Drif’s Algeria memoir has hard lessons for Israel/Palestine — the colonized will resist violent occupation by any means necessary.
No one is forced to observe Jewish holidays like the Palestinians. The Times of Israel reports that Israel plans to shut down the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip for 11 full days during the Sukkot holiday.
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.”
The left is trashing the Vietnam documentary by Ken Burns on PBS. Though it is didactic and middle-brow and America-centric, the documentary is majestic in its depiction of murderous arrogance, and should educate millions to the horrors of occupation and the ferocity of a subjugated people’s resistance.