By Jafar M Ramini
Today is the 97th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. A day that is indelibly engraved on the heart of every Palestinian.
If you live in the UK or any of its former domains, particularly Australia, Canada and New Zealand you could not have missed the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War. 1914 -1918. An unnecessary war, a savage war that cost millions lives.
As British ex- soldier, Harry Patch who died a few years ago at the age of 106, said in his book, ‘The Last Tommy, ’“The politicians should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder”
The unfortunate thing about politicians is they never use guns. They use a much more lethal weapon with longer lasting damage, called politics.
Just before the bloody end of the First World War, one such politician, Lord Balfour, Foreign Minister of Great Britain at the time, excelled himself. With a single stroke of the pen he changed the course of history and created a catastrophe. On November 2nd 1917 Lord Balfour, a Christian Zionist wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild, a Jewish Zionist, unjustly promising that the British government would ‘view with favour’ the establishment of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. At that time, Palestine was 10% Jewish and 90% Muslim and Christian Palestinian Arabs.
That letter became known as The Balfour Declaration. Here it is:
Please examine the passage below in this infamous letter.
“It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
Lord Balfour did not honour this commitment. In fact he went out of his way to dismiss us, the Palestinians in the most arrogant manner. This is what Palestinian journalist and author, Ramzy Baroud found while researching Balfour’s correspondence.
“For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country. The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in further hopes of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. In my opinion this is right.”
He couldn’t have been more wrong. The lives, hopes and aspirations of the Palestinian nation that he gifted away and actively destroyed were far more important than the Zionist doctrine that he adopted with alacrity. A doctrine that was born in the west as a result of racism, humiliation and persecution of the Jews in western societies for centuries in which we Palestinians played no part. None whatsoever.
What I find interesting is the stance of the American administration of President Woodrow Wilson.
At the end of the First World War, he sent a delegation to the Middle East to investigate the situation in Palestine. The report was decisive, saying that if America was to adhere to the principles of self determination, then the fact that 9/10th of the population was non Jewish and emphatically against the proposal, then this project should be cancelled.
The report went on to say that if the Zionist programme were to proceed a force of at least 50,000 soldiers would be required even to initiate the programme. “In view of all these considerations, the project to make Palestine a distinctly Jewish commonwealth should be given up.”
One of many Jewish historians, Avi Schlaim, emeritus professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford said, “Britain had no moral or political or legal right to promise the land that belonged to the Arabs to another people. The Balfour Declaration was both immoral and illegal.”
Yet the history books are littered with examples of how the mandated British forces brutally advanced the creation of a Jewish homeland by encouraging Jewish immigration into Palestine and crushing every semblance of resistance to this foreign invasion of our land.
Palestinian civil society was punished severely when it demonstrated against such an invasion. Palestinian resistance fighters were hanged high in the squares of many Palestinian cities like Acre, Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem. Palestinian homes were blown up by the British. The Palestinian High Command that acted as a government of Palestine at that time was exiled to far away lands to make the passage of the creation of a Jewish homeland easier.
Nevertheless the Jews were growing impatient with what they saw as the slow progress of mass Jewish immigration into Palestine and the realization of their dream. They turned against their benefactors and started to use violence, convinced that the British were standing in their way.
No good deed goes unpunished. And the British were punished severely for their largesse towards the Zionists.
The various Jewish terrorist organizations like the Urgun, the Stern Gang, the Lehi and the Hagannah perpetrated acts of terrorism against the British forces in Palestine, killing many. The most infamous of which was the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.
They sent letter bombs and explosives to various British government offices in London, Rome and Paris. The British had served their purpose and had to be removed. They were chewed up and spat out like chewing gum.
The Jewish terrorist gangs then turned their attention onto us, the Palestinians, with a level of savagery against an unarmed, defenceless civilian population that had never been seen before.
As a result of this brutality 500 Palestinian villages were wiped off the face of the earth, tens of thousands of Palestinian men, women and children were murdered and the final push was in 1948 when ruthless massacres were inflicted on dozens of towns and villages. The most horrific of these massacres were at Deir Yassin, Ein El Zaytoun and Ramlah.
That was the year that the Zionists declared the birth of their state, on more than 78% of the landmass of Palestine, resulting in even more destruction, more theft of land and the forcible expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes into the wilderness and beyond.
As Jewish historian, Professor Ilan Pepe who is also professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter has written in his book, ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, “Zionism is a racist, supremacist doctrine and from the very beginning, the Zionist plan was to take the whole of Palestine, from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, preferably with no Palestinians in it.”
Chaim Weizmann became the first president of this newly declared state of Israel and used all his powers of persuasion and that of his many Zionist and Jewish backers in the USA to bring President Truman on board this rolling Zionist wagon in Palestine
Harry S Truman was no Woodrow Wilson. This was the President who pressed the button, igniting the two horrific nuclear bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This was the President who dropped a further terrible bombshell on the people of Palestine by taking on the Zionist cause with alacrity.
He supplied them with money, arms and political recognition and cover. And the American juggernaut has been gathering momentum ever since. Successive American administrations since Truman, with the honourable exception of John F. Kennedy, have continued to arm, finance and protect the Zionist project, irrespective of what heinous crimes the Zionist government and army commit in Palestine. It would be no exaggeration to state that the USA Congress in Washington resembles a Jewish colony that is inserted at the heart of political establishment to continue to serve the interests of Israel, not the interests of the citizens of the United States of America.
This state of affairs has not wavered one micro millimeter even when the Israel Air Force attacked and destroyed the USS Liberty in 1967 and casualty figures were 34 servicemen killed and 171 wounded. On the contrary, the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson went out of its way to cover it up. Until now, most American people are not aware of this actual attack on their country by the Zionist forces of Israel. It was an extremely successful cover-up.
The reason the Zionists did it was in order to blame the Egyptian air force, thereby dragging the US into the planned, forthcoming six-day war. It was a war that resulted in a crushing defeat for the Arab armies and the occupation of the total landmass of Palestine. A situation that is still prevalent to this very day.
These 66 years comprise the longest occupation of any land by any foreign force in the history of mankind. An occupation that is suffocating the lives of the many millions of Palestinians who live under it, in particular the 2 million Palestinians who live in Gaza under a tightly maintained siege from the air, land and sea.
Those few fatal lines that Lord Balfour, without a second thought of the repercussions, wrote to his friend and fellow Zionist Lord Rothschild 97 years ago are still as devastating now as they were then.
We are now witnessing a sea change in public opinion when it comes to Israel. It is no longer a taboo to criticise or even condemn Israeli excesses. And therein lies the hope that decent citizens of the world, of all races and creeds, will say, in unison, “this is unjust, this is unfair and this must end.” And with this hope of better things to come we can perhaps take Palestine out of the clutches of the politicians and put it in the hands of caring humanity.