A Shameful Pride- Selma Tibi
Earlier this year, the UK Government and Parliament petition team put this out for signing:
“The UK must apologize for the Balfour Declaration and lead peace efforts in Palestine”.
Although the petition closed on the 3rd of May – early because of the General Election – there were over 10,000 signatures and the government had to respond, which it did with the following:
The Balfour Declaration is an historic statement for which HMG does not intend to apologize. We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.
The Declaration was written in a world of competing imperial powers, in the midst of the First World War and in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire. In that context, establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in the land to which they had such strong historical and religious ties was the right and moral thing to do, particularly against the background of centuries of persecution. Of course, a full assessment of the Declaration and what followed from it can only be made by historians.
Much has happened since 1917. We recognize that the Declaration should have called for the protection of political rights of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine, particularly their right to self-determination. However, the important thing now is to look forward and establish security and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians through a lasting peace. We believe the best way to achieve this is through a two-state solution: a negotiated settlement that leads to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state, based on the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees.
We believe that such negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted
between Israelis and Palestinians, but with appropriate support from the international community. We remain in close consultation with both sides and international partners to encourage meaningful bilateral negotiations. We do not underestimate the challenges, but if both parties show bold leadership, peace is possible. The UK is ready to do all it can to support this goal.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Such an astonishing response does not come as a surprise. Naturally, the British government and particularly a Tory one, will always bow to and protect its creation, Israel, and is therefore hardly likely to apologize for the Balfour Declaration, and is proud of the role it had in the creation of a Jewish state.
Let us look at the wording of the response.
- The Balfour Declaration is a historic, ie significant, statement.
Indeed it is, it has ruined if not put an end to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, who, for centuries before 1948 made up the majority of the inhabitants of Palestine.
- Now for the excuses: “establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in the land to which they had such strong historical and religious ties was the right and moral thing to do, particularly against the background of centuries of persecution”.
Strong historical and religious ties? What could be stronger than the ties of the indigenous inhabitants?
But then, to quote George Orwell, ‘The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history”.
- The government “recognizes that the Declaration should have called for the protection of political rights of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine, particularly their right to self-determination”. But they did not.
- “Jerusalem as the shared capital of both states, and a just, fair, agreed and realistic settlement for refugees”.
Why should there be Palestinian refugees? What part did they play in “the background of centuries of persecution” of European Jews?
Then comes all the soft talk of mutual understanding (bearing in mind that one side is heavily armed while the other is not) and concluding with an offer of support by the UK to do all it can to support a goal of peace. Such support is unlikely while Theresa May is a ‘friend of Israel’ and describes Israel as a remarkable country, a beacon of tolerance and that UK ties with it are crucial.
Germany has paid billions to the Jewish people as a result of the holocaust. Will Israel pay Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Syrians for the destruction of their countries?
Unfortunately, we, that is Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Syrians do not do ourselves any favors – might is right and we are weak and divided. The sooner we all wake up to this and do something about it, the sooner we can put Balfour and his cronies in their place, and start to work together and decide our own future to the better.