Start A Petition

VIDEO: UK: Balfour Declaration Was a Catastrophe

Society & Culture  (tags: Europe & Russia, Israel, Middle East, News, Palestine, UK, Balfour Declaration, Nakba, Palestine, catastrophe, illegal occupation of Palestine, ethnic cleansing, apartheid wall, Palestinian Human Rights, Videos & Photo Stories, media, news, usa, activist )

- 571 days ago -
UK spokesman acknowledges Balfour was a Nakba for Palestinians during a television interview


We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.


fly b (26)
Sunday September 24, 2017, 6:41 am
Britain acknowledges that the Balfour Declaration was a Nakba, or catastrophe, for the Palestinians, the government’s Arabic spokesman Edwin Samuel has said.

In a television interview with Al-Ghad Al-Araby television station, Samuel maintained that apologising and recognising the State of Palestine is detrimental to the settlement of the conflict.

“Britain’s position is that an apology and recognition of an unrealised Palestinian state does not help the situation,” he said.

British policy has been consistent for a long time; two independent states, with justice and security as a result of direct negotiations between the parties.

“Britain maintains its position that East Jerusalem is an occupied city,” he added. “There is no alternative to a two-state solution.”

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the United Kingdom to apologise to the Palestinian people for the Balfour Declaration, to provide compensation and to recognise the State of Palestine.

Read: UK government should ‘apologise’ to Palestinians for Balfour Declaration

fly b (26)
Sunday September 24, 2017, 6:44 am
Petition: UK government should ‘apologise’ to Palestinians for Balfour Declaration. February 18, 2017

The Balfour Apology Campaign (BAC) has launched a petition which calls on the British government to apologise for the Balfour Declaration that lead to the colonisation of Palestine that continues to this day. BAC also called on the British government to lead peace efforts in Palestine.

The campaign, which was initiated by the UK-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), an organisation that supports the return of the Palestinian diaspora to their national homeland, urged Westminster to acknowledge responsibility for its colonial crimes in Palestine following the infamous declaration.

The Balfour Declaration, issued by the British Government in 1917 by Lord Arthur Balfour, resulted in the mass displacement of the Palestinian people and a century of suffering.

According to experts, the Balfour Declaration had no legal authority. It was described by jurist Henry Cattan as “legally void, morally wicked and politically mischievous”.

Read: Inviting Netanyahu to celebrate Balfour in London ‘a new slap for Palestinians’

The BAC invited the British public to sign their petition to force the government to take action and acknowledge its historic responsibility towards the Palestinian people, after playing such a pivotal role in their displacement.

In a statement released on Thursday, the BAC said: “We call on Her Majesty’s Government to openly apologise to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration. The colonial policy of Britain between 1917-1948 led to mass displacement of the Palestinian nation.”

The BAC continued by saying that “HMG should recognise its role during the [League of Nations] Mandate and now must lead attempts to reach a solution that ensures justice for the Palestinian people.”

According to the statement, the campaign aims to impact all sections of society through working with politicians, MPs, media, NGOs, Charities, students and members of the public to raise awareness of Britain’s colonial past and its role in creating the longest standing conflict in modern times.

Opinion: When Israel and Britain celebrate the historical trauma of Palestinians

“No document in Middle Eastern history has had as much influence as the Balfour Declaration on the current plight of the Palestinian people,” the BAC said. “The Balfour Declaration, a 67-word statement is contained in the short letter by the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leading English Jew, on November 2, 1917.”

The Balfour Declaration “[viewed] with favour” the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, without the consent of the inhabitants of the country, the Palestinian Arabs, who were the majority. In 1917, at the time of the declaration, Palestinians constituted over 90 per cent of the total population.

UK must apologise for the Balfour Declaration & lead peace efforts in Palestine

fly b (26)
Sunday September 24, 2017, 6:46 am
When Israel and Britain celebrate the historical trauma of Palestinians.

Dr Samah Jabr

February 16, 2017

After 100 years, Britain seems to be at the same moral stage as it was when UK Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote to a leader of the British Jewish community, Baron Rothschild, promising the establishment of a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine.

Instead of making redress and creating historical transformations, social developments and repairs to the Palestinians, the British prime minister is inviting the Israeli prime minister to a celebration to mark the centile anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. This celebration is triggering the historical trauma that has left significant scars on Palestinian collective memory over a century of displacement and military domination that has deprived Palestinians politically and culturally and treated them as problematic and inferior beings.

Britain is also responsible for imposing massive Jewish immigration in Palestine and allowing them to have arms and tanks, while crushing the Palestinians who were aspiring for their independence after 30 years of mandate. The violence and defeat that was brought upon the Palestinian people, was facilitated and arranged by Britain. The effects of which didn’t only harm the immediate people of that generation who were killed or displaced and whose property was stolen; but all members of our society, and multiple generations that followed shoulder the burden of the historical trauma of stealing Palestinian land that changed Palestinians’ past and future.

Read: Inviting Netanyahu to celebrate Balfour in London ‘a new slap for Palestinians’

Now, with the US’ unprecedented financial and political support and world’s powers’ silence or collusion with the occupation and the international acclaim for its criminals (the funeral of Shimon Peres as an example), Palestinians realise that we live in a world where bullying prevails over reason, and hegemony over ethics. Israel is imposing its discourse with power and steps over Palestinians’ bodies, feelings and social organisation with arms.

Racist Laws

Last year, Israel issued five racist laws: the “Expulsion Law”, which stipulates that a Member of Knesset can be expelled from the parliament through a majority vote of 90 legislators, a law that is aimed at the minority Arab Knesset members. Another about “incitement” which incriminates political views and aims to confiscate the right to expression and the vote for the Knesset for those who utter opposition against the occupation, or oppose the character of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; the third is “the NGO’s bill” which targets human rights organisations and mandates special reporting requirements for nongovernmental organisations that get most of their funding from foreign governments; the fourth, and probably the worst, is the “Regulation Law” which will eventually allow for the annexation of 60 per cent of the West Bank land to Israeli settlers , and just recently, the “Muezzin law” which muffles the Muslim character of our land by banning the use of speakers to make the call for prayer (calling it “pollution”) in the mosques of Jerusalem and Arab towns of 1948.

‘Trauma is the disaster of helplessness’

While Israel creates a fait accompli and is spreading geographically and demographically at the expense of Palestinians, Palestinian leaders are making empty condemnations; in fact the Palestinian leadership is coexisting with the settlements in reality, and rivals them only in media. When Palestinian leaders complain of settlements but stay remain gatekeepers of settlements and passive recipients of colonial domination of the occupation, supposed friends of Palestine can only think “you deserve what you get”.

Blaming the victim

Victim-blaming makes it harder for the abused to protest and remind the world of the trauma. The world blames the occupied Palestinians for their ill fate and for disturbing the peace of the occupation whenever we make any efforts to stand up to Israel. They reinforce the occupation’s narrative that it is the Palestinian’s fault that the occupation is happening, absolving the occupation of its responsibility or accountability for its actions, and allowing Israel to repeat and replicate the atrocities it perpetrated to displace Palestinians from their homes and towns.

But, like a cunning abuser, Israel uses tactics to maintain a good public appearance; recently, for example, it announced accepting 100 Syrian orphans to reside in occupied Palestine, while denying Palestinians the right to return and making hundreds of Palestinians orphans. In the outpost of “Amona”, Israel broadcast dramatic scenes to the world, showing Israel as a state of law, which expels settlers out of private Palestinian land only to hide the law that allows the theft of private Palestinian lands that was issued a few days later.

Also read: Israel tells Gaza heart patient, ‘spy for us or die’

Even Arab powers of today blame the occupied Palestinians for confronting the occupation; but that is an impotent strategy to distance themselves from a potential fate like that of the Palestinians, this gives a false feeling that if they ally with the perpetrators, occupation will never happen to them; but look at Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen to see the failure of such a strategy. The arbitrary propaganda that “Palestinians sold Palestine to Israel” which is gaining popularity in Egyptian media is an evidence of blaming the victim attitude and siding with the perpetrators. Labelling and accusing the Palestinians, these powers hopelessly try to make Arab people see us different from themselves.

Denial is an obstacle to peace

When the historical trauma of the Palestinians is utterly nullified, it makes it impossible to be discussed and mourned and expressed symbolically, thus, preventing repair and increasing its potential to be acted out.

The Balfour celebration represents a denial of the harm done to Palestinians and fails to acknowledge the existence of trauma and human suffering or take moral responsibility for it; Britain has no shame for its imperialist history that included undermining Palestinians. It continues to behave in a hegemonic way considering the Israelis as culturally and racially superior to Palestinians. If the very existence of traumatic occupation is denied, responsibility remorse and solidarity are repudiated, full immunity for Israel’s violations continue to be granted, the suffering of Palestinians can hardly be acknowledged, let alone healed.

Analysis: Netanyahu wants a war that he knows he can’t win

The occupation always hoped to break Palestinian collective consciousness through massacres and wars and maintaining the pain which is fresh in our memory. Nowadays, General Yoav Galant, the minister of housing, and the former commander of the southern region, who ran the war in 2008 speaks of “a fourth war next spring”. On Israeli radio, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that if the government decided to fight a new war, this confrontation must end with a great Israeli victory and crush the Palestinian resistance in Gaza forever. But, in fact, it is not the resistance’s preparations that Israel should fear the most, but the desensitisation and the declining levels of fear among the citizens as a result of repeated strikes and shocks and losses that affected most people there.

Acknowledgment, rather than denial, is capable of humanising all those involved, cultivating empathy, trust and paving the way for healing history and reconciling and building peace. Urging Israel to stop its colonial policies, rather than celebrating the theft of Palestinians’ land, is an important domain of trauma intervention and peace making.

The history will not be written by the powerful alone no matter how irresistible Israel and its allies seem to be; a few Palestinians will not be silenced in front of the dreadful occupation of Palestine. We will voice our historical testimony and tell our narrative to make sense of the senseless grievances of colonialism; anti-oppression activism is our remedy against political trauma and; it will heal us as individuals and help us to heal the injured history of our homeland.

fly b (26)
Sunday September 24, 2017, 6:58 am
For Israel displacing Bedouins is financially rewarding. August 30, 2017

When we speak of occupation, repression, displacement and control, we tend to look at the most powerful and visual sources of coercion and injustice: armies, government policies, policing and diplomacy. The decision of the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court that six Bedouin residents of Al-Araqeeb village in the Naqb/Negev, all Israeli citizens, pay some $100,000 to the state in compensation for the expenses incurred in the demolition of their homes demonstrates the effectiveness of less visible micro-mechanisms to affect these major aims. In this case, how the law can be used as an effective weapon of displacement.

Where people cannot be cowed to stop resisting the demolition of their homes, a poor population like the Bedouin can be attacked at their most vulnerable place: economically. About 75 per cent of the Bedouin population – 200,000 out of a nationwide total of around 270,000 – live in the Naqab, comprising almost 30 per cent of that region’s overall population. About 65 per cent of them have thus far been confined to the seven townships Israel has built for them, isolated places lacking infrastructure and employment, from where they are shipped daily into Israeli communities as manual labour. All seven are clustered in the ten poorest localities in Israel. A third of their residents do not have access to the national water or electricity grids. Only 37 per cent of employable Bedouin have work and 90 per cent of them earn less than the minimum wage. The average salary for a Bedouin man is $1,200 a month, for a woman $730.

Al-Araqeeb has been demolished by the authorities and rebuilt by the residents 116 times since 2010, a truly impressive case of popular resistance to displacement and deculturalisation. (Not losing their sharp sense of bitter irony, the 500 people of Al-Araqeeb have applied for entry into the Guinness World Records for breaking a record in the number of demolitions.) Changing tactics, the state has thus decided to go after each of the impoverished Bedouin families with court orders to pay for the demolition of their homes.

Read: Palestinian Bedouins refuse to surrender 116 times

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) estimates that more than 130,000 Palestinian (including Bedouin) homes have been demolished throughout the country since 1948. As in the case of many home demolitions, the underlying goal is taking Arab land and confining the Arab population to tiny nooks and crannies of the country. “Israeli-Arabs” make up 20 per cent of Israel’s population but are confined by law, land policies and planning regulations to only 3.5 per cent of the land.

Almost half the Bedouin population, 90,000 people, live in “unrecognised villages” like Al-Araqeeb. Since the Bedouin historically did not register land, certainly not as private individuals, it has been easy for Israel to claim in court that they have no legal ownership and that their traditional lands be reverted back to the state. Nonetheless, the Bedouin have been fighting for their land rights for years in Israeli courts, and the final outcome has still to be determined. That makes the demolition of the homes of Al-Araqeeb if not illegal (since they cannot obtain from the state the necessary building permits), then at a minimum unjustified and done in bad faith, especially since the genuine motive of the state is not to regularise land for the benefit of all its citizens but to take Bedouin lands for the settlement of Jews and for military purposes. Removed from their lands and their nomadic way of life, the Bedouin population is thereby transferred to the township to languor in poverty.

Forcing Palestinians to pay for the demolition of their homes is common practice in other parts of the country as well, including in East Jerusalem. A variation of that is the imposition of stiff fines on families that build “illegally” (although, again, there is no way in which Arabs anywhere can acquire building permits outside of approved enclaves that do not include the vast majority of Arab housing and farms) – fines reaching $15,000-20,000. Since the majority of Arab families live below the poverty line, they can be coerced by the courts to demolish their own homes in return for a reduction of the fine. ICAHD estimates that self-demolition accounts for an additional third of house demolitions, although it is not reported.


Although human rights should apply within Israel as well as in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT), it is much more difficult to apply it there, since Israeli courts do not recognise its applicability within Israel or rule (as in the case of Al-Araqeeb) on the basis of legal technicalities, thus excluding consideration of human rights. In the OPT the situation is different, and Israel has been challenged for its human rights violations – especially of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids house demolitions.

Unfortunately, human rights activists and the PA have not succeeded in getting international courts to take these cases, as they are obliged to do under Universal Jurisdiction. The Israeli legal system claims that international humanitarian law (IHL) does not apply to the OPT because there is no occupation. (Israel argues that occupation occurs only when a sovereign state conquers the territory of another sovereign state and no one ever had sovereignty over the OPT, a position accepted by no one in the international legal community but effective in gumming up the legal and political works.) Israeli courts, then, rule only on the basis of Israeli law in the OPT. This is doubly illegal – it amounts to a de facto extension of Israeli law into an occupied territory, in violation of IHL, and it ignores the protections that IHL affords to Palestinians living under occupation.

The six families have not yet decided whether to appeal. In the meantime, other Bedouin communities struggle to preserve their lands and their way of life – Umm Al-Hiran, whose lands Israel wants for a military settlement (don’t think all the settlements are in the OPT) – being the most immediate target – while the township residents are struggling to merely survive in Israel’s underclass.

fly b (26)
Sunday September 24, 2017, 7:01 am
The Nakba

Between 750,000 and one million Palestinians were forced out their homes in the years leading up to 1948, fleeing the unrest caused by Zionist militias that had come to Mandate Palestine to set up a Jewish state.

The Nakba, or Catastrophe, created what has now become the world’s longest lasting refugee crisis with camps being set up in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria to home expelled Palestinians. Though they were due to be temporary structures, the camps became permanent and still stand today. As families expand, the camps have become overpopulated.

Here MEMO gives you the opportunity to walk along a Palestinian refugee’s journey through the Nakba to the modern day.

Donna T (0)
Sunday September 24, 2017, 7:14 am
thank you

Darren Woolsey (218)
Sunday September 24, 2017, 7:46 am
Shared news article and analysis over social media to raise and spread awareness.

Jonathan Harper (0)
Sunday September 24, 2017, 8:22 am

Colleen L (3)
Sunday September 24, 2017, 11:07 am
Thanks Jess

fly b (26)
Sunday November 5, 2017, 10:59 pm
It was Lord Balfour that ignited Zionism.

fly b (26)
Friday January 5, 2018, 10:15 pm
George Galloway educates an American about Israel and the USA
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story

Loading Noted By...Please Wait


butterfly credits on the news network

  • credits for vetting a newly submitted story
  • credits for vetting any other story
  • credits for leaving a comment
learn more

Most Active Today in Society & Culture

Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of or its affiliates.

New to Care2? Start Here.