The Balfour Declaration
Isn’t it about time for the UK government to stand for its moral obligations towards the Palestinians and start to act in support of justice? Churchill said that creating a Jewish state on the Palestinian land ‘is of the interests of the British Empire’. But ones interests do not justify injustice, notes Iqbal Tamimi.
The moral responsibility of Britain towards the Palestinians
Few days ago all Palestinian around the world mourned the 92nd anniversary of the infamous Balfour declaration that lead to 4.5 million Palestinian refugees.
Our agony as Palestinians started here in the UK and inside what is supposed to be a democratic institution where one of the worst world’s injustices was created by implanting Israel in the heart of Palestine and dispossessing us. But one wonders what is ethical about promising to give something you do not own to someone who has no right to have?
Of course not many British people know about the history of our blight and why most of our people are either dead, imprisoned or refugees. And why our homes are demolished and why after living on our properties many of us live now in tents and tossed from one country to another, the media tells them it is a fight between religious groups over a land that two parties have equal rights of, which is a totally fabricated fib.
The manipulated information the British people receive comes through the recycling of the biased media machine, while the other side of the story tells the story of injustice. On November the second 1917 the British foreign secretary, Lord Balfour, wrote in a letter to the most senior Jew in England, Lord Rothschild who was pledging assistance for the Zionist cause:
‘His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing and non-Jewish communities…’
Politicians in Great Britain used to think they own the world and can chop a country to offer it as a snack to any friend of theirs, and our homeland was one of those illegally acquired gifts.
When I was young I used to think that one can’t give away other people’s belonging as presents or otherwise since it is not his in the first place. Whenever I heard that someone in a very far place who I never met took my family home, land and properties and gave it to someone who has just arrived from another far place as far as Poland I felt really baffled, I thought maybe when I grow older I will understand, and here I am, I became a grandmother and still no one can explain to me how ‘His Majesty’s government’ gave itself the right to take away my home and give it to someone else even though my family has the deeds to those properties built on the family land that my great grandparents bought almost 1400 years ago?
Imagine if any other person’s government ‘let’s assume that they were Muslims’ promised any group of people ‘let’s say from all over the planet Oz’ to establish a national home for them on part of UK’s soil? And they came and took away your farm, your house, and all your belongings and then kicked you out of UK and told you Europe seems big enough, go and live somewhere else. How does that feel?
When I became in the 6th grade and I have read the Balfour declaration, I thought who are those people who call themselves ‘His Majesty’s government’? And how did they meet to decide that my father’s pony should be gunned down? I had an image of a group of gangsters whispering in very low voice in a dark room, making the plan that made the life of my grandmother a total misery until her death. Every time she cried while telling me about the things she wanted me to see but were left behind, I could see those nasty people who deprived her of everything she worked hard for hoping to go back to her home soon. My grandmother died, my father died, and here I am facing death in every nightmare away from home and my grandchildren are almost ready to read about the Balfour declaration. 4 generations had to suffer the consequences of the generosity of a man who was drinking tea far away and chopping our family to bits and pieces and throwing us to the winds that carried us to different corners of the world.
In the 7th grade I read the Balfour declaration again and I wondered what Balfour meant by ‘will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object’. I asked myself was that the reason the British army shot down many Palestinians who fought against the Jewish gangsters? Was it to facilitate bringing the strangers from Europe who shot my father’s pony and turned my grandmother’s house into a police Head Quarters in Beer AlSabaa (Beer Shiva)?
I grow older and in the 8th grade I read the Balfour declaration again and thought, why this man did not offer his own country as a home for those Jewish people? Why did he send them from his country to live in mine? And why a punch of people who only share a common faith should have a country of their own….I mean every country in the world including mine have people of all faiths, why only those should have a country of their own…And what about all the other people who are sharing the place and do not wish to become Jews? What would happen to them?
I have reached the 9th grade with no answers; I started wondering if God was racist. How can he tell some murderers that they are his chosen people and thus they can have my country as their own, and why did he instruct them to leave their countries in far places to occupy our family properties? Why he never offered any promised land to the Christians or Muslims too? What is so special about that bunch of gangsters that he spoiled them rotten and now he is not able to restrain them? What is he waiting for? Seeing them killing, maiming, stealing, bombing, torturing people of other faiths in his name? Why did he create us all if he is planning to favour some of his children over the others? I made up my mind that no God of mercy and justice would do such horrible crime.
And here I am, my turning grey hair is answering my questions after long years of misery and losses, it has never been about faith, the people who are living in Palestine and slaughtering the little babies are not Jews, the majority are secular and a bunch of fundamentalists, full of hatred and greed, the practicing Jews lived with us in every Arab country for centuries and never demanded a state of their own or caused any harm to anyone. They were our neighbours, their mothers and ours used to babysit for each others. I still remember Rabbi Salah Dawood calling me Ya Okhti ‘my sister’. But those murderers in Palestine are no brothers of mine.
Isn’t it about time for the UK government to rectify the injustice and stand for its moral obligations towards the Palestinians and start to act accordingly and in supporter of justice? Isn’t time for the corridors of power in London to get rid of the mouthpieces of cruelty who shut them up at meetings and make big noises shouting anti-Semitism whenever the word justice is brought up?
In an article in the Sunday Herald of 8 February 1920 Churchill wrote:
‘It has fallen to the British government, as the result of the conquest of Palestine, to have the opportunity and the responsibility of securing for the Jewish race all over the world a home and centre of national life. The statesmanship and historic sense of Mr Balfour were prompt to seize this opportunity. Declarations have now been made which have irrevocably decided the policy of Great Britain. The fiery energies of Dr Weissmann, the leader, for practical purposes, of the Zionist project, backed by many of the most prominent British Jews, and supported by the full authority of Lord Allenby, are all directed to achieving the success of this inspiring movement… If, as may well happen, there should be created in our own lifetime by the banks of the Jordan a Jewish State under the protection of the British Crown, which might comprise three or four millions of Jews, an event would have occurred in the history of the world which would, from every point of view, be beneficial, and would be especially in harmony with the truest interests of the British Empire’.
Winston was proudly talking about ‘conquest of Palestine’, while Palestine has never declared war against Britain and had no arms, why the ‘conquest’ then? He talks of a ‘ Jewish race’, even though young school children who are not even doing well at school know that the Jews are not a race, rather a cocktail of people of different countries who share nothing except annual rituals. Then he reveals it all, this policy was an outcome of the pressure of the ‘prominent British Jews’. One wonders has anything ever changed. Aren’t the so called ‘prominent British Jews’ are still shaping the policies of UK? Churchill even talked about a state for the Jews ‘by the banks of the Jordan’ it was not about the holy land as they claim now, it could have been Jordan that is also on the other bank of the river, it might still be a possibility since Israel is still refusing to declare its borders and as Menahem Begin, an ex prime Minister of Israel once said “our boundaries are where our soldiers reached”!
Churchill said that creating a Jewish state on the Palestinian land’ is of the interests of the British Empire’. Isn’t that shockingly selfish? Ones interests do not justify injustice.