The Balfour Declaration and the apartheid regime's fate in Palestine

Mustafa Barghouti
Thursday 2 Nov 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May says she is 'proud' of Britain's role in creating Israel. However, History will show that the Balfour Declaration was a crime against the Palestinian people

One day, History will acknowledge that the Balfour Declaration was a crime committed against the Palestinian people, against humanity and its values of civilization. A crime that paved the way for a series of other crimes, the most heinous of which was the crime of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people in 1948, leading to the displacement of 70 percent of its sons and daughters and the demolition and perishing of 400 Palestinian villages and towns.

One of the most horrible oddities is that this declaration, issued by the British government, lacked any legal foundation, for what Britain gave to the Zionist movement was the land of another people, over which it had no right and no authority.

As a matter of fact, the Balfour Declaration was part of a colonial plan to divide the Arab lands among the colonial powers based on the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

This declaration’s main objective was completing the Sykes-Picot plan through creating a colonial base to be used in serving the colonial aims of repressing the peoples of the region and seizing their wealth.

The definitive evidence of this came when the colonial powers – Britain and France – used Israel in launching the Tripartite Aggression in 1956 against Egypt as a response to the nationalisation and liberation of the Suez Canal. This matter recurred in the 1967 Aggression, which aimed at breaking the backbone of the Arab national liberation movement.

However, the most salient feature in the Balfour Declaration was its repugnant racism. For it gave three percent of Palestine’s population the right to a national homeland with full political rights, viewing the other 97 percent (the Palestinians) as just "the rest" – a minority that could enjoy freedom of religious worship and civil rights, but without any political rights.

The declaration itself even stipulated a provision ensuring the political rights of the Jews all over the world and granting them the right to a Jewish national homeland, despite their constituting only three percent of Palestine’s population.

Balfour’s repugnant racism was directed not only at the Palestinians, but in a certain sense against the Jews themselves. For the declaration aimed at removing or expelling them from Europe in order to employ them as a tool against the people of the region and against many peoples of the world. In that way, the declaration created the basic element of instability in the entire Middle East.

But the biggest racist crime was the one committed against the Palestinian people. For the Balfour Declaration laid the foundations for the worst apartheid and racial discrimination in human history, which we are now living through in Palestine.

The word "apartheid" vexes both the extremist Zionists and the moderate ones, such as Yossi Beilin, because it exposes the impossibility of the coexistence of the Zionist idea with human justice.

The word "apartheid" literally means the existence of two legal systems for two human groups living in the same geographical area. That is exactly what the Balfour Declaration has laid the foundations for and what Israel has created in Palestine.

What provokes the Zionists is that we Palestinians didn’t allow them to defeat us and didn’t allow them to totally deport us, because we stood fast in our homeland, despite all the suffering and despite the majority of us being displaced.

In historical Palestine, we are now equal in number to the Israeli Jews, if not more numerous. What vexes them is that through our steadfastness, we have foiled the attempts to hide and bury the apartheid regime’s blatant features, visible on their faces in full view of the entire world.

We will remain steadfast until we gain our freedom and rights and until we bring down the apartheid, racist Israeli regime and foil the intentions of the Balfour Declaration, whether it takes 100 years or more.

But what Ms Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, must remember when she announces her pride in the Balfour Declaration and insists along with her ambassadors on celebrating it, is that the Balfour Declaration is a crime that is still being committed in the present day, not a forgotten crime from the past.

The Balfour Declaration, which was executed through killing, terrorism and massacres in the Palestinian territories of 1948, is executed now via colonial settlements, barriers and the Separation Wall, and through repression and siege in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.

Theresa May will hear our response to her position in the cries of tens of thousands of Britons who will demonstrate in the streets of London on 4 November, denouncing the Balfour Declaration and demanding that their government apologise for this disgraceful act.

She will hear it from Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, who won the votes of more than 40 percent of the British electorate, and she will hear it from millions of workers who are members of the trade unions supporting the Palestinian people’s rights.

She will hear the echo of demonstrations, which will be organised in Palestine and all over the world in front of the British embassies. She will hear it resoundingly, because it is the voice of righteousness and justice, which doesn’t sleep; the same voice of righteousness yelled by the throats of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King.

We won’t get tired or bored until Britain presents its apology to the Palestinian people for this historical crime, compensates them for the harm they suffered and acknowledges their free, independent state.

Perhaps Britain will also apologise to the Jews for using them as fuel for both their own colonial plans and the Zionist movement, which everyday insults the pain and suffering they underwent at the hands of Fascism and Nazism.

Righteousness doesn’t sleep, the apartheid regime won’t last, and the dawn of freedom will come.

One day, History will write that the Balfour plot ended in failure due to the legendary steadfastness of the people of Palestine.

The writer is Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative.


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