Today, November 2nd 2019 is the 102nd anniversary of one of the darkest days in the bloody history of the British Empire. For exactly 102 years ago today the then British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour wrote a personal letter to Lord Walter Rothschild in which he gifted him Palestine as a ‘home’ for the Jews.
That fact that Palestine, at the time, had been an Arab country for 1500 years and was populated by Arab Muslims and Christians with a small minority of Jews (5%) mattered not a jot to his Lordship. Despite the caveat in his letter which reads, “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine”, Lord Balfour and his Zionist, Christian colleagues had no intention of honouring this caveat. Here he is talking privately to Lord Curzon who succeeded him:
“Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”
He also said: “So far as Palestine is concerned, the Powers [at the first world war peace talks] have made no statement of fact which is not admittedly wrong, and no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter, they have not always intended to violate.” Jewish Israeli historian and Oxford Professor, Avi Shlaim described the Balfour Declaration as “ both immoral and illegal”.
The British Raj in the person of the then Secretary of State for Colonies, Winston Churchill, continued to show utter disregard for the wishes and aspirations of the Palestinians. In 1937, Churchill’s remarks after the Peel Report were as racist and dismissive of the Palestinian Nation as could be.
“I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly-wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.”
The intentions of the the Jewish Zionists was made clear by the father of right-wing Zionism, Vladimir Jabotinsky who in his essay of 1923, ‘The Iron Wall – Us and The Arabs’ made it clear that force was the only way to create the Zionist dream in Palestine. He wrote:
“ Zionist colonisation must be carried out in defiance of the will of the native population. This colonisation can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs. To formulate it any other way would only be hypocrisy.”
This Iron Wall policy, aided and abetted by first, the then colonial power, Great Britain, and adopted and continued by the now prevailing power, the United States of America, has been the modus operandi of concurrent Israeli governments. The so-called war of independence in 1948, the tripartite (Israel, France and Britain) attack on Egypt in1956, the six-day war of 1967 all were designed to acquire land by force and compel the Arabs to accept a ‘fait acompli’ from a position of weakness.
As a result we have the 1979 Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, the 1993 Oslo Accord between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Israel to be closely followed by the 1994 Wadi Araba peace treaty between Jordan and Israel. All reached and signed on from the point of strength on the Israeli side and the point of weakness on the Arab side.
Israel is growing in strength and belligerence with the tacit approval, nay, encouragement, of the United States of America and its western allies. The settlements are expanding and the land grab is continuing apace. Meanwhile, the Arabs are more fragmented than ever and engaged in destructive, internal wars that can only serve the purpose of the colonial power in Palestine. Meanwhile, Palestine is weakened by internal divisions and squabbles that also serve the purpose of the occupiers of our land.
A bleak picture by all accounts. Despite all of this, we the Palestinian people, having suffered immensely for the last century or so are still standing fast, resisting our occupiers, resisting our rulers, resisting the betrayal of our so-called Arab and Muslim brethren and all the pressures that have been brought upon us by all, especially the United States of America.
Yet, in the last decade or so, there has been a noticeable shift in western public opinion, especially amongst the young. In particular amongst the Jewish younger generation in the US who are saying “not in my name’ and asking the question, “If not now, then when?”
“When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”
Jafar M Ramini is a Palestinian writer and political analyst, based in London, presently in Perth, Western Australia. He was born in Jenin in 1943 and was five years old when he and his family had to flee the terror of the Urgun and Stern gangs. Justice for the people of Palestine is a life-long commitment.