It has been nine decades since the British government generously “donated” Palestine to the Zionist federation.
The actual drafter of the famous Balfour Declaration was Lord Alfred Milner. The British cabinet met on October 31, 1917 and approved the declaration, which then was drafted by the foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), and issued officially on November 2, 1917.
The communication between Balfour and the Zionists goes back to several years before. A meeting between Balfour and Chaim Weizmann was held in 1906 when Balfour offered Uganda instead of Palestine as a Jewish homeland, but Weizmann refused.
Balfour recognized the four great powers (Britain, France, Italy, and U.S.) as supporters and very committed to Zionism. He declared that there was no need to consult with the inhabitants of Palestine — Arabs — about the content of the declaration.
The Balfour Declaration is written as an official letter from the Foreign Office and signed by Balfour. It was addressed to Lord Rothschild, a Zionist leader. It starts with “I have much pleasure in conveying to you on behalf of his majesty’s government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.” Balfour was very happy obviously to offer the gift to the Zionists. He characterized the offer as a sign of sympathy with Zionists. It’s important to notice that the Declaration was not his personal view, but the British Cabinet’s official stand.
“His majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The British donated what they didn’t own, Palestine, to the Jewish. Ironically, it was even before the British mandate on Palestine. The British donated the Arab property to the Jews without even consulting with the people who owned the land, the Palestinians. It’s just a sign of the immense generosity of the Brits. The declaration goes on “and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.” The British fulfilled their promise and we can’t forget that they are people who keep their promises. They used power to implement the Declaration, depriving Palestinians from any means of protecting their lands while at the same time opening the gateways of all Palestinian ports of Jaffa, Acre, and Haifa for thousands of Jewish immigrants from all over the world. They allowed ships to bring weapons to the Jews to threaten Palestinians and establish colonies in their land by force. It seems obvious that the purpose of the British mandate on Palestine was to facilitate establishing the national home to the Jews in Palestine. Understanding that such home would shortly translate into a state.
The Declaration goes on “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non Jewish communities in Palestine.” The British had put it in strong language that the implementation of the Declaration should not harm non-Jewish communities in Palestine. The Brits knew for a fact that Jews were the minority in Palestine in 1917. They were only five percent of the population and merely five percent or less of the land. However, the language in the Declaration speaks as if the Arabs were the minority and the Jews were the vast majority in Palestine at that time. It’s true that neither the British nor the Jews respected the civil or religious rights of the original landowners, the Palestinians. Neither the British nor the U.S. ever made Israel accountable for violating Palestinians’ civil rights. They both sit in the United Nations Security Council permanent chairs to veto any resolution that makes Israel accountable for its aggression and murdering of Palestinians, confiscating their land and establishing new colonies and settlements by force everyday. What was Palestine in 1917 before the Balfour Declaration is now perceived to be the Jewish state of Israel. What President George W. Bush keeps talking about when he speaks of supporting a Palestinian state is not acceptable to Palestinians because it asks for a Palestinian state on eight percent of Palestine while the Jews control ninety-two percent of Palestine, which is land they never actually owned.
The Declaration continues “or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” The declaration was strong in supporting Jews in their political Zionism, and their lobbying power all over the world. “I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation. Yours Sincerely, Arthur James Balfour.” It simply means: go ahead immediately and start Jewish immigration to Palestine with the full support of the Brits.
I wonder why Mr. Balfour didn’t donate part of Scotland where he was born, Manchester, the district that he represented, or London where he lived and practiced as a politician, as a Jewish home rather than Palestine, land he didn’t have the right to sell or donate. The Declaration can’t stand up to any argument of international law. Israel is an illegal state. Palestinians have the legitimacy by international law to defend their land. The fact that nine decades have passed since the infamous Balfour made his awful declaration will not discourage Palestinians from continuing their struggle until they get their rights back and it will happen. Can anybody give me an example in history anywhere on the globe of a colonizing power that was not defeated by the land’s rightful owners? Palestine will be and shall be no exception.
Note: Balfour died in 1930, before he could enjoy seeing the Jewish home turn into a state in 1948.