Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Balfour Deception 1

For your edification and enjoyment, I've decided to post Chapter 11 of JMN Jeffries' mysteriously unobtainable 1939 classic, Palestine: The Reality, in bite-sized junks over the course of this month.

Why? Because, inexplicably, it's nowhere available on the internet, but damn well should be.

Chapter 11 contains Jeffries' incomparable, utterly devastating analysis of what is arguably the most deceitful and fateful of all British diplomatic transactions, the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which provided the cover for the Zionist invasion (1917-1948) and takeover (1948-1949) of Palestine, with all that that has meant since in terms of the wholesale dispossession of the Palestinians, serial aggressions against Arab states and peoples, and an ever-present threat to world peace. To quote Jeffries' damning summation of the thing in the final sentence of his Chapter 12: "Unlawful in issue, arbitrary in purpose, and deceitful in wording the Balfour Declaration is the most discreditable document to which a British Government has set its hand within memory."

If you were to choose just one item on the modern Middle East for your stay on that mythical desert island, it'd have to be Jeffries' irresistable case for the prosecution.

Read it and you'll never again wonder why the Middle East is as it is today:

"There is a great deal which has to be said now concerning the Declaration which, like water seeking its source, came to the Zionist leaders on that 2nd of November in 1917. But the first thing of all to be said of the Balfour Declaration is that it was a pronouncement which was weighed to the last pennyweight before it was issued. There are but 67 words in it, and each of these, save perhaps the Government's title and a few innocent conjunctions, was considered at length before it was passed into the text.

"This too memorable document is not so much a sentence of English as a verbal mosaic. Drafts for it travelled back and forth, within England or over the Ocean, to be scrutinized by some two score draftsmen half co-operating, half competing with one another, who erased this phrase or adopted that after much thought. At long last, out of the store of their rejections, and of their acceptances, the final miscellany was chosen, ratified and fixed. There never has been a proclamation longer prepared, more carefully produced, more consciously worded.

"Commentators of all views agree upon this. In his Zionism, Mr Leonard Stein says, 'The Balfour Declaration was by no means a casual gesture. It was issued after prolonged deliberations as a considered statement of policy.' In Temperley's History of the Peace Conference of Paris, it is stated that 'before the British Government gave the Declaration to the world, it had been closely examined in all its bearings and implications, and subjected to repeated change and amendment.' M. Nahum Sokolov, in his History of Zionism, another fundamental work, writes that 'every idea born in London was tested by the Zionist Organization in America and every suggestion in America received the most careful attention in London.' 'The Balfour Declaration was in process of making for nearly two years,' writes Mr Wise, who indeed was in a position to know. 'Its authorship was not solitary but collective.' Mr Lloyd George himself, speaking in Wales in 1930, assured his hearers, in curious terms, that the Declaration 'was prepared after much consideration, not merely of its policy but of its actual wording.'

"So there is one point upon which there is no doubt. Whatever is to be found in the Balfour Declaration was put into it deliberately. There are no accidents in that text. If there is any vagueness in it, this is an intentional vagueness. If it is vague, the admiral is vague who orders his destroyers to emit a smoke-screen. It is most important to have this established before more is said, for the reason that for sometime past the controversy concerning Palestine, in so far as the Declaration is concerned, has been given a false turn. A secondary apologia has been evolved, which by-passes the bona fides of Lord Balfour's pronouncement to concentrate upon its terminology. It is described as 'uncertainly phrased,' or as 'containing implications not foreseen when it was written,' or as 'not so definite as was thought'; or contrariwise it is said that 'too much has been read into it.'

"Behind this apologia often enough there may have lain a good intention. The Balfour Declaration, alas! has been made by a series of our Governments the pedestal of British policy in Palestine. Because of this a number of persons have reasoned that the Declaration must be accepted as it stands, 'with all its imperfections.' Scrutiny of it might reveal that it was written in bad faith. But to expose bad faith in the Declaration would be the same as exposing it in the conduct of the country itself, since one Government of Great Britain published it and subsequent Governments have confirmed it. The people who have shrunk from scrutinizing it may not have put their thoughts to themselves as starkly as that, but it was thus they did think in their hearts' recesses. Therefore, as they conceived, the only course which lay open to them, if the country's honour was to be saved, was to assume that the Declaration had been loosely composed, and to lead the controversy onto that ground. They made great show of riddling out what it meant, with a little deprecatory criticism thrown in.

"In this way they could escape perhaps having to acknowledge that this nationally issued and nationally endorsed document was nothing but a calmly planned piece of deception. That is why for years past we have heard statesmen, publicists and politicians, and members of the public too, assert that the authors of the Declaration either did not mean what they appear to say in it, or did not succeed in saying in it what they meant. Other apologists have given their own interested versions of its meaning. In this order were the explanations of Mr Winston Churchill, as intricate and as lasting as worm-casts in the sand.

"Behind excuses and shifts of the kind there may lie, in this way, something of good intention. But it is an intention deplorably translated into practice, and I am not going to follow the example thus set. Since the Balfour Declaration was without excuse, I see no reason to excuse it. There is no pleasure in taking such a course (as I have said before now): there is no relish in exposing one's country or in exposing at least the men who spoke in her name. But the world of 1939 has no room for displays of patriotic cowardice. Nor is there any sort of advantage in them. We want an England which can confess her sins, and thereafter take her place at the head of the nations in the strength of her cleared conscience.

"With this borne in mind, let us return to the Declaration. It reached the general public on the 9th of November, when Lord Balfour's letter was reproduced in the newspapers. It was given forth, of course, under the guise of an entirely British communication embodying an entirely British conception. Everyone concerned was made the victim of this false pretence. The British people were given to believe that it was an unadulterated product of their own Government. To the mass of Jews it was presented as a guarantee sprung of nothing but the conscience of the Cabinet - and thereby it served to allure them towards political Zionism. As for the Arabs, when it was proclaimed eventually upon their soil (which was not till much later), to them too a text in which Zionists of all nationalities had collaborated was announced as the voice of Britain. They were told that it was a pledge made to the Zionists: they were not told that the Zionists had written most of it. They were asked to respect it on the ground that it was given to the world by the British Government out of its native magnanimity, after the said Government had extended its profound, solitary and single-minded consideration to the 'problem of Palestine.'

"Let me be quite clear about this. The onus of deception does not lie upon the Government of 1917 because before issuing its Declaration it consulted the Zionists. As far as the mere form of the proposed pronouncement went (leaving aside other considerations), the Zionists could have been asked quite reasonably to submit their ideas upon the species of 'support and encouragement' for which they hoped. The Government could have examined whatever the Zionists submitted, and have consulted further with them, till both had agreed on a final text. Had this text been published for what it was, an agreement between the two parties which the British Government was willing to sponsor, then the form of the Declaration would have been blameless. The form would have been honest, even if the policy was indefensible.

"When however the bipartite Declaration - and to call it bipartite even is to swell the Governmental share in its drafting - was given out as the composition of His Majesty's Government alone, a plain deception was committed. In subsequent years too these synthetic ipsissima verba have been paraded with unyielding obstinacy to the Arabs as a sacred obligation of Great Britain to the Jews, even after it had been disclosed that all the time various Zionists had themselves framed the obligations to themselves. This makes later Governments partakers in the deception of the 1917 Cabinet, a deception only mitigated by culpable ignorance in the case of certain members of these Governments.

"The Zionists themselves are in a better position in the matter than their British collaborators are. To do them justice, it was they who made known the real conditions under which the Declaration was composed. They did so after an interval which I cannot give exactly, since I have not read all Zionist publications and writings that ever were. But the Zionist Organization certainly had divulged its share in the Declaration within four years of its publication, and for all I know this may have been divulged earlier. I shall not say that the motives of the Zionist Organization were of the first rank. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly for their cause and some members or other of the Organization staff could not resist gathering kudos in the eyes of the mass of Zionist supporters by disclosing the important part which their body behind the scenes had taken in the Declaration. Still, their statement was a frank one."

To be continued...

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