Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Balfour Declaration Centenary: 4 Months to Go

Here, in part, is Manchester Guardian editor C.P. Scott's editorial of 7/11/1917 on the British war cabinet's November 2, 1917 issue of the Balfour Declaration, the decision by which the world's then dominant colonial power, which had absolutely no right to do so, handed the homeland of the Palestinian people, who were deliberately disregarded in the matter (written off, in the Declaration, merely as Palestine's "existing non-Jewish communities"), to the European Zionist movement, a bunch of East European Jewish-nationalist fanatics hell-bent on transforming a multi-sectarian Arab land into a Jewish state by hook or by crook.

And speaking of crook, the extraordinary thing about today's Guardian, under the editorship of another Zionist, Jonathan Freedland, is that it would, likely as not, 100 years along, find in Scott's outrageous editorial endorsement of British perfidy a source of pride and inspiration. Watch this space, as they say.

"We speak of Palestine as a country, but it is not a country; it is at present little more than a small district of the vast Ottoman tyranny. But it will be a country; it will be the country of the Jews. That is the meaning of the letter which we publish to-day written by Mr Balfour to Lord Rothschild for communication to the Zionist Federation. It is at once the fulfilment of an aspiration, the signpost of a destiny. Never since the days of the dispersion has the extraordinary people scattered over the earth in every country of modern European and of the old Arabic civilisation surrendered the hope of an ultimate return to the historic seat of its national existence. This has formed part of its ideal life, and is the ever-recurring note of its religious ritual. And if, like other aspirations and religious ideals which time has perhaps worn thin and history has debarred from the vitalising contact of reality, it has grown to be something of a convention, something which you may pray for and dream about but not a thing which belongs to the efforts and energies of this everyday world, that is only what is to be expected, and in no degree detracts from the critical importance of its entry to that world and the translation of its religious faith into the beginnings at least of achievement. For that is what the formal and considered declaration of policy by the British government means. For 50 years the Jews have been slowly and painfully returning to their ancestral home, and even under the Ottoman yoke and amid the disorder of that effete and crumbling dominion they have succeeded in establishing the beginnings of a real civilisation. Scattered and few, they have still brought with them schools and industry and scientific knowledge, and here and there have in truth made the waste places blossom as the rose. But for all this there was no security, and the progress, supported as it was financially by only a small section of the Jewish people and by a few generous and wealthy persons, was necessarily as slow as it was. [...]

"Not that it is to be supposed that progress in such a movement can be other than slow. Nor does the British Government take any responsibility for it beyond the endeavour to make it possible. In declaring that 'the British Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use its best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object', the Government have indeed laid down a policy of great and far-reaching importance, but it is one which can bear its full fruit only by the united efforts of Jews all over the world. What it means is that, assuming our military successes to be continued and the whole of Palestine to be brought securely under our control, then on the conclusion of peace our deliberate policy will be to encourage in every way in our power Jewish immigration, to give full security, and no doubt a large measure of local autonomy, to the Jewish immigrants, with a view to the ultimate establishment of a Jewish State. Nothing is said, for nothing at present can be said, as to the precise form of control during the period of transition, which may be a long one...

"The existing Arab population of Palestine is small and at a low stage of civilisation. It contains within itself none of the elements of progress, but it has its rights, and these must be carefully respected. This is clearly laid down in the letter, which declares that 'nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing communities in Palestine'...

You will note the blatant admission, right from the very beginning, that the phrase 'national home for the Jewish people in Palestine' implied "the ultimate establishment of a Jewish State."

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