Cutting through the bullshit.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Far profounder import

Next month marks the 90th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. It’s only short, so here it is for reference.

Foreign Office,

November 2nd, 1917.

Dear Lord Rothschild,

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:

"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country".

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely

Arthur James Balfour

The new statesman commemorates the occasion by reprinting Peter Mansfield’s essay, ‘Did we double-cross the Arabs?’ from their 3 November 1967 issue. [Hat tip to Moshe Machover] Among the interesting revelations in the article is that,

Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India [no less! –EH] and the only Jew in the Cabinet, regarded the Declaration as an anti-Semitic act because it would jeopardise the position of Jews throughout the world. He also believed that it broke promises made to the Arabs and violated the principle of self-determination. These opponents were easily overwhelmed by the confidence of the Declaration's three champions - Balfour, Cecil and Lloyd George himself.

Lord Montague’s ‘A Dissenting Note on the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917 – On the Anti-Semitism of the Present Government’ was reprinted on Counterpunch last November. I hasten to add that Montague explicitly had no ‘…desire to deny that anti-Semitism can be held by rational men… In his view,

Zionism has always seemed to me to be a mischievous political creed, untenable by any patriotic citizen of the United Kingdom. If a Jewish Englishman sets his eyes on the Mount of Olives…, he has always seemed to me to have acknowledged aims inconsistent with British citizenship and to have admitted that he is unfit for a share in public life in Great Britain, or to be treated as an Englishman.

Mansfield goes on to quote Balfour himself.

being a philosopher more than a politician, Balfour could be unusually candid. In August 1919 he wrote a memorandum on Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia in which he said:

The contradiction between the letter of the Covenant and the policy of the Allies is even more flagrant in the case of the independent nation of Palestine than in that of the independent nation of Syria.

For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country, though the American Commission [the 1919 King-Crane Commission] has been through the form of asking what they are. The four great powers are committed to Zionism, and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices [sic] of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.

He went on to say that in his opinion this was quite right but that he did not see how this policy could be harmonised with all the other declarations and pledges that had been made by the Allies. 'In fact, so far as Palestine is concerned, the powers have made no statement of fact that is not admittedly wrong, and no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter, they have not always intended to violate.'

Plus ça change, n’est-ce pas?

1 comment:

  1. Erm...if this is correct, we are in Big trouble..can you spread the word.
    Note how none of this has ever appeared in the Press or on the News.
    Our Govt are ilegally surrendering our Country to a foreign power,