So much after the fact; so much in terms of opportunism gone to seed and destruction. But planned historical calamities tend to be rare. There are only absurd moments, dastardly opportunities, and tragic convergences. History is less the outcome of wise deliberation than folly dressed up as reason, occasionally tinged by a touch of malice.
On November 2, 1917, the British government published the Balfour Declaration (one of “sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations”) by means of a letter written by Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild. It suggested forthcoming British assistance for the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine.
Problems soon emerged, showing what Arthur Koestler would suggest as the solemn promising of one nation to a second the country of a third, all happening even before the Ottoman Empire had ceased to exist.
This was British imperial opportunism at its worst, or, if you fancy that sort of pluck, best. It played on the aspirations of Zionists; it also went counter to the promise of liberation for Arabs in the event they overthrew their Ottoman overlords. The moral tic only came later, a sort of retrospective imposition.
Submerged in the Declaration are a series of questions writ large. There is the Eastern Question – one of Ottoman-eastern influences on Europe and more broadly, the Occident. Then there was that overall niggling problem of where European Jewry persisted as carriers of an eastern legacy in Europe, “which Enlightened and un-Enlightened European Christians,” poses Joseph Massad, “found intolerable.”
This became, with all its paranoid fixations, cultural mania and concern, the “Jewish question”, an absurdist fantasy that attempted to press Jewish influence in Europe as a matter of unreformed, eastern practice. How much better, then, to have that influence exiled altogether?
This task also assumed the oddest of forms, and the creation of uncomfortable bed fellows in what effectively became a colonial project of collusion and complicity. Theodor Herzl, founder of the First Zionist Congress in August 1897, revealed the realpolitik caste of mind that would also be mirrored by the politics behind Balfour.
Those “anti-Semites,” he proclaimed, “will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.”
The Balfour letter itself retained those various contradictions. Having pitched for a Jewish state, it then went on to suggest 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 of Jews in any other country.” This was imperial parcelling of the worst sort, making claims about racial, religious and ethnic reordering without a mind to consequence.
Over time, reading the Declaration suggested the workings of a psychodrama, teasing historians into adventurous analyses. Historian Barbara Tuchman in her classic Bible and Sword, England and Palestine from the Bronze Age to Balfour (1956) imputed to Lord Balfour a religious motive, morally biblical more than realpolitik imperial. The Jews, went this line, needed repaying in some form, a gesture of historical recompense.
Tuchman, it must be said, then proceeded to acknowledge good old little Englander power plays at work. It was Britain’s intention “to take Palestine anyway for its strategic value; but they had to have a good moral case”. By proclaiming “that Britain would enter Palestine as trustee for its Old Testament proprietors would fulfil this purpose admirably and above all would quiet the British conscience in advance.”
As appropriately noted by Michael J. Cohen, reading the British response here requires an understanding of public show and private intimations. A degree of duplicity in diplomacy – the public self adorned differently to the private – is always demanded.
Take, as an example, the meeting between Prime Minister Lloyd George and Chaim Weizmann held on July 21, 1921 at Lord Balfour’s home, with the Colonial Secretary Churchill present. Weizmann, it is noted, was reassured that the British “had always understood and meant the eventual possibility of a Jewish state.”
The 1922 Churchill White Paper supplies an example of the public show, a case of hedging, avoidance, and qualification as to what the intention of the Declaration had been. There was, for instance, never an intention to create “a wholly Jewish Palestine”. To think so was to sport an “impracticable” expectation.
Indeed, the paper went on to suggest a reassurance: that the Declaration had not envisaged that “Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be found in Palestine.” A home, as it were, within a home – or perhaps a spacious room in a large abode.
The terminology “National Home” was picked up by the Peel Royal Commission in 1936 as a problematic formulation, having caused “unrest and hostility between Arabs and Jews”. That term, it is also worth noting, was a confection, less of British foreign policy than that of the First Zionist Congress in 1897.
The language does not suggest promise, but a degree of wooliness. But there was enough certainty to propel modern relevance. It has encouraged urgings on the part of the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, to press for an international law suit fronted by Arab states against the United Kingdom citing the Declaration as the cause of the mass Palestinian eviction in 1948 that became the Nakba.
The complexity behind the machinations of Balfour have now been washed away by moral absolutes and declarations. The gala dinner on November 2 saw British Prime Minister Theresa May speak of British pride in “our pioneering role in the creation of the state of Israel” yet careful to insist on a two-state solution negotiated by fictionally equivalent partners.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also afforded thanks, and suggested with force the ultimate triumph of a colonial venture that had to be swallowed, consequence and whole.
“A hundred years after Balfour, the Palestinians should finally accept a Jewish national home and finally accept a Jewish state. And when they do, the road to peace will be infinitely closer.”
A truly bitter history pill to swallow.
Originally published on 2017-11-10
About the author: Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge and lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Global Research
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
Professor Doctor Asem Khalil, Ph.D. in Constitutional and International Law, Associate Professor of Law of Birzeit University, West Bank, speaks of ways to consolidate the Palestine State, and definitely end Israeli crimes against humanity in the Palestinian territories.
Edu Montesanti: Dear Professor Doctor Asem Khalil, thank you so very much for granting this interview. How do you evaluate the meeting between President Donald Trump and Prime-Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on February 15? “I’m looking at two-State and one-state” formulations, President Trump said during a White House news conference with Mr. Netanyahu. “I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with ...
The stars came out in Hollywood on November 2nd, or at least some of them did. The gala event celebrated the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and raised funds to support its mission in Israel itself and on the occupied West Bank. The organization being fêted was the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), which has fourteen regional offices in the United States and operates under the slogan “Their job is to look after Israel. Our job is to look after them.” In attendance were Arnold Schwarzenegger and actor Gerald Butler. Entertainment was provided by the singer Seal.
Hollywood Jewish royalty ...
Review of Alison Weir's "Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel".
Relevant to recent developments pertaining to the US-Israel alliance is this article first published on GR in May 2014.
Weir’s fascinating history focuses on how the State of Israel came into existence through a cynical using of the United States and how it was defended from American critics who saw the support for Israel as violating US principles and damaging US interests.
The significance of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the British “gentleman’s agreement” between the British government and Lord Rothschild that pledged British support for a Jewish ...
07 February 2018: Israel advances a plan to build a walkway though the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem to connect two settler residential compounds in the Palestinian At-Tur neighbourhood
07 February 2018: During a Knesset report on the policy of refusing to return the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces to their families for burial, officials are urged to ‘throw it into the sea’, ‘we should not return bodies. We should demolish homes’, others say
05 February 2018: A number of Israeli politicians, including coalition government members, call for ‘practical moves’ to be taken to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank while Donald ...
On 10 August 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accused president Barak Hussein Obama and Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton of co-founding the jihadist rebel organization ISIS (Islamic State) operating mainly in Syria and Iraq but with operative in many Middle Eastern countries and around the world. Trump used Obama’s full name to provoke a racist-xenophobic response from the public about the Arabic-sounding name rooted in East Africa. Immediately, critics insisted that Trump made outrageous and ignorant comments about complex foreign affairs matters he does not fully comprehend.
The following day Trump clarified that he meant exactly what he said and ...
50 years after the June 1967 Israeli conquest of all of Palestine, the US Alliance-backed, invasion-, occupation- , theft- , genocide-, lying- and race-based pariah state of Apartheid Israel still comprehensively violates all basic human rights of the Occupied Palestinians. The Zionist ethnic cleansing of 90% of Palestine means that the Two-State Solution is dead and demands comprehensive Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against genocidally racist, nuclear terrorist Apartheid Israel and all its supporters.
The World must demand an end to race-based Apartheid Israel after the example of post-Apartheid South Africa and its replacement by a unitary state in Palestine with ...
The Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s main evidence thus far in his “Russiagate” probe is not actually about possible Russian collusion with Trump to win the Presidency, but instead about definite Israeli collusion with Trump after Trump had already won the Presidency but before he became inaugurated. As a lawyer explained on the day when Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was indicted in a plea-deal: “Mr. Flynn has just become the prosecution’s star witness.” What Flynn had pled to was his trying to obtain Russia’s support for Israel’s Government, against the Palestinians. Russia said no; Putin said no to Flynn’s request, ...
The West has a black history in the middle east that must be recognised. In 1916, Arabs joined the allied forces but deceived.The victorious western powers divided the region as they wished without any consideration to the peoples’ will. Then completed this crime by planting the state of Israel, which since day one spread state terrorism throughout the region.
The West supported Israel and defied the international law set by the West. Our part of the world continued to live in a climate of war, militarisation and tension because of this. In this respect, the West practised and still the most ...
If anyone doubts that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, he should read the report “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid” commissioned by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). The report released on the 15th March 2017 and posted on the ESCWA website has now been removed on the orders of the UN Secretary-General, pressured, it is alleged, by the governments of Israel and the United States both of whom have denounced the report in harsh terms.
The withdrawal of the report prompted the ESCWA Executive Secretary and UN ...
Missing from corporate media accounts is what causes the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK aka North Korea) to be singled out for opprobrium for what, essentially, is developing a deterrent against any entity that would attack it.
A comparison with how the United Nations deals with North Korea vis-à-vis another member state state, Israel, is instructive.
Israel occupies Palestinian territory; destroys Palestinian olive groves and poisons Palestinian sheep; sprays Palestinian homes with sewage; sabotages Palestinian water supplies; cuts off power to Palestine; terrorizes Palestinians for hours at checkpoints, including the sick, infirm, and pregnant women, some who are forced to give birth ...
"Please don’t write about Ya’ir Golan!" a friend begged me, “Anything a leftist like you writes will only harm him!"
So I abstained for some weeks. But I can’t keep quiet any longer.
General Ya’ir Golan, the deputy Chief of Staff of the Israeli army, made a speech on Holocaust Memorial Day. Wearing his uniform, he read a prepared, well-considered text that triggered an uproar which has not yet died down.
Dozens of articles have been published in its wake, some condemning him, some lauding him. Seems that nobody could stay indifferent.
The main sentence was: "If there is something that frightens me about ...
As news of appointments to the Trump administration flow in, the hard Right is riding high, and anti-Semitism and Zionism are in the news in ways that purveyors of conventional wisdom have to struggle to make sense of. The Trump phenomenon has undone conventional understandings of both.
Trump’s thirty-something son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband, embodies a lot of what has put those conventional understandings in doubt. A (modern) orthodox Jew and rabid Zionist, Kushner is not exactly éminence grise material; his is too young and insubstantial to be what Dick Cheney was for George Bush. Nevertheless, he does seem to be stepping ...
Most veteran observers, including Israeli security authorities and Palestinian leadership, were dumbfounded by recent events in Jerusalem, where tens of thousands of Palestinians mobilized non-violently in response to the Israeli closure of the Old City and placement of metal detectors at the entrance of the Dome of Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. What was the secret ingredient that made such a mass action take place and be a successful example in Palestinian non-violent resistance to the 50 years of Israeli military occupation? How did it happen so spontaneously, non-violently and with seemingly no leadership?
A new report by the group, titled, Relations Between Palestinians Across ...
I spoke recently at a conference on America’s war party where afterwards an elderly gentleman came up to me and asked, “Why doesn’t anyone ever speak honestly about the six-hundred-pound gorilla in the room? Nobody has mentioned Israel in this conference and we all know it’s American Jews with all their money and power who are supporting every war in the Middle East for Netanyahu? Shouldn’t we start calling them out and not letting them get away with it?”
It was a question combined with a comment that I have heard many times before and my answer is always the same: ...
The Syrian battlefield is now witnessing an escalation of the war. This is despite the fact that it is supposed to be a time of cessation of hostilities brokered by the US and Russia.
The Syrian war has two major fronts. The first and most important is in southern Syria, on the borderline with Israel and the occupied territories of the Syrian Golan Heights. This area is divided into two areas: the liberated area of Al-Quneitra, and the occupied area of the Golan Heights where Jabhat Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda’s base their fighters.
Israel has been attempting to drive the Syrian army out ...
During the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Syrian forces had surprised Israel and were fast approaching the edge of the steep Golan Heights, captured by Israel during the 1967 war. It seemed as if Syrian armor and infantry would retake Golan, then pour down into Israeli Galilee.
Soviet recon satellites observed Israel moving its nuclear-armed, 500km-range Jericho missiles out of protective caves and onto their launch pads. At the same time, Israel was seen loading nuclear bombs on their US-supplied F-4 fighter-bombers at Tel Nof airbase.
Believing Israel was about to use nuclear weapons against Syria and Egypt, Moscow put huge pressure on both ...
With the recruitment of novice French President, Emmanuel Macron, the US Israel lobby can now boast a powerful political agent inside the corridors of power of the Élysée Palace, to liaise with those agents already resident in the British Parliament and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington. It is, of course, no small achievement to have managed to recruit half of the European Union as well as the United States Senate to support the dispossession of five million indigenous Arabs who have populated the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Gaza for over a thousand years.
No small achievement of the powerful minority Zionist movement ...
Today, we hear a lot about White supremacy but very little about Jewish supremacy, as if the former stands for the latter.
It is true there are more similarities than differences between Jewish supremacy and White supremacy. Both are based on ethnic/nationalist bias and racism. They are both
“historically based, institutionally perpetuated system[s] of exploitation and oppression … a web of interlocking, reinforcing institutions: economic, military, legal, educational, religious, and cultural. As a system, racism affects every aspect of life in a country.”
Within Israel and militarily occupied Palestinian lands, Jewish supremacy is sometimes described as White supremacy, as in this headline:
“Israel’s White Supremacy Agenda ...
Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative news / independent media site The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at Tools For Freedom.com (FaceBook here), writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance.
ISIS is a US-Israeli creation, a fact as clear as the sky is blue. It’s a truth as black and white as the colors on their flag. For many alternative news readers, this may be patently obvious, but this article is written for the large majority of ...
The creation of the First Balkan Alliance against the Ottoman Empire in 1866–1868 in the light of territorial requirements of the Balkan states and nations at the expense of the decreasing power of the Ottoman authorities and the Ottoman state integration was the first political-military treaty on the mutual cooperation by the Christian Balkan states and nations. The secret paragraphs of bilateral military-political contracts between Greece and Serbia and Serbia and Montenegro in regard to territorial inheritance of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans are the most important points of the treaty.
Serbia became a leader of the Balkan coalition and ...
Palestine: There’s no conflict, there’s an illegal occupation
Israel’s Money Machine: Jewish Oligarchs Fund Crimes Against Humanity
America’s Role in the Creation of the State of Israel
Timeline: Israel’s anti-Palestinian Laws since 1948
Obama and Clinton Co-Founders of ISIS?
End 50 Years of Genocidal Occupation & Human Rights Abuse by US-Backed Apartheid Israel
“Russiagate” is Actually “Israelgate”: Trump as “Agent of Israel”, not of Russia?
Confronting the West With its Responsibilities is Essential!
A Telling Comparison: Israel versus North Korea
Parallels Between Israel and 1930s Germany
Donald Trump and the Jewish Question
How Palestinians Can Reverse Israel’s Divide and Conquer Tactics
America’s Jews are Driving America’s Wars
Here’s How the US, Israel, al-Qaeda and ISIS Work Together in Syria
Remember The Golan Heights?
“Greater Israel” in the Making? Israel to Control Mediterranean from Beirut to Gaza?
Is “Jewish Supremacy” a Form of Racism? The Zionist Exception
ISIS is a US-Israeli Creation: Top Ten “Indications”
From the History of Anti-Russian Policy: The First Balkan Alliance (1866−1868)