New Statesman: Invoking Destiny, Circumventing History.

As the bombs rain on Gaza, the latest edition of the New Statesman magazine, Great Britain’s main weekly centre-left magazine, defined the Palestinian struggle against Zionist colonisation and aggression as a “conflict between two peoples destined to claim ownership of the same land.”

The editorial obviously doesn’t enunciate how and why it became the ‘destiny’ of Palestinians to have been ethnically cleansed from their land and killed in their thousands (i.e. “conflict”) in what was initially a British imperialist project. But the New Statesman’s editorial in November 1917 endorsing the Balfour Declaration certainly does shed an incredible dose of light on how this destiny materialised. Continue reading

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An Introduction to the case for reparations for Palestine.

The land of Lord Balfour hosted a rare but much needed conference on his infamous 1917 declaration. The event was convened by the appropriately named organisation, the Palestine Return Centre (PRC) on the 19th January 2013 in London. The aim of the meeting was to inaugurate a campaign for British “mistakes” and to “make reparations to Palestinians who endured human rights abuses at British hands.” 

It is rare because not only is the ‘Balfour Declaration’ and its brutal ramifications greatly understudied but the entire period of British total military and political dominance of the Middle East between 1917 and 1948 is more or less whitewashed from contemporary discussion. Yet, if we are to fully understand today’s Middle East there is probably no more an important period than this.

The declaration let it be known Britain’s “view with favour” the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine Continue reading

The Empire’s Balfour Declaration and the Suez Canal

For the average British pro-Palestinian human rights activist, the Balfour Declaration, published ninety- five years ago on the 2nd November 1917, is only mentioned in passing in their publications or agitations. For them, the declaration seems to have drafted in, one autumn day most likely alongside the brown and crimson leaves for then to triumphantly and jubilantly land on Lord Balfour’s, the British foreign secretary, desk. For them, it is more convenient to strongly imply that the Palestinian predicament began when the young United Nations partitioned Palestine on the 29th November 1947 or when the British Empire’s Palestine mandate officially ended on 15th May 1948. For them, the fact that up to 400,000 Palestinians under the Empire’s watch were ethnically cleansed between these latter two dates literally doesn’t warrant a footnote.[1]

This is certainly the impression given by reading the literature of “revolutionary socialists” as well as other supposedly pro-Palestinians. In his book “Imperialism and Resistance”, “revolutionary socialist” John Rees argues Continue reading

The Guardian, New Statesman and the Balfour Declaration.

“The settler owes the fact of his very existence, that is to say his property, to the colonial system.” Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth.[1] 

Imagine if China, for one reason or another suddenly replaced or supplanted the United States as Israel’s main diplomatic, financial and military benefactor. That the Chinese then provided Israel with all it required to continue the occupation and usurpation of Palestine and to further consolidate its illegal undertakings…What would we then make of American journalists or writers who then incessantly never fail to remind us of the culpable Chinese support for Israeli criminality while simultaneously totally ignoring, possibly even whitewashing the 40 years when the United States was Israel’s main benefactor?

Between 1917 and 1948 Great Britain more than any other nation helped to lay the diplomatic, governmental, military and economic foundations for Israel yet if one were to peruse British writing on Palestine, especially the writings of the supposed pro-Palestinians, one would naturally presume that the Palestinian predicament only began on the 15th May 1948 when the British Mandate officially ended and the State of Israel was declared. Continue reading

Britain’s Denial of Democracy and the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

“The British government have promised that what is called the Zionist movement shall have a fair chance in this country, and the British Government will do what is necessary to secure that fair chance…We cannot tolerate the expropriation of one set of people by another or the violent trampling down of one set of national ideals for the sake of erecting another…”

Winston S. Churchill to an Arab delegation, 30 March 1921.[1]

“I do not admit that the dog in the manger has the final right to the manger, even though he may have lain there for a very long time…I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia…I do not think the Red Indians had any right to say, ‘The American Continent belongs to us and we are not going to have any of these European settlers coming in here’. They had not the right, nor had they the power.”

Winston S. Churchill to the Peel Commission on Palestine, 12th March 1937.[2]

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By the end of the official British presence inPalestinein mid May 1948, four hundred thousand Palestinian Arabs Continue reading