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Published: Sun, November 05, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Things you need to know about the Balfour declaration

Things you need to know about the Balfour declaration

A hundred years after Balfour, the Palestinians should finally accept a Jewish national home and finally accept a Jewish state.

When will Britain recognise that the real legacy of the Balfour declaration is of suffering, dispossession, oppression and injustice - a painful legacy that every Palestinian generation since 1917 has inherited? They ended up marching ahead of the pro-Palestinian protest all the way to Westminster, holding signs which lambasted the "anti-semitic rally". As a result, Israel gained independence in 1948. "She's proud to celebrate the Balfour Declaration... is she proud to celebrate ethnic cleansing?" But even if it was, how could they speak on behalf of that indigenous population.

Khadija Khalaf, a 17-year-old Palestinian high school student from East Jerusalem, was among the protesters who carried the letters. I'm also from South Africa and there's a comparison between the Israeli occupation and Apartheid.

The Balfour declaration was quintessentially a colonial decision emanating from the myth of the "white man's burden", the idea that "advanced nations" needed to administer the territories of "peoples not yet able to stand by themselves" - in the words of the covenant of the League of Nations - an inherently problematic and racist notion in itself. "But that hasn't happened-and Britain is culpable for that".

Theresa May said that Britain was "proud" of the role it played in helping to create Israel during a meeting with Netanyahu, but warned that Isreali settlements were a "barrier" to peace.

Israeli minister Gilad Erdan wrote to London mayor Sadiq Khan and Home Office minister Ben Wallace earlier this week urging them to stop the march.

The protest was delayed by nearly an hour as pro-Israeli demonstrators attempted to block the streets.

Several people in the crowd called for Israel's destruction, Israel's Channel 10 reported with some chanting "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free".

Erdan suggested that the march would encourage "incitement to terror and hate" and could breach the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of antisemitism. Any criticism of Israel is dismissed on the basis that Israel is a beacon of "democracy" and "western values" in a region of violence and darkness.

The Balfour Declaration was the first worldwide recognition by a world power of the right of the Jewish people to a national home in their ancestral land. Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry went in his place.

The calls for a single State solution with a federal secular nation in which Jews, Muslims, Christians and others all enjoy equal rights, could grow louder in the coming days as a possible solution for the Palestine question, said Stanley Johny, International Affairs Editor, The Hindu, here on Friday.

And in a Times of Israel interview yesterday Labour's Middle East spokesperson MP Fabian Hamilton said Britain's relationship with Israel wouldn't change under a Labour government.

The "Make It Right For Palestine" march attracted visitors both young and old.

"This criticism is not and can not be antisemitic". You have reached out to me and I am throwing down the gauntlet.

Referring to Palestinian demands for the United Kingdom to apologise for the declaration, May said, "Some people suggest we should apologise for this letter, I say absolutely not".

Prominent Palestinian activist Mustafa Barghouti encouraged the protesters to keep campaigning despite attempts to discredit them. "It is very important that British people come out and show solidarity with the Palestinians".

Rabin - who signed the US-brokered Oslo Accords with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat - was assassinated by Jewish extremist Yigal Amir, an opponent of the peace process, on November 4, 1995.

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