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Explained: The Balfour Declaration

To the Zionists, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 laid the foundation for the formation of the state of Israel. To the Palestinians, however, it was an act of dishonesty and betrayal by Britain. So who is Balfour? What was the declaration? And why does it remain contentious?

To the Zionists, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 laid the foundation for the formation of the State of Israel. To the Palestinians, however, it was an act of dishonesty and betrayal by Britain. So who is Balfour? What was the declaration? And why does it remain contentious?

The Balfour Declaration was a brief letter dated 2 November 1917 by Lord Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary at the time, addressing Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, a British Zionist peer, expressing the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The letter read as follows:

“His Majesty’s Government views 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.”

British liberal public opinion at the time felt that the West had a responsibility to enable a Jewish homeland due to historical injustices suffered by the Jews for which they believed the West was to blame. In the aftermath of WWII and the Holocaust, the push for a Jewish homeland intensified amidst growing international support for the Zionist Movement and the creation of the State of Israel.

In 1920, Britain was assigned the temporary administration of Palestine in accordance with the “mandate” system shaped by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Britain was thus entrusted to work on behalf of Palestine’s both Jewish and Arab residents.

An Act of Dishonesty and Betrayal

The Arabs felt betrayed by the declaration, as Britain had promised Arab leaders complete autonomy from the Red Sea to the Arabian Gulf in return for their cooperation during WWI to defeat the Ottomans. Britain guaranteed “the setting up of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations.”

However, when the war took a bad turn in 1917, Balfour wrote to leading British Zionists in the hopes of securing Jewish support for the allies. Chaim Weizmann, a leading figure in the Zionist movement in Britain, as well as Rothschild were also lobbying to achieve this. As such, neither the rights of the indigenous population of Palestine nor the promises made to the Arab leaders were upheld.

Controversies and Contradictions

The Declaration’s controversy also lies in part in its vague wording, which some argue was deliberate, leaving Britain’s commitment to an independent Jewish state open to interpretation.

The declaration did not explicitly declare support for a sole Jewish state in Palestine, rather a homeland for the Jewish people where they would live alongside the Palestinians and other Arabs who have lived there for centuries. The second part of the declaration regarding the protection of the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities has also been seen as an acknowledgment of Arab autonomy and rights, an endorsement comparable to that extended to the Jews.

The Impact of the Declaration

The Balfour Declaration and the Zionist aims behind it paved the way for the mass immigration of Jews from all over the world to Palestine, and later the Nakba, the Catastrophe of 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were either killed or forced out of their homes to make way for the establishment of the State of Israel.

At the time of the Balfour Declaration, the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine constituted about 90 per cent of the population. The Jewish population went from 50,000 to 600,000 by the time Israel declared independence, three decades after Balfour’s letter.

Whereas Zionists were seeking a homeland and a Jewish right to self-determination, the creation of a Jewish state directly contradicted the very principles of that right, costing the Palestinians their own.

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  • Helen4Yemen

    Here is that article again:

    Explained: The Balfour Declaration

    To the Zionists, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 laid the foundation for the formation of the state of Israel. To the Palestinians, however, it was an act of dishonesty and betrayal by Britain. So who is Balfour? What was the declaration? And why does it remain contentious?

    November 2, 2016

    Jehan Alfarra

    To the Zionists, the Balfour Declaration of 1917 laid the foundation for the formation of the State of Israel. To the Palestinians, however, it was an act of dishonesty and betrayal by Britain. So who is Balfour? What was the declaration? And why does it remain contentious?

    The Balfour Declaration was a brief letter dated 2 November 1917 by Lord Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary at the time, addressing Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, a British Zionist peer, expressing the British government’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The letter read as follows:

    “His Majesty’s Government views 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.”

    British liberal public opinion at the time felt that the West had a responsibility to enable a Jewish homeland due to historical injustices suffered by the Jews for which they believed the West was to blame. In the aftermath of WWII and the Holocaust, the push for a Jewish homeland intensified amidst growing international support for the Zionist Movement and the creation of the State of Israel.

    In 1920, Britain was assigned the temporary administration of Palestine in accordance with the “mandate” system shaped by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Britain was thus entrusted to work on behalf of Palestine’s both Jewish and Arab residents.

    An Act of Dishonesty and Betrayal

    The Arabs felt betrayed by the declaration, as Britain had promised Arab leaders complete autonomy from the Red Sea to the Arabian Gulf in return for their cooperation during WWI to defeat the Ottomans. Britain guaranteed “the setting up of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations.”

    However, when the war took a bad turn in 1917, Balfour wrote to leading British Zionists in the hopes of securing Jewish support for the allies. Chaim Weizmann, a leading figure in the Zionist movement in Britain, as well as Rothschild were also lobbying to achieve this. As such, neither the rights of the indigenous population of Palestine nor the promises made to the Arab leaders were upheld.

    Controversies and Contradictions

    The Declaration’s controversy also lies in part in its vague wording, which some argue was deliberate, leaving Britain’s commitment to an independent Jewish state open to interpretation.

    The declaration did not explicitly declare support for a sole Jewish state in Palestine, rather a homeland for the Jewish people where they would live alongside the Palestinians and other Arabs who have lived there for centuries. The second part of the declaration regarding the protection of the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities has also been seen as an acknowledgment of Arab autonomy and rights, an endorsement comparable to that extended to the Jews.

    The Impact of the Declaration

    The Balfour Declaration and the Zionist aims behind it paved the way for the mass immigration of Jews from all over the world to Palestine, and later the Nakba, the Catastrophe of 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were either killed or forced out of their homes to make way for the establishment of the State of Israel.

    At the time of the Balfour Declaration, the non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine constituted about 90 per cent of the population. The Jewish population went from 50,000 to 600,000 by the time Israel declared independence, three decades after Balfour’s letter.

    Whereas Zionists were seeking a homeland and a Jewish right to self-determination, the creation of a Jewish state directly contradicted the very principles of that right, costing the Palestinians their own.

    • Lonny

      More spam from the Jew-hateTwat.

  • Helen4Yemen

    Palestine population
    Year — Non-Jews — Jews — % Non-Jew/Jew
    1851 — 327,000 — 13,000 — 96/4
    1861 — 356,000 — 13,000 — 96/4
    1881 — 422,000 — 25,000 — 95/5
    1895 — 522,000 — 47,000 — 92/8
    1914 — 675,000 — 85,000 — 87/13
    1919 — 500,000 — 65,000 — 87/13
    1922 — 723,000 — 93,000 — 89/11
    1924 — 765,000 — 113,000 — 87/13
    1931 — 881,000 — 175,000 — 83/17
    1936 — 1,003,000 — 370,000 — 73/27
    1940 — 1,113,000 — 467,000 — 70/30
    1945 — 1,295,000 — 564,000 — 70/30
    1948 — 1,319,000 — 650,000 — 67/33

    Note:

    – The Jews increased from 13,000 in 1851 to 650,000 in 1948 – which is they multiplied by 50 times

    – The non-Jews grew from 327,000 to 1,319,000 in the same period, which is they multiplied by 4 times.

    – How is it that ‘the Jews’ grew by 50 times vs 4 times for non-Jews?

  • John Thunderer

    While events during 1917 – the revolutions in Russia, for example – may have had a bearing on the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, it should be noted that the British Cabinet discussed a Jewish homeland in Palestine within 4 days of the Ottoman Empire entering the war on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1914 – three clear years before the Balfour Declaration.
    The then Chancellor of the Exchequer – David Lloyd George – had attended the first World Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897, acting as a legal adviser to Herzl and the other leading zionists at the conference. Clearly, he was an enthusiastic supporter of zionism, as were Churchill and others in the Cabinet. Once Lloyd George became Prime Minister in 1916 it was only a matter of time before he brought about the Balfour Declaration, which he continued to support on religious grounds during the 1920s.
    The wording of the declaration was agreed with US President Woodrow Wilson so it can be seen that both the declining imperial power – Britain – and the rising world power – the US – were both supportive of the initiative due to the lobbying efforts of zionists in both countries. The zionist lobbies in both countries exerted a hugely powerful influence in achieving the declaration.
    The inclusion of the wording ‘the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’ in the declaration probably had much more to do with the religious sensitivities of the Russians and the Orthodox Christian communities than it did to any other communities in Palestine. It has to be said that the concerns of the indigenous Palestinian population were largely ignored by the UK, French and US administrations, as their attitude towards most Palestinians was one of racist supremacism, an attitude which today has fully flowered within Israeli society.
    The actual wording of the declaration was arrived at over a period of several years. It did not simply arise from nowhere in 1917.
    Weizmann and many other zionists worked on getting their objective of a zionist state in Palestine over many years.
    One thing that both united and divided zionists was their attitude towards Imperial Russia. It is true that Czarist Russia had an appalling record in terms of its treatment of Jews and most Jews living in the USA wanted nothing less than the total defeat and destruction of Imperial Russia at the hands of the Germans. The Balfour Declaration was viewed as one way to get them behind the Allies war effort and it followed soon after the Kerensky Government was formed, followed by Lenin’s Government in later 1917.
    All in all, it has to be said that Britain has the primary responsibility for the current travails of the Palestinian people but it also has to be said that the French and Americans too have to share much of the responsibility for what happened then and for what continues to happen now. That is why the illegal state of Israel continues to receive so much support from those countries even to this day.

    • Χωρίς Όνομα

      This is nonsense. The inclusion of the wording ‘the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’ in the declaration, ACTUALLY had EVERYTHING to do with the religious sensitivities of ALL non-Jewish people living in that region at the time and certainly NOT only with the religious sensitivities of the Russians and the Orthodox Christian communities. The words used are very clear and leave no room for frivolous interpretations like yours. Furthermore, the indisputable fact that this very wording was completely ignored by not only Britain and the USA, but pretty much the entire rest of the world, clearly shows the unhealthy stronghold the Zionists have on most modern western societies, a direct result of the disproportional to their population numbers power they have in forcing the political discourse thus decisions favorably to align with their long term goals.

      • John Thunderer

        I did not say that the inclusion of non-Jewish religionists was solely connected to Christian/Orthodox religionists.
        Nevertheless, it is a matter of “reading between the lines”, which means that it was largely concerned about Christian places of worship in Palestine. The principal concern where Muslim places of worship was concerned was simply to avoid potential flash points between Muslims (the substantial majority) and other religionists in the region.
        Otherwise, I would say the prevailing attitude among “western” politicians and other members of the power elite around 100 years ago was to regard Arabs in a similar way as they did black people, i.e. sub-human.
        How else is it possible to explain the fact that western politicians clearly saw nothing wrong in giving away land they did not yet control to a group of people who hardly lived there over the heads of the existing majority population?
        Few in the west questioned the phrase ‘A land without people’ – did they – even though people were living there?
        The only possible conclusion is that western politicians simply did not view the indigenous people as real people.
        A similar situation applied in the United States, where black and indigenous people then were non-people.
        The Balfour Declaration was justified by the zionists to western politicians as representing an opportunity to civilise and modernise the Middle East – presumably meaning that the indigenous people were incapable of achieving this.
        The fact that western politicians and their zionist conspirators did not take this part of the Balfour Declaration at all seriously is borne out by your own remarks: ‘this very wording was completely ignored by not only Britain and the
        USA, but pretty much the entire rest of the world, clearly shows the unhealthy control Zionists have on most modern western societies.’ I could not put it better myself.
        The truth today is that Israel is just a reflection of long-held racist supremacist views emanating from European and Western society – just now taken to an extreme which few could ever fully grasp.