Roderick Balfour has said that his great-great-uncle Lord Arthur James Balfour would have been proud of the role he played in creating the state of Israel if he were alive today.
In an interview with Israeli daily Ynet News the current Lord Balfour alleged how it was known to all that the Jews needed a homeland to escape anti-Semitism, and spoke of the role his ancestor played in advocating for Britain to establish a Jewish state. He also claimed that Palestine was an empty land prior to 1948.
“You have to look at Palestine as it was then. It was a desert, a mosquito-infested swamp. The Palestinians on the whole were looking after their goats and sheep.”
“I don’t know what arguments there were about Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock and all that sort of stuff those years, and there was obviously a bit of resistance by the indigenous Palestinians. But when you look at it, there was just a huge uninhabited land basically,” he added.
Balfour, who is heavily involved in the Anglo-Israeli Association in London, also attempted to explain the ongoing persecution and occupation of the Palestinian people as a result of overpopulation and laziness on their part.
“The Palestinian population has expanded, and one of the problems is that the Palestinians are not self-sufficient. They lived in the same land, they had the same opportunity, they can cultivate stuff, they could do whatever it is, but they don’t seem to want to help themselves and I don’t think they have any more right to Palestine than the Jews do.”
He did acknowledge that the ongoing conflict was negative to the region, deeming it: “Not good politics, you know, for the rest of the world.”
He also spoke of his endorsement of the occupation of the Palestinian territories during the Six Day War of 1967, at a time when he worked in Paris as a journalist and benefitted from the pro-Israeli media coverage.
“You know, if you win—that’s what you do. You keep what you conquer, especially if it’s going to increase your security.”
He ended by responding to the calls of pro-Palestinian activists for the British government to apologise for the Balfour Declaration due to the displacement of millions of Palestinians refugees. He alleged that the declaration was issued out of good intentions and that Palestinian resentment of Israel was unjustified.
As the Balfour Declaration surpasses its 100th anniversary, the UK government’s Arabic spokesman Edwin Samuel said Britain acknowledges that the Balfour Declaration was “a catastrophe for the majority of Palestinians”.