In a remarkable admission, the Guardian has ranked its support for the Balfour Declaration promising a "homeland" for the Jewish people as one of its "worst errors of judgment over 200 years." The British newspaper made its startling announcement on Friday.
"Whatever else can be said, Israel today is not the country the Guardian foresaw or would have wanted," it said. "When Arthur Balfour, then Britain's foreign secretary, promised 104 years ago to help establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, his words changed the world." The controversial Balfour Declaration was made when Jews were no more than five per cent of the population in Palestine.
Noting that the most noticeable mistakes stemmed from the editorial pages, the Guardian appeared to take responsibility for what it appears to suggest is the failed project of creating a "Jewish homeland" in Palestine. "The Guardian of 1917 supported, celebrated and could even be said to have helped facilitate the Balfour declaration," it noted. The editor at the time, CP Scott, was a supporter of Zionism which may have "blinded him to Palestinian rights".
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In 1917 Scott wrote a piece displaying the kind of racism that was typical of western writers and politicians at the time who supported the Zionist project. On the day that the Balfour Declaration was announced, Scott dismissed any other claim to the Holy Land with the racist statement that, "The existing Arab population of Palestine is small and at a low stage of civilisation." Muslim and Christian Palestinians at the time made up more than 95 per cent of the population.
This admission by the Guardian comes as Israel's status as a deeply racist country that practices a system of apartheid has become impossible to dispute. Last month, the pre-eminent human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW), joined a host of other prominent groups to declare that Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid and persecution.
Prior to HRW's report, Israeli human rights group B'Tselem branded Israel as an "apartheid" state that "promotes and perpetuates Jewish supremacy between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River." Echoing the UN's 2017 report which concluded that Israel was practising apartheid, B'Tselem dismissed the popular misconception that it is a democracy within the Green (1949 Armistice) Line.