Balfour Declaration behind Zionist colonization of Palestine

November 01, 2016

(WASHINGTON DC 11/01/2016) – In the waning days of President Barack Obama’s tenure, it is clear that his promise of the creation of a Palestinian state during his administration is yet another failure in United States’ foreign policy and further proof that the U.S. and its global partners have issued nothing but empty promises thus far.

As we commemorate the 99th year since the Balfour Declaration, in which the British government gave away land it did not own to the British Zionist Federation with the express permission to create a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, we look to how President Obama’s actions never backed up his promises to the Palestinian people. Consider last September’s betrayal, which came in the form of a new Memorandum of Understanding, which ensures an increase in U.S. foreign military financing to Israel from $30 billion to $38 billion over 10 years beginning in FY2019.

Even so, Israel has once again refused to respond in kind by, among other things, putting a freeze on building or expanding its settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. This is not new or unique in the history of the state of Israel. Since its creation and no matter the political inclinations of succeeding governments – whether they be left, center or right – Israel always has defied international norms, resolutions, and will. And because of decades of global inaction and indecisiveness related to Israel’s crimes and abuses against the Palestinian people, Israel has come to believe it can continue to violate international and American law with impunity.

And it all started with the Balfour Declaration, which was written by Lord Arthur Balfour on behalf of the British government to the British Zionist Federation on Nov. 2, 1917, and effectively gave consent to Zionists to colonize Palestine. As a result, Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestinians began with the forcible eviction 750,000 people and the destruction of more than 500 villages.

“His Majesty's Government view 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 Foreign Minister Arthur James Balfour wrote to Lord Rothschild on Nov. 2, 1917.  

We know Great Britain had no right to give away land it did not own and which belonged to the Palestinians. But just as troubling is that a major stipulation of the Balfour Declaration – that the civil and religious rights of the existing Palestinian community must be inviolate -- today is ignored entirely.

While Zionism, with its inherent racists and imperialist policies, is behind the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, it is the Balfour Declaration that was the catalyst for the Zionist enterprise to consume Palestinian land and dispossess two-thirds of its indigenous population to create the state of Israel.

We, as Americans, are in the unique position to affect change by demanding the American government hold Israel to the same standards it holds other countries, which receive U.S. foreign aid. As we commemorate the tragic date of Nov. 2, 1917, let us make a vow to bring pressure to bear upon our elected officials, especially in the week leading up to the General Election. We must demand the U.S. ends aid to Israel. We must demand Congress holds Israel accountable for its oppression of the Palestinian people. And we must demand the State Department investigate human rights abuses committed by Israeli military units to ascertain whether they rise to the mandates of the Leahy Law and, if so, adhere to American law by cutting off all military aid to the offending units as the U.S. has done elsewhere. Above all, none of the preceding will materialize if we do not strengthen and support the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the U.S, of which AMP is one of its major components.  

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