Palestinians welcome Corbyn’s Balfour celebration snub

The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.
The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The declaration marks the first milestone leading to the creation of Israel in 1948


Palestinians in the UK have welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s decision not to attend events organised by a pro-Israel group celebrating the Balfour Declaration centenary.


For supporters of the Zionist cause, the declaration marks the first milestone leading to the creation of Israel in 1948.

The declaration was contained in a letter dated November 2, 1917, to leading English Zionist Lord Walter Rothschild from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour, promising British help in creating a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine.

The letter conditioned British assistance so that there be no “prejudice” against the rights of existing non-Jewish populations living in the area.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during the first world war, the UK became the dominant power in the region and established Mandate rule in Palestine.

A long-term critic of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, the leader of the opposition Labour Party has not yet explained his reasons for not attending “About Balfour 100” – a series of country-wide events in October and November marking the occasion including lectures, dinners, film screenings, and Jewish religious services.

November 2 marks 100 years since the declaration.

Ben Jamal, the director of the UK-based Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC), told Al Jazeera that others should follow Corbyn’s example.

“It’s highly appropriate that Jeremy Corbyn has refused the invite and shameful that any British politician would consider participating in an event that celebrates the declaration,” he said, describing the Balfour statement as an “act of imperialism by which Britain disregarded the rights, wishes, and claims of the Palestinian people who made up nearly 90 percent of the population of Palestine in 1917”.

Pro-Palestinian groups have pressured Britain to apologise for the 1917 declaration, which promised the Zionist movement a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine.

 Foreign office officials have previously told Al Jazeera that the British government considers the declaration a “historical statement” and one it would not apologise for.

Supporters of the Zionist movement commemorate the declaration by then-British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour as the first step in the eventual creation of Israel.

However, for Palestinians, the declaration represents the moment an imperial power promised their land away to another people.

They hold Balfour responsible for their subsequent expulsion, displacement, and occupation.

According to Jamal, the declaration and subsequent British occupation of Palestine created the “framework” for dispossessing Palestinians that continues to this day.

“For Palestinians, Balfour was an action of betrayal and its anniversary should prompt sombre reflection on a shameful episode in British history,” said Jamal.

“To celebrate is to reinforce the message to Palestinians that their rights are still regarded as second class.”

Historic struggle

Jamal’s roots stretch back to West Jerusalem but his family was forced out of the city by Zionist militias in 1948, and his relatives were thereafter scattered across the region.

His great-uncle, Shibli Jamal, was secretary of a delegation of Palestinians which unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate the revocation of the Balfour Declaration with Winston Churchill, who was then secretary of state for the colonies.

“The delegation made clear to Churchill that the policy Britain was building would lead inevitably to the dispossession of the Palestinian people, a prediction made real in 1948 when over 700,000 Palestinians, including my grandparents, were driven into exile,” said Jamal.

In the year the group spent in the UK, the delegation organised what Jamal believes was Britain’s first rally in support of Palestinian rights.

Before leaving the UK, Shibli Jamal wrote to Churchill promising Palestinians would never give up the struggle for their land.

“The people of Palestine will not be satisfied with promises that some control of their destiny will be given to them in the future. They will never admit the right of any outside organisation to dispossess them of their country,” his letter read.

‘I would like Corbyn’s reasons’

Although Corbyn has refused to justify his decision, he has in the past unequivocally condemned Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.

Al Jazeera contacted the Labour Party requesting an explanation of Corbyn’s reasons for not attending, but the issue was not addressed.

A spokesperson said: “Jeremy is unable to attend this event, but Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry will be attending.”

Malaka Mohammed, a Palestinian studying in England, said she was slightly disappointed by Corbyn’s response.

“I would not call it a significant step [but] I think it’s a step in right direction that Corbyn has not bowed to pressure and accepted the invitation,” the PhD candidate at Exeter University told Al Jazeera. “It’s the least I expect from someone who has been campaigning for justice throughout his life.

“As a Palestinian who has been directly affected by the Balfour Declaration, I would like a statement explaining his reasons for rejecting the invitation … I think it should be condemned by himself and the Labour Party.”

Mohammed described how her relatives were forced from their homes in what is now Israel to the Gaza Strip, from where they were never allowed to return.

“The fact that we are dispersed and scattered all over the world, unable to go back home or live a stable life, is a consequence of the 1917 Balfour Declaration,” she said.

“It’s a grave injustice we are subject to. My land is not a land I am allowed to visit, all I know of it is through the stories my grandparents would tell me when I was a kid.”

Mohammed and Jamal are now focused on the British government and its behaviour as the centenary approaches.

Jamal’s PSC is organising a rally in London on November 4 to protest the UK’s role in displacing Palestinians.

For Mohammed, nothing less than a British apology will suffice.

“We as Palestinians rightfully want a British apology,” she said. “It has shaped our experience as Palestinians by signing our country over to a European colonial settler enterprise.”





14 responses to “Palestinians welcome Corbyn’s Balfour celebration snub”

    1. First Lebanon bans Wonder Woman film over Israeli actress, now a Palestinian film festival booted a new motion picture by Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri because of his activity in Israel. Lebanese film director Ziad Doueiri (AP/Hassan Ammar)

      In today’s Beirut, an insult blown out of proportions finds Toni, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, in court.
      From secret wounds to traumatic revelations, the media circus surrounding the case puts Lebanon through a social explosion, forcing Toni and Yasser to reconsider their lives and prejudices.

      The Insult is showing us the real relation between Lebanese Christians and Palestinian refugee – It’s a TABU topic.

      But it does not end there, the Lebanese want to claim that they are the old Phoenicians (are they….)
      The Phoenicians lack national pride, they do not speak Phoenician, they don’t retain language legacy – they use the languages of theirs occupants (Arabs and France).

      1. Niemals, please respect Lebanon, start support Phoenician

        1. “respect Lebanon,”.., forget it.
          The Al-Zein Clan'(Al-Zein a powerful family-clan) of Lebanese descent.
          They are one of the most powerful family clans in Germany, where they have a few thousand members and are known for their involvement in criminal activities such as Drug trafficking, armed robbery, Arms trafficking, Assault, extortion, fraud, money laundering, murder, kidnapping, prostitution and who knows what else.

          Since migrants immigrated in 2015, the Arab clans are also increasingly engaging in trafficking with refugees.
          They run refugee accommodation in tenement houses.
          In doing so, they bring down as many people as possible and pay the fees from the state.
          Other investments are also made: for example, in the creation of security companies.
 Hübsch ausstaffiert: So sieht er aus, der Araber-Clan in der neuen TV-Serie „4 Blocks“
          Lebanese Mafia constantly creates many news headlines, and now even the new TV-Serie „4 Blocks“.
          Berlin’s underworld is lost to the Arab clans.

          In December 2014 clan members robbed jewelry at the KaDeWe.
          Headlines in Berliner Zeitung: Kriminalität Arabische Clans verwandeln illegale Gewinne in legale Profite = Arabic clans turn illegal profits into legal profits.

          You have the predictable Lebanese Hezbollah, we have the unpredictable arab (Lebanese) family clans.
          We have just the police-force (the clan structures are often opaque and difficult for the investigators to see through.) to fight those criminals, you have the army to fight the Lebanese Hezbollah.

  1. Where are the “Resister” degenerates with their wise comments? 🙂

    1. The “Resister” are under investigation that target the Lebanese Arab crime syndicates in Berlin.
      Arab gangs dominate organized crime in Berlin and are made up of over a thousand members, the extended families find strength in numbers.
      Any member who breaks the code of silence risks his life.

  2. “If it walks, swims and quacks like one, it is one”

    1. You see, didn’t have to wait too long. The one good thing about the “Resisters” (besides them being clinically dumb) is that they are almost 100% predictable.

      1. I had to read the comments in this article to know what you were raving about.

        Yes Khazarian vermin, go to every article, write “where are the “Resisters”” and then tap yourself on the shoulder to being predictable. You are one clever slob.

  3. First Lebanon bans Wonder Woman film over Israeli actress, later a Palestinian film festival booted a new motion picture by Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri because of his activity in Israel.
    Now it is the totally insane #TelAvivLovesBeirut with the assisting of Hind Abyad that retweetet
    @haaretzcom 8 Std.Vor 8 Stunden Israelis show their love for Lebanon on Twitter after Forbes travel list bustup

  4. Balfour Declaration Centennial Wasn’t About Israel or Palestine.
    It Was About U.K.’s Delusions of Grandeur.

  5. The rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia is heating up across the Middle East.
    Iran and its Lebanese Shiite ally Hezbollah taking control of the country and destabilizing the region.
    That is why the rivalry isn’t because of the Balfour Declaration or Israel or Palestine.

    Although traditionally foes, Saudi Arabia and Israel have aligned their interests across the Middle East as they seek to counter Iran’s expanding influence.

    Naturally Hassan Nasrallah, accused on Sunday Saudi Arabia of dictating Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s resignation, which threatens to throw the Middle East nation into chaos.
    “It is clear that the resignation was a Saudi decision that was imposed on Prime Minister Hariri. It was not his intention, not his wish and not his decision,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
    Furthermore Nasrallah said; “Do not listen to alarmist speeches. We will react responsibly and calmly … we are concerned about the security [of Lebanon].”
    Hassan Nasrallah, will react responsibly and calmly..… WHY?

    However יוסף בן-ישראל comment dose not change that efter 50 years, it’s time to call the occupation what it really is: Military dictatorship.
    The occupation, after all, is meant to be temporary – or….

    “…/… and the Palestinian territories” If you want to be so precise you should say “Judea and Samaria”. At the time you talk Palestinians did not exist. And if you want to talk about Phiilstine, they dwelled around Gaza and certainly not in Judea or Samaria.
    You should learn a little more before willing lecturing me.
    BTW Jordan did not exist too. It was the land of Gad, Ruben and Menashe”

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