Palestinians mark 99 years since the Balfour Declaration
Arthur Balfour and his famous declaration (Wikimedia Commons)
#BalfourDeclaration (وعد_بلفور#) is currently trending on Twitter as Palestinians commemorate 99 years since the British Foreign Minister, Arthur Balfour, declared government support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
The text of the original message, sent between Balfour and a leader of the British Jewish community, Lord Rothschild, on 2nd November 1917, has been shared several times in English and Arabic on Wednesday morning, including by the official Twitter account of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the political organization that represents Palestinians.
"How can Britain atone for the Balfour Declaration? #BalfourDeclaration"
This statement of British government policy was later used by the League of Nations as justification for entrusting Palestine to a British mandate in 1922.
Indeed, for many Palestinians, this ‘promise’ represented a key factor leading to the establishment of the state of Israel in this territory in 1948, and to their mass dispossession and displacement in the ‘Nakba’ of that year. Consequently many chose today to share pictures of the Nakba, captioned with #BalfourDeclaration:
"We will not forget the evil promise #BalfourDeclaration"
"Balfour Declaration.. a document which displaced a people, and wrote their home off the map! A promise.. [in which] those who did not deserve were given [land] by those who did not possess [it]. #EvilDeclaration #BalfourDeclaration"
Several Twitter users made use of this common Arabic expression meaning “those who did not deserve, were given [land] by those who did not possess [it]” to refer to the British politician’s historical promise, and posts frequently referred to it as ‘worthless’ and ‘evil’:
“We will not forget the evil promise of the #Balfour_Declaration, in which those who did not deserve were given [land] by those who did not possess [it] #worthlessBalfourDeclaration #evilBalfourDeclaration”
Others seized the moment to discuss the long-term historical implications of the promise.
"#Balfour_Declaration gave Jews the right to #Palestine and the powers used Oslo to make this ‘right’ take root, giving up 78% of the land, with the UN as its witness #CentenaryBalfourDeclaration”
"#BalfourDeclaration This is how the Zionist tyranny steals"
Several organizations have taken the occasion as an opportunity to bring the Balfour Declaration to the front of the political agenda. Activists on Facebook called for protests in Ramallah this afternoon against the almost century-old declaration.
Meanwhile, the UK-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) relaunched last week, on 25th October, their 2013 Balfour Apology Campaign, calling on the British government to apologize for the Balfour Declaration. A meeting was hosted in the UK House of Lords by Baroness Jenny Tonge of the Liberal Democrat party, with a petition to parliament planned to be launched. However, the meeting caused controversy over alleged anti-semitic comments made by an audience member, causing Baroness Tonge to be forced to resign.This is not the first time such a demand has been made, as Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas used a speech at the UN General Assembly on 22nd September this year to call upon the British government to apologize for the declaration and to recognize Palestine as a state.
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