by Stuart Littlewood
You know that awful feeling of doom when bad news makes your blood run cold? It’s happened to me at least four times already this year,
- when Theresa May invited Trump on a state visit to the UK when he’d been in office only five minutes and clearly ought to be on probation for at least two years;
- when the British Government announced it was going to whoop it up for the centenary of the Balfour Declaration;
- when the British Government announced it had invited Israel’s chief criminal Netanyahu to those Balfour celebrations; and
- when news came the other day that a member of the British Royal Family might break precedent and formally visit Israel later this year.
That fourth one had the Times of Israel crowing with delight. Its report succeeds in portraying Prince Charles as the perfect stooge while Boris Johnson is having a bad hair day as usual. Such a visit would, of course, legitimise Israel as an illegal occupying power and destroy the last shred of British credibility in the Middle East and indeed the rest of the civilised world. But that counts for nothing among the bird-brains that run our country.
Let’s remember how this Balfour lunacy began, Arthur Balfour (later Lord Balfour) being British foreign secretary at the time and a Zionist convert.
His Declaration of 1917 – actually a letter to the most senior Jew in England, Lord Rothschild – pledged assistance for the Zionist cause with total disregard for the consequences to the native majority in the land the Zionists had targeted: Palestine.
Calling itself a declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations, it said: “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 and non-Jewish communities….”
Balfour also wrote: “In Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country. The four powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now occupy that land.”
The “running sore in the East” and how it turned septic
Obviously there was opposition. Lord Sydenham warned: “The harm done by dumping down an alien population upon an Arab country may never be remedied. What we have done, by concessions not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section, is to start a running sore in the East, and no-one can tell how far that sore will extend.”
Well, we know now, a hundred years on.
So what was behind it? I like the account of Jewish businessman Benjamin Freedman who gave a speech at the Willard Hotel, Washington, in 1961. He told his audience that Britain, in WW1, was in dire straits thanks to the success of the German U-boats. She was alone, almost out of ammunition and on the edge of starvation. Germany offered peace terms, and while Britain chewed it over the Zionists of Germany (representing the Zionists of Eastern Europe who wanted an end to the Czar) came to London and said: “We will guarantee to bring the United States into the war as your ally, to fight with you on your side, if you will promise us Palestine after you win the war.” And that was the bargain Britain struck, in October 1916, overturning earlier pledges to the Arabs for their help.
And having done their bit, the Zionists wanted a ‘receipt’ – written confirmation of Britain’s pledge. Hence Balfour’s infamous ‘declaration’ in November the following year, a grubby note addressed to Lord Rothschild promising to pay off the Zionists with land that wasn’t Britain’s to give.
When the war was over a large delegation of Jews attended the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. According to Freedman, who was there, when the Great Powers carved up the losers’ territories – German and Ottoman – the Jewish delegation claimed Palestine, producing Balfour’s promissory note.
In August 1917, while the Palestine deal was still being discussed but before Balfour issued his Declaration, Lord Montague penned an important memorandum to the British Cabinet. Montague, only the second Jew to serve in a British cabinet, was Minister of Munitions in 1916 when, said Freedman, Britain was running out of ammunition. He wanted to place on record that in his opinion the policy of the British Government was anti-Semitic because it would provide a rallying ground for anti-Semites in every country in the world. “Zionism has always seemed to me to be a mischievous political creed, untenable by any patriotic citizen of the United Kingdom,” he said. He assumed that Zionism meant that Mahommedans and Christians were to make way for the Jews and that Jews would be put in all positions of preference.
Montague argued that there was no such thing as a Jewish nation, and he was well aware of the unpopularity of the Jewish community. “We have obtained a far greater share of this country’s goods and opportunities than we are numerically entitled to…. Many of us have been exclusive in our friendships and intolerant in our attitude….”
As for the Balfour Declaration itself he felt the Government was carrying out the wishes of a Zionist organisation “largely run by men of enemy descent or birth”. Furthermore, he said, “I would be almost tempted to proscribe the Zionist organisation as illegal and against the national interest.” His message to Lord Rothschild was that the Government should help Jews in Palestine enjoy liberty of settlement and life on equal terms with inhabitants who hold other religious beliefs, but go no further.
The insane Declaration was followed 30 years later by another monstrous betrayal when the Great Powers pushed the United Nations into cruelly partitioning Palestine, again without consulting those who lived there. Worse still, the UN did nothing to halt the Jewish terror spree and land grab that followed. Justice groups are now saying it’s time the British Government, which accepted the mandated responsibility for the Holy Land up to 1948, had the good manners to admit its part in the catastrophe and say sorry for the needless damage and suffering caused to Palestinian Arabs who once considered themselves Britain’s allies. That would be a reasonable starting point for dealing with the horrendous situation today.
Celebrating Balfour amounts to praising the thieves for keeping what they stole. Those who cannot stomach such a cowardly betrayal of Christian and Arab communities in the Holy Land may consider signing a petition addressed the the Queen’s private secretary asking that she does not travel to Israel at this time. It points out that the situation vis-à-vis Palestine is regarded by the Foreign Office as “unfinished business” and a royal visit would not only add insult to injury to the Palestinians but embroil Her Majesty in a controversy that could damage the international standing of the British Monarchy.
The time for the Royal Family to start being nice to Israel is when Israel starts being nice to its Palestinian neighbours, honours its obligations under the UN Charter, ends its illegal occupation and shows proper regard for international and humanitarian law.
And not before.
After working on jet fighters in the RAF Stuart became an industrial marketing specialist with manufacturing companies and consultancy firms. He also “indulged himself” as a newspaper columnist. In politics, he served as a Cambridgeshire county councilor and member of the Police Authority. Now retired he campaigns on various issues and contributes to several online news & opinion sites. With a lifelong passion for photography, he has produced two photo-documentary books, one of which can be read online at www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk.