Islamicate Archives

Ghada Karmi: Remembering Balfour

Writing to the Editor of the Guardian,

Britain’s colonial past is indeed still with us and nowhere more so than in the Middle East. Next year will mark the centenary of the Balfour declaration, a colonial document whose consequences were disastrous for the colonised people of Mandate Palestine and their region. No worse calamity could have befallen the Palestinians than to have Britain promise their country to another people over their heads in 1917, and then invite the newcomers to take over, a process that led to the destruction of historic Palestine in 1948.

Today’s Palestinian fragmentation into a nation of refugees, exiles and occupied people, with no common homeland, and the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict and regional instability and all that has caused, are direct results of Balfour’s careless declaration. It would be only fitting for 2017 to be the year when Britain acknowledges what its past colonial decisions over Palestine led to and offers a long overdue apology and reparations to the victims of a particularly egregious piece of British colonialism.

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