Views of contemporary Muslim thinkers

More on Balfour

Salman Abu Sitta’s address at the UK’s House of Lords [28 March 2017, from middleeastmonitor.com], ‘We are witnessing today the longest war against a people: A hundred years of the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom and independence in their own country. A hundred years of death and destruction in the region. The hundred years witnessed the destruction of Palestine and the dispersion of its people.

Such an act was made possible by the largest, longest, comprehensive, pre-meditated and still continuous ethnic cleansing operation in modern history. A hundred years of violating every article in human rights and international law, without remedy or recourse. A hundred years culminating in the only colonial project in existence today. The irony is that Palestine was not intended to be a colony at all. Britain was entrusted to build government institutions in Palestine and Iraq (both as Mandate class A). It was due set a democratic independent country serving the Palestinian people. It was in fulfillment of the “Sacred Trust of Civilisation”according to the Charter of the League of Nations. Instead, it was converted into a colonial project for the benefit of European Jewish colonists who were not inhabitants of the country. It was even worse than a colonial project. Unlike any other colonial project, it eventually ended up with the mass expulsion of the majority of the population, the confiscation of their land and property, the destruction of their landscape and the erasure of their geography and history. It was the most tragic event in Palestine’s 5,000 year history.

In 1916, while the Allies planes were dropping leaflets on the Arabs in WWI exhorting them to fight the Turks and gain independence and freedom, Britain’s Mark Sykes and the France’s Georges Picot sat in a closed room with a map of the Middle East, planning how to carve it between them.

One year later, Arthur James Balfour, Britain’s foreign minister, concluded a secret agreement with rich European Jews to facilitate the establishment of “a Jewish national home”, not a state, in, not of, Palestine. He kept this agreement under lock and key. Meanwhile British forces entered Palestine in the spring of 1917 and bombarded Gaza using poison gas shells (yes) and destroyed most of its ancient buildings, but were defeated twice at Gaza gates. On the evening of 31 October 1917, Allenby forces captured Beer Sheba in a surprise attack from the east. The gates of Palestine were laid open. Allenby sent a cable to London on 1 November 1st: “We captured Beer Sheba. Jerusalem will be your Christmas present”. Balfour opened his drawer and made public his secret agreement on 2 November 1917 . . . ‘ click here.

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