N° 36. September 2013
Article published on 23 September 2013

by C.P.
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- I Have a Dream, a Blurred Vision, Michael Parenti
- My Surprisingly Inspiring Trip to the West Bank: Echoes of Our Civil Rights Movement, Jeff Cohen
- Racism and the Movement to End the Israeli Occupation, Paul Larudee
- Indiana’s Anti-Howard Zinn Witch-hunt, Bill Bigelow
- That most charming of couples : Nationalism and hypocrisy, William Blum
- 40 Years After Chile Coup, Family of Slain Singer Víctor Jara Sues Alleged Killer in U.S. Court, Amy Goodman
- A Nation of Suspects, Alyssa Rohricht
- How the White House and the CIA Are Marketing a War in the YouTube Era, Dennis J. Kucinich
- Trading Liberty for Security, Nilantha Ilangamuwa
- Weaponized Profits: The US Health Care System, Donna Smith
- Children and Women for Sale, Graham Peebles
- An Official Rejoinder to Paul Larudee, Felicia Eaves and Peter Miller

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- Capitalism and US Oil Geo-Politics, Rob Urie
- Syria: The moral imperative, Assaf Adiv
- Stop Killer drones !, Brian Terral
- The Crisis at Fukushima 4, Harvey Wasserman
- Thank You, Anarchy. Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse, Nathan Schneider
- US, Workers Solidarity Alliance, Ideas & Action, The Revolutionary Party Is An Oxymoron, Steven Fake
- Women in India, Christiane Passevant


- Democraty, War and Military-industrial complex
- Terrorism
- War crimes
- Women and War
- Capitalism
- Money
- Work
- Tourism
- Racism
- Manipulation
- Put the Gun Down…
- Nuke
- Palestinians in Israeli prisons


The man on the No 74 bus spoke good English and wanted to help in offering directions to a stranger. But there was a price. He also wanted to offer his opinion, an informed view that cut through all the present day argument and counter argument over the fate of the poor beleagured, oppressed and occupied Palestinians.

"It was the Balfour Declaration", he said. "That sealed our fate and it was Britain that allowed the Zionist cause to flourish while holding back any prospects for Palestinians to achieve their own nationhood." It is hard to argue with the realities of the past and indeed history is on the side of the Palestinians in showing that their aspirations were often frustrated during the British mandate years.

November 2 sees the anniversary of the infamous letter signed in 1917 by Britain’s Foreign Secretary addressed to Baron Rothschild, the Jewish leader in the UK for presentation to the UK’s Zionist Federation. But what did Balfour and the British government really promise?

The declaration favoured setting up in Palestine a ’national home’ for Jewish people — not quite a Jewish nation but a shared homeland. However there was a significant caveat — one which was never applied — which stated: ’it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious’ rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’

Less often recalled is the 1917 declaration of Jules Cambon, the French foreign ministry director-general, who five months earlier had also pledged: ’. . . . it would be a deed of justice and reparation to assist in the renaissance of the Jewish nationality in that land from which the people of Israel were exiled so many centuries ago.’ It was this gesture, during the penultimate stages of World War One, as well as pressure from the USA too, that forced the hand of the British government.

But was that really the beginning or did it even truly start with the renaissance of Zionism at the end of the 19th century? It is long forgotten that the creation of Israel was foreshadowed more than a century earlier. The Times of London commended the proposal in 1840 by Christian Zionist Lord Shaftesbury to ’plant the Jewish people in the land of their fathers, secured to them under the protection of a European power’, a point emphasised by the pioneer of Palestinian liberation theology Father Naim Ateek, the former Canon of St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, in his book, Justice and Only Justice.

It might be telling if we could know what Lord Shaftesbury or Lord Balfour (or perhaps more relevantly Cambon) would make of the Israel they paved the way for and particularly the prejudice to the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish people in Palestine. What would they make of Israel’s systematic repression and use of violence against those ’non-Jews’ — a term with chilling echoes of the apartheid era South Africa ’net blankes’?
What would they make of the ethnic cleansing, documented by a number of Israel’s ’new historians’? What would they make of one of these historians, Benny Morris, that Palestinians need to be ’caged’ and that those Palestinians who form one fifth of Israel’s citizenry might nevertheless have to be thrown out if Israel faced an existential threat.

He was actually thinking of a threat from an Egypt run by the Muslim Brotherhood and a belligerent Syria using its chemical weaponry in some onslaught against Israel. Neither scenario seems possible now, but for Israel, like the USA, there must always be an existential threat, a collective paranoia that someone is always about to attack or might well be given half the chance.

Yet Israel remains hell bent on not finding ways for a peaceful co-existence with those who are within Israel itself (territory it occupied in 1948) or within the East Jerusalem and the West Bank (territory it occupied in 1967). You don’t have to go far from Jerusalem to see the hill top citadels of massive settlements imposing their presence within what remains of Palestine’s shrinking domain. The more Israel thumbs its nose at the USA (and the EU) by continuing to develop settlements in defiance of international law, and as a clearly cynical land grab perpetuating Ariel Sharon’s strategy to establish ’irreversible’ facts on the ground, the more likely it is to alienate any residual sympathy and support for propping up Israel on international welfare. How long will austerity hit Americans and Europeans be willing to fork out for a truculent aggressor — the bully in the schoolyard who runs to the teacher to complain his victim hit him while forgetting to mention who had stolen the victim’s sweets?

Israel offers little respite even to the poor Bedouin, and is certainly no respecter of persons as French diplomat Marion Fesnaue-Castaing can testify. She was ’roughed up’ by Israeli troops as she and other EU officials sought to take humanitarian aid to the Bedouin of Khirbet al-Makhul.
As a typically restrained British diplomatic spokesman commented: "We have repeatedly made clear to the Israeli authorities our concerns over such demolitions, which we view as causing unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians; as harmful to the peace process; and as contrary to international humanitarian law."

When Lord Balfour, his arm twisted, issued the UK’s simple declaration, he made unequivocal reference to protecting civil rights. Jules Cambon spoke of ’justice and reparation’ — something the Palestinians are still waiting for almost a century later.

Neville Rigby

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