Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations has labelled an event reflecting on the centenary of the issuance of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 as another example of hateful Palestinian incitement and their refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish State.
The statement from Ambassador Danny Danon was issued during the event by the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and hosted by South Africa’s Ambassador Jerry Matjila who served as moderator.
The event featured a lecture by a historian from Columbia University, who called the Balfour Declaration a “century long assault on the Palestinian people”.
It was Britain’s pledge that paved the way for Israel’s creation.
Declaring in 1917 through the Balfour Declaration the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
Professor Rashid Khalidi provided a historical lecture of the legacy of that declaration 100 years ago.
“For the Palestinians this declaration, this statement was a gun pointed directly at their heads, particularly in view of the colonialist ambiance of the early 20thCentury. As I will try to show this afternoon, the Balfour Declaration in effect constituted a declaration of war by the British Empire on the indigenous population of the land it was promising to the Jewish people as a national home. This declaration launched what has become a century long assault on the Palestinian people aimed at implanting and fostering this national home at their expense.”
Khalidi says Palestine was an inhabited country in 1917 with 94% of the population Arab and 4% Jewish. He is highly critical of Balfour’s Declaration that fails to mention the words “Palestinians” or “Arab” but rather refers to non-Jewish communities in Palestine.
He argues that Balfour offered only civil and religious rights but not political or national rights to Palestinians who were not told that they too would have a national home as was ascribed to the Jewish people in the text.
“By the end of the Arab revolt in Palestine in 1939, 10% of the adult male population of Palestine was dead, wounded, imprisoned or in exile. That is a very heavy weight of British repression employed in service of this project. The issuances of the Balfour Declaration, I submit, marked the beginning of a Century long colonial conflict in Palestine, supported by an array of outside powers. In much different forms, this conflict continues until this day.”
Khalidi warned that an ignorance of history had brought the world to the stalemate we see between Palestinians and Israelis today.
“Ignoring history is one of the things that has brought us to where we are in 2017, in fact I would argue (I’m a historian, so I would do this) but I would nevertheless argue that this historical background is essential to understanding why this conflict has lasted for so long and is essential to understanding how it might be justly resolved. This background also helps us to understand that it did not begin in 1967 or in 1948 as some short sighted observers would have it.”
He also criticized the great powers of the UN that have placed their interests ahead of international law. For their part, Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon’s statement said the true lesson of history is that the Palestinian’s refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to their homeland has not benefited them and will never undermine the thriving vitality of the State of Israel.
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