The Balfour Declaration: A Century of crisis

The Balfour Declaration: A Century of crisis

- in Lectures
27

 Open Discussions /The Gulf Cultural Club 

 The Balfour Declaration: A Century of crisis 

 IMG_2054 IMG_2063 2IMG_2059 IMG_2056 2IMG_2060 2 IMG_2058 IMG_2064 2 IMG_2052 IMG_2055 2 IMG_2065 2Francie Molloy MP* 

Reverand Stephen Sizer ** 

Dr Mohammad Haidar***  

On 2nd November 1917 Arthur Balfour delivered his undertaking that Britain would support the creation of homeland for the Jews in Palestine who constituted 5 percent of the population. A century of endless suffering had begun. The era of colonialism emerged with disastrous consequences. Thirty years later, the UN issued Resolution 181 to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab entities. Today, the whole of Palestine is under Israeli control, while the Palestinians have remained destitute, scattered in the diaspora with no hope of immediate repatriation. Instead of apologising for this historic fault, the present UK establishment remains committed to a cause that has only caused human misery, and served no real benefit for the British or Arab people. The Balfour Declaration has shaped UK’s foreign policy in the Middle East for 100 years while the British people have become hostage to this unfair deal. 

14th  November 2017 

IMG_2053Chairman Shabbir Razvi: Tonight’s discussion is IMG_2062 2 really quite poignant because we are supposedly celebrating but I think we should be commiserating the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. I would like to call it the barbaric declaration because for the last 100 years we have seen the barbarism that has been taking place in that part of the world after the Zionist entity was implanted in the region. 

I have been reading the declaration and the last few lines of that declaration also stipulates that the people who are living there: the Palestinians, the Muslims and the Christians should not be thrown out of their country and the environment they were living in for centuries. We see that displacement has taken place on an enormous scale and the Zionist movement has been able to invite Jews from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North America to move to the state of Israel.  We have a situation where the diaspora of the Palestinians have no possibility of returning to their homeland. 

On 2nd November 1917 Arthur Balfour delivered his undertaking that Britain would support the creation of homeland for the Jews in Palestine who constituted 5 percent of the population. A century of endless suffering had begun. The era of colonialism emerged with disastrous consequences. Thirty years later, the UN issued Resolution 181 to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab entities. Today, the whole of Palestine is under Israeli control, while the Palestinians have remained destitute, scattered in the diaspora with no hope of immediate repatriation. Instead of apologising for this historic fault, the present UK establishment remains committed to a cause that has only caused human misery, and served no real benefit for the British or Arab people. The Balfour Declaration has shaped UK’s foreign policy in the Middle East for 100 years while the British people have become hostage to this unfair deal. 

IMG_2051 2There is discussion in the media that the politicians in the West have a short term view of things whether it is the war in Iraq or Afghanistan happening at this moment. The British establishment has a long view and the long view is to destabilise countries, to create sectarian and  ethnic conflict. That is the strategy that has been working very well for the British establishment and now also the American establishment. 

Francie Molly: It is an honour and privilege to be invited to speak on this platform on this issue, and in doing so I would like to express solidarity on behalf of Sinn Fein with the Palestinian and Bahraini people. The Balfour Declaration is among the worst examples of British Colonial policy, one which has caused untold suffering to the Palestinian people. For 100 years, Palestinian rights have been constantly eroded in the most undignified and inhumane manner possible. 

The international community, international organisations such as the UN and International Criminal Court and human rights activists across the globe have stated unequivocal opposition to Israel’s apartheid policies, escalating demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank, and a brutal military occupation which subjects the people of Palestine to daily degradation. Anyone who professes to support the basic tenants of freedom and justice for universal rights and democracy, must stand up and be counted in their condemnation of these crimes. 

Sinn Fein delegations routinely visit the West Bank as part of international delegations to show our support of Palestinian political prisoners. Over the years Sinn Fein has witnessed first-hand the apartheid Israeli state in action; the illegal settlements, the militant courts, the ritual daily humiliation of Palestinian workers at military check points. We have also met with families of prisoners on ‘administrative detention’, an Israeli euphemism for internment without trial and families who have had their loved ones murdered by the Israeli army of occupation. 

Ireland’s solidarity with the people of Palestine runs deep, and is resolute. Indeed, in the context of  Balfour and his colonial impact, the people of Ireland once knew him as Bloody Balfour. As a ruthless enforcer of British colonial policy in Ireland, Balfour imprisoned thousands of land agitators and activists struggling for agrarian justice. 

He introduced trial without jury for these Irish progressive and republicans, followed by internment without trial. Cottages were demolished and civic society institutions banned and criminalised. An avid Unionist, his intent in all this was the suppression of rising nationalist conscience to protect Britain’s colonial grip over the island of Ireland. 

As an MP for the people of Mid Ulster in Ireland, I use this occasion to call on the Irish Government to respect the vote that was taken in the Irish parliament three years ago to recognise the State of Palestine. I will also call for an immediate end to the EU’s preferential trade agreement with Israel and full support for the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. 

We know from experience of defeating apartheid in South Africa that strengthening the BDS campaign throughout the international community is the best means of bringing about a just and lasting settlement for the Palestinian people. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to express solidarity with the people of Bahrain. It is over six years since your people launched a mass movement of resistance in order to achieve political change and end tribal hereditary rule in Bahrain. 

The past six years have seen the oppressive, undemocratic and sectarian regime continually crush your right to democracy and imprison human rights advocates. We are not surprised to hear that British government officials have chosen to ignore reports of the gross abuses of human rights in Bahrain. Those who resist the Al Khalifa dynasty are met with gunfire on the streets or torture in prisons. In Ireland we continue to struggle to get the British state to face up to its own human rights abuses it carried out in Ireland during our conflict. 

An issue which is close our own experience is Bahrain’s security forces’ use of rubber bullets and tear gas as deadly and crippling weapons. Dozens of people, including children, were murdered in this way during the conflict in the north of Ireland. For this reason the people of Ireland are proud to show their solidarity. We in Sinn Fein continually raise with the plight of the Bahraini people in the Dail and in the committees of the Irish parliament. 

We are deeply concerned to hear of the routine extra-judicial execution of prisoners. Sean Crowe TD, who is our Foreign Spokesperson in Dublin, raised these executions inside the Irish Parliament and called on the Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs to raise the matter with his Bahraini counterparts. We are willing to continue to use these offices in Dail Eireann – the Irish parliament – to assist you. 

As we look forward to Martyrs Day in Westminster, the day we remember your patriotic dead, we can appreciate the immense importance of commemorating those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for national self-determination, human rights and democracy. 

 

Stephen Robert Sizer: At least one in four American Christians surveyed recently by Christianity Today magazine said that they believe it is their biblical responsibility to support the nation of Israel. This view is known as Christian Zionism. The Pew Research Center  put the figure at 63 per cent among white evangelicals. Christian Zionism is pervasive within mainline American evangelical, charismatic and independent denominations including the Assemblies of God, Pentecostals and Southern Baptists, as well as many of the independent mega-churches. It is less prevalent within the historic denominations, which show a greater respect for the work of the United Nations, support for human rights, the rule of international law and empathy with the Palestinians. 

 

It is my contention…that Christian Zionism is the largest, most controversial and most destructive lobby within Christianity. It bears primary responsibility for perpetuating tensions in the Middle East, justifying Israel’s apartheid colonialist agenda and for undermining the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. 

 

The origins of the movement can be traced to the early 19th century when a group of eccentric British Christian leaders began to lobby for Jewish restoration to Palestine as a necessary precondition for the return of Christ. The movement gained traction from the middle of the 19th century when Palestine became strategic to British, French and German colonial interests in the Middle East. Proto-Christian Zionism therefore preceded Jewish Zionism by more than 50 years. Some of Theodore Herzl’s strongest advocates were Christian clergy. 

Zionism would probably have remained simply a religious ideal were it not for the intervention of a handful of influential aristocratic British politicians who came to share the theological convictions of Darby and his colleagues and translated them into political reality. One in particular, Lord Shaftesbury (1801-1885) became convinced that the restoration of the Jews to Palestine was not only predicted in the Bible, but also coincided with the strategic interests of British foreign policy. 

 

Others who shared this perspective, in varying degrees and for different reasons, included Lord Palmerston, David Lloyd George and Lord Balfour. Ironically, this conviction was precipitated by the actions of Napoleon, in the spring of 1799. The European Powers became increasingly preoccupied with the ‘Eastern Question’. Britain and Prussia sided with the Sultan of Turkey against Napoleon and his vassal, Mehemet Ali. The necessity of preventing French control had led not only to the battles of the Nile and Acre, but also to a British military expedition in Palestine. With the defeat of Napoleon, Britain’s main concern was how to restrain Russia.  The race was on to control Palestine. 

 

Stirred by memories of the Napoleonic expedition, Lord  Shaftesbury argued for a greater British presence in Palestine and saw this could be achieved by the sponsorship of a Jewish homeland on both religious and political grounds.  British protection of the Jews would give a colonial advantage over France for the control of the Middle East; provide better access to India via a direct land route; and open up new commercial markets for British products. 

 

In 1839, Shaftesbury wrote an anonymous 30 page article for the Quarterly Review, entitled ‘State and Restauration  of the Jews.’ In it Shaftesbury advocated a Jewish national homeland with Jerusalem the capital, remaining under Turkish rule but with British protection. Shaftesbury predicted a new era for the Jews: 

 

‘ … the Jews must be encouraged to return in yet greater numbers and become once more the husbandman of Judea and Galilee … though admittedly a stiff-necked, dark hearted people, and sunk in moral degradation, obduracy, and ignorance of the Gospel … [They are] … not only worthy of salvation but also vital to Christianity’s hope of salvation.’ 

 

When Lord Palmerston, the Foreign Secretary, married Shaftsbury’s widowed mother-in-law, he was ‘well placed’ to lobby for this cause. His diary for 1st August 1840 Shaftesbury reads: 

 

‘Dined with Palmerston. After dinner left alone with him. Propounded my scheme which seems to strike his fancy. He asked questions and readily promised to consider it. How singular is the order of Providence. Singular, if estimated by man’s ways. Palmerston had already been chosen by God to be an instrument of good to His ancient people, to do homage to their inheritance, and to recognize their rights without believing their destiny. It seems he will yet do more. Though the motive be kind, it is not sound … he weeps not, like his Master, over Jerusalem, nor prays that now, at last, she may put on her beautiful garments. 

 

Two weeks later, a lead article in The London Times, dated 17 August 1840, called for a plan ‘to plant the Jewish people in the land of their fathers’, claiming such a plan was under ‘serious political consideration’. Palmerston commended the efforts of Shaftesbury, the plan’s author as both ‘practical and statesmanlike’. Fuelling speculation about an imminent restoration, on 4 November of 1840, Shaftesbury took out a paid advertisement in The Times to give greater visibility to his vision.  

 

‘RESTORATION OF THE JEWS. A memorandum has been addressed to the Protestant monarchs of Europe on the subject of the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Palestine. The document in question, dictated by a peculiar conjunction of affairs in the East, and other striking “signs of the times”, reverts to the original covenant which secures that land to the descendants of Abraham.’ 

 

The influence of Lord Shaftesbury, therefore, in promoting the Zionist cause within the political, diplomatic, and ecclesiastical establishment in Britain was immense. ‘He single-handedly translated the theological positions of Brightman, Henry Finch, and John Nelson Darby into a political strategy. His high political connections, matched by his uncanny instincts, combined to advance the Christian Zionist vision.’ Indeed it was probably Shaftesbury who inspired Israel Zangwell and Theodore Herzl to coin the phrase, ‘A land of no people for a people with no land.’ Shaftesbury, a generation earlier, imagining Palestine to be empty, had come up with the slogan, ‘A country without a nation for a nation without a country.’ Like Moses, Shaftesbury did not live to see his ‘Promised Land’ realised. However, through his lobbying, writings and public speaking he did more than any other British politician to inspire a generation of Joshuas to translate his religious vision into a political reality. 

 

Of those Christian political leaders to take up the mantle of Shaftesbury and achieve the Zionist dream, a small number stand out. These include Laurence Oliphant (1829-1888), William Hechler (1845-1931), David Lloyd George (1863-1945) and probably most significant of all, Arthur Balfour (1848-1930).  

 

By 1897, when the first World Zionist Congress met in Basle, Switzerland, Jewish leaders who favoured a Zionist State already had sympathetic support from many more senior British political figures. This was largely due to the efforts of one man, William Hechler. The son of LJS missionaries in France and Germany, Hechler was an Anglican priest and became chaplain to the British Embassy in Vienna in 1885, a position of strategic significance for the Zionist movement. ‘Imbued with evangelical millenarianism, he even formulated his own exact date for the re-establishment of the Jewish State.’ As with Shaftesbury’s slogan, so Hechler’s booklet, The Restoration of the Jews to Palestine (1894), predated Herzl’s Der Judenstaat by two years, and spoke of the need for ‘restoring the Jews to Palestine according to Old Testament prophecies.’ Hechler became Herzl’s chief Christian ally in realising his vision of a Zionist State, one of only three Christians invited to attend the World Congress of Zionists. Herzl was not religious but he was superstitious and records a meeting with Hechler on 10 March 1896 in his diary: 

 

‘The Reverend William Hechler, Chaplain of the English Embassy here, came to see me. A sympathetic, gentle fellow, with the long grey beard of a prophet. He is enthusiastic about my solution of the Jewish Question. He also considers my movement a ‘prophetic turning-point’ – which he had foretold two years before. From a prophecy in the time of Omar (637CE) he had reckoned that at the end of forty-two prophetic months (total 1260 years) the Jews would get Palestine back. This figure he arrived at was 1897-98.’ 

In March 1897, the year Hechler expected the Jews to begin returning to Palestine, Herzl described their second meeting at Hechler’s apartment. Herzl was amazed to find books from floor to ceiling, ‘Nothing but Bibles’ and a large military staff map of Palestine made up of four sheets covering the entire floor of the study:  

 

‘He showed me where, according to his calculations, our new Temple must be located: in Bethel! Because that is the centre of the country. He also showed me models of the ancient Temple. ‘We have prepared the ground for you!’ Hechler said triumphantly … I take him for a naive visionary … However, there is something charming about his enthusiasm … He gives me excellent advice, full of unmistakable genuine good will. He is at once clever and mystical, cunning and naive.’ 

 

Despite Herzl’s initial scepticism, Hechler kept his word and gained access to the German Kaiser William II, the Grand Duke of Baden as well as the British political establishment for Herzl and his Zionist delegation. Although sympathetic to the evangelistic ministry of the LJS, Hechler’s advocacy and diplomacy marked a radical shift in Christian Zionist thinking away from the views of early restorationists like Irving and Drummond who saw restoration to the land as a consequence of Jewish conversion to Christianity. Now, Hechler was insisting instead, that it was the destiny of Christians simply to help restore the Jews to Palestine. David Lloyd George, who became Prime Minister in 1916, was another self-confessed Zionist, sharing similar views to those of Shaftesbury.  In his own words, he was Chaim Weizmann’s proselyte, ‘Acetone converted me to Zionism.’ This was because Weizmann had assisted the British government in the development of a new explosive using acetone and Palestine appears to have been the reward.  

Probably the most significant British politician of all, however, was Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), who pioneered the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Like Lloyd George, Balfour had been brought up in an evangelical home and was sympathetic to Zionism because of the influence of dispensational teaching.  He regarded history as ‘an instrument for carrying out a Divine purpose.’ From 1905 Chaim Weizmann, then a professor of chemistry at Manchester University, began to meet regularly with Balfour to discuss the implementation of that goal. At Balfour’s invitation, in July 1917, the Zionist Organisation offered a suggested draft to Balfour:  

 

‘1. His Majesty’s Government accepts the principle that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people.
2. His Majesty’s Government will use its best endeavours to secure the achievement of this object and will discuss the necessary methods and means with the Zionist Organization.’  

 

Balfour amended this to emphasize the prerogative of the British government. On the 2nd November 1917, Lord Balfour made public the final draft of the letter written to Lord Rothschild on the 31st October which became known as the Balfour Declaration: 

 

‘His Majesty’s Government views 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 that object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done, which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish Communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. 

Balfour was in fact already committed to the Zionist programme out of theological conviction and had no intention of consulting with the indigenous Arab population. In a letter to Lord Curzon, written in 1919, Balfour insisted somewhat cynically: 

 

‘For 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 Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires or prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land … I do not think that Zionism will hurt the Arabs … in short, so far as Palestine is concerned, the Powers have made no statement of fact which is not admittedly wrong, and no declaration of policy which, at least in the letter, they have not always intended to violate.’ 

 

What the Balfour Declaration left intentionally ambiguous was the meaning of a ‘national home’. Was this synonymous with sovereignty or statehood and if so what were to be the borders? Would it occupy all of Palestine or just a portion? What was to be the status of Jerusalem? Furthermore, while it stated that ‘the civil and religious rights of the existing population’ were to be safeguarded and the territory was designated ‘Palestine’, there was no reference to Palestinians. ‘They were an actual, but awkward non-identity.’ It was clearly Balfour’s opinion that ‘the present inhabitants’ need not be consulted, either before or after. That 90% of the population of Palestine were Arabs of whom around 10% were Christian seemed irrelevant to the politicians and Zionists who had another agenda. So the awkward questions were left unanswered and it is these ambiguities which have continued to plague the so called “Middle East peace” negotiations for the last hundred years.  

 

By 1921, Great Britain had created the most extensive empire in world history and become the foremost global super power. The British Empire had a population of about 458 million people, or one-quarter of the world’s population. It covered about 36 million km² (14 million square miles), or one quarter of Earth’s total land mass. 

 

It was in this context that the Balfour Declaration gave Zionism for the first time ‘political legitimacy’, led to the 1947 Partition Plan and UN recognition of the State of Israel in 1948. The continuing destructive legacy of the duplicitous and broken promises made in the Balfour Declaration are obvious. 

 

Christian Zionism as a modern theological and political movement embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism. It has become deeply detrimental to a just peace between Palestine and Israel. It propagates a worldview in which the Christian message is reduced to an ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today. 

Followers of Christian Zionism are convinced that the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the capture of Jerusalem in 1967 were the miraculous fulfilment of God’s promises made to Abraham that he would establish Israel as a Jewish nation forever in Palestine. 

Tim LaHaye’s infamous Left Behind novels, together with other End Times speculations written by authors such as Hal Lindsey, John Hagee and Pat Robertson, have sold well over 100 million copies. These are supplemented by children’s books, videos and event violent computer games. 

 

Burgeoning Christian Zionist organizations such as the International Christian Embassy (ICEJ), Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) and Christians United for Israel (CUFI) wield considerable influence on Capitol Hill, claiming a support base in excess of 50 million true believers. This means there are now at least ten times as many Christian Zionists as Jewish Zionists. And their European cousins are no less active in the Zionist Hasbarafia, lobbying for Israel, attacking its critics and thwarting the peace process. The United States and Israel are often portrayed as Siamese twins, joined at the heart, sharing common historic, religious and political values. 

 

Pastor John Hagee is one of the leaders of the Christian Zionist movement. He is the Founder and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church, a 19,000-member evangelical church in San Antonio, Texas. His weekly programmes are broadcast on 160 TV stations, 50 radio stations and eight networks into an estimated 99 million homes in 200 countries. In 2006 he founded Christians United for Israel admitting, 

 

“For 25 almost 26 years now, I have been pounding the evangelical community over television. The Bible is a very pro-Israel book. If a Christian admits ‘I believe the Bible,’ I can make him a pro-Israel supporter or they will have to denounce their faith. So I have the Christians over a barrel, you might say.” 

 

In March 2007, Hagee spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. He began by saying: 

 

“The sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened. There are 50 million Christians standing up and applauding the State of Israel…” mAs the Jerusalem Post pointed out, his speech did not lack clarity. He went on to warn: “It is 1938. Iran is Germany, and Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler. We must stop Iran’s nuclear threat and stand boldly with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East… Think of our potential future together: 50 million evangelicals joining in common cause with 5 million Jewish people in America on behalf of Israel is a match made in heaven.” Christian Zionists have shown varying degrees of enthusiasm for implementing six basic political convictions that arise from their ultra-literal and fundamentalist theology: 

 

  1. The belief that the Jews remain God’s chosen people leads Christian Zionists to seek to bless Israel in material ways. However, this also invariably results in the uncritical endorsement of and justification for Israel’s racist and apartheid policies, in the media, among politicians and through solidarity tours to Israel. 
  1. As God’s chosen people, the final restoration of the Jews to Israel is therefore actively encouraged, funded and facilitated through partnerships with the Jewish Agency. 
  1. Eretz Israel, as delineated in scripture, from the Nile to the Euphrates, belongs exclusively to the Jewish people, therefore the land must be annexed, Palestinians driven from their homes and the illegal Jewish settlements expanded and consolidated. 
  1. Jerusalem is regarded as the eternal and exclusive capital of the Jews, and cannot be shared with the Palestinians. Therefore, strategically, Christian Zionists have lobbied the US Administration to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem and thereby ensure that Jerusalem is recognised as the capital of Israel. 
  1. Christian Zionists offer varying degrees of support for organisations such as the Jewish Temple Mount Faithful who are committed to destroying the Dome of the Rock and rebuilding the Jewish Temple on the Haram Al-Sharif (Noble sanctuary of Al-Aqsa). 
  1. Christian Zionists invariably have a pessimistic view of the future, convinced that there will be an apocalyptic war of Armageddon in the imminent future. They are deeply sceptical of the possibility of a lasting peace between Jews and Arabs and therefore oppose the peace process. Indeed, to advocate an Israeli compromise of “land for peace” with the Palestinians is seen as a rejection of God’s promises to Israel and therefore to support her enemies. 

 

Within the Christian Zionist worldview, Palestinians are regarded as alien residents in Israel. Many Christian Zionists are reluctant even to acknowledge Palestinians exist as a distinct people, claiming that they emigrated to Israel from surrounding Arab nations for economic reasons after Israel had become prosperous. A fear and deep-seated hatred of Islam also pervades their dualistic Manichean theology. Christian Zionists have little or no interest in the existence of indigenous Arab Christians despite their continuity with the early church. 

 

In 2006, I drafted what became known as the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism signed by four of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem: His Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch, Jerusalem; Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem; Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East; and Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. In it they insisted: 

 

“We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation. We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organisations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of world. 

 

We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations! 

 

We call upon Christians in Churches on every continent to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism. These discriminative actions are turning Palestine into impoverished ghettos surrounded by exclusive Israeli settlements. The establishment of the illegal settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land undermines the viability of a Palestinian state and peace and security in the entire region.” 

 

The patriarchs concluded, “God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.” The prophet Micah asks, “What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). 

 

It is my contention after more than 10 years of postgraduate research that Christian Zionism is the largest, most controversial and most destructive lobby within Christianity. It bears primary responsibility for perpetuating tensions in the Middle East, justifying Israel’s apartheid colonialist agenda and for undermining the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. 

 

The closing chapter of the New Testament takes us back to the imagery of the Garden of Eden and the removal of the curse arising from the Fall: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb… On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2) Surely this is what Jesus had in mind when he instructed his followers to act as Ambassadors of peace and reconciliation, to work and pray that God’s kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven. 

 

Dr Mohamed Haidar: This topic is very challenging. It gave me the opportunity to learn a lot from the research I did. Tonight my talk concentrates on two dimensions: one is the historical. I am glad our colleague shed a lot of light on this which gives me the opportunity to make it short and concentrate on the other part. This is what happened after the declaration, the consequences, how the Palestinians behaved and suffered. Recent history never experienced such a tragedy. It has occupied the newspaper discussions on an international levels and even religious levels. Everywhere people talk about the Palestinian cause. 

 

This tragedy, we don’t want to make it more dramatic, but it reminds us of the people who have been forced to leave their houses bare footed, empty handed and quite a lot of them carrying the keys to their houses with them. This is the symbol of the return. The story has been transferred from generation to generation talking about the disaster which happened suddenly to a great number of people in a place called Palestine. 

 

It is really sad but if you look at some of the documentaries by many media groups or television stations you could see  a Palestinian immigrant coming back  with his children and taking them to the hill side where he finds an empty house just standing with the architecture of hand made stones to make this kind or arc which shaped the architecture of Europe and changed the design of cathedrals and palaces. So imagine that these houses are still witnesses of what happened to these people and their disaster. 

 

The  Ottoman Empire was formed in the 14th century and then it started to stretch to  Anatolia and to the west of Africa and the east of Asia to the doors of Europe, that took many hundreds of years. During WW1 the Ottomans took the side of the Germans, the Austrians and the Hungarians and there was war everywhere.  

 

During that period of time the Jews were facing hard times in Europe and everybody knows the history of the holocaust. This is not the whole story. The Balfour Declaration is just one piece of paper which turned the  whole world upside down. It created a disaster not only for the Palestinians but also for the Middle East and it created a disaster in international relations and people started to lose trust and confidence in each other. 

 

Was it a conspiracy against the Arabs or a conspiracy against the Jews or a silly foreign policy mistake or a deliberate mistake. You can ask many questions and you will reach many answers but the most interesting point about this declaration. People had their own views about the declaration itself like Lord Curzon. He was very concerned about the way the words are stated in this declaration. It is very interesting to go to this background. It will give you more information. 

 

Even Montagu who was just appointed Secretary of State for India was one of the people who had his own conversations and objections about the language of the declaration. Montagu considered the declaration to be an anti-Semitic document and claimed that most English born Jews were opposed to Zionism which he said was being pushed mainly by foreign born Jews such as Wiseman. This is the professor of chemistry from Manchester. The relationship between Balfour and Wiseman was strong. They worked for the purpose of establishing a home for the Jews.  With the help of Lloyd George in the cabinet it became an opportunity for the declaration to take place. 

 

The rich people reached Egypt and took over part of Egypt and  Berheba and then they moved into Gaza and from there Lloyd George promised the cabinet that by Christmas we will be in Jerusalem. That was the opportunity and the golden time for the declaration itself to see the light. 

 

After that in November 1917 the declaration was issued and was given by Balfour to Rotschild who was the head of the Zionist organisation in London. After this declaration some papers were discovered in the archive like an agreement between the British and the French to divide the area. This was embarrassing for the British and the French when the Sykes Picott agreement was published after it was uncovered by one of the journalists. 

 

The British took the  opportunity of the mandate over Palestine and from that point the immigration started from Europe to Palestine. There was a lot of trouble. The Arabs were told that they had been deceived and betrayed by the British who promised them something and it did not materialise. 

 

They discovered as well that the British were having secret meetings with the Ottomans to let them have keep some the areas in which they were defeated. They left them in the north of Syria and gave them part of that area. Now it is an area unsettled between the Syrians and the Turks. 

 

So this kind of policy people said was a deliberate foreign policy to support the Jews to have Palestine as their dreamland and to wait for the messiah.  It was prerequisite for the return of Jesus Christ. 

 

After that there was a lot of trouble. There were many wars in India and in the Middle East and there were many massacres. According to the documentation at least 77 massacres happened in the land of Palestine and that is why people started to flee from their towns and cities. The British promised them you can return in a few weeks. We will arm you and give you some ammunition etc That was a false promises on the top of other false promises. Time started to pass and nothing happened. 

There were many  wars in the Middle East. The first one was the nakba in 1948. The next  war was the six day war in 1967. After that you have the Yom Kipur war and the first Lebanese war and don’t forget the intifadah. They had very many infifadas. This was a result of a bloody conflict between the Palestinians and the Jews. Some statistics say 91,000 Palestinians died and about 78,000 were wounded. I guess the number if higher than that. Over 24,000 Jews died and about 36,000 were wounded. That is due to the kind of weapons that were given or obtained by the Arabs.  Some of the weapons they were given did not fire properly, the ammunition was very old. The Jews were given cannons, tanks etc etc. 

We remember that there were some militias who really terrorised the villages and the people and pushed them to leave their villages. 

 

In the middle of this conflict the children were affected as well. Many children died. In 2000 not a single Jewish child died while you have almost 91 Palestinian children dying. If you go to 2002, 200 Palestinian children died and 45 Jewish children. In 2009 one Jewish child died as a result of the conflict and 294 Palestinian children died. 

 

At the same time land captivity is very well known by the settlers.  Every time they found an excuse to take more lands and kick the Palestinians out of their land. All this is after 1967.  The United Nations was involved but the United Nations and its resolutions never helped the Palestinians. The Israeli I ignored all the international laws and never cared about them. 

 

House demolition was like a tactic. It started in 1948 and has continued until now. They have been talking about over 45,000 houses which have been demolished. The policy of the Israeli army is to punish the Palestinians. Imagine if the house is the only shelter you have you feel  as if you are a refugee in your own country. This is a humiliation for a human being and at the same time you are not allowed to rebuild your house. You cannot return to your land and have to find a place somewhere else. 

 

If people submit a request to the government to give them permission to build almost 50percent of the applications are not approved. This translated on an international level is a punishment for the Palestinians. 

 

The Palestinians are not allowed to transport medicine. In recent days you have at least 250 checkpoints within the West Bank. If you are moving from your house to your work you have to pass through a certain route and this route and this route may have 15 or 20 checkpoints.  How many stories do we hear that an ambulance with sick people or a pregnant lady was  just waiting for hours at a check point and the soldiers just ignore that.  How could this happen and no one really cares? Such practices on a daily basis are killing the Palestinians. 

 

On top of the land grab the Israelis introduced some armed settlers and they provided them with arms and ammunition. There are hundreds of incidents when the settlers went to the villages and provoked and shot the people. Then the army comes and gives them support. 

 

One of the most important issues during the Oslo peace talks was the right to return. As a Palestinian you are outside your country and you have right to return to your country. The Palestinians are not given any support with this issue. 

 

How can peace be made with whole generations when they are given no rights to go back to their land. If you look at the map these days from 1948 you will see how much land has been taken from the Palestinians. You will see small dots on that map in green and red which belong to the Palestinians. So 90 percent of the Palestinian land is now in the hands of the Jews. 

 

Gaza is a recent example. When it was besieged it was a disaster. There is no infrastructure in Gaza. If you flush your toilet anything might go on the street. The septic tanks are limited. The population density is ten times the area of Gaza. They are living in very miserable conditions. 

 

Water is given to the Gazan population for between four and eight hours every three days. This is how much the supply of water the Israelis allow.  What can you do with this water? If you fill the tank what can you do after that? 

 

Another issue is the watering of crops. Since 1967 the statistics talk about destroying over 800,000 live trees. If the  average production of an olive tree is 20 kilos it means you are producing 24,000 tonnes and that means you are producing a huge amount. If you take 10 percent of that you are producing what is worth 100million of oil.  They Palestinians have been deprived of this by the killing of the trees which are a symbol for the Palestinians. For the trees to be planted again to give fruit takes at least ten to 15 years. 

 

Unemployment in Gaza and even the West Bank is at least 28 percent and even sometimes during the times of the siege or when they have problems with the Israelis and they do not allow people to go to work where construction is taking place it goes up to 50 and 60 percent. 

 

The last point I want to make is that we should not forget about the people who contributed to the Palestinians and gave them support. If you remember Mohammed Al Turah the child who was shot while his father was trying to protect  him behind a little cement corner. This drama reminds me of another drama of the young blond American girl called Rachael Corrie.  You know the story of Rachael. She tried to stop the bulldozer from coming and demolishing the houses in Rafa. And she stood in front of the bulldozer. The driver of the bulldozer smashed her and even he reversed on her and crushed her chest. She was taken to the hospital and after a couple of hours she passed away. 

 

For those people who try to give support to the Palestinians I really respect. This raises many questions. Those people who still dream to go back to their houses will that happen again? Will  there be another fight between the Israelis and the Palestinians? It is like a volcano. It does not matter if there is a problem in Iraq or in Syria or Lebanon or Jordan I think the issue of Palestine is coming back and it will be a very fundamental issue and a very fundamental case to talk about. What is happening now in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon is totally the opposite to what people might expect. A new generation is born again in that land and I see another fight and another war  between the Palestinians and the Israelis. I do not know what that may lead to. A lot of people might get killed. 

 

The international community has to understand what steps it has to take to prevent this from happening. What justice we have to impose not to let more bloodshed happen and let our children live in peace. Let our  people live in peace and enjoy their fortune for the development of their societies. Will the international  community learn a lesson from the last 100 years? Will Netanyahu ask himself a question – will this work. Two states? He is in doubt about that and he is not the only one. The future is not really as brilliant as we think but if the international community really comes together to find a solution we will avoid a lot of casualties and another wave of killing in the Middle East.  

Francie Molloy is a Sinn Féin politician who has been the abstentionist Member of Parliament for Mid Ulster since 2013. He was a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Mid Ulster from 1998 to 2013. He first stood for Sinn Féin in Fermanagh and South Tyrone in the 1982 Assembly Elections, finishing sixth in the five-seat constituency. He was then elected to Dungannon council in 1985[5] representing the Torrent electoral area, centred on Coalisland. He retired from the council in 1989 but was re-elected in 1993, and has been a councillor since then. 

 

**Stephen Robert Sizer Stephen Robert Sizer (born 1953) is the founder and director of Peacemaker Mediators a charity dedicated to furthering justice, peace and reconciliation especially where faith minorities are persecuted or marginalised. He was until recently the Anglican vicar of Virginia Water in Surrey. He has been a patron or director of Sadaka, Holy Land Trust, Sabeel and Biblica. He holds post graduate degrees from Oxford and Middlesex Universities. He has published three books on Christian Zionism and the Holy Land. 

 

*** Dr Mohamed Haidar is Lebanese-born economist and activist with BSc degree from the Lebanese University, BA from Yarmouk University (Jordan), MSc from the Lebanese American University and PhD from Durham University. He worked as Business writer with Al-Hayat daily newspaper. He taught and supervised research work at the American University of London. He also cooperated with the International training Centre of the United Nations (ILO) which is located in Turin – Italy. He worked as Financial Consultant for Arab Investments, a company specialized in financing and managing property and property developments. Dr Haidar is regular guest on several media and broadcasting stations such as BBC, RT Al-Jazeera and other stations discussing Business and political issues in the Middle East. 

 

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