Lord Balfour’s Letter Was 1917’s ‘Fake News’

The surrender of Jerusalem to the British, December 9, 1917. (Photo: Library of Congress)

By James M. Wall

Thursday, November 2, will be the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

To commemorate that event, the current British Prime Minister Teresa May, will attend a London dinner party at the home of Lord Rothschild, heir to the recipient of the infamous letter from Arthur James Balfour, Britain’s then Foreign Secretary.

She will be joined at the dinner by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s current Prime Minister, along with the dinner host, Lord Rothschild, and the current Lord Balfour, a descendant of Arthur James Balfour, who had no direct descendants.

The Balfour Declaration (it was actually a letter) was issued November 2, 1917.

It is that “declaration”, the dinner party celebrates. To get some sense of the sheer hypocrisy of such a celebration, below is the letter.

Remember, this was written in 1917, when the British government was influenced by the Zionist movement, and eager to make promises that were soon broken.

The letter was sent from Britain’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a leader in the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.

The pertinent segment exposes its Zionist origins:

“His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, 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.”

This was not a British governmental action. It was a 1917 version of what President Donald Trump enjoys calling “fake news”, a neologism he uses when a statement or action is contrary to reality as he wants it to be.

The president claimed this week that he coined the term, fake news. Not true. The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers reported:

“Trump rewrote history when . . . in his conversation with [Lou] Dobbs: “I think one of the best names is — you know, I’ve really started this whole ‘fake news’ thing. Now they’ve turned it around and then, now, they’re calling, you know, stories put out by different — by Facebook ‘fake.’””

Borchers refutes that claim. “Trump posted his first-ever tweet containing the phrase ‘fake news’ on Dec. 10, 2016, more than a month after Election Day”. By then, the press had reported extensively on the way social media platforms such as Facebookfacilitated the spread of fake news articles.

At the close of World War I, a 1917 version of “fake news”, arrived on the scene. It emerged as the British and French elites carved up the land they were capturing from the Ottoman Empire.

Now, they faced the task of how best to control their new subjects and at the same time, give their actions a favorable spin.

Britain had experience in such matters, having ruled the Indian subcontinent since 1858 “when the rule of the East India Company was transferred to the Crown in the person of Queen Victoria (who in 1876 was proclaimed Empress of India)”. (Wikipedia).

That rule lasted until 1947, “when the British provinces of India were partitioned into two sovereign dominion states: the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan”. (Wikipedia).

The Turks had been more passive in their role as empire rulers. They respected, for example, the Arab customs that allowed for the development of tribal structures.

The British elite were more eager to have their subjects become English-oriented. In their view, Arabs were subjects of their superiors. In India’s case, for example,  subjects who learned English and adopted English manners became sub-rulers in the British empire.

The Jewish minority in Palestine, 10 per cent of the 1917 population, had strong backers in Britain and the United States, a benefit the Indians of the India subcontinent lacked. It was this support, political and financial, that gave birth to the Balfour Declaration.

Lord Arthur James Balfour, former British prime minister and in 1917, the foreign minister, sent his letter (the Declaration) to Lord Rothschild.

The fake news–a lie designed to deceive–in the letter promised that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

That fake lie in the 1917 letter was written to reassure pious British citizens that their rulers were well-intentional, while at the same time, promising the Zionists what they wanted, a future homeland for the Jewish people.

The Zionist-Balfour letter was a lie. It was “fake” because it was was written to satisfy the desires of empire-builders and the Zionists while pretending to guarantee the Arabs equal treatment.

The truth was that Britain officialdom cared little for the Arabs in Palestine. They actually viewed them as a “problem”. Britain’s goal was to help the Zionists establish a Jewish “homeland” on territory which was home to Arabs.

Aided by reaction to the horrors of the Holocaust, the Zionists finally got their state in 1948. The promise not to prejudice “the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” was left to the new colonial government of the state of Israel.

These promises about Palestinian “rights” were as fake as a magician’s rabbit. The new state even codified the promise in its Declaration of Independence, adopted in May, 1948It was a promise that has consistently been broken:

“The State of Israel will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Tim Llewellyn is a former BBC Middle East Correspondent and author, and now an associate of the UK-based Balfour Project.

He writes in Mondoweiss this week that the League of Nations imposed on Britain a “sacred trust” when it gave Britain “the mandate to rule Palestine after the First World War”.

Llewellyn writes this stinging analysis of the anniversary that united May and Netanyahu for their dinner party:

 “The 100th anniversary of Mr. Balfour’s great deception is not, after all, turning out to be the unalloyed celebration the Zionists and their stooges in Westminster and Whitehall had planned.

“Rather the reverse: a continuing parade of British self-examination, throughout society, and the intention to put matters right at last for the Palestinian people.”

He then points to a series of counter-events in Britain denouncing the May-Netanyahu dinner celebration. The Balfour Declaration is being understood in Britain for what it was from the beginning, a deception designed to create a new state on stolen land.

Samia Khoury, an indefatigable Palestinian activist and blogger, has lived in the West Bank her entire life. She understands colonizers.

The latest posting on her blog, Reflections from Palestine, exposes the latest ploy of Prime Minister Netanyahu to deny Palestinian freedom.

Khoury begins:

“Colonizers are supposed to be experts on the “Divide and Rule”policy.  We have not only  read about it in history books, we have watched it, and lived through it.  So it is not surprising that Israel is now putting conditions for resuming negotiations with the Palestinians after the agreement of reconciliation between Fateh and Hamas has taken place. 

“What is surprising is that Israel continues to claim that it has no peace partner, and it cannot resume negotiations with the PA when there is a split between Fateh and Hamas. Now that the Palestinians are in the process of reconciliation, Israel is putting its conditions. It is very clear that Israel is not interested in peace.  It is simply interested in being left in peace [on] . . .Palestinian land.”

Fake news in any era, like Netanyahu’s newly-minted “conditions”, has a limited shelf life.

Over time, the contents of the shelf begin to smell. The good news is that more activists and bloggers like Samia Khoury, are asking the world, “Do you smell what is decaying on that shelf?’

– To read more articles by James Wall visit: http://wallwritings.me.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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1 Comment

  1. So much here I had never known. Requires rethinking and more research,definitely.

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