Balfour Declaration Turns 100: Together We Can End its Legacy of Dispossessing Palestinians
Today marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, a document which from the perspective of its Palestinian victims, constituted a declaration of war against the Palestinian people. Together we can end its brutal legacy and create a brighter future with justice, peace and a dignified life for all.
I]t is utterly impossible to obtain the voluntary consent of the Palestine Arabs for converting "Palestine" from an Arab country into a country with a Jewish majority.
...The native populations, civilised or uncivilised, have always stubbornly resisted the colonists, irrespective of whether they were civilised or savage.
— Ze’ev Jabotinsky, influential Zionist leader, in his essay “The Iron Wall” (1923)
November 2, 2017 — Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. This document supported and entrenched the colonization of Palestine. It laid the foundation for the 1948 Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of the majority of the indigenous people of Palestine at the hands of Zionist militias, and subsequently Israeli forces, to establish a Jewish-majority state in Palestine.
From the perspective of its Palestinian victims, this fateful statement by the British government, issued with typical colonial hubris and deep-seated racism towards non-European populations, constituted a declaration of war against our people. It facilitated and attempted to legitimize the establishment of a Jewish “national home” in Palestine, stripping Palestinians of their national and political rights, and giving birth, eventually, to an Israeli settler-colonial and apartheid state that privileges the rights of predominantly European Jewish colonizers over the rights of the indigenous Palestinian majority.
Today, this ongoing Palestinian Nakba, which entails Israel’s relentless land theft, dispossession, denial of human rights and legalized racial discrimination against Palestinians, would not be possible without massive military, economic and political support from the U.S. government—Israel’s prime sponsor—alongside the European Union and complicit states, international organizations and corporations.
But as Jabotinsky predicted and as Balfour failed to foresee, the Palestinian people have “stubbornly resisted” this colossal, unending crime, insisting on nothing less than our full rights under international law, particularly our right to self-determination and freedom from colonial and racist subjugation.
In this context, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights, launched in 2005 by the absolute majority in Palestinian society at home and in exile, became one of the key forms of our popular resistance and the most effective and strategic forms of solidarity with our nonviolent struggle for freedom, justice and equality.
By holding Israel’s decades-old regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid to account, by calling on people of conscience worldwide to shoulder the moral responsibility to end complicity in its egregious human rights violations, as was done against apartheid South Africa, we significantly contribute to ending Balfour’s colonial and inherently racist legacy.
By intensifying our strategic campaigns to end military trade and free-trade agreements with Israel we contribute to ending this colonial legacy.
By further isolating Israel’s academic and cultural institutions that constitute a pillar of its system of apartheid and colonial rule against Palestinians, we help in upholding human rights.
By refraining from dealing with banks and corporations that are deeply implicated in Israel’s war crimes and egregious human rights violations, we support the struggle for justice.
By taking Israel off the pedestal that the United States, European Union and others have put it on, by treating it like any other state committing similar crimes, we enhance the rule of international law and play a role in ending the law of the colonial jungle.
Wherever you are on this centenary of the Balfour Declaration, we appeal to you to exercise your conscience and help us counteract the harm its legacy continues to inflict on the Palestinian people. Our strength lies in our principled, anti-racist commitment to universal rights, our multitudes, and our boundless creativity.
Together we can create a brighter future with justice, peace and a dignified life for all.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights under international law.