Message from Bishop John Austin Baker, former Bishop of Salisbury
The Balfour Project so truly fulfils these principles that it can only do good, where good is desperately needed, and deserves all the help we can give”
Marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in 2017 as a contribution to justice, peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.
Britain’s actions in the Middle East nearly a hundred years ago still reverberate throughout the region – and across the world.
Acting in ways which, for an outside nation, now seem supremely arrogant, Britain made different promises to both Arabs and Jews about who might expect to control the land then known as Palestine. Because these promises fundamentally contradicted each other, the stage was set for a struggle to control the land which has intensified into the bitter enmity which we call the ‘Israel-Palestine conflict’. Many are unaware of Britain’s imperial hubris in Palestine, but modern-day Israelis and Palestinians, and those in surrounding countries, still live with its consequences.
The “Balfour Project” has been created by a group of concerned British individuals who believe that the approaching centenaries should be marked in our nation with awareness and honesty. We believe British people need:
- to learn what our nation did a hundred years ago, and understand how those actions are perceived today by all concerned
- to acknowledge, with honesty and humility, where reprehensible attitudes and unethical behaviour in our nation contributed to the ensuing impasse. The historical record clearly identifies elements of racism and anti-Semitism, deceit and cynical hypocrisy, arrogance and exploitation.
In responding to Jewish aspirations, Britain deliberately ignored the rights and expectations of the Palestinian Arabs who inhabited the land. Without questioning the right of Israel to exist, the Balfour Project believes it is time for the British people to express our shame at this unacceptable double standard. There is evidence that healing and reconciliation can flow from acknowledging the wrongs of the past.
Our objective is simple: to be a catalyst for justice and peace.