Significant quotes related to the Balfour Declaration

1840 Shaftesbury takes an advert in the Times 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.

1865 ……This country of Palestine belongs to you and to me, it is essentially ours. It was given to the Father of Israel in the words: ‘ Walk through the land in the length of it, and in the breadth of it, for I will give it unto thee.’ We mean to walk through Palestine in the length and in the breadth of it, because that land has been given unto us. It is the land from which comes the news of our Redemption. It is the land towards which we turn, as the fountain of all our hopes ; it is the land to which we may look with as true a patriotism as we do to this dear old England, which we love so much……  The Archbishop of York’s introduction to the first meeting of the Palestine Exploration Fund P4

1896 Hechler [Chaplain to the British embassy in Vienna] introduced Herzl not only to the Grand Duke of Baden, but also to the Duke’s nephew, Kaiser William II, and to Otto von Bismarck. Earlier attempts by Herzl to contact Bismarck had produced no results. In a remarkably short time, Herzl moved from being an obscure Jewish writer to the international stage; he was soon being heralded by many as the person offering a viable solution to the difficulties facing many European Jews: the establishment of a Jewish homeland.  Donald Lewis, The Origins of Christian Zionism p229

1897 First International Zionist Congress in Basel. Two Rabbis sent to Palestine. They report: ‘The bride is beautiful but she is married to another man‘ Shlaim, The Iron Wall

1906: Balfour writes to his niece after meeting Weizmann. ‘ [he] could see no political problems in obtaining Palestine, only economic ones.’

1915: McMahon to Sharif Husayn …… I am authorised to give you the following pledges on behalf of the Government of Great Britain, and to reply as follows to your note: That subject to the modifications stated above, Great Britain is prepared to recognise and uphold the independence of the Arabs in all the regions lying within the frontiers proposed by the Sharif of Mecca. Ingrams p2 see McMahon’s promise to Hussein

1918 Sir Mark Sykes, insisted: “If Arab nationality be recognised in Syria and Mesopotamia as a matter of justice it will be equally necessary to devise some form of control or administration for Palestine” that recognizes “the various religious and racial nationalities in the country . . . according equal privileges to all such nationalities.”

1919, Balfour to Curzon‘The weak point of our position is of course that in the case of Palestine we deliberately and rightly decline to accept the principle of self-determination.’

1919 Curzon, to Balfour warns: Weizmann contemplates a Jewish state, a Jewish nation, a subordinate population of Arabs, [and that Weizmann was]…trying to effect this behind the screen and under the shelter of British trusteeship. Ingram p58

1919 Balfour to Curzon ‘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 and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land………. 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. Ingram p73 See Nutting

1920 discussions on McMahon/Husayn Correspondence  ‘In the Arabic version sent to King Husain this is so translated as to make it appear that Gt Britain is free to act without detriment to France in the whole of the limits mentioned. This passage, of course, had been our sheet anchor: it enabled us to tell the French that we had reserved their rights, and the Arabs that there were regions in which they would have eventually to come to terms with the French. It is extremely awkward to have this piece of solid ground cut from under our feet. I think that HMG will probably jump at the opportunity of making some sort of ‘amende’ by sending Feisal to Mesopotamia’. Barr, A line in the Sand p118-119

1921  In his memorandum on British policy in Palestine one of  Hubert Young’s recommendations was: ‘the removal of all anti-Zionist civil officials, however highly placed’ . Meinertzhagen wrote on this point ‘I am in complete agreement‘  Ingrams p140-141

1922  LORD ISLINGTON moving the motion on the Palestine Mandate in the House of Lords which condemned the Mandate by 60 – 29 votes moved ‘that the Mandate for Palestine in its present form is inacceptable to this House, because it directly violates the pledges made by His Majesty’s Government to the people of Palestine in the Declaration of October, 1915, and again in the Declaration of November, 1918, and is, as at present framed, opposed to the sentiments and wishes of the great majority of the people of Palestine; that, therefore, its acceptance by the Council of the League of Nations should be postponed until such modifications have therein been effected as will comply with pledges given by His Majesty’s Government……,

1922 Sir John Shuckburgh,writing about the McMahon promise, minuted “there is sufficient doubt in the matter to make it desirable not to drag the controversy out into the daylight”, advising some months later “that our best policy is to let sleeping dogs lie as much as possible”. And in a letter of November 1922 to the British high commissioner in Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel, he commented that the question remained “troublesome” and that the official version of McMahon, as paraphrased to the outside world, was “one of the weakest points in our armour”.

Britain was responsible for the tragedy of Palestine, the cause of much war, suffering and the displacement of peoples as well as posing a continuing threat to world peace. The Balfour Declaration in both its parts [promising a Jewish homeland and to protect the interests of the Arab residents of Palestine] was not capable of implementation and the end of the Mandate was humiliating and irresponsible. Anthony Parsons  (former UK Ambassador to Iran), “The Middle East”, in Peter Byrd (Ed.), British foreign policy under Thatcher, 1988

‘By a stroke of the imperial pen, the Promised land [thus] became twice promised. Even by the standards of Perfidious Albion, this was an extraordinary tale of double-dealing and betrayal, a tale that continued to haunt Britain throughout the 30 years of its rule in Palestine. Shlaim

‘The Declaration was the product of neither military nor diplomatic interests but of prejudice, faith and sleight of hand. The men who sired it were Christian and Zionist and, in many cases, anti-Semitic.  Tom Segev, One Palestine Complete, p33

2011 ‘The centrepiece of British policy, that Britain would withhold representative institutions to Palestine as long as there was an Arab majority.’ Sir Martin Gilbert, Irene and Hyman Kreitman Annual Lecture: ‘Sowing the Seeds of Jewish Statehood: Britain and Palestine, 1909-1922’, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, 29-31 May 2011

The Balfour Declaration was born out of religious sentiment. Arthur Balfour was a Christian mystic who believed that the Almighty had chosen him to be an instrument of the Divine Will, the purpose of which was to restore the Jews to their ancient homeland — perhaps as a precursor to the Second Coming of the Messiah.
The Declaration was thus intended to assist in the fulfilment of biblical prophecy. This appealed to Lloyd George, whose private immorality did not prevent him from believing in the prophecies of a Bible he knew inside out.  Geoffrey Alderman, Jewish Chronicle November 8, 2012′

‘Such was the looseness and imprecision of British thinking on Levantine affairs that as late as March 1923 the Duke of Devonshire, as colonial secretary, found himself unable to answer a query in the House of Lords as to the strategic case for holding Palestine.’ William M Mathews. The Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate 1917-1023, British Imperialist Imperatives, July 2013

While the US struggles to invent its future as an honest broker, Britain might find its relevance in the Arab-Israeli conflict merely by recalling its past: and to tap into its historical knowledge and reclaim its role as a member of the original Palestine triangle.Natasha Gill

What Cameron can do, however, if he feels real contrition for Britain’s past, is to make the teaching of the British empire a compulsory part of the GCSE history syllabus. The empire was, for better or worse, the most important thing the British ever did: it completely changed the shape of the modern world. Yet most British people are by and large completely unaware of the details of their imperial history. My own children learned Tudors and the Nazis over and again in history class, but never came across a whiff of Indian history. This means that they, like most people who go through the British education system, are wholly ill-equipped to judge either the good or the bad in what we did to the rest of the world. William Dalrymple The Guardian,  2013

….the Bible was considered secondary to Jewish oral law…. It was the Protestants who discovered the Bible and extolled its importance in educating the younger generation. Even the idea of the Jews returning to their ancient homeland as the first step to world redemption seems to have originated among a specific group of evangelical English Protestants that flourished in England in the 1840s; they passed this notion onto Jewish circles. Anita Shapira, Israel a History, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2014, p15

 

 

 

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