Recent articles

  • The Guardian’s Long Read of 17 October was headlined ‘Britain’s calamitous promise’. Author Ian Black writes ‘The brief document that bears Balfour’s name is seen as marking the beginning of what is today widely considered the world’s most intractable conflict.’

‘A chance to make good on Britain’s broken promise’ is the heading to his article. It is sub-headed ‘A century after the Balfour Declaration, the UK should acknowledge its role in Palestinian suffering’.

‘That outstanding broken promise is a theme of one of the most interesting forthcoming public meetings on Balfour on 31 October,’ it continued, ‘which will “acknowledge Britain’s historic responsibilities in the Middle East” and commit to “supporting Palestinians and Israelis in building a peaceful future based on equal rights for all.”’

This was a reference to the event at Central Hall Westminster when British leaders – political, religious and academic – will speak on ‘Britain’s Broken Promise: Time for a New Approach’.

  • 100 Years After Balfour is a new talking heads film made by Independent Jewish Voices.

The film spells out the troubling legacy of the Balfour Declaration, challenging the notion that this year’s centenary is cause for celebration, given the grave consequences of the document for Palestinians above all. The film goes on to explain how the decisions of the British government in 1917 are linked to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, its fifty year occupation of the West Bank since 1967, and today’s political gridlock. 100 Years After Balfour features seven experts and activists: Professor Avi Shlaim, Professor Jacqueline Rose, Rabbi Howard Cooper, Professor Brian Klug, Antony Lerman, Barnaby Raine and Miri Weingarten.

  • On Wednesday Oct 4 there was a spirited debate on this Declaration and some of its deleterious effects at the Frontline journalists’ Club in London.
  • On Saturday 18th March, Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine (LDFP) held a fringe event about the Balfour Declaration at their Spring Conference in York.  They advertised the event at our conference stall, and filled the room with an audience of 45.   Nasser Butt was in the Chair and showed the Balfour Project film ‘Britain in Palestine, 1917-1948’.  After this Jonathan Coulter gave a talk highlighting Britain’s historical responsibility and making the case for an apology.  Then Tom Brake, the Foreign Affairs spokesman, spoke of the Balfour Project (of which he is a patron) and related matters, and there followed a lively discussion, notably as to how the Party should handle the Israeli/Palestinian cause internally, and about the viability of a ‘Two-State Solution’.  All the feedback on the meeting was very positive, adding to the strong impact of LDFP’s conference stall.  We signed up many new supporters, to whom we shall continue communicating through our newsletters about the Balfour centenary.
  • 19th January 2017 Professor Avi Shlaim writes: British policy towards Palestine reveals a persistent pro-Israeli bias, from Lord Balfour to Theresa May in a recent article entitled Perfidious Albion and Israel-Palestine.  He quotes an article on the Balfour Project web site on the promise to the Arabs.
  • In November 16th 2016 the House of Commons debated the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration. The debate was secured by Caroline Ansell a Conservative friend of Israel. However, many MPs commented on the unfinished business of the Declaration, the promise to protect the rights of the Arab population which had not yet been fulfilled. Tom Brake noted that he was a Patron of the Balfour Project and gave our aims. He finished by saying:

The UK has a particular historical responsibility towards the Palestinian people. We failed to honour our promises nearly 100 years ago. We have a duty now to actively support the peace process and to secure a viable Palestinian state. That is what our Government must do—indeed, a number of Members have said today that they want the Government to do it. It will be the most effective and meaningful way of marking the Balfour declaration and would mean that in future years its anniversary could be celebrated by both the Jewish people and the Palestinian people.

Tobias Ellwood, Minister for the Middle East and Africa, spoke:

The Balfour Declaration had its flaws. It called for the protection of the “civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. It should have protected their political rights too, most especially their right to self-determination…. The seriousness of the situation faced by millions still affected by the conflict is testament to the fact that the achievement of Jewish and Palestinian self-determination in the former British mandate of Palestine is a task as yet unfulfilled.