So runs a silly doomed-for-the-dustbin e-petition to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office concocted last year by an anti-Israel activist. Tweeted at intervals by its framer, who also happens to head a small Palestine Solidarity Campaign branch somewhere in the British boondocks, the e-petition closed in August this year, having attracted just 155 signatures.
The idea behind the petition, however, has evidently stirred independently in other breasts.
Step forward the Steering Committee of an initiative calling itself The Balfour Project:
Dr Mary Embleton, Historian
Professor Mary Grey, Theologian, writer and activist.
Dr Imad Karam, Academic and film maker
Peter Riddell. Peace activist
Dr Monica Spooner, Medical Doctor
Professor Roger L Spooner OBE, Scientist
Rev Dr Stephen Sizer Anglican vicar and author
Professor Grey helped to exonerate Sizer from the charge of antisemitism being considered against him by the Crown Prosecution Service last year, but I understand that a Jewish scholar and non-practising Liberal rabbi who did likewise declined to be involved with The Balfour Project, the stated aims of which are:
Marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in 2017 as a contribution to justice, peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.
Mindful of Britain’s responsibility, the Balfour Project will encourage understanding of what led to the Balfour Declaration, and what flowed from it.
The Balfour Project will facilitate a network of educational, political, religious and humanitarian groups who share this vision.
The Balfour Project network hopes to produce a wide range of multimedia resources suitable for children and adults, and promote a series of international conferences and cultural exchanges to enable participants to engage with empathy those who have been negatively impacted by the Balfour Declaration.
The Balfour Project seeks to contribute to justice and peace in the Middle East, and in particular the resolution of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.Not that the Project is utterly devoid of Jewish involvement, as the inclusion of a familiar Israel-demonising name among its Advisers shows:
John Bond OAM, Former Secretary, National Sorry Day Committee, Australia
Anne Clayton, Coordinator of Friends of Sabeel UK
Abe Hayeem, Architect, peace activist.
Simon Keyes, Director, St Ethelburga’s Centre
Professor Ilan Pappe
Massoud Shadjareh, Chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission
Professor Nur Masalha Professor of Religion and Politics
Dr Peter Shambrook, Historian and author.
Mariam Tadros, Trustee Biblelands
On 2 November this year (the 95th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration) the Quaker Meeting House in Edinburgh will host the Project's inaugural showcase event, a conference ntitled "Britain's historic responsibilities for the Israel-Palestine conflict: starting an honest conversation":
"The Balfour Project, in association with the Church of Scotland, is organising a one-day conference on the British involvement in Palestine in the first half of the last century. This is a first step in exploring how to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in exactly five years on 2nd November 2017.
The Balfour Project has been created by a group of academics and activists who believe that this anniversary should not pass unremarked. Mindful of Britain’s responsibility for what has come to pass in the Middle East, the Balfour Project will encourage understanding of what led to the Balfour Declaration, and what flowed from it. Through our website, we plan to facilitate a network of educational, political, religious and humanitarian groups who share this conviction. We aim to stimulate conferences, cultural exchanges and the production of multimedia resources. Above all, we believe that the search for the truth of what took place, and the acknowledgement of wrong-doing, can contribute to justice, peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.
In the morning Dr Mary Embleton, whose special interest is Britain’s involvement in the Middle East, will outline the contradictory promises Britain made to Arabs and Jews, and their consequences for all parties before and during the British Mandate in Palestine. This will be followed by keynote papers from Rev Dr Stephen Sizer, who will talk about the ideas that shaped this period, Professor Mary Grey will talk about the main players and Dr Imad Karam will talk about the consequences for Palestinians today. In the afternoon John Bond OAM, former Secretary of Australia’s Sorry Day campaign, will use the 2008 national apology to Aboriginal Australians to discuss the impact of acknowledgement and apology."See the conference programme here
|Lloyd George and Leo Amery|
Instead, I shall remind the Church of Scotland, whose World Mission Council's Secretary, Rev. Ian Alexander, is scheduled to welcome conference-goers, that it was the son of a Hungarian Jewish woman whose family had been converted to Christianity by Church of Scotland missionaries, who was the true drafter of the Balfour Declaration.
Step forward the shade of Leopold Amery, who never forgot his Jewish roots.
Oh, the delicious irony!