Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Thursday 25 October 2012

Angling For An Apology: Britons Battling The Balfour Declaration

"With the Balfour Declaration of 2nd November 1917 Britain unleashed a series of events in Palestine that have not only caused enormous suffering and loss to the Palestinian people but also unleashed recurrent waves of terrorism affecting many parts of the world to this day. The British Government must accept its historic responsibility and issue an apology."

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
I shall resist suggesting that Jews should request an apology from the Church of Scotland and the Church of England for aggressive missionary activity undertaken among the Jews of the Holy Land and elsewhere during the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries.

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!


  1. As long as they dissolve the UK and return illegally occupied Wales, Cornwall, Northern Ireland and Scotland to its rightful peoples.

    1. Ah, but some of them are from just those places!

  2. I'm not going to apologise for missionary activity amongst the Jews. I'll just point out that if it wasn't for aggressive missionary activity BY JEWS there would be no Gentile Christians following a Jewish God. Furthermore there would be no Eveagelical Christian Zionists. This is how it is. It's called freedom.

    I will apologise, as much as one who wasn't there can apologise to others, most of whom were also not there, for NOT honouring the Balfour declaration.

    A more meaningful apology, on behalf of today's church, is for failing to contest with the Sizers of this world. I do what I can but many have not.

    I also pray that the Church and the Government will move to a Zionist position.

    And today, from Genesis, I taught my Bible Study group that 10 righteous men can save a city, hence the minimum size of a synagogue, and they saw that a small church did not need despair. They also learned that one righteous person can save his, or her family. A lesson we all need to learn and to pray in faith.

    Am Israel Chai. Thank God.

  3. It will be interesting how far the apology goes. Britain didn't earn the sobriquet perfidious Albion without cause. At around the same time as they were promising a homeland for the Jews in the Balfour Declaration they were promising an arguably contradictory Arab (or to me more accurate Hashemite) independence for fighting the Ottoman Turks in the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence AND dividing up the same territories with the French in the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

    Perfidious Albion was not playing a double game but a triple!

    It should be noted that the legal basis for Israel is not the Balfour Declaration made in 1917 when the legal sovereignty was in the hands of the Turks but the Treaty of Sèvres made with Turkey after the war and the Mandate of Palestine confirmed by the League of Nations. So Turkey and the (defunct) League of Nations will have to apologise for recognising Jewish rights, no more than Britain.

    BTW Is the United Nations the legal successor to the League of Nations, in the same sense that the current British government is the successor to Lloyd George's administration at the time of Balfour? I'm not sure on that point.

    1. I'm not sure either, David - David Singer probably knows.

  4. The have never and British need to apologize to all of humanity for their racist actions causing the deaths of thousands of men, women and children fleeing Nazi Europe by denying them entry into in eretz Israel AND for imprisoning Jewish Shoah survivors in BRITISH concentration camps when the survivors landed on Jewish land - traumatized, starving and barely alive.

  5. More evidence of Poreign Office Arabism:

  6. This is a serious development and curiously crosses with my Balfour Declaration project also set for 2017.

    It's hard to imagine a worse travesty of any concept of truth, morality or law that somehow Britain owes anybody an apology other than the Jews of Europe Russia and the Middle East for its shameful failure to meet its most important obligation under LN Mandate over the mandated territory to the mandated territory.

    If the British are going to start apologising for the appalling morality and cowardly appeasing racist policies of the past at least they should be honest about it.

    My Balfour Project will not be seeking an apology from anybody.

    It will aimed at achieving a declaration not just from Britons that the explicit intention of the law as first enunciated in the Balfour Declaration has come to pass in the form of the modern state of Israel the Jewish homeland not just by any notion of international law but also in heart and spirit to be celebrated for the enormous achievement it is.

    Especially by left liberals in the West who are always on the side of national liberation, self determination, respect for indigenous culture and human rights except when it comes to Jews.

    I'm going to take a particular interest in the guy on the Sorry Committee. I doubt too many Aboriginal Australians know someone thinks there is somehow a parallel with their recent history that there is also a need to apologise for the restoration of an indigenous people to a tiny pocket of the original reservation in the face of oppression racism war and genocide on a scale that perhaps only they can understand.

    I know a couple of blokes who might be interested to hear about this.

  7. Re Bond:

  8. How about apologies of the British for enforcing an illegal blockade of Jews trying to immigrate to Palestine during the period of the Holocaust when such a blockade had been held to be ultra vires by the League of Nations Permanent Mandates Commission. It contributed to the death of six million civilian Jews, men, women and children. For a more complete perspective see:

    1. Thanks for your comment - the reason it has been tardily posted is because I have been having Internet connection proble ms. Apologies.

  9. Alot of great posts above. It should be worth pointing out, the British never gave one inch of land to the Jews from 1917 to 1948 during the British Mandate. On the other hand as many people have pointed out, the British gave out a White paper barring all Jewish immigration in 1939 and allowing thousands of Arabs to immigrate to the land.
    Also the British gave 77% of the Mandate borders to the Arabs in 1946 and named the country after the Jordan river. (Jordan)

    Uncovered: U.K. intel encouraged Arab armies to invade Israel in 1948
    Intelligence obtained by the French secret services in the Middle East sheds new light on Britain’s role in the Arab-Israeli War of Independence.
    By Meir Zamir
    Sep 14, 2014


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.