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Palestine and the Balfour Declaration: The Beginnings of Genocide

On the 2nd day of November, 1917 the Balfour Declaration was drafted. The declaration was included in a letter written by the then British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Zionist leader, Lionel Walter Rothschild.

David Loyd George, the British Prime Minister at the time of the declaration openly supported Zionism, a political movement, rooted in European imperialism and colonization, that focused on the establishment of a settlement for Jews in Palestine. George favored the Balfour Declaration knowing that a colony in Palestine would give Britain access to the important territories of Egypt to the west and India to the East.

The declaration avowed the British government's backing of "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." This endorsement was incorporated into the British Mandate for Palestine following the partition of the Ottoman Empire near the end of World War I.

Vladimir Lenin, the first leader of the USSR, said "The war of 1914-18 was imperialist (that is, an annexationist, predatory, war of plunder) on the part of both sides; it was a war for the division of the world, for the partition and repartition of colonies and spheres of influence of finance capital."

When Britain and the Allied Powers became the victors of the imperialist contest it allowed the British to enjoy the spoils of the war. When the League of Nations put out the British Mandate, it gave Britain the authority to supervise the affairs of Palestine solidifying the transfer of Palestinian lands from the Ottoman Empire to the British Empire.

About 100,000 European Jews migrated into Palestine in the few years following the declaration. By 1935, the Jewish population in Palestine had increased from less than 10% in 1917 to 27%. Minutes from a British War Cabinet Meeting conducted on October 4th, 1917, reveal that former President Woodrow Wilson was “extremely favorable to the (Zionist) movement.” In 1919, Wilson facilitated an investigation called the King-Crane Commission, which revealed that most Palestinians opposed zionism.

The Third Palestinian Congress in Haifa condemned the British advocacy of the Zionist plans for Palestine. The congress denounced the declaration as a violation of international law and of the rights of the indigenous population. Although the document declared that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,” the British Mandate ensured Zionists were prepared to establish a Jewish state on Palestinian land.

By the time the British ended their mandate and passed the Palestine issue on to the United Nations in 1947, they had already propped Zionism and its supporters in such a way that they had a military of their own. Equipped with an army and other self-governing institutions, the British left Zionists in position for a takeover of Palestine as evident in the Nakba or “catastrophe,” which began in 1948 when Zionists created the state of Israel. No less than 750,000 Palestinians were then removed from their homeland between 1947 and 1949. For the next 75 years following the establishment of the Israeli State terror and foreign occupation would become the reality for Palestinian Arabs.

Image credits:

The Balfour declaration of 1917. Photograph, Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty

Manchester Historian

Public Domain

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