Methodist Central Hall Westminster
Opposite Westminster Abbey, London SW1H 9NH
Speakers will include:
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Principal, Mansfield College, Oxford University;
Rt Hon Tom Brake MP;
Richard Burden MP;
Dr Philippa Whitford MP;
Sir Vincent Fean, former UK Consul-General, Jerusalem.
Rabbi Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi, Liberal Judaism;
Dr Imad Karam, award-winning film-maker
Britain’s Broken Promise: Time for a New Approach
The 1917 Balfour Declaration was a first step towards the creation of a sanctuary for a persecuted people, the Jews.
It was also the start of a process which has rendered Palestinians stateless, living under occupation in their own land, in refugee camps, or scattered throughout the world.
The Declaration pledged Britain’s support for a ‘national home’ in Palestine for the Jewish people on theunderstanding that the rights of ‘existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’ would not be prejudiced. The failure to uphold this second clause, for which Britain bears much responsibility, has caused conflict between Palestinians and Israelis ever since.
This was just one of Britain’s contradictory promises during the First World War. After the War we secured a mandate from the League of Nations which included a ‘sacred trust’ to prepare the people of Palestine for independence. But in the end Britain walked away.
The British Government recognises the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination. Israelis have achieved this. Now is the time to help Palestinians achieve this, in cooperation with both peoples and the rest of the international community.
IF BRITAIN LEADS
It will mean committing ourselves to work for peace with justice in the region on the basis of equal rights for both Israelis and Palestinians. It entails upholding international law, including the Geneva Conventions, without fear or favour. This is a huge, long-term challenge. Governments will only take it on if their citizens do so first. If Britain gives a lead, others will follow.
This Centenary event is an opportunity to reflect on Britain’s legacy, consider our individual and collective responses, and make ourselves heard.
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Download Britain’s Broken Promise flyer
Mindful of centuries of European persecution of the Jewish people
and the continuing plight of the Palestinian people,
The Balfour Project
invites the government and people of the United Kingdom to mark the
centenary of the Balfour Declaration on 2nd November 2017 by:
• learning what the Balfour Declaration means for both Jews and Arabs
• acknowledging that whilst a homeland for the Jewish people has been achieved, the promise to protect the rights of the Palestinian people has not yet been fulfilled.
• urging the people and elected representatives of the UK to take effective action to promote justice, security and peace for both peoples.
IN November 1917 the government of Britain issued the Balfour Declaration which promised a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine whilst also promising to protect the rights of the existing indigenous Arab population. However, in 1915 Britain had already promised the Arabs that after the war they would be granted independence in their lands, including Palestine.
Then in 1922 the League of Nations gave Britain the Mandate to administer Palestine, requiring her to implement the Balfour Declaration, and to prepare Palestine for independence. Subsequent British governments upheld the promise to create a Jewish homeland but reneged on the promise to protect the rights of the Arab majority.
Thus, a homeland for the Jewish people has been achieved but the League’s Sacred Trust to facilitate Palestinian independence is still to be fulfilled.
Almost a hundred years ago the stage was set for a struggle to control the land that has intensified from that day to this.
The Balfour Project was created by British citizens to highlight Britain’s record in Palestine before and during its Mandate.
Rt Hon Tom Brake MP
Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, Bishop of Southwark
Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich
Rt Revd Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton
Baroness Morris of Bolton
Dr Philippa Whitford MP
The historical record shows a series of contradictory promises.
They principally include:
- 1915 McMahon-Hussein correspondence – Britain offered Sharif Hussein of Mecca support for an Arab State including Palestine
- 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement – Britain, France and Russia made a secret agreement to divide up the Middle East between them
- 1917 Balfour Declaration – Britain, in promising support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine also promised to safeguard the rights of the Arab population
- 1918 Anglo-French Declaration - Britain and France promised independence to the former subjects of the Ottoman Turks, including Palestine
- 1922 Palestine Mandate - Britain promised the League of Nations that it would prepare Palestine for independence, but failed to do so.
- 1939 White Paper - Jewish opinion condemned the White Paper as a retreat from the promise in the Balfour Declaration to create a Jewish National Home.
- 1948 Mandate Surrendered – Britain abandoned its pledge to protect Palestinian rights by withdrawing its forces leading to 750,000 Palestinians becoming refugees.
We highlight these in the belief that facing the consequences of our past actions honestly is the first step towards rebuilding trust.
Message from the late Bishop John Austin Baker, former Bishop of Salisbury and Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons:
“There is no peace without repentance;
There is no repentance without knowledge;
There is no knowledge without education.
The Balfour Project so truly fulfils these principles that it can only do good, where good is desperately needed, and deserves all the help we can give.
Balfour Project is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC 047090