Balfour Centenary: it's time to end UK's legacy of oppression
Text of a leaflet to the Balfour Centenary protest, London, 4 November 2017
ON THE 100th anniversary of the infamous Balfour Declaration, PM Theresa May hosted a gala dinner in London for Benjamin Netanyahu. She said Britain is “proud of our pioneering role in the creation of the state of Israel”.
She also pursued her vendetta against Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s first pro-Palestinian leader, by repeating the slur that criticism of Israel equals antisemitism:
“There is today a new and pernicious form of anti-Semitism which uses criticism of the actions of the Israeli government as a despicable justification for questioning the very right of Israel to exist.”
In fact it is Israel, especially under Netanyahu, that is denying the indigenous Palestinian population “the right to exist” and exercise political sovereignty in their homeland.
Today, the refugees of 1948 plus the 250,000 driven out during the Six Day War in 1967, and their descendants, number more than seven million. Whilst thousands languish in refugee camps, barred from returning to their homes, any Jewish person can claim Israeli citizenship if they emigrate to the self-described “Jewish state”.
To house its new citizens, Israel continues to build settlements, which are illegal according to the impotent UN, but tacitly supported by the United States and European Union.
Netanyahu has stated that Israel will never give up its settlements, saying this year at a 50th anniversary celebration of the Six Day War that “we are here to stay forever”.
On 29 August he announced more than 11,000 new settler homes would be built in the West Bank as well as the retroactive legalisation of 4,000 “outpost” homes.
Netanyahu only does openly what previous leaders did deceitfully to render the possibility of a two-state solution a utopia.
The growth of settlements in the West Bank - to more than 380,000 - has one aim: to make impossible the creation of a viable, independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
One state solution
The terrible crime of the Holocaust and the widespread antisemitism which fuelled it in every European country, does not give Israel a “right to exist” that overrides that of the indigenous Palestinian population, who have been made to pay for the crimes of Europe’s rulers.
Within the pre-1967 borders and the 1948 occupied lands Palestinians number almost 6 million, approaching parity with Jewish Israelis. But there are about 5 million Palestinians, many with no other citizenship, living in neighboring countries; Jordan, Lebanon, Syria or the Gulf Sates.
All sincere supporters of democratic rights should support the Palestinians’ right to return to their own country and enjoy the full fruits of democracy and citizenship.
Because socialists defend the democratic and national rights of all peoples, we cannot recognise Israel’s “right” to exist as a Jewish state that relegates its non-Jewish citizens to second class status within a racist apartheid system. It is not antisemitic to call for Palestinians and Jewish Israelis to be accorded equal status in the lands they share.
Within the territory of Israel-Palestine, we call for a single, democratic and secular state with full citizenship rights and religious freedom for all its residents.
A series of brutal attacks on Gaza since 2000 have turned public opinion against the Israeli state, which is why there is a desperate attempt by its Zionist supporters to smear critics of Israel’s policies as antisemites.
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement has played an important role exposing the crimes and propaganda of the Israeli state - which is why they are trying to force countries to outlaw it.
For defenders of the Palestinians in Britain, the key question is to remember that Israel could not maintain its apartheid system and military aggression, without US, EU and UK trade, investment and arms.
That’s why we need to continue and step up our efforts to force our government to withdraw its support for Israel and the reactionary Arab dictatorships who are false friends of the Palestinian cause.
We need to fight for a Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn to fulfill his pledge to end Britain’s wars and occupations in the Middle East, and to recognise Palestine as a step to a united, secular and socialist state for all.