This article first appeared in the Morning Star
The UK Government at the behest of the Israeli Government is asking us to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Arthur Balfour is a largely forgotten and failed Conservative leader apart from two events.
The first was the 1905 Aliens Act. This was a racially motivated act to bar the entry of Jews fleeing the pogroms and Cossacks of Tsarist Russia. Jews, like my grandparents, had successfully sought the sanctuary for which Britain was famous but Balfour indulged the antisemitism of his supporters and slammed the doors closed, condemning countless others to persecution then and to the Holocaust later.
There is no real contradiction between his action in 1905 and his collusion with the nascent Zionist movement only 12 years later. Balfour, like many of his class and time was steeped in antisemitic attitudes. He was too ‘civilised’ to enact pogroms or worse but he would rather there were fewer or no Jews living near him. So the Aliens Act was to keep them out and the Declaration, to “view with favour the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people”, was to encourage those who had managed to arrive to move elsewhere. That they should go to Palestine accorded with his Christian Zionist beliefs that the second coming would only happen when the Jews were foregathered in Israel to convert or die. Continue reading “Balfour 100; Partition 70; Occupation 50; Future ??”