The Balfour Declaration’s Century Of Turmoil

Great Britain’s Balfour Declaration — a century ago — laid the groundwork for a Zionist state in the Middle East and led to the purging of millions of Palestinians from what became Israel, a human rights crisis that continues to roil the Middle East to this day.

I caught up with noted Palestinian human rights campaigner Mustafa Barghouti in San Francisco where he was lecturing on the Balfour Declaration, a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour published on Nov. 9, 1917, and promising a Jewish homeland. The letter came during World War I while Great Britain was at war with Turkey’s Ottoman Empire.

In June 2002, Dr. Barghouti co-founded the Palestinian National Initiative, and currently serves as its Secretary-General.

Dennis Bernstein: What was the significance of the Balfour Declaration and what does it mean to the Palestinian people?

Mustafa Barghouti: The Balfour Declaration was a major historical crime committed against the Palestinian people.  It was a crime that led to a series of other crimes, including the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people in 1948, when 70% of the population were displaced and forced to leave their country.  There are still 6 million refugees spread all over the world.  It led to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and Jerusalem in 1967.

But most importantly, the Balfour Declaration was a racist act that discriminated against 90% of the population of Palestine.  It gave 10% of the population the right to a homeland and deprived the Palestinians of that right.  The result is what we see today, which is a system of apartheid that is much worse than what existed in South Africa.

I believe the Balfour Declaration was also a crime against the Jewish people.

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