The Palestinian threat to sue Britain for the Balfour Declaration is a move of breathtaking chutzpa, says Lyn Julius in The Times of Israel. Edy Cohen in Israel Hayom (see below) says that today’s Palestinian leaders are merely following in the wartime Mufti’s footsteps in opposing the Balfour Declaration:
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki has
threatened to sue Britain for issuing the 1917 Balfour Declaration
because, he claims, it led to mass Jewish immigration to British Mandate
Palestine “at the expense of our Palestinian people”.
Palestinian threat is not as laughable as it sounds. It is not
altogether unexpected either, being of a piece with the current
Palestinian strategy – exploit any law, abuse any forum, to delegitimise
The Balfour Declaration,named
after then UK Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour, pledged Britain’s
support for the establishment “in Palestine of a national home for the
Jewish people”. It was not intended at the expense of the local Arabs,
whose civil rights would not be prejudiced: later, the 1936 Peel
Commission proposed to partition western Palestine into an Arab as well
as a Jewish state.
“Nearly a century has passed since the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917,” Malki was quoted as saying.”And
based on this ill-omened promise hundreds of thousands of Jews were
moved from Europe and elsewhere to Palestine at the expense of our
Palestinian people whose parents and grandparents had lived for
thousands of years on the soil of their homeland.”
Almost every word in Malki’s statement is
economical with the truth. As soon as the Balfour Declaration was made,
Britain reneged on its promises to the Zionists. It hived off 70 percent
of Palestine to Transjordan in 1921 and drastically curtailed Jewish
emigration, sealing the fate of thousands more Jews trapped in
Lord Balfour and his Declaration
Jews who came to Israel were ‘moved’ from Europe and elsewhere, says Malki. The elsewhere accounts
for more than half the Jews of Israel – those who came as destitute
refugees or descend from refugees from Arab and Muslim lands. And it was
not the British, but the Arabs who were responsible for that exodus.
No Arab states were enjoined to respect the
civil rights of their Jewish citizens. These Jews were unceremoniously
thrown out of the Arab world without apology and without compensation –
and their pre-Islamic communities destroyed.
The Palestinians, it is widely believed,
cannot be held responsible for what happened to the Jewish refugees.
While Israel could legitimately discuss Palestinian refugees in peace
talks, Jewish refugees would have to address their grievances to Arab
Arab League states, which instigated the 1948
war against Israel, were indeed responsible for creating both sets of
refugees. However, an extremist Palestinian leadership, which
collaborated with the Nazis and incited anti-Jewish hatred all over the
Arab world in the decades preceding the creation of Israel, played an
active part in all Arab-League decision-making and dragged five Arab
states into conflict with the new Jewish state – a conflict they lost
and whose consequences they must suffer. The Palestinian move to sue is
of breathtaking chutzpa: it is as if Germans were to sue the Allies for starting World War 2.
The idea of expelling the Jews of Arab
countries after 1948 was adopted by the Palestinians as a policy.
According to the well-connected Egyptian-Jewish journalist Victor
Nahmias, the Palestinians were a major factor in the Jewish migration to
Israel in 1950 – 51.
From the outset, the Palestinian cause was a
pan-Arab nationalist cause. It has also a powerful Islamist dimension:
From an early stage the campaign for Palestine took on an antisemitic
hue. Palestine was a zero-sum game: in Arab eyes, the Jews had no claim
to a single inch.
Every anniversary of the Balfour declaration,
mobs in the Arab world took to the streets and the demonstrations at
times degenerated into full-blown riots, as in Egypt and Libya in 1945,
when 130 Jews were murdered.
Not only did the Palestinian Mufti of
Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini instigate deadly disturbances in
Palestine in 1920 and 1929, wherever the Mufti went in the Arab world,
he used the Balfour Declaration as a rallying cry to incite persecution
and mayhem against the local Jews.
The Jerusalem Islamic congress of 1931, called
by the Mufti, was followed by violence in Morocco throughout the
1930s. An entente between Tunisian nationalists and the Palestinian Arab
Higher Committee sparked violence in Sfax in 1932. There was trouble in
Yemen and Aden. All this well before the creation of the state of
But the worst incitement, with the deadliest
consequences of all, took place in Iraq: In 1939, Palestinian teachers
expelled by the British to Baghdad together with the Mufti, along with
Syrian and Lebanese nationalists, played a key role fanning the flames
of Jew-hatred with false propaganda. Seventy-five years ago this year,
the Mufti fled to Berlin after being implicated in a failed pro-Nazi
coup – but not before he had primed the Arabs of Baghdad to unleash the Farhud of 1941. The pogrom claimed the lives of at least 140 Jews, with many mutilated and raped, and 900 shops looted and wrecked.
This was the first battle in the Palestinian
war against the defenceless Jews of the Arab world. Had the Nazis been
victorious, the Mufti would have overseen the Jews’ extermination, not
just in Palestine but throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
It is these Jews who have been denied justice,
the right to compensation for their dispossession of assets and land
several times the size of Israel itself, or the human rights abuses they
suffered at the hands of Arab governments and mobs. It is these Jews
who have every right to sue.
Dr Edy Cohen writes in Israel Hayom:
Balfour Declaration, or “the cursed promise,” as it’s termed in Arabic,
sets down in writing Britain’s commitment to support the establishment
of a Jewish homeland in the Land of Israel. The declaration does not
nullify the establishment of an Arab state alongside the Jewish one,
something the Arabs have rejected out of hand several times over the
course of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas isn’t the first Palestinian leader who has tried
to take on the Balfour Declaration. In fact, the former mufti of
Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, fought it tirelessly. Moreover, most
of the mufti’s political and financial support from the Third Reich had
to do with the declaration and opposition to it.
Everyone has always
known that the Arabs can create propaganda that sounds good to Western
ears. Their lies and incitement are boundless. Today, they are cynically
exploiting the Palestinian Nakba festival just as, in the past, the
mufti of Jerusalem would vociferously and cynically protest in Germany
on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration to curry favor with the
In effect, when the
mufti arrived in Germany, he took care to mark the anniversary of the
declaration with the Arab community in Berlin marching through the
streets and a sermon at a Berlin mosque. This is what he said on
November 2, 1943: “On this day, 26 years ago, the evil tidings of the
Balfour Declaration, which intends to establish a Jewish homeland in
Palestine following the Jewish-English scheme in the previous war, was
issued. This abusive declaration came from Britain, and it gives the
Jews this Arab, Muslim land — the direction of the first Muslim prayer,
the homeland of Al-Aqsa mosque and other places holy to Islam.”