The Balfour Legacy

by Osama Mor

A century ago British Foreign Secretary Balfour promised to the Zionist movement “the establishment of a Jewish national home” in Palestine; a promise imperialists had no right to make to a colonial movement that was never entitled.

Zionist leaders long sought to garner state support for their movement’s colonial activities in Palestine, and the Declaration came as a breakthrough which laid the framework for the subsequent British Mandate. The British Mandate disadvantaged the native Palestinian majority and advantaged the Zionist colonies, despite Balfour’s promise to protect the rights of the “non-Jewish communities” in Palestine, a diminishing reference to the vast and indigenous majority.

During the 1936 – 1939 Palestinian revolt against the British-Zionist alliance, the Mandate demolished thousands of homes as punishment for rebellion, issued long-term sentences for Arab rebels, executed hundreds and killed more than 5,000 Palestinians since the start of the revolt. Zionist paramilitary groups, precursors to the Israeli colonial army, were trained by British soldiers in subduing the Palestinian revolt. Britain enjoyed this unique colonial circumstance, in which they could rely upon a local force to subjugate the indigenous people. The British Mandate’s crippling of the Palestinian leadership and disarmament of the Palestinian people set the conditions for the catastrophe in 1948.

The Balfour Declaration marked the collusion of a Zionist-imperialist alliance, an alliance that today continues to facilitate Israel’s ongoing colonization of Palestine. As Israel colonizes Palestine, it serves world imperialism and the US in particular as a geopolitical base ready to support US-backed regimes and to serve as an obstacle to anti-imperialist movements in the region. Palestinians are on the frontlines, resisting this oppressive alliance, as they have for a century.

A century of the anti-Israel, anti-colonial resistance in Palestine continues and it will last until Israel, colonialism and imperialism is no more.


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