November 2 marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Whilst in the midst of the most cataclysmic war then known, Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote to Lord Rothschild declaring that the British government supported and ‘would use its best endeavours’ for the establishment of a ‘national home for the Jewish people’. This was to be in the ancestral Jewish homeland then known as the Ottoman region of Palestine.

Lord Rothschild described the Balfour Declaration as ‘the most important moment in Jewish history in the last 1,800 years’. Chaim Weizmann, first president of Israel, described the Declaration as ‘the Magna Carta of Jewish liberation’. Great Britain was the first nation to recognise the right of Jews to return to, settle in and develop the land of their ancestors.

Unfortunately we can look forward to antagonism towards Israel increasing in the days running up to the centenary celebration. There is a very real thread of anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism and anti-colonialism running through the Left in the UK.

Despite objections, the British government intends to commemorate the Declaration. Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said last week: ‘Someone said we should apologise for the Declaration, to say it was an error of judgement. Of course that’s not going to happen. To apologise for the Balfour Declaration would be to apologise for the existence of Israel and to question its right to exist.’

But that is what many, especially on the Left, do question. Last year the terrorist-backed Palestinian Authority said it intended to sue the UK over the Declaration, claiming it had led to a ‘catastrophe’ for the Palestinian people. And last September, PA President Mahmoud Abbas — during a UN General Assembly address – called on the UK to apologise for the Declaration.

It is not only Palestinians who want Britain to apologise for the Balfour Declaration. Their demand for an apology was followed by a British petition with more than 13,000 signatures. The government dismissed it out of hand. ‘The Balfour Declaration,’ it said, ‘is an historic statement for which Her Majesty’s Government does not intend to apologise. We are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel.’

Great Britain should indeed be proud. Israel is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East, and an example to surrounding countries. Israel has Arab Muslims in the Knesset. It has Arabs in its police force and its Right-wing public security minister is attempting to recruit more. There is an Arab Muslim serving as deputy commissioner, the second-highest rank in Israel’s police force. During the ongoing civil war in Syria, injured Syrian refugees have been treated in Israeli hospitals. Arab Muslims may enter Israeli universities.

With all the claims of the Left that Israel is an ‘apartheid state’ we must ask: Which would you prefer to be, an Arab Muslim living in Israel, or a Jew living in the Gaza Strip?

Ian Black in the Guardian refuses to recognise the reality on the ground and sees in the Declaration the source of all conflict in the Middle East, describing the Balfour Declaration as ‘Britain’s calamitous promise’. Black describes it as ‘an act of betrayal and perfidy, the “original sin” that led to injustice, war and disaster for the Palestinians in the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) of 1948’.

The catastrophe of 1948 was caused by the unrelenting hostility of the surrounding Arab nations. Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, and on May 15 an Arab coalition launched a war of extermination.

Arabs living in Israel were urged to leave their homes and take shelter in neighbouring countries for a few days whilst the Arab armies mopped up the Jews. Nearly 70 years later the Palestinian Arabs are still waiting, having endured dreadful conditions in refugee camps in Arab countries and never being truly accepted by their fellow Arab ‘hosts’.

It was not the Balfour Declaration which brought about the tension in the Middle East, or the hate-filled mindset of some Palestinian and Arab extremists which leads to occasional wars and constant acts of terrorism. Palestinian and Arab rejectionism has blocked all attempts to reach an agreement which could have led to a Palestinian state existing in in amity with the Jewish state.



Black, like other Leftists, conflates the situation in the Middle East with what he sees as other crimes associated with Britain during the colonial era. The Balfour Declaration, however, did not attempt to impose colonial rule on an indigenous people. There was no attempt by an imperial power to rule over a land and exploit its natural riches for the benefit of the mother country.

The Balfour Declaration was an attempt to permit national self-determination for a people who had connections to the land covering more than three millennia. In doing so it took a small step to righting a grievous wrong.

The Declaration allowed a people who had been rejected by Europe, who had seen the doors of the USA slam shut in their hour of greatest need, who had suffered in ways which surpass our imaginings; it allowed the remnant of this people to go home and build a life for themselves.

If Great Britain has any apology to make it is to Israel, for we hindered the implementation of the Declaration. The Declaration was embodied in the 1922 Mandate from the League of Nations under which Britain accepted the administration of Palestine along with the obligation to settle the Jews there. During the 1930s, we reneged on the Mandate and betrayed the Jewish people. Instead of allowing them entry and settling them in Palestine as they tried to flee Nazi persecution, we kept them out. We must ask how many perished in the Holocaust due to Britain’s reluctance to live up to its own mandated obligations.

Nevertheless, however badly Britain implemented the Balfour Declaration, we can be proud that it was made and that we had a hand in creating a beacon of democratic hope in the midst of a region given to violence, dictatorship and theocracy.

  • Revd Robert West

    This is a very complex and irreconcilable situation. Whilst I believe that the restoration of part of the nation of Israel to the land of Israel is a fulfilment of Bible prophecy – though some evangelicals would beg to differ with me on this – it is very hard on the Palestinians, who have as a consequence, lost a large part of what they believed to be ‘their country’. In addition to that there is the religious conflict between Mohammedanism and the Jewish state, which is maybe even more of an affront to Mohammedan sensibilities and even less likely to be accommodated. Any peace brokering is likely to crack on this. But we need a Balfour declaration for our own People: Britain should be a national home for our own People, and not a depository for all the nations of the earth – see Genesis 10.

    • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

      In fairness, there is very little religious Judaism in Israel these days. It is rather pragmatic and secular apart from the `frummers’ who are noisy but mainly harmless.

      • CRSM

        But they still play their ‘oppressed people’ card at every possible opportunity.

        • Budgie

          Who, the Jews, or the “Palestinians”?

        • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

          Hello again. You are still hating and envying but it is you who is the problem.

          If you ever understand that, you will be delivered from your unhappiness

          I will not bet on that though!

          • CRSM

            I used to think that Jews and Muslims were intrinsically evil, but now I realise it is their frighteningly unpleasant tribal godling, ‘YHWH/Allah’ that is evil.
            All male Jews and most male Muslims still have ‘the mark of the beast’ on them of course by the mutilation of their foreskins.

          • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

            Gosh. That is as close as you can get and stay out of Rampton.

            My advice to you is to keep your head down.

            I have a feeling that you have form though.

          • Revd Robert West

            The mark of the Beast is the number 666, see Revelation 13: 18.

          • Reborn

            Certainly the Old Testament god is an unpleasant man made character.
            The mohammedan god is better recognised as pure evil.

          • CRSM

            I fear so, though the similarities between the two of them are greater than the differences.

      • Revd Robert West

        Thank you for your comment. I was using the word ‘Jewish’ to mean race rather than religion for they are the Chosen Race, although currently in a state of apostasy or rejection, as ironic and contradictory as that may sound. But that will change: the Israelites will embrace their Saviour at some point and so rejoin the Church – at the start they were the Church, see Romans 9, 10, and 11.

        • Reborn

          A more desirable outcome would be for Christians to recognise
          Jesus as a reforming rabbi & rejoin the Jews.

          • Revd Robert West

            The Jews are a race, not a religion; hence a need for a national home for them in Palestine, as spoken of by the Balfour Declaration. The gospel is to the Jewish race first, and only then to the [other] nations (Romans 1: 16). But Israel, by and large, has been in apostasy for nigh on two thousand years. That is the great tragedy of the chosen race. But that is not going to last forever. Have you read Romans 9-11. The return of Israel to the promised land is a foreboding of this great outcome; and what glory it shall be too (Romans 11: 15). May the Lord God of Israel – namely Christ Jesus of Nazareth – save us all.

  • martianonlooker

    I am sure if Blair was still PM we would have a quote inspired by the Statue of Liberty’s “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” above every UK port of entry. Ours would probably state: Now that you have dragged your sorry *rse here, we apologise profusely for everything and anything, our benefit system is through the green channel.

  • Owen_Morgan

    There have been Jews in what we now know as Israel as long as there has been Judaism, i.e. for a very long time. Even though the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in Vespasian’s reign and abolished “Judaea” in favour of “Syria Palaestina”, there were enough Jews left in the region for the emperor Justinian to persecute them nearly five centuries later.

    The Diaspora didn’t begin with the destruction of Jerusalem. There were Jews in Rome itself, well before that. St Paul famously came from Tarsus, in modern Turkey, north-west of Antioch (Antakya). The founder of Antioch, Seleucus, the most successful of Alexander the Great’s “Successors”, specifically invited Jews to form a part of the city’s population. In that, he was emulating his deceased predecessor, Alexander, who similarly asked Jews to inhabit Egyptian Alexandria.

    Until the First World War, the Holy Land had been part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, resolutely dominated by islam. For decades before the war, however, more enlightened Turkish ministers in Constantinople had been inviting Jews to return to the territory, to make it fruitful. Partly, that was an attempt to profit from the fact that Jews from the West had not just benefited from Western learning, but were central to it. It was also, however, a telling recognition that Jews had a particular right to live in that land and possibly an admission that only Jews had ever made a success of the place.

    Nowadays, we have UN organisations, packed with muslim representatives and Mugabe-groupies, pretending that Jews never inhabited Israel at all in historical times. That flies in the face of reason, but in the transgender age, when the “religion of peace” causes thousands of deaths every year and still escapes blame, nothing should be surprising (except the fact that Theresa May hasn’t buckled yet and grovelled for the Balfour Declaration).

  • Nockian

    Israel was an unfortunate necessity for an oppressed religious group.

    • Reborn

      Israel is the ancient, tiny, homeland of the Jews.
      They have evolved into some of the smartest people on Earth thanks to
      their persecution from all sides & their belief in a malevolent god who seeks to
      tempt, punish, frustrate, every Jew’s life.
      The Jew’s title to this small patch of land goes back to the days of King David
      & they have been a constant presence their since biblical times.
      The mohammedan conquerers do not admit that their mosques were built over synagogues. It will be the same in the UK before too long in historical terms
      with the beautiful, tiny, cathedral in Leicester probably the first to go.
      Christians also occupied Israel of course, but that is now a different matter, since Christianity is in retreat & is becoming a pacific religion.
      Much as Buddhism was when muslims destroyed lands such as Afghanistan.
      The so called “Palestinians” today are the mainly the descendants of Jordanians
      who made a bad choice in 1947 & should return whence they came.

      • Nockian

        As you make clear, it’s a religion and not a race, so there was no exact ‘homeland’ and many Orthodox Jews agree. That said, centuries of oppression at the hands of other religions and regimes, made it a necessity that they had to have somewhere.

        If we needed further proof that religion is irrational and violent we need only read the history of the Jews and their oppressors.

        • Reborn

          What better somewhere than where they have lived, & been occupied ,
          for many centuries.
          The so called Palestinians are being used by judeophobes & Jew haters,
          who will use any weapon, especially socialist guilt/gullibility to finish
          the German national socialists’ work.
          The latter being inspired by the Turkish muslims Christian Armenian genocide, which the wretched Turkish government still refuses to acknowledge.

          • Nockian

            Jews are the smoke and mirrors of state policies and individual agenda. Even secular Jews like to use ‘anti-semitism’ as a smoke screen for their agenda.

            Israel is a useful tool of the West in which it can be simultaneously referred to as the rotten baddy and the righteous goody depending on which way foreign policy swings.

            I support Israel because it is largely a secular, free, civilised and high tech nation amid a hoard of savages. I don’t support Judaism because I don’t support any religion that uses itself for political ends-and it has that tendency. I do support the rights of Jews to worship whoever they like and to associate with whoever they like, to live in peace and to have as much wealth and happiness as they can find.

          • Reborn

            The only point of disagreement we have is over religion/politics.
            Buddhism, may, be innocent of this, but to me all organised religion
            is political.
            It seeks to combine what passed for science in the pre scientific age
            with a priesthood, claiming contact with the gods & working with the
            kings to preserve the stars quo.
            Modern versions of Judaism & Christianity, which most of the faithful
            adhere to, are just pleasant, and often historically useful traditions.

          • Nockian

            I would suggest …’Have the potential to be political’ but not necessarily involved in a political system within a specific country. Judaism and the holocaust has been used by a few unscrupulous Jews, as a means to get certain advantages within the political systems of other countries. In the end it’s just lobbying using the western holocaust guilt to exert leverage. No worse than other lobbyists in that respect.

            Judaism and Christianity themselves are fairly benign and ineffectual politically in Europe at least, maybe more politically engaged in the US/Russia

  • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

    I went to a wedding in Israel last year which had many hundreds of young people celebrating very noisily at the reception, in the centre of which was an empty free bar.

    Whatever their occupations, they don’t drink because they are on military call-up all the time.

    All fit and no obesity.

  • Sheik Rhat el Anrhol

    I was on Easyjet to Tel-Aviv last year which was filled wit frock coated, fur hatted frummers. A good bunch of them started arguing at the rear. When I went back there I was intrigued to find out what was the problem.

    Manchester United.

  • Steve Birchmore

    I like reading ‘The Conservative Woman’. But…”The Balfour Declaration was an attempt to permit national self-determination for a people who had connections to the land covering more than three millennia. In doing so it took a small step to righting a grievous wrong.” – Really?

    I suppose it was purely co-incidental that the declaration was made in the midst of WWI and had nothing to do with WWI?

    I suppose it is amusing to bash lefties with the antisemitism stick but I think British Conservatives should tread carefully.

    My dad was in the British Army in Palestine. Do I need to mention ‘the Sergeants Affair’ etc?

    It is not imperative to take sides in every fight between foreigners and neither does the British Government need to apologise or provide lame excuses for anything that happened in the distant past.

    • CRSM

      The reason that Balfour wrote to Rothschild in 1917 has been pointed out by historians before. Britain in 1917 needed the financial resources of the Jewish bankers, and it took the declaration to get that.

      What is not often mentioned, though if you know where to look it is officially documented, is that the British government were none too pleased, to find out after the war, that the same Jewish bankers had also been financing the German war effort.

      Was anyone really surprised?

      • Steve Birchmore

        I have here a fascinating book called: ‘Against Our Better Judgement’ by Alison Weir. The Balfour Declaration was part of an attempt to bring the USA into the war. It worked. Alison Weir provides numerous references and primary source quotes. The final version of the declaration was written by Leopold Amery: https://www.jweekly.com/1999/01/15/balfour-declaration-author-was-a-secret-jew-says-prof/

      • Royinsouthwest

        As a Welsh non-Conformist himself Lloyd George would have been well aware of non-Conformist support fo the idea of a Jewish homeland in what is now again Israel. The idea was not a WWI invention.

  • KarenHarradine

    Another excellent piece Campbell. You are so correct in saying that the BD was a small step in ‘righting a grievous wrong’. The concept of Palestinian nationhood was created by a duel collaboration between the PLO and the Soviets in the 1960s as a means to delegitimise the State of Israel. Before then Muslims living in Israel were known only as Arabs and it was the Jews who were actually called Palestinians (before 1948), a term invented by the Romans to humiliate the Jews they had conquered. The blood libel that Israel is an apartheid state was invented at that dreadful UN Conference in Durban in 2001. These insidious constructs and discourse, made up of myths, lies and half truths, have influenced even the most well meaning people when it comes to Israel. So thank you for shining a light on the truth and for standing up for us Jews and Israel. I have shared your piece on social media.

    • Budgie

      Karen, I too support Israel. The Muslims, of whatever tribe or nation have the entire Middle East and N. Africa, yet a grievance is manufactured and amplified out of spite, hatred and covetousness. There is plenty of land for everyone, and it is not as though tiny Israel is endowed with many resources other than its own people.

      • KarenHarradine

        Thanks Budgie. Yes, a lot of people don’t realise that Israel is the size of Wales yet is home to half of the world’s Jews. Also 20% of Israelis are Arab Muslims and some volunteer to serve in the IDF. Israel is not only there as a safety net for us Jews but it is also home to persecuted Muslim gays and Christians who flee Gaza and the PA for sanctuary in Israel. We also need to remember that the Baha-i, persecuted mercilessly in Iran, have their headquarters in Haifa. So Israel is a safety net not only for us Jews but for those of other faiths as well.

    • Revd Robert West

      Israel was cast out of its Promised Land for rejecting the Messiah. The like thing can happen to us for our rejecting of His standards. But Israel’s restoration to the land is part, I believe, of an even greater restoration yet to come – see Romans 11: 15, 25. There is a bigger Hand in all of this than either Balfour or the British Government.

  • English Advocate

    “All my life I have been trying to get out of the ghetto.You want to force me back there.”
    (Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India to Prime Minister David Lloyd George)

  • rbw152

    Surely the problem here is completely intractable? I have no idea how it can be solved anyway and I think David Ben-Gurion summed it up best:

    “I don’t understand your optimism. Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been antisemitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that? They may perhaps forget in one or two generations’ time, but for the moment there is no chance. So, it’s simple: we have to stay strong and maintain a powerful army. Our whole policy is there. Otherwise the Arabs will wipe us out.”

    Surely that’s the situation we should concern ourselves with? All we can do is keep a lid on things for now.

    I lived in the middle east for a while and I can assure you that Palestinians are not even liked by their own neighbours and treated like second-class citizens.

    Surely, if their fellow Arabs did more to help them out in terms of land and emigration the problem wouldn’t be anywhere near as acute. Letting them become citizens in their host lands would help, instead of making them hold ‘Jordanian’ passports for the entire lives.