ARTHUR James Balfour will be praised effusively by supporters of Israel in the coming weeks for a document he signed 100 years ago. As UK foreign secretary in 1917, Balfour declared his backing for the Zionist colonisation project.

Through his declaration, Britain became the imperial sponsor of a Jewish state that would be established in Palestine by expelling its indigenous people en masse as Zionist aspirations were “of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land” he said in 1919.

Rather than being marked “with pride,” as Theresa May has promised, the centenary of the Declaration is a time for reflection.

The racially discriminatory system introduced by Britain in the 1920s facilitated the acquisition by settlers of land on which Palestinians had lived for generations. Mass evictions ensued.

However, in 1927, Balfour wrote “nothing has occurred” that would cause him to question the “wisdom” of his declaration. The remark says much about how he was prepared to trample on an entire people and to dismiss their grievances.
B McKenna