Category Archives: 2017-11

The Balfour Declaration: 1917-2017 100 years of colonialism/100 years of resistance

Aya Ramadan & Selim Nadi

On November 2d 1917, Arthur Balfour (1848–1930)—former Prime Minister of Britain and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—wrote a Letter to Lionel Walter Rotschild in order to explain his sympathy with the Jewish Zionist project: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object.”

This promise toward the Zionist movement became way more concrete with another project: the San Remo Conference (in 1920) that made Palestine part of the British Empire. Nevertheless, the Balfour-Declaration of 1917 not only was a sort of “first step” toward the creation of the Zionist State in 1948. It was also part of a wider treason of European’s power towards Arab nationalists. Indeed, one year earlier, in 1916, the Sykes-Picot Agreement between the UK and France defined several “sphere of influences” in order to control a whole part of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat during World War I. Hence, Balfour’s sympathy toward the establishment of a national home for Jewish people in Palestine paved the way for the Zionist colonial project. And indeed, one year later, there was a parade in Jerusalem by some Zionist groups in order to celebrate the first anniversary of this declaration.

No wonder that 100 years later Zionists still want to use this anniversary in order to legitimize the colonial system that Israel is. This is why, in several countries, anticolonial activists are organizing events in order to remember this declaration in another way: through the racist and colonial project it represents and how it fits perfectly with European colonialism. Hence, some anticolonial voices have responded to the call of Palestinians in order to denounce the celebration of the Balfour-Declaration by the Zionists and their accomplices. This is why we call all the Friends of Palestine to meet in the Parisian region on November 5 in order to commemorate rather than to celebrate the centenary of this declaration. Indeed, on November 5, at the Bourse du travail from Saint-Denis, the voices of the resistance toward colonialism will be heard through 4 speakers:

  • Ilan Pappe: Professor at the University of Exeter and author of, among other books, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006).
  • Joseph Massad: Palestinian Professor of History at Columbia University and author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question (2006).
  • Rabab Abdulhadi: Palestinian Professor of Sociology at the University of San Francisco and head of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative.
  • Alain Gresh: French journalist and specialist of the Middle-East and the author of Israel, Palestine: Truths of a Conflict (2007).

This event is a very important one since France is probably one of the most loyal accomplice of Zionist colonialism. During the 75th commemoration of the raid of the Vel d’Hiv in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron invited Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahou and declared that Antizionism is the “reinvented form of Antisemitism”. This fallacious attempt to delegitimize any antizionist effort is not very new. The consequences of this logic, that has shaped the French policy toward Israel for several years, had an devastating impact on the anticolonial movement with the criminalization of the BDS Movement. This political context poses with increasing urgency the necessity of continuing to resist despite the attempt to silence anticolonial voices in France.

The meeting of November 5th is organized by decolonial organizations and Immigrant organizations — like the Parti des Indigènes de la République, the Association des Travailleurs Maghrébins de France, the Fédération des Tunisiens pour une citoyenneté des deux rives – and some organizations from the French radical Left, like NPA, Ensemble, Attac. Hence, this common work has permitted us to organize, on a national scale, against the racist and colonial celebrations of the Balfour-Declarations that want to erase any anticolonial voice from the French political Landscape. But the organization of such an event in France is just a part of a more global organization of antizionist forces who are trying to show their support to the Palestinian people. The anticolonial bloc that has resulted from this anti-Balfour project will continue to support Palestine after November 5th. This meeting is part of a broader attempt to organize against colonialism and racism on an international level with every single force that shares our aim to raise our voices against the racist and colonial system that underlies the Zionist project since more than 100 years.

Sources

IHRC has complied the following sources on the Balfour Declaration.

Articles

  1. The Balfour Declaration: Palestine’s British and Zionist Colonial Legacy – Hatem Bazian
  2. The Balfour Declaration Destroyed Palestine, Not the Palestinian People – Ramzy Baroud
  3. Israel simply has no right to exist – Faisal Bodi
  4. Balfour at 100: A legacy of racism and propaganda –  Dan Freeman-Malloy
  5. Remembering Balfour: empire, race and propaganda – Dan Freeman-Malloy

Videos

  1. Independent Jewish Voices: 100 Years After Balfour FULL FILM (24 min)
  2. David Cronin discusses his book Balfour’s Shadow at IHRC (1 uur en 20 min)

BOOK (PDF):

Towards a New Liberation Theology – Reflections on Palestine  – eds Arzu Merali and Javad Sharbaf

 

Furthermore, there are two new books that are interesting for decolonial thinking.

ON THE SOCIOLOGY OF ISLAM: http://shop.ihrc.org/on-the-sociology-of-islam-ali-shariati-3

AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM, EUROCENTRISM AND OTHERISATION OF MUSLIMS: http://shop.ihrc.org/american-exceptionalism-eurocentrism-and-otherisation-of-muslims-saied-reza-ameli

Decolonizing Dutch colonial historiography

The Dutch government has funded a project of 4,3 million Euro’s to rewrite the Dutch colonial history in Indonesia in the period 1945-1949, the period in whic the Dutch sent its army to crush the liberation struggle of the Indonesian people. Rather than acknowledging this crime their colonial historians put a framing based on the concept of “extreme violence”, implying that both parties committed extreme violence.

Activists in Holland are mobilizing against this colonial project. On October 20th Histori Bersama organized a meeting to discuss Decolonizing Dutch colonial historiography. Click  here for English language videos of the meeting.

See the English introduction of Ethan Mark of Universiteit Leiden for critical analysis of the project.

Activists consider the possibilities to set up an alternative research project into colonial violence in the whole period of Dutch colonization of Indonesia.

 

Venezuela does not bow down to anybody …we are born anti-imperialists

Jesus Chucho García

Maintaining our sovereignty during these eighteen years of the Bolivarian process has not been easy. Even with all our failures, we have broken, after Cuba, the record of independence and anti-imperialist sustainability,in Latin America and the Caribbean.

We have refused to be the United States backyard or chess piece from the ultra-right sector of the European Union.

We dared, under the leadership of President Chávez, to change the geometry of power in our America, including to the people of the United States showing our solidarity to more than two million impoverished people in that country with our policy of giving it warmth in winter time through the mixed company CITGO.

Sovereignty has a very high political cost as it has been demonstrated by Haiti in the eighteenth century, when it dared to be the first Republic of the African diaspora to achieve its independence from French and American imperialism, and then it was blocked. The same would do Bolivar following the Haitian example and also suffered blockade of Europe and the United States. Then, they also blocked us in 1902 with the government of President Cipriano Castro, and we already know the history of Cuba with more than half a century of blockade and there is with his head high 90 miles from the empire.

The history of any country in our America that has dared to fight for its true autonomy, without military bases in its territories, without obeying the mandates of the great club or the whims of the pentagon or the fascist leaders disguised as democrats in Europe , have run the risk and we continue to run the risk of being a perfect target of blockades, media manipulation, isolation of international bodies, asymmetric wars, covert operations of the CIA, Israeli intelligence, in order to create a climate for military intervention as might happen in Venezuelaon the part of countries with miserable governments such as that of Santos in Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, among others that have been pronounced against the legally constitutional government of the current president Nicolas Maduro that until July 27th called the opposition to sit down to dialogue, but this one with its historic and bourgeois hatred and the feeling of being supported by the extreme right Internationally refused to dialogue despite the prayers of Pope Francis, as they would say in my land Barlovento….. they have the devil on the shoulders (they heated the electoral situation using violence facts). IF THEY ACCEPT THE CONSTITUENT ; THEY WILL GET FUCK UP.

We entered definitively in the circular delirium of disrespect of a group of countries of our region blindly obeying the script of some ultraright congressmen of the United States, to express that if President Maduro did not paralyze the constituent we fuck, saying it popularly. Look, we do not have nuclear arsenal as in the case of Iran, we do not have a conflict as it exists between the United States and North Korea, we do not have the international conflict as Mexico has with more than fifteen thousand assassinated in the last five months or the selective murders of more than one hundred Colombian leaders, after the signing of the peace treaty. It is not enough that they have made Luis Almagro look ridiculous this week when he again asked for the intervention of the OAS in our affairs, and he only got thirteen votes out of thirty-four he was looking for, it was not enough that Caricom did not allow himself to be blackmailed by the United States in its last assembly to vote against Venezuela and even more he failed despite the efforts of the indecent president Macri and the coup Temer in their attempts to make that Mercosur, censored Venezuela. In the ground of the international organisms these options have been rejected against our country. Now they have no choice but to issue sanctions on the part of the United States and on the other hand to call the violent outcome of the radical and racist sector of the opposition. But the Venezuelan people will not bend their sovereignty or their decision to be anti-imperialist and independent.