To all intents and purposes, our political, economic and moral world begins with World War I, the seminal event of the 20th century. The carnage, devastation and psychological trauma of Europe’s first total war did to the old political order what a certain asteroid did to the dinosaurs 65 million years ago: it wiped out an existing hierarchy and forced the creation of another that would ultimately be dominated by the U.S., which emerged from that war as the world’s new apex predator.
Now, in the early stages of the 21st century, anniversaries of events that have defined our concept of modernity are going to come in profusion, events like the Russian revolutions, League of Nations, stock market crash, the Great Depression; World War II, atomic weapons, plastics, the United Nations, McCarthyism and the Cold War.
Which events we commemorate, how we commemorate them, and which ones we ignore or gloss over have less to do with their intrinsic importance than with their propaganda value in support of, if you’ll pardon the cliché, The New World Order. The selective use of history to prop up our post-war hierarchy can be seen in attitudes toward two events that have anniversaries this month.
The Balfour Declaration, Nov. 2, 1917
Defenders and detractors of the Declaration both made much of its centenary, yet neither side seemed to understand its general worthlessness. The document in question is simply a letter from British Foreign Secretary James Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild expressing the British government’s favourable view of “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It does not, as is widely believed, have anything to do with the creation of Israel. It amounted to nothing.
On its face, the Declaration is absurd as well as politically and legally indefensible. “National home” has no meaning in international law; Jews do not constitute “a people” and therefore not “a nation”; Palestinians were not consulted on the matter; and the Declaration betrayed the British government’s support for Arab independence as outlined in the Hussein–McMahon correspondence.
In one letter dated Oct. 25, 1915, the British High Commissioner to Egypt, Lt.–Col. Sir Henry McMahon, openly promised Palestine, inter alia, to the Sharif of Mecca. The Hussein–McMahon correspondence was a meaningful exchange between governments; the Balfour Declaration was merely a private letter addressed to a special-interest group, the Zionist Federation.
Regarding its contents, nothing in the Declaration was special or revelatory regarding British attitudes. Upper-class twits, er Brits, like Josiah Wedgwood had been lionizing Zionism since at least Feb. 7, 1917. As Wedgwood would say a decade or so later, “Zionism is now doing for the Jews what the Labour Party seeks to do for the British working-class—creating self-confidence and corporate self-respect.”
For Wedgwood, Balfour and others, Zionism was a benign illusion borne of ignorance and Western hubris. Wedgwood even praised Jewish colonization of Palestine as being wholly beneficial. Such a misguided understanding is also reflected in the Declaration’s naïve insistence that nothing in the Zionist enterprise should be allowed to harm or prejudice the civil or religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities.
In truth, the Zionist Federation, to whom Balfour addressed the letter, had no intention of respecting Palestinian rights. In fact, such respect is anathema to Zionism As anyone can see, the modern “state” of Israel is an abomination of the spirit of the Balfour Declaration. Therefore, the Declaration must be seen as either a conscious act of U.K. complicity in a genocide or an expression of sentimental Judeophilic nonsense. Either way, it does not deserve to be celebrated.
UNGA Resolution 181, (“The Partition Plan”) Nov. 29, 1947
The disconnect between zionist fantasy in the Balfour Declaration and zionist reality in Palestine would be proven 30 years later when the UN General Assembly caved in to blackmail to “create” Israel. The following account of howUNGA Resolution 181 came to pass is taken from my 2011 essay UN must again choose between capitulation and credibility.
By Nov. 25, 1947, the Zionist lobby realized that it did not have the requisite two-thirds majority in the General Assembly to support partition [Palestine]. Extraordinary measures had to be taken.
Vijayalakshmi Pandit, head of India’s UN delegation and sister of India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, received daily death threats warning her to change her vote. Nehru, though, refused to buckle in the face of threats or lucrative bribes. (Najma Heptulla, Indo-West Asian relations: the Nehru era, Allied Publishers, 1991, p. 158.)
Other, smaller, countries could not afford to stand on principle. In Palestine and Israel—A Challenge to Justice, Professor John Quigley recounts how Liberia, the Philippines, and Haiti—all financially dependent on the U.S.—were coerced into switching their votes:
“Liberia’s ambassador to the United Nations complained that the U.S. delegation threatened aid cuts to several countries. Some delegates charged U.S. officials with ‘diplomatic intimidation.’ Without terrific pressure from the United States on governments which cannot afford to risk American reprisals, said an anonymous editorial writer, the resolution would never have passed. The fact such pressure had been exerted became public knowledge, to the extent a State Department policy group was concerned that ‘the prestige of the UN’ would suffer because of ‘the notoriety and resentment attendant upon the activities of U.S. pressure groups, including members of Congress, who sought to impose U.S. views as to partition on foreign delegations.’” (p. 37)
On Nov. 29, the Partition Plan, known as UNGA Resolution 181 narrowly gained the required two thirds—33 in favor, 13 opposed, 10 abstaining and 1 absent—yet the resolution was a violation of the UN Charter since the UN has no authority to take land from one people and give it to another.
As a result, 726,000 Arabs were made refugees in their own land from November 29, 1947, until the end of 1948, according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine. Walter Eytan, Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, referred to the UNRWA’s figure as “meticulous” and believed that the real number was closer to 800,000. Moshe Dayan would later admit: “There is not one single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” (Ha’aretz, April 4, 1969)
Thomas Reid, British MP for Swindon, called Resolution 181 “an iniquitous scheme”: “Let us be frank about it. One of the chief motives is that the Jews have a controlling voice in the election for the President in the States of New York, Illinois, Ohio and elsewhere in America. I suggest that the chief reason for this evil proposal of U.N.O. is that the political parties in America, or their party machines, are partly at the electoral mercy of the Jews. That is public knowledge.” (Hansard, Dec. 11, 1947)
So much for the relevance of the Balfour Declaration and its pious concern for the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish groups! In fact, the cruelty of the invading Jews toward the native Palestinians was so great that U.S. President Harry Truman refused to let UNGA Resolution 181 go to the Security Council for ratification, and at one point was prepared to rescind U.S. support for partition. In a March 25, 1948 statement, Truman declared support for trusteeship, albeit temporarily, to stabilize the region and maintain law and order:
It has become clear that the partition plan cannot be carried out at this time by peaceful means. We could not undertake to impose this solution on the people of Palestine by the use of American troops, both on Charter grounds and as a matter of national policy.
The consequence of this admission, of course, is that without ratification UNGA Resolution 181 does not exist: GA resolutions are only recommendations and have no force of law unless accepted by all parties. Therefore, Israel has no legal, moral or political legitimacy. This illegitimacy is what celebrating the centenary of the Declaration amounted to.
There is, though, one irony to the Declaration that is worthy of note. There was one lone voice against the Declaration in David Lloyd-George’s government. It belonged to Edwin Samuel Lord Montagu, who wrote to the British Cabinet on Aug. 23, 1917, one day after the Balfour Declaration was drafted. Here is a short excerpt:
[A] religious test of citizenship seems to me to be only admitted by those who take a bigoted and narrow view of one particular epoch of the history of Palestine, and claim for the Jews a position to which they are not entitled.
If my memory serves me right, there are three times as many Jews in the world as could possible get into Palestine if you drove out all the population that remains there now. So that only one-third will get back at the most, and what will happen to the remainder?
… I feel that the Government are asked to be the instrument for carrying out the wishes of a Zionist organisation largely run, as my information goes, at any rate in the past, by men of enemy descent or birth, and by this means have dealt a severe blow to the liberties, position and opportunities of service of their Jewish fellow-countrymen.
Montagu was also the government’s only Jew.