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Posts

Balfour protest draws thousands

More photos of Saturday’s Balfour March in London at Al Jazeera and Mail Online


The march of thousands in London, Saturday November 4th, 2017 shouting “Free Free Palestine”. Photo by Noor Nanji

Thousands march through London to oppose Balfour Declaration

Pro-Palestine marchers were met by dozens of pro-Israel protesters who attempted to stop the march

By Areeb Ullah, Middle East Eye
November 04/06

LONDON, UK-Thousands of people marched through London on Saturday to call on Britain to apologise for the Balfour Declaration.

The demonstration came as UK Prime Minister Theresa May this week celebrated the centenary of the controversial 1917 document which paved the way for the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.

Organised by Friends of Al-Aqsa, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Palestinian Forum in Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain, protesters marched through the heart of London from outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square to Parliament Square in Westminster. Photo by Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock, via Daily Mail

The Balfour Declaration, which is dated 7 November 1917, is a 67-word letter from Balfour, the foreign secretary of David Lloyd George’s British government, to Walter Rothschild, the leader of the British Jewish community, which is considered by Zionists to indicate British support for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, which was then under the control of the Ottoman Empire.

While Israel reveres Arthur Balfour, naming streets and a Tel Aviv school after him, Palestinians decry his declaration as a promise by Britain to hand over land it did not own, which led to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 and the eviction of many Palestinians from their lands.


Pro-Israel demonstrators attempt to counter the pro-Palestine demonstration. Photo by Areeb Ullah/MEE


Signs held at the London march included hundreds of “Free Palestine” placards and home-made signs aimed at Balfour. Photo by Areeb Ullah/MEE

Maureen Bennett, 74, travelled from Fishguard in southwest Wales to attend the protest.

“The Palestinians have no freedom at all and the UK is responsible for this,” Bennett told Middle East Eye.

“Palestinian farmers have to go through Israeli checkpoints to tend to their land while Palestinian women have babies at checkpoints.

“The world is doing nothing and it just makes me want to cry”

The Pro-Palestinian protest, however, was met by pro-Israeli protestors in Oxford Street, who held the march up for more than half an hour.

Police attempted to intervene and stop the pro-Israeli demonstrators from marching in front of the Palestine demonstration.

But the police failed to stop the pro-Israeli activists and escorted them from Oxford Street to Westminster Bridge, where they marched in front of the pro-Palestine protest.

Hundreds of police officers were also deployed to separate the two protests as they marched through London.

Bizarre scenes from the pro Palestine march in London. Dozens of pro Israeli protestors are marching in front of the demo.

Contrast in numbers but heavy police presence escorting both protests.

Areeb Ullah, Tweet

Tony Phillips, who marched with the pro-Israel marchers, [above] told MEE that he joined the demonstration to support the Balfour declaration.

“I am here to support the Balfour declaration and counter what I see as lies used to demonise the state of Israel,” the 57-year old heating engineer told MEE.

“Doesn’t need to be violent, and I don’t see any harm in controversy.”

Among the speakers at the pro-Palestine rally in Westminster were representatives from numerous trade unions and other pro-Palestine organisations who supported the march.

The rally also showed a video message from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.


Pro-Palestine demonstrators in London. Tweeted photo by Areeb Ullah/MEE

Other notable figures who addressed the rally included film director Ken Loach and Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti,

Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti addressed the rally and said:

“The Balfour declaration founded the racist regime of apartheid and is being implemented in Jerusalem, in the West Bank and Gaza and that is why we must stop it.

Other protests to decry the declaration took place across the West Bank and the Middle East over the last week.

Earlier this week in London, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticised the British government for what he said was a failure to fully implement Balfour’s promise by keeping parts of historical Palestine – the West Bank and Gaza – under Arab control.



Thousands of protesters took to the streets of London carrying placards which read ‘Free Palestine’, ‘#StopArming Israel’ and ‘Justice now! Make it right for Palestine’. Photo Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock, via Daily Mail

Thousands march through London in Balfour protest

The protest was delayed by almost an hour as pro-Israeli demonstrators attempted to block the streets

By Noor Nanji, The National
November 05, 2017

Up to 4,000 people took to the streets of London on Saturday to oppose the Balfour Declaration, just days after British Prime Minister Theresa May held a celebratory dinner to mark the centenary of the controversial document.

The march, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, saw floods of protesters march from outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, through Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and up to Parliament Square in the heart of Britain’s democracy.


The march arrived in Parliament Square on Saturday. Speakers addressed the crowd at Grosvenor Square, near the US Embassy, before the march through central London via Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. Photo by Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock, via Daily Mail.

The Balfour Declaration, written by Britain’s then foreign secretary Arthur Balfour on November 2, 1917, was a defining document in which the British government stated its support for the establishment of a national home for Jewish people in Palestine.

Mrs May, who welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to London to her dinner on Thursday, has consistently said she would commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the declaration with “pride”.

But the message from the Pro-Palestinian protestors on Saturday was clear. “Theresa May, shame on you,” was written on placards waved by the crowds. “She’s proud to celebrate the Balfour Declaration… is she proud to celebrate ethnic cleansing? Apartheid? And the oppression of human rights?” Rajab Shamlakh, from the Association of the Palestinian Community in the UK, asked the crowd in one of the many speeches at the event. “This government should feel shame, not pride,” he continued.

Other banners held at the march included “100 years of injustice”, “Free Palestine” and “Israel is a terror state”.

Colin from Liverpool told The National he travelled down to London to attend the protest, together with 30 other members of the “Liverpool Friends of Palestine” group.

“I’m very ashamed of the British government,” he said. “They signed that declaration in 1917 with no care whatsoever for the indigenous people. It is very important that British people come out and show solidarity with the Palestinians.”

The protest was delayed by almost an hour as pro-Israeli demonstrators attempted to block the streets. They ended up marching ahead of the pro-Palestinian protest all the way to Westminster, holding signs which lambasted the “antisemitic rally”.

But Glyn Secker, from campaign group Jews for Justice for Palestinians, told the crowd: “These criticisms are not and cannot be antisemitic – they are to assert basic human and Jewish values.”

Describing Palestine as “the world’s biggest prison” and a “psychological torture chamber”, Mr Secker took direct aim at the Israeli leadership, saying: “Netanyahu you do not speak for me, nor for hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world who identify with your victims.”

Other speakers at the rally included representatives from trade unions, film director Ken Loach, SNP politician John Nicolson and Palestinian politician Dr Mustafa Barghouti.

A video of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was also played to the crowd, which burst into energetic chants of “Ohh, Jeremy Corbyn” – one of the more memorable refrains from this year’s general election campaign.


The rather smaller counter-protest, Saturday November 4th, 2017. Photo Guy Bell/Rex/Shutterstock, via Daily Mail

Speakers and attendees expressed outrage at the steady loss of Palestinian land to Israeli settlers, with maps handed out at the event showing the dramatic reduction in Palestinian-controlled territory since 1917. “Palestinians only have 22% of their land left, which is being eroded daily,” said Mr Nickleson said. “That’s a pitifully small amount of land.”

They also urged Theresa May’s government to apologise for the Balfour Declaration. “She should apologise for this crime,” another protester, Hassan, told The National. “She has lost touch with the British people, and what we want.”

Ismail Patel, founder of Friends of Al-Aqsa, said the message to the government from Saturday’s march was clear.

“First and foremost, apologise for the Balfour Declaration,” he said. “Secondly, recognise the state of Palestine today. Third, continue with BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] until Palestine is free.

“My friends, take this message home and keep working until Palestine is free,” he added, to rapturous chants of “free, free Palestine”.

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