This post written from East Jerusalem this week was first published on my Patheos page on Wednesday 1 November.
Here's the opening:
Tomorrow (2 November) is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Around the world there is limited interest in this anniversary. Even in Israel it’s not much of a news story. Prime Minister Netanyahu can afford to be in London with Theresa May and Boris Johnson celebrating Balfour at a private dinner party.
But here in the Occupied Palestinian Territories it’s different. Here Balfour matters. It’s on the streets, it’s in the air. Here it’s understood that Balfour’s sixty-seven words of incompatible imperial pledges locked together the fate of two peoples, but with vastly differing outcomes for each. Balfour made a promise, that promise led to the creation of the State of Israel, and that State led to the displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people.
What’s clear to see when you’re ‘on the ground’, is that Balfour isn’t history – it’s current affairs. It’s the checkpoints; it’s the Settlements expanding before your eyes; it’s the Israeli artist living on the Gaza border who says she wants peace but really wants only peace and quiet; it’s our Jerusalem Arab taxi driver, who explains why his Bethlehem born wife, a qualified engineer, can’t get work because she’s denied the same citizenship rights as her husband. This week, the consequences of Balfour remain present and un-corrected.
Thursday’s anniversary will come and go and nothing will have changed. On Friday we will begin the second hundred years of Balfour, not knowing when or how, or if, it will ever end. The children of Palestine will become adults and Balfour will still be here.
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