Balfour and Palestine, a Legacy of Deceit by Anthony Nutting

Courtesy of Balfour Project.org & reproduced from CAABU:

Anthony Nutting, resigned from Anthony Eden’s cabinet when he found Eden was going into Suez. Writing around 1975, he reflects on Doreen Ingrams book “The Palestine Papers: 1917-1922: Seeds of Conflict”. The papers in this book made clear that during and after the First World War British Government ministers and officials had intentionally rather than accidentally laid the groundwork for a Jewish state in Palestine, while deliberately keeping this from the Arabs. With a brief glance at the history since Nutting acknowledges the impossibility of undoing the harm done at the time, but emphasises Britain’s responsibility to help resolve the modern situation.

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Sir Anthony Nutting

One of the most shattering and shaming indictments of British Foreign policy ever framed has recently come to light in a collection of state documents compiled by Doreen Ingrams and entitled “Palestine Papers 1917-1922, Seeds of Conflict” (John Murray, 1972). As the Foreword very properly reminds us, ‘the (Palestine) conflict began not in 1948 but in 1917′ with the publication of the Balfour Declaration, and to understand the intensity of the hatred which exists today between the Arabs and Israel, it is necessary to go back to that crucially important watershed in the history of the Middle East. But Mrs Ingrams does a lot more than merely recall how the eviction of the Arabs of Palestine to make way for the creation of the Israeli state began more than half a century ago. Letting the record speak for itself, she also lays bare the cynicism with which British Ministers at that time committed themselves to the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, with a total and deliberate disregard for the rights and interests of the Arabs who then numbered 92 per cent of the country’s population.

we still have an obligation … to seek a settlement which will finally redeem our honour and vindicate our name.

Until now even those best informed on the history of Palestine since the First World War have been inclined to give Balfour and his colleagues the benefit of the doubt about their ultimate intentions. They have accepted that to the British Government of the day the Balfour Declaration meant no more and no less than it said, when it proclaimed that Britain would help to establish a ‘national home’ for the Jewish people in Palestine without prejudice to the rights of the existing Moslem and Christian Arab population. Consequently there has arisen a widespread idea that Ministers both then and in later years· must have been duped by the wily Zionist Movement, led by Dr Chaim Weizmann, who had intended from the outset that Palestine should become a Jewish state. And the fact that, after twenty years of British rule in Palestine, the ‘national home’ became the Jewish state of the Zionists’ dream, and in so doing dispossessed all but a handful of Arab inhabitants of their homes has been attributed to weakness rather than duplicity on the part of Balfour and his successors. Continue reading