IN A virtually unprecedented break with the normal language of international diplomacy, the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad Malki, has deservedly torn into British Prime Minister Theresa May over her speech to the House of Commons last Wednesday, where she praised the Balfour Declaration.
Calling her remarks ‘offensive and unacceptable’, Malki spoke out saying: ‘Ms May boasted about this Declaration, which wilfully and determinedly disregarded the existence of the Palestinian people and denied their national rights.’
He went on: ‘Most disturbing was the British Prime Minister’s tone of condescension’ before saying that May’s eagerness to celebrate the Declaration ‘is a testament to the colonial, racist mentality that exacted injustice and suffering on peoples around the world.
‘That mentality rationalised Britain’s illegitimate gifting of another people’s homeland to a third group and simultaneously disregarded the indigenous people’s national identity and rights.’
The colonial, racist mentality of Arthur Balfour, who as British Foreign Secretary in 1917 wrote to representatives of the then-tiny Zionist movement that Britain viewed ‘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’, is undeniable.
British imperialism with contemptuous disregard for the rights of Palestinians threw its weight behind the brutal occupation of Palestine and laid the foundation for the establishment of the Zionist state of Israel in 1948 and the murderous campaign to drive Palestinians from their homeland.
This brutal, illegal and racist policy has been ruthlessly pursued by Israel ever since its inception. What has also continued to this day is the colonial, racist ideology of the British ruling class and the Tories.
May has gone out of her way to praise the Balfour Declaration as an ‘historical statement’ and refused point blank to offer even a vague apology for a document that saw Britain promise to give away the land of Palestine, rejecting any consideration for the people living there.
British imperialism today is a pathetic, broken force but it still retains the same outlook that treats the people of the world with contempt to be exploited, to be thrown off their land or murdered in their thousands, all for the profit of the capitalist class.
This imperialist outlook applies not only to the Palestinians but very much to the working class at home. The same hatred and contempt can be seen in Britain today, with the Tories absolutely determined to drive the working class into the gutter, force starvation onto them through austerity cuts and destroy all the gains of the welfare state in order to pay for the crisis caused by the banks and speculators.
This recognition of the identity between the struggle of British workers and Palestinians, and that foreign policy is a continuation of home policy can be seen in the massive support for the struggle against the Zionist state within the trade union and labour movement.
On Saturday November 4, a national march and rally in London demanding justice and their own state for Palestinians will be addressed by speakers from every major trade union, including Unite, Unison, GMB, FBU, ASLEF, RMT and NEU alongside artists, writers and film makers.
However, while this march and rally is to be welcomed it cannot be left at the level of just another protest about the crimes of imperialism. The membership of the TUC unions who support the struggle of the Palestinians for their state must be made to go beyond mass protest to take action against the common enemy, the Tory government.
The unions must advance from the November 4 demonstration to immediately organise a campaign of action including a boycott of Israel, and political demonstrations and strikes to bring down its Tory sponsors, to go forward to a workers government that will recognise the independent state of Palestine and render all physical, economic and military aid necessary to ensure its existence.
In fact, the fight to establish the state of Palestine is a vital one for British workers since it will greatly weaken imperialism, especially British imperialism, and clear the way for the British Socialist Revolution.
So come to our 100th Anniversary Rally of the Russian Revolution on November 12 at the Camden Centre (see Anniversary ad,left) to not only celebrate the October Revolution and demand a workers revolution in the UK, but also to demand that the UK apologise for the Balfour Declaration and recognise the State of Palestine!