Dr. Ashrawi protests Balfour Declaration

Dr. Ashrawi protests Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration was issued on Nov. 2, 1917.  On the occasion of its 97th anniversary, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi remembers it bitterly in an official statement for the PLO Executive Committee Department of Culture and Information.

Lord Balfour, then British Foreign Secretary, and his famous letter.
Ashrawi is correct, of course, to protest what is happening currently on the ground, that “Palestine is disappearing before our very own eyes. . . ”  But it is a pity that she protests the Balfour Declaration as such, which did not simply award all of the land to the Jewish people.  It was carefully worded to mention a Jewish “national home” rather than a state, and to safeguard the rights of “existing non-Jewish communities.”  Also, British colonial policy was inconsistent, as it favored the Jews for the first 20 years, and then leaned the other way from 1939 until Israel’s creation in 1948. 

Although she’s not an extremist, I’ve long found Ashrawi’s views to be problematic.  For example, as our Israel Symposium discovered when meeting with her in 2012, she does not understand the ethnic/national nature of Jewish identify.  (This year’s Israel Symposium begins on Saturday evening, Nov. 8.)

It’s obvious that Palestinian nationalists would bemoan the Balfour Declaration, which was emblematic of British imperialism in the Middle East.  Still, the Balfour Declaration was a great step forward for the Jewish people.  Where the Palestinians erred, to their everlasting grief, is in violently rejecting the partition plan for two states in Palestine, which the United Nations approved in Nov. 1947 as a reasonable remedy to the needs of both Arabs and Jews.  This is a critical moment in  history that Palestinians find very difficult to address forthrightly.   

The following is the press release from Dr. Ashrawi’s office:

PLO Executive Committee
Department of Culture and Information

November 2, 2014

Dr. Ashrawi: “The British Government Must Take Action for its Historical Injustice in Palestine”

PLO Executive Committee member, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi stressed, “Ninety-seven years ago, the British government committed a grave historical injustice at the expense of the Palestinians by signing over their homeland to the Jewish people with the Balfour Declaration.  Decades have passed and the people of Palestine continue to be denied their basic human rights to justice and self-determination.

The British government bears the human, legal, political, and moral responsibility to undo its serious mistakes of the past by recognizing the State of Palestine and supporting current and future Palestinian multilateral initiatives of resorting to all venues of international judicial accountability for Israel and the protection for Palestine.

The people of Palestine can no longer afford to wait as Israel succeeds with its extreme and escalating policies to Judaize Jerusalem and to ethnically cleanse it of its indigenous Muslim and Christian Palestinian residents, among other violations of international law.  More specifically, with its most recent actions of closing Al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing Muslim worshippers from accessing Al-Haram Al-Sharif, Israel is undertaking a supreme and dangerous provocation and inciting sectarian warfare in the region and beyond.

Palestine is disappearing before our very own eyes; unless Britain, the European Union, the United Nations, and other members of the international community act immediately to hold Israel accountable, Israel will succeed in establishing ‘Greater Israel’ and in destroying the chances for a Palestinian state once and for all.”     


To access this press release on the PLO DCI website, please click here.

By | 2014-11-03T13:54:00-05:00 November 3rd, 2014|Blog|5 Comments


  1. motti schleider November 3, 2014 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    hanan ashrawi is a blowhard, who has defended the same people who have decimated her own christian community.

  2. Anonymous November 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    But Partners is truly, sincerely committed to peace with Palestinians, and really respects them. We’re just searching for that “Partner” in our name. It’s difficult, Palestinians complain a lot. You took this, you stole that, you killed these people. Try saying something good, maybe, and take some responsibility, Hanan Ashrawi. What have you ever done, anyway?

    Partners thought it had found a partner, but then learned that Hussein Ibish is not Palestinian. It’s not easy…


  3. Brian Meadows November 4, 2014 at 2:44 am - Reply

    A blowhard? She’s worse! She’s actually a Judas to her fellow-Christians, if that label means anything to her anymore, which I very heartily doubt!

  4. tedbh November 8, 2014 at 2:12 am - Reply

    I have always been troubled by the extent to which Zionist/pro-Israel supporters rely on the Balfour Doctrine. Who was Balfour to make such a Statement? He represents one of the last gasps of a dying British imperialistic regime. Surely, there are more persuasive non-theistic sources to justify the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

  5. Ralph Seliger November 8, 2014 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    Tedbh: As I indicated, the Balfour Declaration makes no mention of a Jewish state. It was the first concrete victory for the Zionist movement internationally, establishing a vital 20 year working partnership with the British; although this relationship soured later, from 1939-48, it laid the institutional foundation for the State of Israel. Regardless of their status as a “dying”empire, the Brits were the power on the ground.

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