The Illustrated Mr. Balfour
Lord Arthur James Balfour was of Scottish heritage and a prominent Conservative politician for fifty years. Thus, it is worth looking at his career, prior to discussing his famous letter, or declaration , which supported a Jewish homeland in Palestine; written to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, the Jewish millionaire. Mr. Balfour was a philosopher, who opposed scientific theories based solely on logic; he considered that, truth is not entirely self-evident but rather coincides with metaphysical and theological beliefs (see ‘A Defence of Philosophical Doubt’). Remember this was a raging argument in its day and probably remains so but is now, cached in different terms.
Politically, he was equally as controversial as he introduced measures, which were often unpopular with the electorate and other government members. His policies were paradoxical as he opposed hotly, home rule in Ireland but introduced the ‘Wyndham Land Purchase Act’ (1903), designed to urge absentee landlords to sell land to tenant farmers. This contrasted markedly, with his approach to the Boer farmer’s uprising in South Africa.
‘The Committee of Imperial Defence’1902, introduced a cohesive ”worldwide military strategy” for Britain. Its role was too set up various sub-committees to deal with pending issues, including espionage, a report from one such committee was responsible for founding MI5 and MI6, in 1909. Under the ambit of the ‘The Committee of Imperial Defence’, Mr. Balfour used the usual colonial tactic of pitting cultural groups against each other.
The African soldiers, who supported Britain refused to return to mining and Mr. Balfour imported labour from China to replace them. Then of course, there was the question of the concentration camps introduced, by Lord Roberts, one of Balfour’s military commanders, to intern the Dutch prisoners. As everyone knows the Boers were not defeated and a system of apartheid began. Lord Roberts also commanded troops in Kandahar, Afghanistan from 1881-1882. Meanwhile back at the ranch; in 1902 the talented Lord Balfour introduced the Balfour or Education Act, which ensured schools were administered correctly, throughout Britain.
Then there was the declaration, a short letter, that was to cause endless strife and upheaval for centuries.
Though, his declaration approved a Jewish homeland in Palestine, the British government were divided on the issue. From the outset the letter was carefully worded and did not refer to ”the” homeland, this is significant because the idea was for the emigres to live alongside the indigenous population. The contents of the letter were thought to have been approved in a cabinet meeting in 1917 and in 1922 was given the status of an international treaty by the newly formed League of Nations.
Ostensibly Lord Rothschild is a strange recipient of the letter, even though he was a confirmed Zionist and Conservative politician. It may well have been his role of merchant banker, that endeared him to Mr. Balfour. It is a fact, that Maynard Keynes had borrowed money from the American government to secure France’s entry, into the 1914-1918 war (BBC radio 4); to combat Germany. Presumably the British government was strapped for cash at the time, as successive wars proved costly.
In any event, Britain’s support for a Zionist state in Palestine was tentative, though pressure was increasing from the Zionists and the Christian fundamentalists, who believed the second coming of Christ depended on the existence of a new Jewish state.
To complicate matters, there was a coalition government from 1895-1905 and many ministerial positions were held by Liberals, who were staunch supporters of a Jewish homeland in Palestine; a view not generally shared by Conservative peers. In the interim the earlier Jewish emigres from Europe and America were busy paving the way for the colonisation of Palestine.
Dissent remained widespread among the English ruling class, notably Lord Sydenham made his speech to parliament, in 1920, expressing sympathy for the Zionist cause (the term Zionism is not mentioned at this point) but referred to later in the speech. Lord Sydenham accused the Zionists of throwing their weight about, his argument revolved around ”a self appointed Zionist Commission”, that not only had the effrontery to interfere with the administration of the colony but dared to involve itself in financial matters.
Before I go on, I’d like to stress I have no sympathy for the Israelis and do not believe it is constituted as a state but Britain’s motive for supporting the indigenous people of the region is suspect, which will be apparent from the next entry. Lord Sydenham makes continued references to the arrogance of the Zionists and was accused of being a well-known anti-Semite, a baffling accusation, since the Arabs are a semitic race too.
His speech was supported by that of Lord Lamington, who was more forthright in his support of the Arabs but insisted, that England had no vested interest in the Syria or Palestine. This does run contrary to other accounts discussed Interestingly he speaks about the Zionists claim, that they would secure the safety of the Suez Canal but denies, that Palestine is strategically useful to Egypt and the canal. The speeches, that followed cover an array of issues but plainly I cannot discuss the whole session: it can be found at HANSARD 1803–2005 → 1920s → 1920 → June 1920 → 29 June 1920 → Lords Sitting
I just listened to a mind-boggling programme on BBC radio 4 about the mess, that is Iraq. Much of the discussion could have come off this blog (it didn’t) but I had not heard the same debates, in 1990, 2003 or in 2011, when the current situation manifested in Syria. The issues are exactly the same. Iraq is a country, which requires strong leadership and Britain & co, have ensured it put paid to that.
Anyway the question was raised about intervention and one man pointed out, that America supports the mercenaries in Syria but not Iraq, pretty obvious but there was no irony or guilt or admission, unbelievable. Earlier in the day ‘From our Own correspondent’, featured a report from the ‘Kurdish region’, another lot, with lots to answer for. The journo was friends with someone in a prominent position, who had said in 2003, ‘getting rid of Saddam is the easy bit” but what comes after will be the hard part.
The account went on to describe how the Kurdish, have been selling oil directly to Turkey and not going through central government (not rocket science to work out but it is theft). To me, even though I know the mercenaries have been there for a couple of years, it was startling, that Kurds already have a trade agreement with them. This is because the Kurds have colonised Kirkuk, they began that in 2003 and the mercenaries have occupied Mosul.
It is pretty much as thought it would go from 1990, at least in regards to the Kurds. I didn’t, at that time, realise there would be an attempt to restore the Caliphates or spread the ‘Ummah’ with such verve, even though fundamentalism did begin to spread in the 1980s as the west was confident it could dismantle all forms of state socialism.
Going off the point a bit but I hope Iran does not get involved in another war with Iraq, particularly as the Iraqi Shia fought for Iraq in the 1980s. It might sound stupid but my feeling is, that it is the way Britain will break Iran. Anyway the presenters of the Iraq crisis programme put it squarely at Iran’s door, whether they wished to support the Iraqi govt. ‘Its up to Iran” I think were the words.
The programme also discussed whether Iraq would split into two, well I thought it already had and that was Britain’s plan for Syria too. To return to the Caliphate will surely coincide with the break up of Europe, which has already began and the US is surely on its last legs. Oh yeah history always repeats because people never learn!!!
No to NATO!!
There will be a NATO summit held in Newport and Wales is none to pleased. We plan to oppose this debacle. If you are interested see www.nonatonewport.org for further info.