BBC radio’s flagship Today programme broadcast this morning (around 0720, then again at around 0735) a vicious historical travesty to mark today’s centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the letter from Britain’s Foreign Secretary in 1917 committing the government to work towards the establishment of a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people.
Presenter Nick Robinson revealed a degree of historical illiteracy matched only by the aggression he displayed towards Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely – who herself gave a master-class in catastrophically missing the point, and thus utterly failed to address the central calumny being hurled at Israel from the other side of the microphone.
Robinson stated first that this letter promised a homeland for the Jewish people alongside another homeland for the Arabs. It did no such thing. The relevant text of the letter was as follows:
“His Majesty’s Government view 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, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country” (my emphasis).
The crucial point is in the passage I have highlighted. For the British government did not offer, as Robinson falsely stated, a second homeland for the Arabs. Its undertook rather to protect the “civil and religious” rights of existing non-Jewish communities.
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