Historical Documents

The Balfour Declaration

It is no exaggeration that the history of Israel/Palestine for the last hundred years has turned on the seminal Balfour Declaration of November 1917. Loved and loathed in equal measure, this was the letter that changed the future. The following extract … Read more here 

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John McHugo on Why Britain has a Special Responsibility to the Palestinian People Today

A talk given online on 30th June 2020. John McHugo is a trustee of the Balfour Project and a board member of CAABU, The Council for Arab British Understanding. This paper is the edited text of a Balfour Project talk … Read more here 

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Evaluating the Balfour Declaration: Breaking the Deadlock in the Middle East

On Saturday May 18th 2013, the Balfour Project held a one day conference at The Stripe, University of Winchester exploring the different legacies of the Balfour Declaration and how a greater understanding of history can contribute to justice and peace … Read more here 

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The Forgotten History of the Jewish, Anti-Zionist Left

An interview with Banjamin Balthaser, published on Jacobin The roots of modern Zionism are in colonialism. This was the foundation of the Jewish left’s opposition to Zionism in the 1930s and ’40s, on the grounds that it is a form … Read more here 

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Toppling Balfour, a talk by Sarah Helm

Sarah Helm, former Middle East correspondent for The Independent, asks how far the roots of today’s tragedy in Palestine and Israel lie in the arrogance and racism of British imperialism. Could Balfour’s experiment – at any point during the British … Read more here 

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The best book on the Balfour Declaration is…

Book Review: Palestine the Reality by J.M.N. Jeffries By John McHugo  Many people trying to get to grips with the Israel/Palestine conflict begin with the First World War and the contradictory promises Britain made at that time. These were pledges … Read more here 

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Andrew Whitley on The UN, Britain and Palestine/Israel – 1947 to Present Day

A talk given online on 5th June 2020. Andrew Whitley is founder and executive director of Geo-Political Advisory Services (GPAS), a UK-based consultancy that works on the alleviation of armed conflict in the Middle East and Asia. He was previously … Read more here 

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Hidden History of the Balfour Declaration

Washington Report, November 2005, pages 44-50 Special Report by John Cornelius IN THIS article the author relates what he believes to be the true story of how the British government came to issue what has come to be known as … Read more here 

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Peel Commission Report 1937

League of Nations 30 November 1937 C.495.M.336.1937.VI.Geneva, November 30th, 1937. LEAGUE OF NATIONS MANDATES P A L E S T I N E ——– REPORT of the PALESTINE ROYAL COMMISSION presented by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to … Read more here 

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Palestine/Israel: Britain’s role, then and now

Online talk by Sir Vincent Fean, Balfour Project, 2 April 2020 Read the transcript below: Vincent: A welcome to all. Thank you all for joining the Balfour Project today. I think it’s important to have this discussion to keep the … Read more here 

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Book Review: The Hundred Years’ War On Palestine A history of settler colonial conquest and resistance

By Rashid Khalidi Profile Books £25.00 Review by Tim Llewellyn In the midst of Jerusalem’s Old City, on the cusp of the Muslim and Jewish quarters, reposes the Khalidi family library, an archive of scriptures, literature and letters in Arabic, … Read more here 

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Burying the Nakba: How Israel Systematically Hides Evidence of 1948 Expulsion of Arabs

This article from Haaretz, which was published in July 2019 describes how Israel is suppressing information on what actually happened during the Nakba. Even information that was previously available. The first part of the Nakba took place whilst the British … Read more here 

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Jerusalem and The Deal of The Century: What it Is, What it Isn’t, Does it Matter?

Daniel Seidemann on the Trump plan’s implications for Jerusalem An Israeli lawyer based in Jerusalem, Daniel Seidemann is the world’s leading expert on the city’s built landscape and a key reference source for many governments. Founder of the Terrestrial Jerusalem … Read more here 

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Book Review: The Balfour Declaration – Empire, the Mandate and Resistance in Palestine by Bernard Regan

by John McHugo In The Balfour Declaration: Empire, The Mandate and Resistance in Palestine, Bernard Regan shows us what Britain did (and what Britain thought it was doing) by issuing the Balfour Declaration, by incorporating it into the League of … Read more here 

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Britain in Palestine Exhibition

This is the first of 10 A1 panels briefly covering Britain’s involvement in Palestine from the 1840’s with Shaftesbury to 1948 and the creation of Israel. The rest are below. We have pdf copies of these panels at A1 size. … Read more here 

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Book Review: Legacy of Empire – Britain, Zionism and the Creation of Israel by Gardner Thompson

By Tim Llewellyn, Oct 10th 2019 “…[T]he Mandate has proved to be unworkable in practice…[and] the obligations undertaken by the two communities in Palestine have been shown to be irreconcilable.” (Ernest Bevin, British Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons … Read more here 

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Scottish Parliament endorses Balfour Project Call to Action Sept 3rd 2019

Claudia Beamish MSP (Labour) introduced a members’ business debate on motion S5M-16637, “Towards an independent Palestinian state: a Scottish proposal” calling for action leading to an independent Palestinian state and acknowledging Britain’s historical responsibilities in what was to become Israel … Read more here 

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Impressions of Palestine, 1 April 1946: Pessimist Perspectives

Edit Post Private Memo by Evan M. Wilson (U.S. State Department) William M. Mathew Evan M. Wilson (1910-84), graduate of Haverford College and Oxford University, was in the employ of the U.S. State Department between 1937 and 1961, serving as … Read more here 

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Book Review: Britain’s Pacification of Palestine – The British Army, the Colonial State, and the Arab Revolt, 1936–9 by Matthew Hughes

by Ian Black The 1936–9 Arab Revolt against British rule in Palestine, and its suppression by the British army, was a precursor to the devastating war against the nascent Israeli state that the Palestinians lost a decade later. Matthew Hughes‘s extensively researched new study … Read more here 

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Britain’s historic responsibility to the people of Palestine, Gaza and Israel

John McHugo Edited text of speech for the Balfour Project event The Tragedy of Gaza in Edinburgh 17 March 2018 My role is to explain why Britain carries a historic responsibility to the people of Palestine generally, to the people … Read more here 

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The U.S. Recognition of Israel, 14 May 1948. Part III: ‘A Near-Run Thing’

William M. Mathew A. GEORGE MARSHALL: ‘A NEAR-RUN THING’. Truman’s fundamental position was straightforward – at least retrospectively. As President, he was in charge. In ‘differences of opinion between the White House and the State Department on the business of … Read more here 

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The U.S. Recognition of Israel, 14 May 1948. Part II: Truman’s Belated Support

William M. Mathew The obvious question presents itself: given the near-universal presidential negativity, how was it possible for Truman to make the clear decision in mid-May 1948 to recognise the new state of Israel within minutes of its creation? Our … Read more here 

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The U.S. Recognition of Israel, 14 May 1948. Part I: Roosevelt, Truman, Marshall: A Sequence of Contingencies

Part I: Uncertainties William M. Mathew Abstract Zionism`s two most notable international successes in the 20th century were the U.K. Balfour Declaration, 2 November 1917, and the U.S. recognition of the nascent state of Israel, 14 May 1948. Neither, however, … Read more here 

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Conferences in Glasgow and Edinburgh

 March 14th and 17th 2019 On March 14th at  300 people at Glasgow University heard former British and Israeli diplomats and distinguished journalists speak on ‘The news from Gaza: dispelling myths and telling the truth’.  The following Sunday at Edinburgh University … Read more here 

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Book Review: The Arab Awakening by George Antonius

The Balfour Project is most grateful to the Times Literary Supplement for allowing us to reprint this review of The Arab Awakening, by George Antonius, the review by Harry Pirie-Gordon being published on November 26, 1938. Readers might also like … Read more here 

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Palestine 1948: Britain Surrenders to Terror

Peter Shambrook Being British, the 500-year-old British Empire story fills me with a mixture of pride – and pain and shame.  Regarding the events of 1948, locating truth is extremely challenging, given the irreconcilable national narratives.  So I come at … Read more here 

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Palestine and Britain: forgotten legacy of World War I that devastated the Middle East

By James Rodgers Rare photograph of the formal transfer of Jerusalem to British rule. For those of us of an age to have known only peace in Western Europe,the centenary of the end of World War I is a an … Read more here 

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Times letter, 13 September – The Oslo Accords, 25 years on: time to recognise the state of Palestine alongside Israel

Letter published in The Times newspaper, 13 September 2018 Oslo and Palestine Sir, How painful now to recall the hope we had in the Oslo Accords. 25 years on, cynicism and resignation  rule. The Israeli occupation since 1967 is so … Read more here 

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“The Jewish Question” in 19th century Europe

By Ian Portman Abstract Faced with increasing  antisemitism in Europe towards the end of the 19th century, many Jews chose to join the great waves of European emigration  to the United States. Since the high middle ages, most of the … Read more here 

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Britain Palestine Israel – 70 years on

Donate A  20-page booklet is now available containing the speeches at the conference of the Balfour Project in partnership with King’s College London (see below). The booklet also includes the Balfour Centenary Declaration, which has now been signed by 141 … Read more here 

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Evangelicals, the Balfour Declaration and Zionism

By Roger Spooner When talking about the Balfour Declaration with a pastor from Bethlehem, he commented,’ the problems for the Palestinians didn’t start in 1917, they started in 1840′. Literal reading of the Bible which had developed in the 17th … Read more here 

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Prophet of Doom: E.T. Richmond, Palestine 1920-1924

John Richmond Ernest Richmond ETR was a an architect who spent many years in the Arab World and was invited in 1920 by Sir Herbert Samuel to join the Palestine administration. His son has written about some of his writings … Read more here 

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The Balfour Declaration, 2 November 1917: A Fateful Improbability

Centenary Lecture to the History Group, The Norfolk Club, 14 September 2017 by William Mathew It is argued here that only a special conjuncture of chance and short-term circumstance made it possible for an effective pro-Zionist policy to be successfully … Read more here 

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Renewed call for justice and reconciliation in the Holy Land on the centenary of the Balfour Declaration

              Catholic and Anglican bishops today, 2 November 2017, called for justice and reconciliation in the Holy Land on the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Bishop Declan Lang, Catholic bishop of Clifton and Bishop … Read more here 

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An interview between Mr Balfour and Justice Brandeis, Paris 1919

Present: Mr. Balfour, Mr. Justice Brandeis, Lord Eustace Percy and Mr. Frankfurter 2 Mr. Balfour expressed great satisfaction that Justice Brandeis came to Europe3He said the Jewish problem (of which the Palestinian question is only a fragment but an essential … Read more here 

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Memories Of The Future: On The Anniversary Of The Balfour Declaration

By His Royal Highness Prince El Hassan bin Talal Member of the Jordanian royal family “A historian can record what went wrong, but – in his feckless and unhelpful way – he’s not necessarily there to tell them how they … Read more here 

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Balfour Centenary Declaration

Israel/Palestine: Equal Rights The centenary of the Balfour Declaration is the time to reconcile peace with justice for both Israelis and Palestinians, consistent with the principle Britain claims as her own: equal rights for all under the law. Through the … Read more here 

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Report of Britain’s Broken Promise: Time for a New Approach

NEW BOOKLET Britain’s broken promise: Time for a New Approach Extracts of speeches at the Balfour Centenary commemoration, Central Hall Westminster Act of acknowledgement and commitment Balfour Centenary Declaration Printed version can be bought here or downloaded here A video … Read more here 

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Prominent Israelis call for recognition of Palestine

                                                                                    Jerusalem,  26.10.2017 BRITAIN’S BROKEN PROMISE: TIME FOR A NEW APPROACH The 1917 Balfour Declaration, issued by the British Empire at the height of its power, promised to help “facilitate the achievement” of a “national home for the Jewish … Read more here 

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A calamitous promise

The Guardian’s Long Read of 17 October was headlined ‘Britain’s calamitous promise’. Author Ian Black writes ‘The brief document that bears Balfour’s name is seen as marking the beginning of what is today widely considered the world’s most intractable conflict.’ … Read more here 

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Calls for Acknowledgement of Britain’s Role

Nicholas Frayling in the Church Times: British responsibility for the contradictions in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute gives the UK a duty to right a wrong,  A policy of 1917 whose legacy needs addressing. Donald Macintyre in the Guardian Oct 13th ‘A … Read more here 

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The Balfour Declaration: 100 Years On.

At this 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration which arrives on November 2nd many  events, looking at the century of conflict the Declaration has lead to, are taking place around the country. One major one on October 31st at Methodist Central  … Read more here 

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Different ways of seeing the Balfour Declaration – BBC Radio 4 “Sunday” 1st October 2017

“The BBC Radio Four ‘Sunday’ programme on October 1st included this very fair and balanced report on the forthcoming centenary of the Balfour Declaration.   Chris Rose from the Amos Trust, speaking about the unfulfilled promises to the Palestinian people, echoed … Read more here 

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Palestine 1917-2017: Reflections on a refugee’s story, my great-grandfather’s war diary and the legacy of Britain’s actions in Palestine.

Omah Amarah is 84 years old. From the amount of energy which sparks up as he gets started on his story you can sense his tale comes from the heart; this is no dry text book account of history we … Read more here 

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Book Review: The 1929 Palestine Riots – A Conflicted Jewish Historiography by William M Mathew

Violence in Palestine in 1929 has influenced the conflict ever since. William Mathew offers us the chance not only to learn more about those events, but also to reflect on the business of history and the way it is used. … Read more here 

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Book Review: Part II The 1929 Palestine Riots – A Conflicted Jewish Historiography by William M Mathew

IV: Commissions & Reports; White Paper & Letter These, 1929-31 – from Shaw and Hope Simpson to Passfield and MacDonald – have been cited in the opening paragraph above. Hillel Cohen`s approach is merely to list them, largely without comment. … Read more here 

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Unfinished business? Seeking peace through the door of justice in the Holy Land

Read the article by The Very Revd Nicholas Frayling, Dean Emeritus of Chichester,  on Unfinished Business  in the Pax Christi newsletter of June – July  2017

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Peel Commission

The Peel Commission published its Palestine Royal Commission-Peel Commission report in July 1937. The report admitted that the mandate was unworkable because Jewish and Arab objectives in Palestine were incompatible, and it proposed that Palestine be partitioned into three zones: … Read more here 

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Woodhead Commission

The commission, led by Sir John Woodhead, was formed in March 1938 in response to dissension within the British government over the July 1937 Peel partition plan for Palestine and the re-ignition of the Arab revolt that had followed its … Read more here 

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The reversal of the Passfield White Paper, 1930-31 : a reassessment.

Beckerman-Boys, Carly (2016) ‘The reversal of the Passfield White Paper, 1930-31 : a reassessment.’, Journal of contemporary history., 51 (2). pp. 213-233. Abstract British mandated Palestine has attracted scholarly attention for its role in the development of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. … Read more here 

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