Balfour Project Peace Advocacy Fellowships – Meet our Fellows

Four fellows were recruited in January 2020 and the programme is ongoing despite the problems caused by the Coronavirus

“Few in Britain know of our historic role in the conflict and so it is important to raise awareness of Britain’s moral responsibility to those in the region and the symbolic power that recognition would bring.”

-Ed Pickthall – Balfour Project Peace Advocacy Fellow, 2019/2020

The Balfour Project has arranged training for them on history and international law, focusing on the Creation and Termination of the British Mandate; the Case for Britain recognising Palestine today; Negotiation Skills; Peace Advocacy; the policy making structures of the British Government and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and how to lobby them; campaigning and fundraising; and diplomacy at the UN.

The fellows are working on personal research projects, implementing some of the knowledge and tools they received in the training sessions and focusing on their own personal interests and backgrounds. Their initial research will create a ground base for a future campaign, and will assist them in networking and building partnerships, both personally and for the Balfour Project, with partner organisations.

Eleonor Lefvert is a masters student in Gender and International Law at SOAS, University of London, where she is specialising in gendered dimensions of security and armed conflict. Before moving to London, Eleonor worked in Ramallah, Palestine, as an intern and consultant at a women’s rights organisation in their international advocacy team. 

“Growing up with a grandfather who was Sten Andersson, the former Swedish minister of foreign affairs, deeply engaged in diplomacy with both parties, conversations about Israel/Palestine have always been present so this issue lies close to my heart.”

“These conversations influenced my commitment for human rights in general and a  peaceful process between Israel/Palestine in particular. 

“As a Peace Advocacy Fellow at the Balfour Project, I am focused on researching the Swedish recognition of Palestine, using this as a case study to inform a future British recognition of Palestine. I hope my research can give insights on key factors that led to Swedish recognition, and that these can also  facilitate the path for future British recognition of Palestine alongside Israel.”

Zac Lewis is a final year History and Politics student at the University of Warwick. He has a keen interest in politics and justice, both locally and internationally, and the importance of history to understanding contemporary phenomena.

As a British Jew, his project as part of the fellowship is focusing on the British Jewish community and their approaches towards British recognition of Palestine alongside Israel, as part of a two state solution, which most community organisations support.
“I am a proud British Jew, and my experience being brought up in this community has attuned me to the varying contours of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and my relationship to it. 

“This issue, though, is more than a concern for only those with ties of kinship to the region. Britain’s Balfour Declaration over 100 years ago, its mandate over Palestine, and continuing strategic relationships in the region, should ensure its importance to all British people. Britain has a historic responsibility, both moral and arguably legal, towards ensuring a just settlement to this conflict – and the Balfour Project is on the frontline of getting this message out there. 

“My personal project focuses inwards on how to build productive relationships within my own community on Israel-Palestine – especially with groups and individuals who work specifically in this area. It is a project that draws from my own upbringing and experience to hopefully further the cause of justice.”

Alexandre Lowe is a final year International Politics student at City, University of London. As a dual nationality French/ British holder with a very international background and enthusiastic about all things related to global politics, he wishes to breach the barrier between the academic world and the practical world by applying some of his knowledge in International relations, security, and conflict resolution.

His project as part of the fellowship is focusing on understanding and extricating the issue of Israel-Palestine from world politics, as well as researching possible relationships with other organisations involved with the conflict, specifically potential European allies we may be able to interact with both within and without the framework of the EU.

“I am interested in understanding the controversial ability of the conflict of remaining at the forefront of the world-stage and emotionally poignant for many. Additionally, the building of additional fruitful relationships with international partners can only aid in expanding the scope of awareness building that the Balfour Project strives for. The strengthening of these relationships within the EU can serve to form a stronger foundation for the challenges that lie ahead for all of us.”

“While there is no point denying that things may be looking grim, the global rise of populist politics as well as the looming menace of climate change are bound to alter the political realities for everyone. These new chaotic times will doubtlessly bring new opportunities and thus it is even more important that we strive to seek and understand all points of views, both old and new.”

Ed Pickthall is a recent graduate in Politics and International Relations from SOAS, University of London. His decision to study at SOAS was motivated by a desire to study the world through a less Western-centric lens. He has a keen interest in politics, with a focus on the Middle East and Britain’s historical relationship with the region, and the role that identity plays in international relations and the emergence of conflict.

He has spent time teaching English in the West Bank and has worked as a researcher for Parallel Histories, an interactive digital resource which seeks to teach both sides of disputed histories so students can better understand conflict. His project as part of the fellowship focuses on conservative arguments for recognition.

“A lesson I learnt living in the West Bank is that despite the 100 years which has passed since the Balfour Declaration it is still a fresh wound in the Palestinian national psyche – and a topic that will be brought up whenever one mentions they are British. In spite of this, few in Britain know of our historic role in the conflict and so it is important to raise awareness of Britain’s moral responsibility to those in the region and the symbolic power that recognition would bring.”

“My project focuses on the conservative case for the UK recognising Palestine. Following the 2019 election it became obvious that for there to be meaningful change in Britain’s position on Israel/Palestine there needs to be a shift in conservative opinion on the issue. However, I believe that it is also important that this issue should not just be seen as one for the Left to deal with. It is important that Britain lives up to its historic and moral responsibility towards ensuring a just settlement for the Israeli and Palestinian people, and that this should be cross-partisan.”

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