The efforts made by the London-based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) have been making headway over recent years to urge Britain to apologize to the Palestinians for the tragedy that has befallen them as a result of the Balfour Declaration.
The Balfour Declaration, which was issued on November 2, 1917, resulted in nearly 7 million Palestine refugees being scattered all over the world, torn from the nourishment of home and the warmth of family.
The declaration turned the Zionist aim of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine into a reality when Britain publicly pledged to establish "a national home for the Jewish people" there.
The pledge came in the form of a letter from Britain's then-foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, addressed to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a figurehead of the British Jewish community.
Though the Balfour Declaration included the admonition that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine", the British mandate was set up in a way to equip Jews with the tools to establish self-rule, at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs.
Balfour Apology Campaign
The Balfour Apology Campaign (BAC), which was launched by PRC in 2017, dovetails ongoing endeavors to hold Britain historically, morally, and politically accountable for the dispossession and displacement of 750,000 civilians from their own and only homeland—Palestine—to give way for the establishment of the self-proclaimed state of Israel.
Reaching out to a plethora of British and EU diplomats and MPs, PRC has been striving to mobilize worldwide support for the campaign and communicate its demands to official bodies, mainly the British government.
In 2017, an e-petition headed up by PRC and launched on the official website of the British Parliament, attracted fewer than 14,000 signatures by British nationals. Duty-bound to respond to the petition, after it managed to pass the benchmark for an official response, the never-sorry government responded 10 days later, only to confirm that it will not extend any apology over the Balfour pledge.
Yet, the Government’s statement accepted that the Declaration “should have called for the protection of political rights of the non-Jewish communities in Palestine, particularly their right to self-determination” but said that lasting peace must now be established through a two-state solution.
The acknowledgement that the Balfour Declaration resulted in a violation of Palestinian rights represents an unprecedented confession in the history of the UK government, with many academics and political analysts viewing the confession as a sign of imperialistic narcissism that hides an undoubtful feeling of guilt.
At the same time, Britain’s letter has been read as a sign of its failure to confess to to the horrendous crimes committed by Zionist gangs who crept into Palestine during the British Mandate and embarked on systematic massacres and ethnic genocides that brought about the displacement of millions of Palestinians from over 570,000 Palestinian villages in 1948.
As BAC campaigners sought to pass the 100,000 yardstick for a parliament discussion, the parliamentary follow-up committee abruptly altered the cut-off date, reducing it from six months to two months and a half only under the guise that snap elections had been called.
First World War Conference
In 2013, a conference was staged by BAC under the title “The Legacy of Britain in Palestine”. The event spotlighted Britain’s imperialistic history and its ideology-motivated policies in Palestine.
The conference tackled the impacts of the First World War and the repercussions of the ensuing political agreements on Palestinian land and rights.
The conference culminated in a book comprising a bundle of research papers by academics, diplomats, and researchers who took part in the event.
“Balfour Road” Movie
PRC re-introduced the campaign during a seminar hosted by Baroness Jenny Tonge in response to Britain’s attempt to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. The seminar was chaired by Lord Norman Warner.
A short movie bearing the title “The Road to Balfour” and released on October 30, 2017, draw the world’s attention to the calamitous repercussions of the Balfour Declaration.
Available in 17 different languages (English, Arabic, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Polish, Italian, Turkish, Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, Chinese, Russian and Indonesian) and broadcast in 25 cities around the globe, the film puts on display the story of a British family who are driven out of their home by the British government and forced to live in a cramped shack in the backyard. Another family—the Smiths—take possession of the house and put down roots in the building, leaving the real house owners—the Johnees—with neither food nor medicines. Heavily-armed soldiers escort the Smiths at the same time as they tighten the noose around the neck of the Johnees and deprive them of their basic rights. The film was premiered inside Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
An online platform was also launched by BAC campaigners to pass on e-memorandums and give the floor to pro-Palestine activists from around the world to speak up their minds, indirectly address the British government, and urge the Royal Albert Hall to backtrack on its decision to host a centennial celebration of Balfour Declaration.
The move garnered widespread back-up as in no more than three days over 11,000 memos were dropped into the email of Royal Albert Hall.
Dozens of seminars/webinars and meetings have been convened by PRC in London and other European cities, in tune with its ceaseless endeavors to speak up for Palestinians’ inalienable rights.
Through its fruitful involvement in the UNHRC’s sessions, PRC continues to draw the attention of a consortium of NGOs, EU diplomats, prominent activists, and influential high-ranking stakeholders to the intrinsically-monolithic character of the Balfour Declaration and its tragic consequences on the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) is an independent, non-partisan, organization committed to advocating for the rights of Palestinian refugees, in accordance with the historical, political and legal basis of the right to return.
PRC educates the public, defends human rights, and empowers Palestinian refugees, in order to put the plight of the refugees back on the political agenda.
Although the PRC is Palestinian in origin, it is not affiliated with any particular organization or party. It works on the assumption that the plight of the Palestinians is not just a national liberation movement but is, in essence, about the core values and ideals that are at the centre of any human civilization and international law.
In July 2015, PRC was granted consultative status at the United Nations as a Non-governmental organization (NGO) in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), in recognition of its efforts in standing up for Palestinian human rights.