Campaigners take direct action as Palestinians remember Balfour’s shameful declaration

palestine action banner
Tom Anderson

UK Palestine solidarity campaigners have taken coordinated direct action across the UK to mark the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

The Balfour Declaration is the name given to the statement in 1917 by British foreign secretary lord Balfour promising a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. Britain had taken control of Palestine after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. That “national home” was to be created at the expense of the indigenous Palestinian population. According to a press release from campaign group Palestine Action:

This 67-word document presented by Arthur Balfour in 1917 paved the way for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the violent dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians —more than half the indigenous population. This event is known as the Nakba, which directly translates into English as the ‘great catastrophe’.

The day of action was aimed at exposing the British state’s present day complicity with Israeli war crimes. According to Palestine Action:

Not only has the UK played a crucial role in the immoral colonisation of Palestine, they actively profit off the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people by trading with, and hosting, Elbit Systems — a company which openly markets its weapons as “battle tested ” on Palestinian civilians.

On 2 November, the 103rd anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, activists visited Elbit’s locations in Oldham and Tamworth, smashing windows and spraying the building with red paint – symbolising the blood of the Palestinians killed with the company’s equipment:

Palestine Action tweeted a video of the activists’ night-time visit:

Campaigners also blockaded Elbit’s UAV engines factory in Shenstone. They were met by police violence and arrests:

Exporting oppression and violence globally

Elbit systems, Israel’s largest private sector arms manufacturer, is exporting the drones that it has battle tested on the bodies of Palestinians in Gaza to countries around the world, including the UK. According to Palestine Action:

Both the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency, as well as the UK police, have been trialling Elbit’s drones to mass-surveil large stretches of our coastline, in line with Priti Patel’s militarisation of the English Channel.

The EU’s border agency Frontex has also contracted Elbit to surveil the Mediterranean, leaving the lives of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, fleeing war torn countries, in mortal danger. In fact, the EU was recently accused of “watching” migrants drown rather than investing in ways to save them.

Elbit is also supplying technology for the US/Mexico border wall, which is devastating First Nations peoples’ sacred land:

Elbit Systems has also played a key role in the development of Trump’s militarised US/Mexico border wall, while the very same technologies are also being used to securitise and control the native O’odham people on Arizona’s indigenous reserves.

Palestinians protest

Protests were also held all over Palestine to commemorate the British betrayal of Palestinians. The International Solidarity Movement tweeted:

A legacy of British colonial policy

The actions marking the anniversary of Balfour’s 1917 declaration are a stark reminder that British colonial policy prepared the way for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Buying weapons from companies like Elbit, and continuing to arm Israel, means that the UK’s complicity in the occupation is ongoing.

Featured Image via Palestine Action (with permission)

Get involved

  • Check out Palestine Action.
  • Follow Palestine Action on Twitter.
  • Check out the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s website

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Starmer supports the Israeli State in its evil brutality. His Labour Party is led by racists. Its grassroots are anti-racists. There is the discrepancy which creates the possibility of a new movement left of Labour. Labour voters are left of the Labour leadership. Most abhor what is done by Israel while Starmer crawls to please Netanyahu. Most loathe nuclear weapons. Most want poverty rooted out. Most support worker democracy. There is a new movement to be made. Who will have the courage and vision to do it? It needs a major union to peel away from Labour now “the Party of business”. That’s three major Parties of business. Where is the Party of Labour? It’s in our hearts. Let’s put it in parliament.

    2. Jeremy must quit the Labour Party and start a new left wing party. Starmer’s Tory Lite Party can go to hell, or in his case Israel, which is the same thing for Palestinians.

      The US has yet to make amends for it’s history of slavery. The UK needs to make amends for creating the illegal terrorist state of Israel. Starmer is a putz.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.