Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Palestinian Catastrophe Started with the 1917
British Belfour Declaration and the 1947 American-Pushed Partition
By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April
1948 Nakba, Israeli ethnic-cleansing of Palestinians from their
Maps of Israeli theft of palestinian lands 1947-2005
Palestine Retold: Palestine’s Tragic Anniversaries Are Not
Only About Remembrance
For Palestinians, 2017 is a year of significant
While historians mark May 15th as the
anniversary of the date on which Palestinians were expelled from their
historic homeland in 1948, the fact is the ethnic cleansing of the
Palestinians began in earnest in 1947.
In strict historical
terms 1947 and ‘48 were the years in which Palestine was conquered and
The tragedy, which remains a bleeding wound until
this day, started 70 years ago.
June of this year also marks
the 50th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation of the 22
percent of historic Palestine that was not seized by Zionist militias in
1947-48. Among other notable dates, November 02, 1917 is starkly
remembered as the 100-year anniversary of the
While the roots of the Zionist
campaign to claim Palestine as a Jewish state go back much earlier, the
document signed by British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, was
the first official commitment made by a major world power to facilitate
"a national home for the Jewish people."
The British made their
infamous 'promise' even before the Ottoman Empire, which controlled
Palestine and most of the modern Middle East officially capitulated in
World War I.
A few years after the declaration was made, Britain
was entrusted by the League of Nations in 1922 to be the caretaker of
post-Ottoman Palestine, mandated to lead the country, like other Arab
regions, towards independence.
Instead, the Brits worked to
achieve the opposite. Between 1922 and 1947-48, with direct British
assistance, Zionists grew more powerful, forming a parallel government
and a sophisticated and well-equipped militia. Britain remained
decidedly pro-Israel after all these years.
British mandate over Palestine officially ended in November 1947, that
parallel regime simply moved in to fill the vacant space, in nearly
perfect tandem, claiming territories, ethnically cleansing most of
Palestine's Arab population and, as of May 14, 1948, declaring as a
reality the State of Israel.
The following day, May 15, has
since been recognized by Palestinians as the day of the
Nakba, or the catastrophe of war and exile. Nearly 500 Palestinian
villages and many cities and towns were depopulated, seized or
destroyed. An estimated 800,000 Palestinians were made refugees.
These anniversaries are important not because they form convenient
numbers, but because the political context surrounding them is
The United States government has
abdicated its long-term commitment to the so-called ‘peace process’,
leaving Israel alone to decide the course of its own action, while the
rest of the international community stand hapless.
process’ was certainly not designed to create favorable outcomes for
Palestinians, but was part of a larger design to formulate a ‘solution’
in which Palestinians were to be granted semi-autonomous, disconnected,
mini regions to be called a state.
Now that pipedream is over -
expanding its illegal settlements at will, constructing new ones and
has little interest in adhering to even the US-envisaged ‘negotiated
In the meanwhile, the Palestinian
leadership remains visionless.
Although politically defunct and
practically impossible, the Palestinian Authority (PA) still insists on
the two-state solution formula, wasting precious time that should be
geared towards arranging a future that is predicated upon co-existence
in a shared land and a joint future.
It is important that the
Palestinians are freed from the stifling discourse which rendered the
Nakba of 1947-48 extraneous and molded an alternative narrative in which
only the Israeli occupation of 1967 seems to matter.
official Palestinian discourse has been quite confusing and consistent
for some time.
Historically, the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO) was forced to concede under American, and sometimes
Arab pressures, and alter its demands throughout the years.
greatest of these concessions was made in 1993 when the PLO agreed to
the Oslo Accords, which redefined Palestinian rights around specific UN
resolutions 242 and 338. It relegated or discarded everything else.
Not only was this a great folly, but also a strategic mistake for
which Palestinians continue to bear the consequences to this day.
Existing now are several Palestinian depictions of the history of their
struggle against Israel, while the truth is that there can only be one
way of understanding the so-called conflict - one that starts with
Zionist settlements in Palestine and British colonialism 100 years ago.
The strange thing is that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is himself
sending mixed messages. While on one hand he seemed
disinterested in contextualizing the struggle of his people back to
the Nakba 70 years ago, his authority announced that it will be
Britain for the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
Britain, on the
other hand, had brazenly announced that it will be ‘celebrating’
the 100-year anniversary of the declaration, with Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu being the guest of honor.
The country that
facilitated the ongoing tragedy in Palestine still refuses to
acknowledge the enduring harm it committed one hundred years later.
Israel is experiencing no moral awakening either.
from the small school of Israel’s ‘new
historians’, Israel continues to hold into its own version of
history, much of which was constructed in the early 1950s under the
guidance of then Israeli Prime Minister,
Compelled by pressures, fears and lack of
vision, the Palestinian leadership failed to grasp the need to hold onto
and explain these anniversaries combined as a roadmap towards a solid,
unified and sensible discourse.
Politics aside, the Balfour
Declaration of 1917 cannot be appreciated without understanding its
dreadful consequences which played out in 1947-48; and the Israeli
occupation of the remaining 22 percent of Palestine is entirely out of
context if read separately from the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in
Moreover, the Palestinian refugee crisis, which continues
to manifest itself in Syria and Iraq until this day, cannot be fathomed
or explained without examining the origins of the crisis, which date
back to the Nakba.
True, 2017 is burdened with significant and
tragic anniversaries, but these dates should not be used as
opportunities to protest, registering only a fleeting movement of
solidarity. They should offer the chance to re-articulate a unified
Palestinian discourse that crosses ideological and political lines.
Without honest understanding of history, one cannot redeem its many
- Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East
for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a
media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of
PalestineChronicle.com. His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second
Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter:
Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is
Share the link of this article with your facebook friends