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Statement of Principles:

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Zionism 101 – for historians

Historian Simon Schama co-authored a letter to The Times this week about Zionism and antisemitism in the Labour Party, with fellow historian Simon Sebag Montefiore and novelist Howard Jacobson. Robert Cohen takes them to task for the slippages and elisions in the argument which only add to the lock down of freedom of speech on Israel by attempting to make criticism of Zionism toxic by association. He concludes that: “There are other ways to define Jewish self-determination that do not undermine the rights of another people. There are other ways to achieve Jewish security that do not involve creating a heavily armed Jewish Sparta in the Middle East. There are other Jewish options that need exploring 100 years after Balfour.” […]

Robert A.H.Cohen writes from the the Amos Trust’s 1,000-mile ‘Just Walk to Jerusalem’: “We know we cannot turn back the clock to a time before Balfour. Whatever the second Balfour century looks like it will include Jews and Arabs living on the land.

The question is: will they live as equals and in peace or will they live, as they do today, as oppressed and oppressor?…Our call is simple, but frustratingly it is also highly contentious: Equal rights for all who call the Holy Land home.” […]

Why Corbyn should not “celebrate” the Balfour Declaration

Michel Segalov writes: “This celebratory dinner will no doubt see nostalgic celebrations of imperialism that ignore Britain’s role in fuelling an international conflict that has cost so many lives, and Corbyn is right to avoid it” […]

The end of the British consensus on Israel

Robert A.H.Cohen writes: “[T]he formal Jewish leadership in the UK are painting themselves into a blue and white corner and looking ever more out of touch with a general public which is beginning to understand that Israel/Palestine is a conflict about human rights and not about terrorism.” […]

Britain need to reflect on the Balfour declaration

Donald Macintyre, author of Gaza, Preparing for Dawn reminds us of Britain’s broken promise in the Balfour declaration, that a national Jewish home should not prejudice the rights of “existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. The Balfour anniversary is a chance to rethink British attitudes to a conflict that has left the Palestinians stateless and without the rights everyone in Britain and Israel takes for granted. […]

A new film from Independent Jewish Voices

100 Years After Balfour is a new talking heads film made by Independent Jewish Voices. The film spells out the troubling legacy of the Balfour Declaration, challenging the notion that this year’s centenary is cause for celebration, given the grave consequences of the document for Palestinians above all.

The film goes on to explain how the decisions of the British government in 1917 are linked to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, its fifty year occupation of the West Bank since 1967, and today’s political gridlock. 100 Years After Balfour features seven experts and activists: Professor Avi Shlaim, Professor Jacqueline Rose, Rabbi Howard Cooper, Professor Brian Klug, Antony Lerman, Barnaby Raine and Miri Weingarten. […]

Balfour revisited

The 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration is nearly upon us and Robert Cohen fears it is becoming a sacred Jewish text. “But unlike other Jewish scripture, these are not words our rabbis will be allowed to examine, verse by verse, in synagogue sermons, nor our students wrestle with in yeshiva study halls.” So, Cohen affirms, “For the sake of future Jewish generations, not to mention historians of the 20th century, it would be a good idea to put a stop to this manufacturing of holiness, this muddling of religion and nationalism.” […]

100 Years since Balfour: a PSC fringe meeting at the Party conference, Sunday 24 September

There will be a Palestine Solidarity Campaign meeting at the Labour Party Conference on “100 years since Balfour: An ethical foreign policy for Labour in the Middle East”. Speakers include Issa Amro from Youth Against Settlements, Hebron, Helen Goodman MP Shadow Foreign Office Minister and others. All welcome

Time: 7.00-8.30pm, Sunday 24 September
Venue: Renaissance Suite, Jurys Inn Brighton Waterfront Hotel, Kings Rd, Brighton BN1 2GS […]

Three Major Conferences on the Centenary of Balfour Declaration and its Consequences

Three impressive-looking conferences on the Balfour Declaration are coming up in October, one in Liverpool and two in London (the latter, most unfortunately,on the same day). […]