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Centenary of 1917 Balfour Declaration: 100 years of settler colonialism and parallels between the apartheid nature of Israel and South Africa

Marking the centenary of 1917 Balfour Declaration

In November 2017 we marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. It was to usher in 100 years of settler colonialism in Palestine. The parallels between the apartheid nature of Israel and South Africa – both settler colonial projects in their origins – are clear.

Palestinian campaigners have long condemned the Balfour Declaration as a pledge issued by a British government that gave away land it did not own.
In 2017 the British Government rejected a Palestinian request for an apology over the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Instead, it celebrated the centenary.

Here is our latest MAH film:

It explores exactly how and why the origins of Israel and South Africa have parallels and how it was that they both came to have ‘apartheid’ at their heart.

You can read more in our MAH article ‘Balfour Declaration –Settler Colonialism 100 years on https://makeapartheidhistory.org/2017/04/27/balfour-declaration-settler-colonialism-100-years-on/.

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Marking Mandela Day 18 July 2017

Throughout July, Make Apartheid History is promoting the UK Tour of the utterly brilliant one man show AND HERE I AM, directed by Zoe Lafferty, performed by Ahmed Tobasi and based on his life story. On Mandela Day, we will screen a selection of MAH films at the Edinburgh dates 17/18 July.

This outstanding play and performance is part of the Shubbuk Festival and as was deservedly well reviewed by the Guardian.

And this Mandela Day We also join the effort to help raise awareness and funds for MahraJazz Festival – the first-ever Palestinian music festival to take place in Haifa (Palestine) on 24-26 August – 31-2 September. MahraJazz is a non-profit, volunteer based event which aims to reach a wider Palestinian audience as well as through radio broadcasting. Most importantly, it also offers an alternative for international musicians to divert from performing for Apartheid  Israel and contributes to the importance of the Palestinian effort to boycott Israel.

Find out more here

https://www.facebook.com/%D9%85%D9%87%D8%B1%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%B2-MahraJazz-1733078293387662/

And donate here! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mahrajazz-haifa-alternative-jazz-festival#/

MAKE APARTHEID HISTORY –ONCE AND FOR ALL.

To help you understand more about why apartheid applies to Israel, our MAH video page has a number of short films where Palestinians, Israelis and South Africans explain why.

https://makeapartheidhistory.org/video-gallery/

Make Apartheid History – NAKBA events

As the pressure to close down the BDS movement by Israel increases, so the movement gets stronger and the success of the campaign grows. Companies are now responding (albeit reluctantly) to the boycott effort; artists are being  made more and more aware of the cultural boycott; and the academic boycott has been highly effective at raising awareness of the injustices perpetrated on Palestine by the Israeli government and military.

bds-spain
Barcelona has just joined the list of cities now supporting the BDS movement, along with the European Union and the governments of Sweden, Ireland and Netherlands.

Every May, along with so many other organisations and projects around the world, Make Apartheid History commemorates the  ‘Nakba’ – meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic. It refers to the mass expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from British Mandate Palestine during Israel’s creation (1947-49) when between 750,000 and one million Palestinians were expelled and made refugees by Zionist paramilitaries, and subsequently Israeli forces, during Israel’s creation in 1947-49.

This year, we are also marking the tenth year of the blockade of Gaza; the 50th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank; and the centenary of the notorious Balfour Declaration.

Balfour_portrait_and_declaration

Read our recent MAH article ‘Balfour Declaration –Settler Colonialism 100 years on https://makeapartheidhistory.org/news/

NAKBA anniversary events in May
PSC NAKBA Diary of UK wide events, films, talks
https://www.palestinecampaign.org/events/nakba-week-events/

London Events

Monday 15 May 7.30pm
NAKBA SONGS OF EXILE.  Curated by Bethlehem Unwrapped Producer Justin Butcher. A fabulous line-up of singers and performers from many parts of the world, including Palestine, and covering the musical spectrum from classical to folkloric.
Venue: Priory Church of St John, Clerkenwell
Programme & tickets here

Thursday 18 May 7.30pm
CAMOUFLAGE A new play by Ahmed Masoud. Camouflage is about the experience of a Palestinian refugee trying to flee the conflict in Syria, a young girl in Ramallah who is in denial of the situation, a boy in Gaza falling in love for the first time and an aspiring actor in Haifa who has to come to terms with the unjust society he lives in. The play has been written to mark the 50th anniversary of the Israeli military occupation in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank
Venue: Amnesty International 25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA
Book here

Keep in touch!

MAH on Facebook and Twitter

Balfour Declaration-Settler Colonialism 100 years on

From Balfour to the present day: a century of colonialism in Palestine

This year’s November 2nd marks the centenary of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. It signifies 100 years of suffering of the Palestinian people and the colonisation of their land.

In 1917 the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour wrote a letter to the wealthy British banker and Zionist Lord Rothschild, in which he declared :

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

This short letter had no legal status, but was later incorporated within the terms of Britain’s Mandate for Palestine. Thus it became one of the most significant documents leading eventually to the creation of the state of Israel and the on-going quagmire of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

From the outset the Declaration was controversial, and almost all the opposition came from within the Jewish community itself, because very few Arabs were even aware the existence of such a proposal. The Declaration was seen largely as a means for diverting Jewish immigration from Britain to Palestine. The most prominent British Jewish politician of the day, Sir Edwin Montagu, opposed it vigorously. Later, when the language of the Balfour Declaration was included in the Mandate for Palestine, the House of Lords voted to reject this in a motion passed by 60 to 29, on the ground that the Declaration was opposed to the “wishes of the great majority of the people of Palestine”.

Balfour himself wrote in 1919

“in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country …. The Four Great Powers are committed to Zionism. And Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.”

The Balfour Declaration of 1917, Colonial Settlement and Apartheid

“Neither the Balfour Declaration nor the Mandate ever specifically concede that Palestinians had political, as opposed to civil and religious, rights in Palestine. The idea of inequality between Jews and Arabs was, therefore, built into British – and, subsequently, Israeli and US – policy from the start.”

Professor Edward Said

Israel/Palestine, created as a consequence of British Colonialism, was formed in a similar to the South African state and both have segregation, ‘apartheid’ at their heart. Looking through this lens, Palestinians are learning lessons from the South African struggle.

In a commemorative lecture to the late Egyptian scholar and writer Abdelwahab Elmessiri, Ronnie Kasrils said:

In 1976 he (Elmesseri) wrote Israel and South Africa: The Progression of a Relationship, one of the earliest works to compare Zionism with Apartheid. (Abdelwahab M. Elmessiri (1976), Israel and South Africa: The Progression of a Relationship, (New Brunswick, NJ: North American).

He observed: “Despite differences between Israel and South Africa from the perspective of their initial formational period, subsequent historical developments ensured that the similarities between the two settlement enclaves outweighed the differences and gave them a higher explanatory power.”

He pointed out that both began from different origins as settlement enclaves. These were to serve Western interests on multiple functional levels in exchange for support and protection.

He compared Britain’s aims in creating the Union of South Africa in 1909 and the Balfour Declaration of 1917: “The Zionist state is a settler enclave like any other. It is by no means a coincidence that the Balfour Declaration and the South Africa Act of Union of 1909 [was] affected in large part by the same handful of politicians (including) … and General Smuts. In implanting and backing white settlers in South Africa and Zionist settlers in Palestine, the British Empire was founding two little pockets of settler-colonists who would owe allegiance to the imperial metropolis and would serve as bases of operations when the need arose.” (Elmessiri (2007), “From functional Jewish communities to the functional Zionist State,” p. 153.)

… Arthur Koestler summed up Balfour’s perfidious legacy as follows: “One nation promised a second nation the land of a third nation.” And that was grabbed with ferocious barbarity in 1947-48.

The year 1948 was one of the darkest for both the Palestinian and South African people; truly an annus horribilis. For South Africans May 1948 marked the election of the apartheid government and the prelude to a 46-year maelstrom for the African people. For the Palestinians May 1948 marked the Nakbah – the catastrophic dispossession and ethnic cleansing at the hands of the rampant Zionist project. (Ilan Pappe (2007), The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, (Oxford: Oneworld).

Over 750,000 Palestinians were forcefully expelled from a land they had inhabited from antiquity; with some 500,000 managing to remain behind in spite of the terror unleashed by Zionism. Whilst apartheid South Africa has been replaced by a democratic unitary state, the suffering endured by the Palestinians worsens year by year.

The apartheid character of Israel was noted by Dr (Hendrik) Verwoerd in 1961: “The Jews took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. Israel like South Africa is an apartheid state.” (Rand Daily Mail, Johannesburg, November 23, 1961.)

Professor John Dugard, former Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council on the situation in the Palestinian Territories, wrote

Of course, the regimes of apartheid and occupation are different. Apartheid South Africa was a state that practiced discrimination against its own people. It sought to fragment the country into white South Africa and black Bantustans. Its security laws were used to brutally suppress opposition to apartheid. Israel, on the other hand, is an occupying power that controls a foreign territory and its people under a regime recognised by international law – belligerent occupation.

However, in practice, there is little difference. Both regimes were/are characterised by discrimination, repression and territorial fragmentation (that is, land seizures).

Israel discriminates against Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in favour of half a million Israeli settlers. Its restrictions on freedom of movement, manifested in countless humiliating checkpoints, resemble the “pass laws” of apartheid. Its destruction of Palestinian homes resembles the destruction of homes belonging to blacks under apartheid’s Group Areas Act. The confiscation of Palestinian farms under the pretext of building a security wall brings back similar memories. And so on. Indeed, Israel has gone beyond apartheid South Africa in constructing separate (and unequal) roads for Palestinians and settlers.

Apartheid’s security police practiced torture on a large scale. So do the Israeli security forces. There were many political prisoners on Robben Island but there are more Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.

Apartheid South Africa seized the land of blacks for whites. Israel has seized the land of Palestinians for half a million settlers and for the purposes of constructing a security wall within Palestinian territory – both of which are contrary to international law.

Make Apartheid History

Starting by recognising that Israel, like the former South African state, is an apartheid state, it becomes clear there will not be a ‘solution’ to the Israel-Palestine conflict until the Apartheid ends. The Anti-Apartheid Movement of the yesteryear was integral to the end of the South African apartheid. The international BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel) movement is going from strength to strength. Together, through international solidarity and pressure o n many inter-connected fronts (academic, cultural, economic) we can rise to the call by Palestinian civil society for BDS and, finally, Make Apartheid History once and for all.

HC Lin/TPNS/MAH 04/17

Read More

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2015-07-27-whither-palestine-part-one/

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/11/britain-destroyed-palestinian-homeland-161102054348710.html

http://www.balfourproject.org/the-balfour-declaration-1917/

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/11/201111395153781378.html

http://www.balfourproject.org/balfour-and-palestine/

Celebrating Mandela Day with short video compilation

Dear friends, colleagues and supporters,

July 18th is International Mandela Day. It asks ‘what will you do to serve your fellow human beings?’.

One of the things you can do to answer this call, is to support Palestinian civil society’s call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel until it complies with international law and to make apartheid history, once and for all.  As South Africans, and over many years,  Nelson Mandela and his dear friend Archbishop Desmond Tutu, made their support for the Palestinian struggle clear as they saw the parallels between apartheid South Africa and Israel/Palestine.

Make Apartheid History launched one year ago. We are marking this Mandela Day by sharing a short video loop of the highlights of our first year’s activity. We hope you enjoy this compilation of short films, events and performances.

MAH headerMake Apartheid History is an international project that brings together creative individuals, organisations and networks from around the world – starting with Palestine and the UK; South Africa and USA – for a programme of popular events connecting civil rights, anti-apartheid and Palestinian solidarity movements which commenced summer 2015.

We thank the many artists and campaigners who have supported our activity to date – from Palestine and the UK, USA and South Africa.

If you’d like to find out more about why the term ‘apartheid’ can be applied to Israel’s policies, here is our ‘rationale.’

Together we can MAKE APARTHEID HISTORY once and for all.

Best wishes from everyone on the Make Apartheid History team.

Make Apartheid History is supported by Trust Greenbelt and Amiel & Melburn Trust.

supported-by-trust-greenbelt_white  Amiel and Melburn Trust

Make Apartheid History joins with all those marking 2016 NAKBA activities

NAKBA means The Catastrophe

PSC-Disappearing-Palestine-Maps-2008

On 15 May, people will remember the violent dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948. These events, which took place during the creation of the state of Israel, are known to Palestinians as ‘the catastrophe’ or, in Arabic, the ‘Nakba’. They are the events which have led directly to today’s situation, with Palestinians dispossessed, stateless and living under occupation in the West Bank, under occupation and siege in Gaza, or in exile around the world, including millions in refugee camps to this day. And the Nakba is not over for Palestinians, as the Israeli Government continues to steal their land in the West Bank through illegal settlement building and the construction of the separation wall.

See more at: Palestinians prepare to mark nearly 70 years of dispossession

And this is what displacement looks like today – one of many thousands of stories.

The refugee issue

Palestinian_refugees

Almost 800,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes in 1948-9 and during the June 1967 war a further 325,000 Palestinians became refugees. Under UN Resolution 194, the Palestinians have the right to return to their homes, but Israel has always refused to implement the Resolution. Today over 6 million Palestinians are refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom still live in overcrowded refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza, and in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

Life under occupation

The past 40 years have seen the establishment of over 200 illegal Israeli settlements, housing nearly 500,000 settlers, within occupied Palestine. The separation wall in the West Bank, construction of which was started in 2002, cuts deep into Palestinian land and, along with the “settler only” roads, cuts off many communities from water supplies, hospitals and their agricultural land. Palestinian residents face severe travel restrictions and for many it is impossible to enter Jerusalem or to travel abroad. The treatment of Palestinians, both within Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory, is widely recognised as a system akin to the Apartheid regime of South Africa.

Palestinians are continually under attack from Israel’s occupying forces and are increasingly harassed by settlers, who attack farmers and steal their land. Collective punishments, such as prolonged curfews and house demolitions are frequently imposed.

Palestinians living in what is today the state of Israel, also face discrimination and are treated as second class citizens.

For more information on the historical background and the situation today, read this [pdf]

Google Earth can help bring the 1948 ‘Catastropheup to date.

What does the ongoing ‘Land grab’ started in 1948 look like?

Interactive Maps 

Established in 1979 to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law in the occupied Palestinian territory, Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation based in Ramallah, West Bank. They have utilised the power of Google Maps to create interactive presentations that illustrate aspects of the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and present Al-Haq’s written and visual documentation of human rights violations.

Virtual Field Visits  http://alhaq.mits.ps/index.php/virtual-field-visits

Understanding why Israels occupation is ‘settler-colonialin nature – much like others in history

 

ronnie

Ronnie Kasrils is a South African author and activist. He was Minister of Intelligence Services from 2004 to 2008, member of the African National Congress from 1987 to 2007 and a founding member of Umkhonto we Sizwe.

Here, he talks to Make Apartheid History about the similarities between South Africa and Israel. https://makeapartheidhistory.org/portfolio/from-south-africa-to-israel/

Find us at:

https://www.facebook.com/makeapartheidhistory/

https://twitter.com/MAH_org/

https://makeapartheidhistory.org/video-gallery/

 

 

Make Apartheid History Advent Calendar goes live on December 1st

Dear Make Apartheid History supporter,

Thank you for signing up to our MAH e-list – and we’re delighted to share details of our latest MAH activity with you.

It’s our online Palestine Advent​ calendar which goes live today, Tuesday 1st December 2015​.

Our calendar has 24 star symbols and each day a star will be unlocked to release new content, right up until 24th December and will largely carry videos & info-graphics.

​From 1-6th December, we tell the story of how life is for Palestinians today; from 7-12th December, we explore what apartheid looks like for Palestinians​; from 13th-18th December, we look at why BDS has evolved and how it is already making a difference; and from 19th to 24th December, we look at resistance, hope and Christmas in the Holy Land.

We start with this – our own MAH animation about Israel’s Separation Wall.

Look out for facebook and twitter and do share!

Best wishes from the MAH team

PS We run on shoestring! If you can help support this work, please visit

https://www.patreon.com/makeapartheidhistory       Thank you!

MAKE APARTHEID HISTORY lead partners: OPGAI (Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative), PSCC  (Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee), Bedouins Without Borders, Tipping Point North South, Pressure Cooker Arts,   ICAHD UK (Israeli Committee against House Demolitions UK).  In partnership with Artists for Palestine UK and Palestine Legal Action Network

ABOUT MAKE APARTHEID HISTORY

Our Intro film  (3.5mins )  UK- Adjoa Andoh, Jeremy Hardy, Juliet Stevenson, Ken Loach, Leila Sansour; Mark Steel Palestine- Atef Abu Saif, Iman Aoun, Raja Shehadeh; Reem Talhami, Sliman Mansour

Website www.makeapartheidhistory.org
The video gallery has contributors from Palestine, UK, South Africa and USA.
Find us here on Facebook  and Twitter

Make Apartheid History is a follow up to Bethlehem Unwrapped – a full-scale replica of Israel’s apartheid Wall revealed on Christmas Eve 2013 in front of St James’s Piccadilly.

 

Rosa Parks & Huwaida Arraf

October 24th was the 10th anniversary of the death of inspirational civil rights activist Rosa Parks. To mark this, we interviewed Huwaida Arraf, American-Palestinian human rights activist, lawyer, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement and member of the Palestinian Freedom Riders.

Speaking with a deep personal and political passion, she talks about how the actions of  Rosa Parks and the USA Freedom Riders inspired the Palestinian Freedom Riders; she also talks about collective international  action against Israeli apartheid and the ever building success of the BDS movement.

MAH September Videos

Make Apartheid History (once and for all) is the follow up to Bethlehem Unwrapped and is an international project that brings together creative individuals, organisations and networks from around the world – starting with Palestine and the UK; South Africa and USA – for a programme of popular events connecting civil rights, anti-apartheid and Palestinian solidarity movements. Commencing summer 2015 and culminating summer 2016.

Following on from our first public event at London’s Southbank in July, our Make Apartheid History campaign picked up again this month by marking two moments.

We marked  the anniversary on 12th September of the death of South African freedom fighter Steve Biko, by sharing two MAH films:
(Steve Biko was the subject of Richard Attenborough’s film Cry Freedom)

  1. Our ‘rationale’ which explains why and how the apartheid framework applies to Palestine;
  2. and our interview with MAH supporter Ronnie Kasrils. Ronnie Kasrils – a Jewish, white South African, a longstanding ANC fighter and compatriot to Mandela, was given the role of ANC Deputy Defence and Security Minister under President Mandela. Ronnie talks in detail about the parallels he sees between South Africa and Israel.

We also mark September 21st – International Peace Day, by calling to Make Apartheid History Once and For All through support for BDS, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel until it complies with international law. There can be no peace where apartheid exists. Watch our video below and find out more about it here:

And watch out for future activities in October and November.

 

Veteran South African activist Denis Goldberg: Israel ‘an apartheid state’

Published by The Middle East Monitor 

South African Jewish anti-apartheid stalwart Denis Goldberg believes the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the use of separate laws for different groups of people makes Israel an apartheid state.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Israel is an apartheid state,” Goldberg, who fought alongside late South African President Nelson Mandela and other activists against apartheid, told a gathering in Johannesburg.

“Having lived through apartheid in South Africa, I cannot allow in my name the same kind of oppression to go on,” Goldberg said at an event discussing lessons for the Palestine-Israel conflict from those who struggled against apartheid.

The Jewish anti-apartheid activist, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the historic Rivonia Trial during the apartheid era in South Africa in 1964, said he has to speak out against Israel’s segregationist polices.

“When I come across the deliberate exclusion of people from the benefits of their wealthy societies, whether on class, race or religious grounds, I have to speak out,” he said.

Goldberg said he has a responsibility as a human being to uphold justice, truth and righteousness, “just as I did as a first-generation white South African” who opposed apartheid.

He said that he does not oppose Jews, but the Israeli government’s Zionist polices.

“I have to be an opponent of the exclusionist policies of Zionism, but let me say straight away that I have to be opposed to the exclusionary policies of the feudal Arab states of the Middle East as well,” he said.

Goldberg said some people ask why Israel is an apartheid state, when it is not like how South Africa used to be during the apartheid era. They say that in Israel there are some Palestinian members of parliament, and that the Palestinians have equal rights.

“Well I say you don’t need to be like South Africa to be an apartheid state, there is a definition in international law through the UNESCO declaration on apartheid,” he said.

He said what constitutes apartheid is government laws, regulations and policies that distinguish between groups of people on the basis of race or religion.

He also faults Israel for destroying the Palestinians’ livelihood and economy by uprooting their centuries-old olive trees, water and irrigation systems.

Goldberg said the situation in Israel is not as complicated as the Zionist lobby tries to make it seem.

“It’s simple: the dominant group excludes the indigenous people from their equal rights within the borders of Israel itself and in the occupied territories, in breach of international law,” he said.

He said these actions showed an attitude that Palestinians were considered lesser people, which is similar to what happened in South Africa during the apartheid era when blacks were barred from voting.

The anti-apartheid activist added that South Africans have a moral duty to protest what is happening to the Palestinians.

He also advised Israelis and Palestinians to start thinking of how to live together, giving the example of Northern Ireland where Protestants and Catholics learned to live together despite their differences.