Balfour Declaration: Christian Zionism of the 19th Century
November this year marks the completion of 100 years of the most audacious act of British Imperialism in flagrant violation of international norms and devoid of any human decency. It is the anniversary of the letter dated 2nd November 1917 written by the then British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild delivered by hand to his London home at 148 Piccadilly later came to be known as the Balfour Declaration.
Source: Jewish Virtual Library
This 67-word document bears not only the stamp of Machiavellian British cunning “robbing Peter to pay Paul” but also their nineteenth-century hubristic mindset of being in control of the destiny of entire humankind.
Most bizarre fact surrounding this declaration is; at the time of writing this letter Palestine was part of Ottoman empire Britain had no legal authority to make this promise, and Walter Rothschild was just a wealthy Jewish British citizen who had no formal locus standi in the matters of state and international relations. Besides the concept of a “national home” does not exist in the annals of international law. The only common bond and crucial one was that both Balfour & Rothschild presented two faces of Zionism; Christian and Jewish Zionism.
This becomes abundantly clear if we read the following extract of the Balfour’s 1919 letter to his successor George Nathaniel Curzon (by then Britain had mandate over Palestine)
“In Palestine, we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country……… The great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs in future hopes of profounder import than the desire and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who inhabit that ancient land.”
Christian Zionism dates back to Luther’s reformation that the second advent of Messiah depended on the conversion of all Jews to Christianity which meant the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in accordance with Biblical prophecy. Thus, restoring Jews to the Holy Land acquired tacit acceptance as a tenet of Protestant evangelism in early nineteenth century Britain where the Bible was the most extensively read book of the time. Thus appropriation of biblical past became the joint strategy of both Zionist camps Christian and Jews.
Dr Lorenzo Kamel Research fellow from History Department of Bologna University and a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University's Center for Middle Eastern Studies calls this phenomenon as Biblical Orientalism.?In his book “Imperial Perceptions of Palestine”, he writes,
“Nearly 1000 books have been written on the subject of Holy Land between the period of 1830 and beginning of 20th Century. But in most cases, the local Arab and non-Arab population has been mentioned in passing as a mere appendix. Through these kinds of attitudes, the idea of a ‘meta-Palestine’, an imaginary place devoid of any history except that of Biblical magnificence, was introduced”
Lorenzo Kamel further notices in his book that institution that played an essential role in planting and propagating ideas of Christian Zionism was “Palestine Exploration Fund” (PEF). It was established in London in 1865 following a visit to Palestine by the Prince of Wales.
The major purpose as laid out in the statute was not to pursue theology but to conduct inductive enquiry applying rules of science. Despite what was in the statute, the during the opening of PEF by the Archbishop of York, he boldly announced;
“This country of Palestine belongs to you and me. It is essentially ours. It was given to the Father of Israel……………. It is a land to which we may look with a true Patriotism as we do to this dear old England.”
What PEF set into motion was a research-based heady mixture of Imperialism and evangelical Christian fundamentalism. Their archaeological missions were the early precursor of the 20th century Biblical Archeology which in the United States, got generous funding to conduct archaeological excavations in Palestine to historicize biblical myths.
In a book of one of the PEF funded archaeological expeditions “Surveys of West Palestine” the author Charles Tyrwhitt-Drake has made utterly despicable comments on the local inhabitants the fellahin (farmers) he saw; “the fellahin are all in all the worst type of humanity that I have come across in East. Fellah is totally destitute of all moral sense”. Such abhorrent comments only show the depth to which the nineteen-century tone deaf imperial mind can sink while thinking of those beyond white world!
Through their consistent groundwork, the PEF and their Zionist cohorts could build imaginary Palestine based on the Bible. These efforts paid rich dividends by way of mind shaping of average British protestant. An entrepreneur was not far off to see profiteering opportunity. Thomas Cook, the inventor of modern travel agencies, inaugurated religious tourism with the first batch of just 50 passengers to the Jerusalem, the number which later jumped to 20,000 in three decades.
This first-hand contact with holy land went a long way in making popular perception better disposed to Zionism. In Cook’s own words; the educational and social results of these eastern travel have been most encouraging. A new incentive to scriptural investigation has been created and fostered…..(due to the) general influence of sacred scenes and repeated visits to sites of biblical events, the inquiring and believing spirits have held sweet counsel with each other”
The Zionist project for the creation of the state of Israel is a multinational project of colossal magnitude, enormous complexity, unimaginable deceit, inhuman cruelty at the same time it is a masterpiece of international non-state diplomacy and well-coordinated lobbying venture.
The only way to understand at least partly the truth is to follow Mark Twain and what he said regarding his stay in the Holy Land in his book “The Innocents Abroad”,
“If I wish to profit by this tour (to Palestine), and come to a correct understanding of the matters of interest connected to it, I must studiously and faithfully unlearn a great many things I have somehow absorbed concerning Palestine.”