BROKEN PROMISES Balfour
Keeping Hope Alive
Sunday 29th October 2017
A conference on the Balfour Declaration and its continuing impact on the day to day lives of Palestinians
Around 50 people gathered at 12.30 for a Palestinian lunch prepared by members of Sumud Palestine’s steering group. It was declared to be excellent which is pleasing as by such things reputations are made! We would have welcomed more people but the hall with the table top displays and Zaytoun products and Hebron pottery on sale, felt pleasantly full and a convivial atmosphere was quickly established. It was a truly multi-cultural gathering which included several asylum seekers and a Syrian on the government’s resettlement programme who was quickly pressed into serving food!
Sumud was pleased to welcome Hilary Tyrell and Philip Nixon who brought their display of photos which graphically illustrate Israel’s systematic destruction of ‘unrecognised’ villages in the Negev. Their inhabitants are Israeli Arab citizens whose plight is described by Hilary In a letter she hopes supporters will use as a model for a letter to their MP.
We were sad to be unable to welcome Haim Bresheeth who had to withdraw at the last moment as a result of illness.
Chairing the first half of the conference, Angela invited those with table displays or stalls to say a word. Hilary Tyrell appealed for support for the Bedouin of the Negev, Pat Mood introduced us to Sabeel and the Kairos Declaration, Jim Zacune commended the UK Palestine Mental Health Network annual tours in Israel and Palestine for mental health practitioners (the next specialist tour will take place next year from 26 March to 3 April. In the absence of Peter Kent-Baggaley, Jim also urged support for a National March and Rally in London on 4 November. Jen Smith recommended her stall of Zaytoun products (42 products were sold and a small mark-up earned £21.91 towards expenses).
Linda Clair, a long-standing and dynamic member of Manchester PSC was especially welcomed and added lustre to the event as did the splendid array of Hebron pottery she brought with her.
The North Staffordshire Olive Tree Campaign Angela Glendenning
The olive tree and its long history of rootedness in the region is a primary symbol of ‘sumud’ for Palestinians. In 1992 Raja Shehadah, poet, lawyer and activist, wrote:
Sometimes, when I am walking in the hills unselfconsciously enjoying the touch of the hard land under my feet, the smell of thyme and the trees around me, I find myself looking at an olive tree, and as I am looking at it, it transforms itself before my eyes into a symbol of the samadin of our struggle, of loss. And at that very moment I am robbed of the tree, instead
there is a hollow space into which anger and pain flow.
The JAI Keep Hope Alive Olive Tree Campaign marked its 15 anniversary last year and the campaign planted 11,700 trees in Area C which is 62% of the West Bank and exclusively ruled by Israeli Military law.
Film: The Uprooted – A Tale of Palestinian Farmers describes the impact on farmers of the loss of their trees and the support they derive when in the spring and autumn people come from all over the world to help harvest olives and plant new trees.
Since 12011 the North Staffordshire Olive Tree Campaign has sponsored 609 olive trees to the tune of £10,473.
Supporting Therapists Mohammed Mukhaimar, co-founder with Angela Glendenning of Sumud Palestine, gave a vivid account of the development of Sumud’s support for mental health professionals in the West Bank. Mohammed’s talk will not be placed on the website.
(Mohammed is Palestinian-British psychologist, born & raised in Gaza and a member of the steering group of the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network. He works for the NHS. He initiated and mentors the Palestinian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies. He works for the NHS.
Tony Pearce, until recently chair of Sumud Palestine’s steering group, introduced the Balfour Project film, Britain in Palestine 1917-1946
Bernard Regan: The Balfour Declaration
(Bernard is a Visiting Research Fellow of the School of Arts and Humanities at St Mary’s University. Awarded his doctorate by Surrey University he combines academia with activism. As an Executive Committee member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign he has led many delegations to Palestine and for 25 years he has been a member of the executive of the National Union of Teachers.
Commenting on Bernard’s recent book, The Balfour Declaration: Mandate and Resistance in Palestine (Verso Books 2017), Professor Nur-eldeen Masalha, a Palestinian writer and academic, comments:
In this major account of the Balfour Declaration, Bernard Regan’s timely book sheds light on the most powerful symbol of the official British-Zionist alliance a Visiting Research Fellow of the School of Arts and Humanities over the last century. It deserves to be widely read by those yearning for truth and reconciliation in the Middle East).
Oceans of Injustice This short film invites you on a metaphorical journey to Palestine to understand the oceans of injustice that have gone on for so long.
Brian J Brown: The Balfour Declaration and Apartheid South Africa
(Methodist minister Brian J Brown was administrative director of the Christian Institute of Southern Africa when he and it were banned in 1977 by the apartheid regime. Banning prohibited him from gathering with more than one other person and effectively silenced him. He sought exile in Britain and while secretary for International Affairs within the British Council of Churches he ‘serviced’ the Anti-Apartheid Coalition of Churches, NGOs, Unions and Political Parties that called for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the South African regime.
A member of the Kairos-Britain Forum with its distinctive commitment to justice and peace in Palestine and Israel, Brian’s recently published autobiography ‘Born to be Free’ contrasts the pursuit of freedom from apartheid in his South African birthplace and the ongoing search for freedom of the Palestinian people’)’
Time to say sorry: What we can do
The three speakers took questions and Tony invited attendees to (a) Write to their MP, and (b) Attend the National march and rally ‘Justice Now: Make it right for Palestine’ on Saturday, 4 November, the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
Postscript (1) Jen and Daryl sold 42 Zaytoun products. We hope that Linda’s Hebron pottery did as well. Bernard signed and sold seven books.
(2) Friends of Sabeel have produced a very good leaflet on the Balfour Declaration and all attendees were given on and a flyer What We Can Do. More Balfour leaflets can be obtained from www.friendsofsabeel.org
(3) Useful websites include: www.kairosbritain.org.uk and www.icahd.org