100 Years After the Balfour Declaration – Revisiting Sir Herbert Samuel’s Legacy

Sir Herbert Samuel inaugurating the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway, 5 Oct 1920 (Prints and photographs division of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.)
Sir Herbert Samuel inaugurating the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway, 5 Oct 1920 (Prints and photographs division of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.)

Charlotte Kelsted
University of Exeter

Speaking before the UN General Assembly last year, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested that the British government offer an apology for its 1917 Balfour Declaration supporting a Jewish homeland in Palestine. ‘We ask Great Britain, as we approach 100 years since this infamous declaration, to draw the necessary lessons and to bear its historic, legal, political, material and moral responsibility for the consequences of this declaration, including an apology to the Palestinian people for the catastrophes, misery and injustice this declaration created and to act to rectify these disasters and remedy its consequences, including by the recognition of the state of Palestine,’ Abbas said. ‘This is the least Great Britain can do.’

Abbas’s demand for an apology is far from the only one. Just last November, for example, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Jenny Tonge hosted the launch of the Palestinian Return Centre initiative to get the UK government to recognize its role in ‘almost a century of Palestinian suffering.’ 100 years on, the Balfour Declaration’s legacy remains a controversial part of the present day – so, too, is the legacy of the first High Commissioner to the Palestine Mandate, Herbert Samuel. Continue reading “100 Years After the Balfour Declaration – Revisiting Sir Herbert Samuel’s Legacy”