British Cabinet Minister: UK Will Celebrate 100th Anniversary of Balfour Declaration ‘With Pride’
The United Kingdom will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the issuance of the Balfour Declaration “with pride,” a British Cabinet minister said on Monday.
At a meeting in the British capital with a visiting World Jewish Congress delegation, Sajid Javid — the secretary of state for communities and local government — stated, “Someone said we should apologize for the declaration, to say it was an error of judgment. Of course that’s not going to happen. To apologize for the Balfour Declaration would be to apologize for the existence of Israel and to question its right to exist.”
In the Balfour Declaration, which was published in November 1917, the British government announced its support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Last year, the Palestinian Authority said it intended to sue the UK over the declaration, claiming it had led to a “catastrophe” for the Palestinian people. And last September, PA President Mahmoud Abbas — during a UN General Assembly address – called on the UK to apologize for the declaration.
In his remarks on Monday, Javid — a member of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party — highlighted the ongoing failure of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to harm UK-Israel ties.
“I’ll be 100 percent clear,” he said. “I do not support calls for a boycott, my party does not support calls for a boycott. For all its bluster, the BDS campaign is most notable I think, for its lack of success.”
“Trade is booming, tourism is soaring,” he continued. “The media campaign is full of sound and fury, but to the majority of Britain today it signifies nothing.”
“As long as I’m in government, as long as I’m in politics, I will do everything in my power to fight back against those who seek to undermine Israel,” Javid vowed.
Addressing the same delegation, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow cautioned that Jews across the globe still faced a “pernicious and insidious” danger.
“There are still people denying the Holocaust or alternatively glorying in it and holding up Adolf Hitler as being a great figure in our history,” he said. “So we should not be paranoid, but equally we should not be complacent. There is a threat to Jewish people and to Jewish security in this country and indeed in Europe and around the world.”
“The importance of Jewish history, of Jewish culture, Jewish identity and indeed of Jewish security, both physical and political, can scarcely be overstated,” Bercow — the first-ever Jewish House of Commons speaker — continued.
WJC President Ronald Lauder — in London for his organization’s Executive Committee meeting, hosted by the Board of Deputies of British Jews — said on Monday, “Anti-Semitism is growing across the globe and is targeting all Jews, whether Orthodox or Reform, Left or Right. The most important goal facing the WJC today in our daily and global struggle against anti-Semitism is mending the divisive rifts and building Jewish unity — between all organizations, and regardless of religious denominations or political affiliations.”