Among no fewer than eight items concerning the Balfour Declaration centenary that appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page on November 2nd was a filmed report titled “Palestinians call for Balfour Declaration apology” (apparently also aired on BBC television) by the BBC Jerusalem bureau’s Tom Bateman.
“The BBC’s Tom Bateman reports from outside the British consulate in East Jerusalem, where Palestinian representatives have delivered a message to diplomats calling on the UK to apologise for the Balfour Declaration.
One hundred years ago, then Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour expressed British support for a Jewish national home in Palestine – something Palestinians regard as a historical injustice.”
In his report Bateman told BBC audiences that Palestinians had been dispossessed of “their land” – thereby inaccurately suggesting to viewers that the territory on which Israel was established was ‘Palestinian’. Bateman’s choice of words when describing Jewish connections to that territory is no less revealing.
Bateman: “We’re outside the British Consulate in East Jerusalem where Palestinian representatives have just been delivering a message to the officials inside. And as they do so, protestors have been gathering outside with the same message; they want the British to apologise for the Balfour Declaration of a hundred years ago today. They’ve been holding black flags; in their view mourning the effects of that historic statement. Palestinians see the Balfour Declaration as the start of a process that led to their dispossession – the dispossession of their land and they say they want the British not only to apologise but also to recognise a Palestinian state in reparation for what they say were the effects of the Balfour Declaration.
Well while this has been going on here, for many Israelis today it’s been a day they have marked with celebrations. The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has travelled to London to meet British prime minister Theresa May. They see the Balfour Declaration as a moment that their aspirations to what they see as their historical homeland, their ancestral homeland was given international recognition. And so they are marking that day very much in that mood.
As for the British, they have said there will be no apology. They say they’re marking the day with pride. But they also say that Arthur Balfour’s second pledge – to uphold the civil and religious rights of non-Jewish communities here is unfinished business.” [emphasis added]
The phrase “unfinished business” was used by the British Foreign Secretary in an article published in the Daily Telegraph – but not in the context that Bateman claims.
Interestingly, Bateman made no effort at all to inform viewers of his report of the background to the ‘protest’ to which he gave amplification.
“The protest centered around roughly a dozen school girls who arrived at the consulate to deliver thousands of letters written by Palestinian students, demanding Britain apologize for the Balfour Deceleration. […]
The protest — though it was publicized by the combined official media of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Palestinian Authority and the PA’s Fatah ruling party Fatah — was only attended by some 70 people.
The event in Jerusalem was one in a series of protests planned by the Palestinian leadership throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and also in Tel Aviv. […]
“Listen, British: Jerusalem is Arabic,” the crowd chanted.
“Freedom is the right of our Palestinian state, from water to water,” the crowd yelled, referring to the historic borders of Palestine between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.”
And who organised the writing of those letters from Palestinian school children?
“The [PA] Ministry of Education and Higher Education today, Tuesday [Oct. 24, 2017], announced the launching of a campaign in cooperation with the [PLO] Supreme National Committee for Marking the 100th Anniversary of the Ominous Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration), which is directed towards the high school grades. As part of the campaign, 100,000 letters will be written to British Prime Minister [Theresa May] as a sign of resistance to the government of Britain’s decision to reinforce its harmful policy by marking the 100th anniversary of the ominous Balfour Promise that opposes all norms. These letters will be in different languages, and some of them will be published in the media outlets.”
“The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) scheduled demonstrations, events and educational classes in schools across Jerusalem, Ramallah, Gaza, Nablus, Bethlehem, Tubas, Hebron, as well as in Syria and Lebanon.
Most notably, one hundred thousand letters by Palestinian schools were hand-delivered to the British Consulate General in Jerusalem.
PLO Executive Committee Member, Xavier Abu Eid told Palestine Monitor this was the “most symbolic event that took place” across the day.”
The BBC, however, failed to disclose to its audiences the background to the political propaganda it chose to amplify.