The Balfour Declaration and the Political Legacy of Colonialism

An important issue that will be discussed here is the displacement of the indigenous Palestinian population and the subsequent creation of a Jewish state in the Mandate of Palestine. This is the political legacy of the British colonial enterprise in Israel/Palestine as a result of the Balfour Declaration. This analysis, while seeking to be broad in scope and aimed at providing a complete overview of Israel/Palestine, will be historical but will also focus on the future implications of imperial domination. The imperial power discussed in this essay is Great Britain and this essay will conclude with a summary of the main issues explored while providing a thorough analysis of the colonial political legacy as a result of the Balfour Declaration in the Israel/Palestine of today.Historically speaking, few places on earth share the religious importance of present-day Israel. In fact, the land of Israel has tremendous historical significance for all three major monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Jews revere the Wailing (Western) Wall, as the site of the Second Temple, and modern Israel as the land of Abraham and Moses. Christians from around the world look towards Bethlehem, in the present-day West Bank, as the birthplace of Christ. For Muslims, the Dome of the Rock is the third holiest site in Islam (after Mecca and Medina) and is revered as the place where Mohammed ascended to heaven. And finally, the ancient city of Jerusalem has held mystic sway over the “peoples of the book” (Bible/Torah/Koran) for more than two millennia (Bloom 13).Established in the wake of the First World War and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate for Palestine began under League of Nations auspices. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 committed herMajesty’s government to the establishment of a “Jewish National Home” – purposefully vague wording – in the lands of Palestine. Following the War, the Arab lands of the Middle East were partitioned between the French and British powers respectively and each was given mandatory status over the newly conquered lands of the former Ottoman Empire. France obtained title to modern-day Syria and Lebanon while the British received Mandates over the territory which now encompasses the states of Iraq, Jordan, and Israel.