About 100 years ago, a man, living in a little village in Palestine, finished harvesting the last crop of his olive trees on a crisp November afternoon, got back home and had dinner with his wife and children. Little he knew that the following day thousands of miles away another man was preparing to ruin this family's life forever. As Lord Arthur James Balfour prepared to issue the Balfour Declaration on 02 November 1917, my great grandfather put out the candle and went to bed in the village of Deir Snade thinking about which university my grandfather, Mohamed, should go to when he grew up.
Then it all started, Britain promised to build a state for the Jews in Palestine without any consideration of us, Palestinians, of my great grandfather, of my father and subsequently me and my children. The British government which was occupying Palestine with over a hundred thousand soldiers (more than they used to invade Iraq and Afghanistan combined) made sure to put together measures to establish the state of Israel which eventually happened in 1948. They encouraged Jewish immigration into Palestine while systematically restricting the civil rights of the indigenous people, forcing farmers to sell of their land to third parties which eventually ended up as Kibbutzes.
When the British first invaded Palestine and occupied Jerusalem, General Alenby famously announced that "The Crusade Missions have finally come to an end". This reflected the subsequent apartheid policy the British government implemented in the 30 years of harsh occupation that followed. It's worth mentioning here that between 1917 and 1920 Palestine was under direct military administration, meaning that the British army ruled every aspect of people's lives.
A quick read of the Balfour declaration can reveal what the British policy towards Palestine was intended to be in the first place. While promising a state for the Jews, the British government failed to mention Palestinians by name as if we didn't exist. Arthur Balfour announced that building a Jewish state in Palestine should not affect the rights of non-Jewish communities in Palestine. But there was no mention of political rights of Palestinians, their right of self determination and building an independent state.
Palestinians took to the streets in 1936 to peacefully demonstrate against these unjust policies by the British government, which crushed the uprising killing over 2000 Palestinians, arresting and deporting many of the middle class and highly educated Palestinians. This left Palestinian vulnerable 12 years later when the Nakba happened, when the British Government again let us down by leaving Palestine unannounced, while continuing to support the Israeli Zionist gangs, such as the Hagannah, leaving them strategic locations, key military equipments, announcing to them the day of departure from Palestine and ensuring that the borders were all locked for external help to come.
And then it happened as it had all been planned by the British Government and their cloned Zionist gangs, in 1948 the Nakba (catastrophe) took place. An empire disgracefully exiting a land they screwed for over 30 years, leaving it undefended to well organised and well equipped ultra nationalist movement and not caring about the local population.
My great grandfather died before he saw his farm being burned in 1948, my grandfather, who did see that happen, fled carrying my father who was one year old and they both and subsequently I became refugees in Gaza for the rest of our lives. And since then Britain has never fully supported us Palestinians, never apologised for what they have done to us.
On the contrary, when it comes to Israel the British government doesn't want to listen to any criticism about the harsh occupation, settlements, the apartheid wall, the siege of Gaza. They just turn a blind eye and pretend that it had nothing to do with them.
Even as a naturalised British Palestinian, I have no help from the British government to visit my aging parents in Gaza. I can't even travel the West Bank or Jerusalem with a British passport. I can't fly to Tel Aviv like a lot of other Brits do and my only fault is that I am Palestinian. My family in Gaza can't easily get a visa to the UK. The last time my mum came to visit was in 2011 and that was after a whole year of applying for a visitor's visa and taking the Home Office to Tribunal. My British Born children can't go and see their grandparents in Gaza, in fact my four year old daughter hasn't event met my mother, father and siblings. Last time she asked me if I ever had parents and it broke my heart.
No Britain didn't just betray Palestinians in 1917, it continues to do so now as we speak.