Palestine Action slash painting of Lord Balfour in the University of Cambridge

Mar 8, 2024 | 0 comments

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Palestine Action ruined a 1914 painting by Philip Alexius de László inside Trinity College, University of Cambridge of Lord Arthur James Balfour – the colonial administrator and signatory of the Balfour Declaration [1].

An activist slashed the homage and sprayed the artwork with red paint, symbolising the bloodshed of the Palestinian people since the Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917. 

Arthur Balfour, then UK Foreign secretary, issued a declaration which promised to build “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, where the majority of the indigenous population were not Jewish [2]. He gave away the Palestinians homeland — a land that wasn’t his to give away.  

After the Declaration, until 1948, the British burnt down indigenous villages to prepare the way; with this came arbitrary killings, arrests, torture, sexual violence including rape against women and men, the use of human shields and the introduction of home demolitions as collective punishment to repress Palestinian resistance [3] [4].

The British were initiating the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, fulfilling the Zionist aim to build their ‘home’ over the top of what were Palestinian communities, towns, villages, farms and ancestral land, rich in heritage, culture and ancient archeological history [5].

The Palestinians refer to this time as the Nakba — which translates into the great catastrophe. In 1948, the Zionist militia, trained by the British, forced over 750,000 Palestinians into exile, destroyed over 500 villages and forced those who remained to live under a brutal reign of occupation [6]. 

Since 1948, the Zionist regime continued to ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people which has now culminated in an intensified genocide in Gaza, which 20 United Nations experts refer to as the second Nakba [7]. Calls for a second Nakba were repeatedly made by Israeli leaders before October 7th [8]. 

In the past 154 days of genocide in Gaza, Israel has killed over 30,000 Palestinians, injured over 72,000 [9] and displaced over 1.9million — 80% of the Gaza population [10]. 

Britain’s support for the continued colonisation of Palestine hasn’t wavered since 1917. 

Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms supplier, who use captive Palestinians in Gaza as a human laboratory to develop their weapons, use Britain as a manufacturing outpost. The Israeli weapons maker build weaponry in factories across the country and work closely with the British government [11][12]. 

Palestine Action vows to continue their direct campaign until Elbit is shut down and British complicity with the colonisation of Palestine ends. 

ENDS
NOTES TO EDITORS

If you would like any further information on Palestine action, please contact media@palestineaction.org

Palestine Action is a direct-action network of groups and individuals formed with the mandate of taking action against the sites of Elbit Systems and other companies complicit in Israeli apartheid, calling for all such sites to be shut down.

[1] https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/arthur-james-balfour-18481930-1st-earl-of-balfour-kg-om-pc-prime-minister-and-philosopher-134685

[2] https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2018/11/2/more-than-a-century-on-the-balfour-declaration-explained

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-63145992

[4] https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/britain-palestine-balfour-colonial-crimes-reparations

[5] https://decolonizepalestine.com/intro/the-mandate-years-and-the-nakba/

[6] https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2017/5/23/the-nakba-did-not-start-or-end-in-1948

[7] https://unric.org/en/palestine-preventing-a-genocide-in-gaza-and-a-new-nakba/

[8] https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/why-israels-leaders-call-for-second-nakba

[9] https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/30878-palestinians-killed-israeli-offensive-gaza-health-ministry-says-2024-03-08/

[10] https://www.nrc.no/news/2023/december/gaza-displacement/

[11] https://www.whoprofits.org/companies/company/3794[12] https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/elbit-systems-israel-arms-uk-government-contract-ministry-of-defence-7-october/