To Gandhi At British Parliament

I journeyed to the UK Parliament in London on the day Theresa May called a general election. There I met new and old friends to hear Professor Rajmohan Gandhi, the Mahatma's grandson, talk about issues between Muslims, Hindus and Christians that led to the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. What could we learn, in the context of the Palestinian/Israeli impasse, about conflict resolution? The meeting was hosted by members of Parliament on behalf of the Balfour Project, whose purpose is explained in this article from 'Christians Aware':

In November 1917, the British Government issued the Balfour Declaration which promised a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine whilst also promising to protect the rights of the existing Arab population. In 1915 Britain had already promised the Arabs that after the war they would be granted independence in their lands, including Palestine.

In 1922, the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate to administer Palestine, requiring her to implement the Balfour Declaration, and to prepare Palestine for independence. Subsequent British governments upheld the promise to create a Jewish homeland but did not fulfil the promise to protect the rights of the Arab people, the majority. Israel, a homeland for the Jewish people, had been achieved whilst Palestinian independence is still to be fulfilled.

Following the Balfour Declaration there was a series of contradictory promises, culminating when the mandate was surrendered in 1948, so that Britain gave up its pledge to protect Palestinian rights by withdrawing its forces. 750,000 Palestinians became refugees.

The Balfour Project invites the government and people of the United Kingdom to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration on 2nd November 2017 by:

* learning what the Balfour Declaration means for both Jews and Arabs.

* acknowledging that whilst a homeland for the Jewish people has been achieved, the promise to protect the rights of the Palestinian people has not yet been fulfilled.

* urging the people and elected representatives of the UK to take effective action to promote justice, security and peace for both peoples.

Action is needed to make churches and communities aware of the Balfour Project and to work on it during 2017, including the offering of clear education and the writing of letters to MPs. Make November 2nd 2017 a national and local anniversary and a challenge to government.

I returned to welcome Andreas Kratzmeier from Norway for a five day retreat at my home. He helped us set up the Open Gate Retreat House on Holy Island, and made the large cross of Norway wood that means so much to people who visit our prayer room.

Posted at 23:23pm on 22nd April 2017
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