Pro-Palestine activists protested at a celebration of the Balfour Declaration centenary, held at the Royal Albert Hall last Tuesday.
The event, titled “Partners in this great enterprise” after a speech made by Lord Balfour, was organised by Balfour 100, an organisation set up by Christian Middle East Watch to commemorate the centenary of the Declaration’s publication. The organisation stated it was “a significant event in the celebrations by Jews and Christians of the Balfour Declaration’s centenary”, as Christians “renew (their) support for the state of Israel”.
Protesters gathered outside the venue, waving Palestinian flags and banners in support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which advocates putting political and economic pressure on the state of Israel. Counter-protesters carrying banners in support of Israel also assembled. A police escort was present.
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), an advocacy group that was given consultative status as an NGO by the UN, had organised a campaign against the concert, which it claimed gained more than 13,000 signatures.
Balfour 100 reported that the event had taken 18 months to plan, and was attended by nearly 3,000 people. It included performances from the British Christian orchestra and the London Israeli Dance Institute.
The Balfour Declaration was issued by the British government in 1917, and signed by Arthur Balfour, the Foreign Secretary. The Declaration states that the government will “view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”, and assist in facilitating this, providing that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.