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Wrong side of history

In a show of solidarity, Palestinian factions have also come out in support of Hamas, saying in a statement: “The Palestinian people and their political and national forces are united in rejecting and condemning” the British designation of Hamas as a terrorist organisation. While we, Palestinians, are outraged at the UK government’s actions, we are by far not surprised. Earlier this month we marked the 104th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, with which then British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour promised the Zionist movement to do his utmost to establish a Jewish state on Palestinian land.

The British colonialists kept their promise. Several years later, they took control of Palestine and paved the way for accelerated Zionist colonisation. Over the following decades and to this day, Palestinians have been systematically uprooted from their lands, oppressed, ethnically cleansed and killed to make room for the Zionist colony, unreservedly supported by Britain and other Western powers. The British government bears the historical responsibility for the continuing Palestinian tragedy. But instead of apologising, trying to set the record straight, and offering compensation to the Palestinians, the British authorities are now sending a message that they remain faithful to their colonial history and to suppressing anti-colonial struggles for liberation and independence.

The government order on designating Hamas a terrorist organisation comes amid a concerted effort to curb the growing support for the Palestinian cause within British society and to undermine pro-Palestinian activism. The peaceful Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, for example, has also been a target. In 2016, the British government issued guidance to local councils forbidding them from adopting boycotts on ethical grounds. It has since announced that it will turn the policy into law.

The same year, the British government adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, which has been widely criticised as an attempt to silence critics of Israel and its occupation of Palestinian land. The forced public equation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism has been used against numerous British public figures who have spoken out in favour of Palestinian rights.

The UK government’s drive to designate Hamas as a terror organisation should also be seen within the context of Israel’s global efforts to suppress pro-Palestinian activism.

Excerpted: ‘The UK government is on the wrong side of history… again’

Ahmed Abu Artema, "Wrong side of history," The News. 2021-11-27.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political forces , Foreign secretary , Zionist , Colonialism , Activism , Palestine , Israel , BDS