The Guardian says supporting the Balfour Declaration in 1917 was a mistake


(JTA) — In an article about its “worst errors of judgment” from its 200-year history, a Guardian writer implied that the storied British paper’s editorial support of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 — the then-British foreign minister’s approval of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine — was a mistake.

“The Guardian of 1917 supported, celebrated and could even be said to have helped facilitate the Balfour declaration,” editorial writer Randeep Ramesh wrote in the article published Friday.

“Whatever else can be said, Israel today is not the country the Guardian foresaw or would have wanted,” he added, arguing that the Guardian’s editor at the time, Charles Prestwich Scott, was ignorant about Palestinian rights.

Like many news organizations, the Guardian is reckoning with the ways its past coverage may have offended certain groups, and how some of it is now seen as on the wrong side of history. Other examples Ramesh mentions include the paper’s support of the Confederacy during the Civil War and its opinions on voting rights before women were allowed to vote.

The Balfour Declaration, in which the United Kingdom committed itself to creating a national home for Jews in lands it controlled and today comprise the territories of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, was an important milestone for the Zionist movement.

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