By Salman Abu Sitta
(Dr. Salman Abu Sitta researches and writes about Palestinian refugees and their right to return to their homes and land. He was a member of the Palestine National Council for more than 20 years. Currently, Dr. Abu Sitta is the president of the Palestine Land Society. He presented this talk at the Fourth International Convention of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right of Return Coalition, in San Francisco on July 14. It was the keynote presentation on the convention’s opening night.)
"Balfour was fully aware of what he was doing. True to his colonial heritage, he said in 1918:
"For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country. … [Zionism is] of far profounder impact than the desires and prejudices [not the rights] of the Arabs who inhabit this ancient land.
He said the Arabs are "wholly barbarous, undeveloped and unorganized black tribes."
Nine decades before George Bush came up with his campaign for "democracy" for the whole world, the Palestinians started their campaign for democracy. When they petitioned, agitated and revolted for their cause, Winston Churchill, the British colonial secretary, told them in 1921:
"Step by step we shall develop representative institutions leading to full self-government, but our children’s children will have passed away before that is accomplished."
They are still waiting. They have not given up.
By 1948, with the collusion of the British Mandate, the Zionists had failed to acquire—even by money, Zionist-inspired laws and economic pressure—more than 5.5 percent of the land of Palestine. But they succeeded in increasing the Jewish population from nine percent to thirty percent of the total population and they trained an army of 120,000, or 20 percent of the Jewish immigrant population. (Compare this with a normal country where the army makes up one to two percent of the population). This Zionist army was ready to pounce on Palestine."