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Police slap ketchup ban on Balfour protester

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Police slap ketchup ban on Balfour protester
Kit Klarenberg and David Cronin The Electronic Intifada 16 November 2022
London’s police force has imposed bizarre restrictions on a woman who spoke out
against Britain’s role in the colonization of Palestine.
On 12 November, two protesters glued themselves to the plinth of a statue dedicated
to Arthur James Balfour in Britain’s Parliament. One also doused the statue in
tomato ketchup.
Attracting widespread media coverage, the protest drew attention to the 1917 Balfour
In that document, Balfour, then Britain’s foreign secretary, expressed support for the
Zionist movement and its goal of establishing a Jewish state – euphemistically
described as a “national home for the Jewish people” – in Palestine. By so doing,
Britain paved the way for the mass expulsion of Indigenous Palestinians three
decades later.
The protesters were trying to educate the British people about imperialism and its
consequences. In a video circulated following their action, one of the protesters can
be heard accusing Britain of profiting from colonial crimes for more than a century.
Despite performing a public service, the women now face criminal charges.
Even though they have been released after their initial arrest, at least one of the
women is subject to onerous bail conditions.
She is banned from carrying “any adhesive substance” in a public place and from
possessing “any condiment or liquid that can be used for defacing property.” She is
also not allowed to enter Westminster – the part of London where the Parliament is
located – “unless for medical, educational and legal reasons with a pre-arranged
The women are scheduled to appear in court on 2 December.
They are being charged under a draconian new law called the Police, Crimes,
Sentencing and Courts Act.
Section 50 of that law concerns the damaging of “memorials.” Through this
provision, a court may impose stiff penalties even if the damage caused to a
monument is small.

White supremacist
In this case, the police appear to have exaggerated the scale of the damage caused to
Balfour’s statue.
They have put a very precise figure of £5,535 (approximately $6,600) on the damage
caused by the ketchup. Though ketchup is usually easily removed from stone
The stains of shame left by imperialism are, of course, far harder to remove and
arguably indelible.
That may explain why the London authorities are so determined to punish activists
who highlight crimes omitted from the version of history taught in Britain’s schools.
Section 50 was introduced following the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. During
one London demonstration, the words “was a racist” were written on the plinth of a
statue dedicated to the wartime leader Winston Churchill.
Like Churchill, Arthur Balfour was a white supremacist. Balfour once contended that
Europeans should enjoy greater privileges than Blacks in South Africa by claiming
that “men are not born equal.”
His eponymous declaration of November 1917 was inherently racist. It granted
greater rights to incoming settlers than to Indigenous Palestinians.
Balfour even insisted that Palestinians would not be consulted about the Zionist
colonization project.
The declaration was later enshrined in the League of Nations mandate, through
which Britain administered Palestine between the 1920s and 1940s.
Britain introduced a series of ordinances enabling Jewish settlers to seize land which
Palestinians had farmed for generations.
The British would not tolerate any resistance. A major Palestinian uprising in the
1930s was crushed with great brutality.
British forces mentored and were frequently aided by the Haganah, the largest
Zionist militia in Palestine. The Haganah and some other armed groups later drove
up to 800,000 Palestinians from their homes during the Nakba, the wave of ethnic
cleansing before, during and after Israel’s establishment in 1948.
The recent protest against Balfour’s statue was organized by Palestine Action, which
is best known for breaking into factories and offices owned by the Israeli weapons
maker Elbit Systems.
Confronting the Israeli arms industry and its investments in Britain has proven
effective. Elbit capitulated to sustained pressure from Palestine Action this year by
closing its London office and selling a plant it owned near Manchester.

A Palestine Action representative, who asked not to be named, pointed out that the
British government is constantly developing stronger political and economic
relations with Israel.
“There might not be British troops on the ground in Palestine today, but the country
still sustains violent colonialism there today, in different forms,” the representative
“Elbit factories across the country [Britain] create weaponry daily that is
fundamental to Zionist ethnic cleansing. This horror could not continue without
London’s active acquiescence.”
Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence
services in shaping politics and perceptions. Twitter: @KitKlarenberg.
David Cronin is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada. His books
include Balfour’s Shadow: A Century of British Support for Zionism and Israel (Pluto

Article link:
Article source: Electronic Intifada, 16/11/2022

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000

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