On the 12 & 13 November, 2005 Scottish Friends of Palestine held its international conference at Haddington, East Lothian. The subject of the conference was Palestine and the legacy of Balfour, in this, the 88th anniversary year of the Balfour Declaration. The proximity of Whittingehame, the family home of the then Foreign Secretary, Arthur J. Balfour, to Haddington made the latter the ideal venue for the conference.
Throughout the conference, enthusiasm was expressed by many participants for the contributions from the various speakers to be put into print. This book represents an attempt to meet this request. At the outset, it has to be stressed that it does not do justice to some of the speakers and their contribution. Some spoke with no prepared paper.
Others, because of time constraints, agreed to address the content of their paper through the question and answer session. In these cases alternatives have been used.
The one exception to this is Ghada Karmi where reference to her book In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story (Verso Press 2002) is recommended.
Leila Khaled was invited to speak but her request for a visa was turned down by the Home Office. She did provide a transcript of her contribution and this is included.
This book was finalised just as Israel was withdrawing its army of aggression and terror from Southern Lebanon at the end of August 2006. It left in its wake a civilian population (and infrastructure) devastated by the firepower of the Israeli armed forces. However, it did not leave a people cowed and humiliated by the destructive power of the Israeli state.
Could Balfour’s legacy be entering a new phase? Or is it simply that an army which has honed its skills at checkpoints – forcing pregnant mothers to give birth in the open, forcing the old to wait in freezing cold, wet conditions, for hours on end and shooting at children – is now no match for a determined, motivated opponent?