A PROMISE OF EVERYTHING AND NOTHING: THE BALFOUR DECLARATION 100 YEARS ON

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by Justin Reynolds

The Balfour Declaration carries the same incendiary charge as when it was first published a century ago this week.

For most Israelis, the short letter expressing British sympathy for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine continues to be venerated as the first formal recognition from one of the world’s great powers of the legitimacy of the Zionist enterprise.

For the Palestinians it still stands condemned as an act of imperialist chauvinism according to which, in the withering assessment of the (Jewish) writer Arthur Koestler, ‘one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.’

The Declaration, so the conventional narrative goes, ignited a slow-burning process of settlement that had been edging forwards since the late 19th century.Continue Reading

THERESA MAY HAS LOST CONTROL OF THE NARRATIVE. HER PREMIERSHIP IS DOOMED.

by Toby Gill

‘The most dangerous time for a bad government is when it begins to reform itself.’ Alexis de Toqueville.

Give people an inch, and they will take a mile. This is what de Toqueville hinted at in his Ancien Regime et la Revolution, his celebrated account of the French Revolution. It was just as Louis XVI’s regime began to reform that the masses could take no more. Just as the promise of real change was made, the guillotine fell.Continue Reading

REVIEW: STATE AND SOCIETY, BY MARTIN PUGH

by Toby Gill

When Theresa May announced her snap election, I was travelling across Japan. At the time I was spending a lot of time on a variety of very slow trains (the famous bullet trains were somewhat beyond our budget). This gave me a lot of down-time to ponder my electoral choices, and consider which way I should vote. It also gave me a lot of time to read the latest tome of modern history I had picked up: Martin Pugh’s State and Society; a social and political history of Britain since 1870. It is not a politicised book; it markets itself as a rigorous work of academic history, designed to introduce new undergraduates to the period – a task it performs superbly.

However, this is a politicised book review.Continue Reading

THOUGHTS FROM THE FENCES – YARL’S WOOD & THE IMPORTANCE OF IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

by Lotty Clare

Content warning: mentions violence against women, abuse, rape, self-harm, suicide, racism, harassment, homophobia.

Last Saturday, a group of UEA students and Norwich residents travelled to a protest at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. This protest was the fifth Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) has organised to shut down detention centres. As I approached the building, hidden inside an industrial estate, surrounded by fields, in the middle of nowhere, it was just as intimidating and depressing as 6 months ago when I went to Yarl’s Wood for the first time. It looks like a prison, except that it is ‘worse than prison, because you have no rights’, as former detainee Aisha Shua put it. Some women are in Yarl’s Wood because their visa expired, others because their asylum claim was unsuccessful. They have committed no crime. And yet they can be detained there indefinitely.

Continue Reading

YARL’S WOOD

by Alison Graham

Content warning: mentions violence against women, rape.

Britain has the greatest area of land dedicated to the indefinite detention of human beings in Europe. This is legal.

See:

A former inmate looks at the place in which her back was physically, literally, broken and says don’t give up. Women thread flowers through this border within a border within a border. The border is admitted only by the letters IRC. Green paint flecks cling to the toes of your boots. On a hill do not question whether the people with the kite-fluttering hands can see you.

Instead:

Is it rare to recall dreams. Where can I find this on gov.uk. If the guards are rapists what does that make the walls. How do you resist the lines you were born the right side of. How do you resist. Can love and hatred happen at the same time, and transform you equally. Are there two kinds of hatred. How about three. How about in the same place, at the same time. And built into the container itself – the beige, the smallness of the windows, the low shade of the roof, the two fields away from the road where no one is living. How are you. Do you need water. Can you read the sign from that window. Is this your first time. When will we deport Theresa. Is there a postcode for here. Have they repainted the fence. Is it really violent to kick it so that it thunders. Who is bringing the smoke flares next time, and in what colour. Do you need water. How do you resist. Is it violence when your window looks over an unreachable place, when that unreachable place is so blooming. Is it when everything is glass and unbreakable. What is the consensus on winding yourself at a border with a child’s party toy to say in a way I make noise therefore you are. Are there two kinds of hatred. How about four. How about one for each piece of sand on a beach in southeast Europe. Do you need water. Is this your first time. Is it violent. When this is all over, will people laugh at the theory of lying flowers on a has-been border, as if it were a wrist.

Featured Image credit: Jan McLachan


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BUT HE’S NOT RACIST

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by Candice Nembhard

I have been living in Berlin for around two months now and generally the transition from the UK to mainland Europe has been a relatively easy process. If we put rising rent prices, endless German bureaucracy, and the future of Brexit aside, Berlin in some ways is a safe haven for a young black Brit such as myself.

Undoubtedly, my ability to move, live and work in Germany is not possible without an immense amount of privilege. I, unlike many people, do not face the same amount of adversity by simply being here; irrespective of my feelings towards my nationality, having a British passport is a golden ticket I didn’t have to work for. However, even with its numerous working and academic advantages, my citizenship does not defend me against the microaggressions of prejudice and racism that I receive almost on a daily basis.Continue Reading

SQUALOR, OVERCROWDING, EVICTIONS – THE TORIES HAVE NO ANSWERS ON THE HOUSING CRISIS

by Olivia Hanks

“Walk down your local high street today and there’s one sight you’re almost certain to see. Young people, faces pressed against the estate agent’s window, trying and failing to find a home they can afford.” Sajid Javid’s words, in his speech launching the government’s latest white paper on housing, were rather unfortunate. The sight we’ve all been seeing on high streets this winter is the clusters of sleeping bags in doorways, the faces those of people failed so badly by society that they no longer have anywhere to live at all. This lack of understanding of what the housing crisis really is – not just thwarted aspirations of ownership, but squalor, overcrowding, evictions – sets the tone for this misfiring, misleading, self-contradicting paper.Continue Reading