On the 100th anniversary of the historical document known as the Balfour Declaration, various departments from the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences invited esteemed scholars to discuss the role of the document in modern day context.
The Balfour Declaration was a short letter that announced the British support of creating a seperate state for Jews in the Ottoman Palestine region.
The Center for Judaic Studies teamed up with the Global Education Office, Humanities Research Center and the International Studies Program in the School of World Studies to host the event.
Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and assistant professor of legal studies and social justice/human rights at George Mason University presented the effect of the Declaration on Palestinian resistance over the years.
Hillel Gruenberg, director of Israel Engagement at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and The Jewish Theological Seminary, gave a historical overview of what the world looked like for Jews before and after the Declaration.
Both speakers tied the significance of the Declaration to the modern day Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“When I watched the GOP primaries and saw Newt Gingrich claim that Palestine was a created territory, I had to ask myself what country was more created than the United States?” Gruenberg said.
Erakat focused her remarks on how the Balfour Declaration informs Palestinian resistance, or sometimes the lack thereof, in modern times.
“There is a belief amongst Palestinians that the U.S. is the only state that can deliver the palestinian state. This leaves Palestinians stuck with them, rather than resisting against them,” Erakat said. “What will it take for Palestinians to recognize that the America’s help is not going to lead to meaningful dignity, liberation and liberty?”
The lecture was followed by a reception in which students and faculty members could meet and talk with the speakers. This lecture comes as an effort of the College of Humanities and Sciences to bring more learning opportunities for students outside the classroom.
Hiba is a senior studying broadcast journalism and religious studies. She is a previous Voice of America intern where she worked with the immigration and TV news teams. She previously interned with the Muslim Public Affairs Council and VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture.
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