Pro-Palestinian activist slashes historic painting of politician who pushed for Jewish state creation; Internet reacts

Anti-Israel protestor spray-painted a historic 1914 painting of Lord Balfour inside Trinity College, and now netizens want her jailed.

March 8: Anti-Israel protestor vandalises Lord Balfour’s Cambridge painting to symbolise the bloodshed of the Palestinian people.(X / @Pal_action)

On Friday, pro-Palestinian protestors took their activism to the University of Cambridge’s Trinity College and vandalised a 1914 painting of British Conservative politician Lord Arthur James Balfour. Soon after the art piece was spray-painted in red and slashed, Palestine Action took to its social media handles to proudly announce that one of its activists did the deed, tagging the post “#BritainIsGuilty”. The activist group sought to ruin the Philip Alexius de László painting with red colour to symbolise the “bloodshed of the Palestinian people since the Balfour Declaration was issued in 1917.”

The Palestine Action website again addressed how the British politician backed the infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised “a national home for Jewish people” in Palestine despite the majority of indigenous people not being Jewish. Palestinians equate this move with laying the groundwork for the ongoing “ethnic cleansing” of the native population. This move followed as a direct act of opposition against Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms supplier, which holds Palestinians in Gaza captive as labour to develop their weapons. The website editor’s note ends with the message, “Palestine Action vows to continue their direct campaign until Elbit is shut down and British complicity with the colonisation of Palestine ends.”

Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip since the surprise Hamas attack of October 7 has resulted in the initiation of genocidal violence on an unimaginable scale. The Palestine Action website also reported that in the last 154 days, Israel has claimed over 30,000 Palestinian lives, injured 72,000 and displaced over 1.9 million people, making up 80% of the Gaza population.

According to the reports of Cambridge Independent, once the filmed video made it to the internet, Cambridgeshire Police attended the scene. A Trinity College spokesperson eventually issued a statement addressing the “damage caused to a portrait of Arthur James Balfour during public opening hours.” Cambridgeshire Constabulary added that it received the online report on the afternoon of March 8. As of yet, no arrests have been made.

Netizens reacting to Pro-Palestinian protestors vandalising Lord Balfour’s Cambridge painting:

Within moments of Palestine Action’s post, the internet was flooded with divisive outlooks on the matter. A bunch of scornful comments hit X (formerly Twitter), but others lauded the protestors’ actions, too. A commonly urging demand among many netizens was for these protestors to be jailed. “That should be a lengthy prison term.… Say goodbye to family and friends for quite a while!” was one such comment under the @Pal_action post.

Yet another top comment under the post noted Balfour’s past associations, “This person is one of the largest contributors to destabilising a whole region for generations with something he should never have had the authority to do.”

Another hefty comment against the organisation rose in the thread: “I hope this person and anyone involved in setting up this act of criminal damage is arrested, charged and sent away to a lengthy spell in jail. If your organisation is encouraging such illegal acts then the leaders of your group should be likewise prosecuted.” On the other hand, a different comment praised the outcome: “Now this is art!”

Palestine Action’s official X page describes them as “The direct action network dismantling British complicity with Israeli apartheid.” As a nod to their self-proclaimed identity, another Twitterati came to their support: “Wow! That’s some real direct action!!!” On the contrary, a different outlook flipped the picture: “This kind of protest does not help people wake to the truth. It, instead, makes the uninformed turn away harder from the truth.”

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