Politics

Painting of former PM targeted in ‘moronic act of vandalism’ by pro-Palestine protesters

Politicians have condemned a “moronic act of vandalism” after pro-Palestine activists damaged a portrait of Lord Balfour.

Palestine Action shared a video on social media of a demonstrator defacing and slashing the historic painting, which hangs at the University of Cambridge’s Trinity College.

In the clip, a woman can be seen spraying red paint before using a sharp object to slice open the canvas.

Lord Arthur James Balfour was a Conservative prime minister between 1902 and 1905. He later became the foreign secretary, when he signed the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

The declaration was a public statement issued by the British government which viewed “with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.

The letter is blamed by some for launching the process that ended up with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestine Action said the declaration “paved the way for ethnic cleansing” of people in Palestine.

Pointing to the ongoing war in Gaza, the protest group claimed Britain’s support “for the continued colonisation of Palestine hasn’t wavered since 1917”.

The painting of Lord Balfour was by artist Philip Alexius de Laszlo and was completed in 1914.

Politicians were quick to condemn the stunt.

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden said he was “appalled by the moronic act of wanton vandalism”.

“Perpetrators should face the full force of the law,” he added in a post on X.

A spokesperson for Cambridge Police said: “This afternoon we received an online report of criminal damage today to a painting at Trinity College, Cambridge.

“Officers are attending the scene to secure evidence and progress the investigation.

“No arrests have been made at this stage.”

Trinity College said in its own statement that it “regrets the damage caused to a portrait of Arthur James Balfour during public opening hours”.

The College added: “The police have been informed.

“Support is available for any member of the College community affected.”

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