In 1903, the Zionist congress declined an offer by the British to establish a homeland in Uganda. Lobbying by a Russian Jewish immigrant, Chaim Weizmann and fear that American Jews would encourage the USA to support Germany culminated in the British government’s Balfour Declaration of 1917, which endorsed the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration was a short letter by Arthur Balfour to arguably one of the most influential Jewish families – the Rothschild’s.
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you on behalf of His Majesty’s government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved, by the Cabinet:
His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
In 1922, the League of Nations adopted the declaration, and granted to Britain the Palestine Mandate:
The Mandate will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home … and the development of self-governing institutions, and also safeguard the civil and religious rights of all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion.
Weizmann’s role in obtaining the Balfour Declaration led to his election as the movement’s leader. He remained in that role until 1948 and then became the first President of Israel.
n.b.: None of the text above is written by the author of the blog. The above texts are excerpts of research material and serve the sole purpose of reflection.