100th Anniversary of The Balfour Declaration

On November 2, 1917, there was one item that was not in the morning’s newspapers. It was the letter written by the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, to Lionel Walter Rothschild, a leader of the Jewish community. . The letter, now known as the Balfour Declaration, is reproduced here and read:

Balfour Declaration

It is sometimes said that the declaration was a purely British affair, but that would fly in the face of the evidence. Despite their history of anti-Semitism, the French had already given their written approval for a Jewish home in Palestine, as had the Italians, the Americans and the Japanese, and even the Pope was favorably disposed. . . However, it was not a legal document in any way. It was not a treaty and had no status in international law. It was simply an expression of support - the Government looking with favor on a Jewish homeland - sent in a letter to Lord Rothschild. It could easily have gotten lost at any time. It was only in 1920 at San Remo and two years later in Geneva, that the League of Nations gave the mandate for Palestine to Britain and mandated it to provide the Jewish home there. All 51 nations of the league voted for it, with none against. The League of Nations spoke of a Jewish nation for the first time and of “reconstituting” it in Palestine. Balfour had only spoken of “establishing” it, yet here it wrote of “reconstituting” its ancient rights. It was this basis in international law that gave legitimacy to the Zionists’ claim to a Palestinian home, and it was this agreement that was accepted in full by the UN in 1947.

Resource: Jacob Richman, Stamford Jewish Yahoo


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