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The Balfour Declaration

October 30, 2017
The Balfour Declaration, a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a British Zionist leader, was adopted by the British cabinet on this date in 1917, amid World War I. The Declaration, which would be dated November 2, 1917, expressed the support of “His Majesty’s Government” for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Its adoption followed months of discussion involving numerous earlier drafts and multiple changes in wording. “At the time,” wrote Harold Ticktin in an article in Jewish Currents (Winter 2010-11 — pp. 63-65 of full issue here), “European imperialism was at its peak, with Britain, France, and Germany slicing up Africa and the Middle and Near East, while Russia was intent on wrestling Constantinople from the Turks . . . All of these variables added up to a golden moment for the Zionist aim of a legitimate presence in Palestine and a future Jewish state — though the word could not yet be uttered, as the Declaration showed.” The United Kingdom “will use their best endeavors 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.” —The Balfour Declaration