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October 31: Balfour Declaration

October 31, 2010

Balfour declaration copyThe Balfour Declaration, a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild expressing the view of “His Majesty’s Government” that “a national home for the Jewish people” should be established in Palestine, was adopted by the British cabinet on this date in 1917, amid World War I. The Declaration would be dated November 2, 1917. “At the time,” writes Harold Ticktin in an article in the forthcoming Jewish Currents (Winter 2010-11), “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.”

Great Britain “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