When American Jews Fought over the Balfour Declaration

Despite everything that has changed, today’s internal Jewish divisions eerily echo those from exactly a century ago.

A draft of the Balfour Declaration, 1917. Smithsonian.

A draft of the Balfour Declaration, 1917. Smithsonian.

Observation
Sept. 6 2018
About the author

Rick Richman is the author of Racing Against History: The 1940 Campaign for a Jewish Army to Fight Hitler (Encounter). His most recent contribution to Mosaic was “One Who Fought Back: Herschel Grynszpan and the Holocaust.”


One-hundred years ago, Rosh Hashanah came early, just as this year. On the eve of the holy day—September 5, 1918—the New York Times published the text of a letter from President Woodrow Wilson to Stephen S. Wise, a prominent Reform rabbi who also served as vice-president of the Zionist Organization of America. In the letter, the president effectively announced his approval of the November 1917 Balfour Declaration, in which the British government had expressed its history-changing commitment to “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

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More about: Israel & Zionism