The Balfour Declaration and the Jewish Threat that Made Britain Honor It

How Zionist leaders held Britain to its promise of a Jewish national home.

Lord Balfour visiting Jews in Palestine in 1925. Universal History Archive/Getty Images.

Lord Balfour visiting Jews in Palestine in 1925. Universal History Archive/Getty Images.

Observation
Oct. 31 2019
About the author

Martin Kramer teaches Middle Eastern history and served as founding president at Shalem College in Jerusalem, and is the Koret distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.


November 2 marks the 102nd anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, about which I have previously written at length in Mosaic. There, I focused on how the actors who brought the declaration into being assured it would have international legitimacy, and on the tragic failure of Britain and the international community to keep their promise to the Jewish people in the aftermath. Here I want to reflect on an overlooked rationale proposed by the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann to give the declaration some staying power after the world war would finally end.

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More about: Balfour Declaration, Israel & Zionism