AP Was There: The Balfour Declaration for a Jewish homeland
EDITOR’S NOTE — On Nov. 2, 1917, the United Kingdom promised British assistance to create a Jewish homeland with the Balfour Declaration.
The declaration was the culmination of talks between British Zionist leaders seeking Jewish statehood and British politicians embroiled in the First World War, amid the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour wrote and addressed it to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild, a British financier and Zionist leader.
The declaration served as the basis for the British Mandate of Palestine, which drew a wave of Jews to Palestine and let Zionist state institutions take root over the following decades.
The Associated Press is republishing a version of its report from Nov. 9, 1917, when the declaration was first made public. The AP report was published in the Idaho Statesman of Boise, Idaho, and includes a condensed commentary published in the Jewish Chronicle of London.
ENGLAND IN SYMPATHY WITH ZIONIST MOVEMENT
FOREIGN SECRETARY BALFOUR FAVORS ESTABLISHMENT OF PALESTINE AS HOME FOR JEWISH PEOPLE
London (AP) - Arthur J. Balfour, secretary of state for foreign affairs, has written the following letter to Lord Rothschild expressing the government’s sympathy with the Zionist movement:
“The government views with favor the establishment of Palestine as a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing will be done that may prejudice the civil or religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”
Mr. Balfour adds that this declaration of sympathy with the Jewish Zionist aspirations has been approved by the cabinet.
The Jewish Chronicle, commenting on Mr. Balfour’s letter says:
“With one step, the Jewish cause has made a great bound forward ... It is the perceptible lifting of the cloud of centuries; a palpable sign that the Jew - condemned for 2000 years by unparalleled wrong - is at last coming into his right. He is to be given the opportunity and means by which in place of being a hyphenation he can become a nation; in place of being a wanderer in every clime there is to be a home for him in his ancient land. The day of his exile is to be ended.”
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