The Balfour Declaration
November 2, 1917
During the First World War, British policy became gradually committed to the idea of establishing a
Jewish home in Palestine (Eretz Yisrael). After discussions in the British Cabinet, and consultation with
Zionist leaders, the decision was made known in the form of a letter by Arthur James Lord Balfour to
Lord Rothschild. The letter represents the first political recognition of Zionist aims by a Great Power.
November 2nd, 1917
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours 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."
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Arthur James Balfour
U.S. Congress Endorses
the Balfour Declaration(September 21, 1922)
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled.
That the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which will prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected.
(Public Resolution No. 73, 67th Congress, Second Session).
Faisal's Acceptance of the Balfour Declaration
Emir Faisal, son of Sherif Hussein, the leader of the Arab revolt against the Turks, signed an agreement with Chaim Weizmann and other Zionist leaders during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. ""Mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people,"" it said, ""and realizing that the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations s through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab states and Palestine."" Furthermore, the agreement looked to the fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration and called for all necessary measures ""...to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil.""
Faisal had conditioned his acceptance of the Balfour Declaration on the fulfillment of British wartime promises of independence to the Arabs. These were not kept.
Critics dismiss the Weizmann-Faisal agreement because it was never enacted; however, the fact that the leader of the Arab nationalist movement and the Zionist movement could reach an understanding is significant because it demonstrated that Jewish and Arab aspirations were not necessarily mutually exclusive.