The Balfour Declaration

views updated

The Balfour Declaration

introductionThe Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, was a letter from the British foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, to Lord Rothschild, a prominent British supporter of the Zionist movement. On behalf of the British government, Balfour expressed support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Although the Balfour Declaration reflected a degree of British official sympathy with Zionist aspirations, it also served British strategic and colonial interests: first, by building wartime support among Jews in Europe and North America, and second, by bolstering Britain's postwar claims to the territory northeast of the Suez Canal.

Foreign Office

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.

Yours sincerely,

Arthur James Balfour