Lloyd George, David°

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LLOYD GEORGE, DAVID ° (Earl Lloyd-George ; 1863–1945), British prime minister (1916–22) under whose government the *Balfour Declaration was approved. Lloyd George first came into contact with the Zionist movement in 1903, when the firm of solicitors for whom he worked prepared, at the request of Leopold *Greenberg, a draft connected with the *Uganda Scheme. After Britain's declaration of war on Turkey in November 1914, he told Herbert *Samuel that he "was very keen to see a Jewish State established in Palestine," so that when he first met Chaim *Weizmann in December 1914, he was already in a receptive mood toward Zionism. Lloyd George, the Welshman, was drawn toward Zionism both by his religious upbringing ("I was taught far more about the history of the Jews than about the history of my own people," he wrote) and by his belief that "it is the small nations that have been chosen for great things."

Although sentiment played no small part in Lloyd George's approach, on strictly rational grounds he was determined to make Palestine British, at a time when the Zionists regarded British administration of the country as vital to their aims. Before Sir Mark Sykes left for Egypt in April 1917 to become *Allenby's political adviser, Lloyd George impressed upon him three main points: (1) Palestine was to be under British rule; (2) no pledges should be given to the Arabs concerning Palestine; (3) nothing should be done to prejudice the Zionist aspirations with regard to Palestine. In the cabinet, Lloyd George enthusiastically supported the pro-Zionist Balfour Declaration, viewing it as a step toward the possible establishment of a Jewish state. A few days before the issue of the declaration, he told Weizmann: "I know that with the issue of this Declaration I shall please one group [i.e., the Zionists] and displease another [i.e., the assimilationists]. I have decided to please your group because you stand for a great idea." He also brought about ratification of the Balfour Declaration at the *San Remo Conference and its inclusion in the *Mandate for Palestine.

Lloyd George appointed Herbert Samuel as the first high commissioner for Palestine and fought vehemently against the Passfield White Paper of 1930 (see *White Papers). In his testimony before the Royal Commission for Palestine in 1937 he said: "… it was contemplated [in 1917] that when the time arrived for according representative institutions for Palestine, if the Jews had meanwhile responded to the opportunity afforded them and had become a definite majority of the inhabitants, then Palestine would thus become a Jewish commonwealth." He told the Royal Commission that halting Jewish immigration to Palestine would be "a fraud." He took the same firm stand against the anti-Zionist White Paper of 1939. An entire chapter on Palestine is included in his Memoirs of the Peace Conference (2 (1939), 721–74). Lloyd George's pro-Zionist, philo-semitic career was one of the high points of gentile pro-Zionism in Britain, occasioned by a unique conflation of political opportunity in the Middle East and the significant tradition of Protestant philo-semitism in England, as well as his own perceptions of the Jews as an oppressed small nation similar to his own people, the Welsh.


L. Stein, The Balfour Declaration (1961), index; C. Weizmann, Trial and Error (1949), index; F. Owen, Tempestuous Journey (1954), index; R. Lloyd George, Lloyd George (1960), index; C. Sykes, Crossroads to Israel (1965), index. add. bibliography: odnb online; A. Rose, The Gentile Zionists: A Study in Anglo-Jewish Diplomacy, 19291939 (1973); W.D. Rubinstein and Hilary L. Rubinstein, Philosemitism: Admiration and Support in the English-Speaking World for Jews, 18401939 (1999), 166–69; D. Vital, Zionism: The Crucial Phase (1987).

[Daniel Efron]