Balfour (bottom right) pictured among the all-star team of Zionist dreamers
The Balfour Declaration is back in the news.
The news first broke on November 2, 1917 when British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour wrote to Walter Rothschild, a leader in the British Jewish community, to set out the British government’s support for the creation of a national home for the Jewish people. In a letter that went through several drafts before it was sent, Lord Balfour stated that:
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.
The Balfour Declaration was a monumental step in the Jewish people’s aspirations for their own home. This was not a private piece of correspondence between two individuals. This was a statement approved by Britain’s cabinet to express the Government’s “sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations”. Lord Balfour asked that the declaration be brought to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation for whom Rothschild was its representative.
This expression by the British Government was historic and the declaration was celebrated widely across the Jewish world. In my own city of Toronto, the Balfour Building at the northeast corner of Spadina and Adelaide was named in honour of Lord Balfour. Balfour Beach, the cottage area on Lake Simcoe north of the city, was named in his honour. Girls born around that time were named Balfoura (a name that for some reason is not popular any more).