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23. The Balfour Declaration (November 2, 1917)1

Foreign Office November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,2 I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jew­ ish Zionist aspirations which has been sub­ mitted 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 brin! this declaration to the knowledge of the Zi onist Federation.


James Balfou


  • 1. Chaim Weizmann and Nahum Sokolow, who

were instrumental in securing the Balfour Declara­ tion, submitted what they felt to be a moderate formula to the British government to recognize Palestine as lithe national horne of the Jewish people" (emphasis added) and for providing a "Jewish National Colonizing Corporation" for the resettlement and economic development of Pal­ estine. This formula was not accepted. The British government substituted the indefinite article a for

the. The declaration, after having been approve, by the British cabinet, was signed by the foreig secretary, Arthur James Balfour, and sent to Lor, Rothschild, who was asked to convey it to th World Zionist Organization. 2. Lionel Walter Rothschild, the second Baro Rothschild (1868-1937), honorary president of th Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, the time of the Balfour Declaration.

Source: "Book of Documents," submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations by the Jewisl Agency for Palestine (New York: Jewish Agency for Palestine, 1947), p. 1.


24. Zionist Manifesto Issued After the Balfour Declaration (December 21, 1917)1

To the Jewish People: The second of Novem­ of an epoch, and it opens up the beginnin

ber, 1917, is an important milestone on the of a new era. The Jewish people has but on

road to our national future; it marks the end


such day




the twen~

Source: The Jewish Chronicle, December 21, 1917, p. 16.

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eighth of August, 1897, the birthday of the New Zionist Organization at the first Basle Congress. But the analogy is incomplete, be­ cause the period which then began was Ex­ pectation, whereas the period which now begins is Fulfillment. From then till now, for over twenty years, the Jewish people has been trying to find itself, to achieve a national resurrection. The advance-guard was the organized Zionist party, which in 1897 by its programme de­ manded a home for the Jewish people in Pal­ estine I"ecured by public law. A great deal was written, spoken, and done to get this demand recognized. The work was carried out by the Zionist Organization on a much greater scale and in a more systematic man­ ner than had been possible for the Hovevei Zion, the first herald of the national ideal, who had tried to give practical shape to the yearning which had burnt like a light in the Jewish spirit during two thousand years of exile and had flamed out at various periods in various forms. The Hovevei Zion had the greatest share in the practical colonization. The Zionist movement wrestled with its op­ ponents and with itself. It collected means outside Palestine, and laboured with all its strength in Palestine. It founded institutions of all kinds for colonization in Palestine. That was a preface, full of hope and faith, full of experiments and illusion, inspired by a sacred and elevating ideal, and productive of many valuable and enduring results. The time has come to cast the balance of the account. That chapter of propaganda
and experiments is complete, and the glory of immortality rests upon it. But we must go further. To look back is the function of the histOrian; life looks forwards. The turning point is the Declaration of the British Government that they "view with fa­ VOur the establishment in Palestine of a Na­ tional Home for the Jewish people, and will
use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object." The progress which our idea has made is so colossal and so obvious that it is scarcely necessary to describe it in words. None the

less, a few words must be addressed to the Jewish people, not so much by way of expla­ nation, as to demand the new and greater efforts which are imperative. The outstanding feature of the Declaration is, that what has been a beautiful ideal­ and according to our opponents an empty dream-has now been given the possibility of becoming a reality. The aspirations of 1897 now find solid ground in the British Govern­ ment's official Declaration of the second of November, 1917. That in itself is a gigantic step forward. The world's history, and par­ ticularly Jewish history, will not fail to in­ scribe in golden letters upon its bronze tablets that Great Britain, the shield of civili­ zation, the country which is preeminent in colonization, the school of constitutionalism and freedom, has given us an official prom­ ise of support and help in the realization of our ideal of liberty in Palestine. And Great Britain will certainly carry with her the whole political world. The Declaration of His Majesty's Govern­ ment coincides with the triumphant march of the British Army in Palestine. The flag of Great Britain waves over Jerusalem and all Judea. It is at such a moment, while the army of Great Britain is taking possession of Palestine, that Mr. Balfour assures us that Great Britain will help us in the establish­ ment of a National Home in Palestine. This is the beginning of the fulfillment. To appreciate and to understand accu­ rately is the first essential, but it is not all. It is necessary to go further, to determine what is the next step. This must be set forth in plain words. The Declaration puts in the hands of the Jewish people the key to a new freedom and happiness. All depends on you, the Jewish people, and on you only. The Declaration is the threshold, from which you can place your foot upon holy ground. After eighteen hundred years of suffering your recompense is offered to you. You can come to your ha­ ven and your heritage, you can show that the noble blood of your race is still fresh in your veins. But to do that you must begin

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work anew, with new power and with new means-the ideas and the phrases and the methods of the first period no longer suffice. That would be an anachronism. We need new conceptions, new words, new acts. The methods of the period of realization cannot be the methods of the time of expectation. In the first place, the whole Jewish people must now unite. Now that fulfillment is dis­ placing expectation, that which was poten­ tial in the will of the Jewish people must become actual and reveal itself in strenuous labour. The whole Jewish people must come into the Zionist Organization. Secondly, a word to our brothers in Pal­ estine. The moment has come to lay the foundations of a National Home. You are now under the protection of the British mili­ tary authorities, who will guard your lives, your property, your freedom. Be worthy of that protection, and begin immediately to build the Jewish National Home upon sound foundations, thoroughly Hebrew, thorough­ ly national, thoroughly free and democratic. The beginning may decide all that follows. Thirdly, our loyal acknowledgment of the support of Great Britain must be sponta­ neous and unmeasured. But it must be the acknowledgment of free men to a country which breeds and loves free men. We must show that what Great Britain has given us through her generosity, is ours by virtue of our intelligence, skill, and courage. Fourthly, we must have ample means. The means of yesterday are ridiculously small

compared with the needs of to-day. Propa­

ganda, the study of practical problems, ex­ peditions, the founding of new offices and commISSIOns, negotiations, preparations for settlement, relief and reconstruction in Palestine-for all these, and other indis­ pensable tasks, colossal material means are necessary, and necessary forthwith. Small and great, poor and rich, must rise to an­ swer the call of this hour with the necessary personal sacrifice. Fifthly, we need discipline and unity. This is no time for hair-splitting controversy. It is a time for action. We ask for confidence. Be united and tenacious, be quick but not impa­ tient, be free men, but well-disciplined, firm as steel. From now onwards every gathering of Jews must have a practical aim, every speech must deal with a project, every thought must be a brick with which to build the National Home. These are the directions for your work to­ day. Worn and weary through your two thou­ sand years of wandering over desert and ocean, driven by every storm and carried on every wave, outcasts and refugees, you may now pass from the misery of exile to a secure home; a home where the Jewish spirit and the old Hebrew genius, which so long have hovered broken-winged over strange nests, can also find healing and be quickened into new life.

  • N. Sokolow,2 E. W. Tschlenow, 3 Ch.

Weizmann. 4


  • 1. Despite reservations about its ambiguous for­

mulation, the Balfour Declaration-as is reflected

in this document-engendered genuine enthusi­ asm in Zionist circles.

  • 2. Nahum Sokolow (1860-1936). One of the

most important figures of post-Herzlian Zionism, he was associated with Chaim Weizmann in the negotiations leading to and following the Balfour Declaration, in connection with which he under­ took missions to the French and Italian govern­ ments and to the Papal Curia. He was president of

the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the World Zionist Organization from 1931 to 1935.

  • 3. Yehiel (Echiel) Tschlenow (1863-1918), a

leading figure in Russian and in world Zionism.

  • 4. Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), the most

prominent figure in the Zionist movement since the end of World War 1. He was president of the World Zionist Organization from 1920 to 1931 and

from 1935 to 1946 and the president of the State of Israel from 1949 until his death.