The Balfour Declaration was conveyed in a letter addressed by Arthur James Balfour, the British secretary of state for foreign affairs, to Lord Walter Rothschild, a prominent member of the British Jewish community. In the letter, Balfour proclaimed that Britain would support Zionist aspirations by facilitating in Palestine the establishment of “a national home for the Jewish people.” By declaring Britain to be Zionism's patron, Balfour's signature completed a process begun twenty years earlier at the First Zionist Congress, held in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland. It was then that a small group of Jewish leaders acted on their conviction that anti-Semitism in Europe was too deeply embedded to ever be eliminated and started canvassing political leaders—in Britain and Germany especially, but also in the Ottoman Empire itself—for a “charter” granting Jews the right to develop Palestine as a state of their own.
The Balfour Declaration was one of a number of contradictory pledges...
Edmund Allenby enters Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate. (Library of Congress)View Full Size