The campaign waged by Palestinians and their supporters to demand that Britain apologize for the Balfour Declaration, a century after it was issued, betrays yet again their fundamental misunderstanding of how and why the modern State of Israel came into being. Israel is the outcome of deliberate Jewish action — not of foreign hand-outs. Israel is a country attained – not a land given.
The Balfour Declaration — that short letter written in the fog of the Great War by Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild, expressing His Majesty’s Government’s favorable view of the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the ancestral land of the Jews — demonstrates the remarkable manner in which Zionism was able, in a few short decades, to infuse Jews with a sovereign spirit.
Multiple explanations are given as to why, in 1917, the British foreign minister would write such a letter to a prominent Jew: anything from British antisemitism, to British religious philo-Semitism, to British war interests. But all of these factors would have been irrelevant in the absence of deliberate Jewish Zionist action.
Without the preceding two decades of Zionist activism in making the case for Jewish self-determination in the Land of Israel, and without the Zionist can-do spirit of Chaim Weizmann, who deployed his connections and his powers of persuasion to that end, there would still have been British antisemitism, British religious philo-Semitism and British war interests, but no letter.
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