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Christian Biblical Studies
The Balfour Declaration
Q. What is the ‘Balfour Declaration’?
A. It was the promise made by the British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, on 2 November 1917, on behalf of the British government, to establish a homeland in Palestine for the displaced Jews of the world. The text, contained in a letter addressed to Baron Walter Rothschild, a prominent British banker, politician and Zionist, reads as follows:
Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.
His Majesty’s Government [sic] 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 bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.
Israel historian, Benny Morris, observes in his book 1948 that this promise
. . . was to be seen by the Zionist movement, which had vigorously lobbied for it, as a historic breakthrough and a basis for its future sovereignty over Palestine. And indeed, the British, including Balfour, and despite the avoidance of the word state, regarded the embodied promise as necessarily leading to self-determination. “My personal hope is that the Jews will make good in Palestine and eventually found a Jewish State. It is up to them now; we have given them their opportunity,” Balfour was to say three months later. The Arabs, who greeted the declaration with “bewilderment and dismay,” came to regard it as a (negative) milestone, an act of betrayal. Thereafter, no matter what the British did to the contrary, the Arab world was to regard London as the protector and facilitator of Zionism. [Yale University Press; 2008; pp. 9, 10]
Today anti-Israel sentiment is on the rise in Britain and other countries, exemplified in the worldwide campaign, the ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) movement, the aims of which are explained on the movement’s website<https://bdsmovement.net/what-is-bds>
For detailed background information on the Balfour Declaration see: <https://bbcwatch.org/2016/11/20/more-balfour-declaration-resources-2/>
Neither Jews nor Israel are perfect. However, the attentive student of the Bible will understand that in the long run Israel’s national existence will be prove to be a net benefit to the rest of the world, as predicted in Isaiah chapter 2 (NIV-UK, 1984):
2 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.
December 2016. No copyright. ukbiblestudents.co.uk