Balfour And The New Israelis

By Amy Shuter


The process of making Aliyah and becoming Israeli has many required, and suggested, rights-of-passage. Some are short and painless, others filled with red-tape, long lines, and infuriating bureaucracy. One of the most crucial undertakings for a new Oleh (immigrant) to become a functioning member of Israeli society is Ulpan.

Ulpan is the place where you will meet other Olim to commiserate about the post office hours or (as in my first session) how the Interior Ministry official wanted to change your name to make it more Israeli sounding. However, you are really there to learn to speak Hebrew. The Ministry of Education oversees many of the Ulpanim and tries to provide a rich and varied curriculum, replete with field trips, audio-visual aids, and even an interactive website.


Even though I have just begun my formal Ministry of Education Ulpan experience, I can already tell it is going to be enjoyable. Well, at the very least – interesting. In order to learn Hebrew that will be useful in everyday activities, we are provided with essays and exercises on a variety of topics. Some are stranger than others.

Want to have a conversation in Hebrew about the problem of the growing world population and declining resources? I’m your gal!

I can even discuss the pluses and minuses of genetically engineered food and alternative solutions! No? Well, how about this.

My instructor likes to talk about special days in Israel’s history to make us well-rounded, informed citizens. True confession time – I love it and I don’t think I am alone. This gives the students a chance to show off our broad general knowledge and prove what dedicated immigrants we are! It’s sort of like “The 64,000 Shekel Question”


This week, we spoke about the Balfour Declaration.

On November 2, 1917, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour sent a letter to Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community. In it, he states 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

This was a watershed moment for the Zionist movement. It was the first time a world power had recognized the right of the Jewish nation to the land of Israel.


After the First World War, the League of Nations agreed that the British would govern the area that was then called Palestine, which they had conquered from the Ottomans. This was called the British Mandate and was officially a civil administration run by a governor called the High Commissioner.

This arrangement was in effect until the termination of the Mandate and the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel by David Ben Gurion in 1948.


Wow. This short little letter opened the door for a hopeful nation, scattered across the world, to be returned to their homeland. Here I am, 96 years later, sitting in that national home, learning to speak our historic national language. Our teacher’s family returned from Yemen. Most of us came via the United States, but before that Poland, Russia, Germany, and Hungary. We have a classmate from France. Jews from all over are no longer wandering and have finally come Home.

Thank you, Lord Balfour.

My new Ulpan words:


Celebrating Chaim Weizmann’s Role in The Balfour Declaration

As the year’s countdown to the centenary of the Balfour Declaration on 2 November 2017 begins, we are proud to announce that Weizmann UK is part of the Balfour 100 campaign which is a coalition of over 23 British-Jewish cross-communal and pro- Israel organisations.

The Balfour Declaration was a letter from the UK Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild (as a representative of the British Jewish Community and for passing on to the Zionist Federation) on 2 November 1917 promising support for the creation of a national homeland for the Jewish people in Israel. As part of the Balfour 100 campaign, we are proud of the British support for a Jewish and democratic state that strives to uphold the rights of all peoples living in the land and are proud of the contribution that Great Britain made towards the creation of the State of Israel.

Of particular cause for celebration for us at Weizmann UK is the very central role in securing the Balfour Declaration that was played by Dr Chaim Weizmann, founder of the Weizmann Institute of Science and first President of the State of Israel.

Chaim Weizmann‘s activities as Zionist and incisive political operator are recounted in detail on the Balfour 100 website as are the considerable contributions of his wife Vera Weizmann.

For Weizmann UK we celebrate in particular the dual achievements of Chaim Weizmann as a scientist and statesman and over this centenary year we will reflect on his vision that science would play a key role in the success of Israel as a country.

Testament to that vision was his foundation in 1934 of the Daniel Sieff Research Institute in Rehovot, that would later be renamed the Weizmann Institute of Science in his honour.

In 1949, when Chaim Weizmann was elected the first President of the State of Israel it was clear that his political and scientific ambitions for the country were closely intertwined. In his opening speech at the Knesset, he said:

“We must build a new bridge, connecting science with the human spirit. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’ All my life I have endeavoured to make science and research the basis of our national undertaking. But I also know that beyond science, there are lofty values that hold the solution to the ills of mankind, the values of justice and honesty, peace and fraternity.”
Thanks to Weizmann’s vision, today Science and technology is one of Israel’s most developed sectors. The percentage of Israelis engaged in scientific research and the amount spent on R&D in relation to GDP is the second highest in the world.

The Weizmann Institute’s scientific achievements go from strength to strength. It was recently ranked 10th in the world by the highly regarded Leiden University ranking of scientific research impact. It was the only Institute outside of the US to make the top 10.

The Balfour 100 campaign has produced the following materials and will be holding events over the year to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.


A comprehensive website on the Balfour Declaration is now available and provides authoritative, historical and accurate detail about the Balfour Declaration. It has annotated versions of the 5 Declaration drafts, biographies of key players involved, and reactions to the Declaration from historic figures. There is also an extensive timeline of events leading up to the Declaration, as well as a shorter, more comprehensive slideshow which has questions and answers relating to each event in the timeline. You’ll be able to see this at

Educational resources

A wide range of educational resources have been designed to educate a variety of audiences on the Balfour Declaration, and will be available to download from the website. These include a Balfour Basics ‘primer’, FAQ, informal education programmes and more.

Balfour Shabbat

The Jewish community will also be holding a cross-denominational ‘Balfour Shabbat’ on 3rd and 4 November 2017. Synagogues across all British Jewish denominations and movements will be marking the Balfour Centenary in their own way on this Shabbat.

Balfour 100 Lecture

On 1 November 2017 there will be a Balfour lecture. Advice on how to secure tickets to the event will be released in 2017.

Other events

There will be a number of events and conferences between November 2016 and November 2017. Academics are planning various key note lectures and lecture series around the country. Community groups in Manchester are hosting a large scale event on October 31 2017. The Balfour website will also host details of Balfour related events around the country, and there will be a communal calendar where this information will also be readily accessible.


The Global History of the Balfour Declaration by Maryanne A. Rhett

the-global-history-of-the-balfour-declaration-coverThis book examines the development and issuance of the Balfour Declaration, the document that set the stage for the creation of the state of Israel, within its global setting. The heart of the book demonstrates that the Declaration developed and contributed to a juncture in a global dialogue about the nature and definition of nation at the outset of the twentieth century. Embedded in this examination are gendered, racial, nationalistic, and imperial considerations. The work posits that the Balfour Declaration was a specific tool designed by the manipulation of these ideas. Once established, the Declaration helped, and hindered, established imperial powers like the British, nascent imperial powers like the Japanese and Indians, and emerging nationalist movements like the Zionists, Irish, Palestinians, and East Africans, to advocate for their own vision of national definition.

By Maryanne A. Rhett

Buy the Book

Faisal–Weizmann Agreement – When the Arabs asked the Jews to return to Israel

Feisal-Frankfurter Correspondence (March 1919)

Letter from Emir Feisal (Son of Hussein Bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca | Great grandson of the prophet Muhammad) to Felix Frankfurter, associate of Dr. Chaim Weizmann:


Paris Peace Conference

March 3, 1919

Dear Mr. Frankfurter:

I want to take this opportunity of my first contact with American Zionists to tell you what I have often been able to say to Dr. Weizmann in Arabia and Europe.

We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins in having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger than themselves, and by a happy coincidence have been able to take the first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together.

The Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organisation to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through: we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home.

With the chiefs of your movement, especially with Dr. Weizmann, we have had and continue to have the closest relations. He has been a great helper of our cause, and I hope the Arabs may soon be in a position to make the Jews some return for their kindness. We are working together for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete one another. The Jewish movement is national and not imperialist. Our movement is national and not imperialist, and there is room in Syria for us both. Indeed I think that neither can be a real success without the other.

People less informed and less responsible than our leaders and yours, ignoring the need for cooperation of the Arabs and Zionists, have been trying to exploit the local difficulties that must necessarily arise in Palestine in the early stages of our movements. Some of them have, I am afraid, misrepresented your aims to the Arab peasantry, and our aims to the Jewish peasantry, with the result that interested parties have been able to make capital out of what they call our differences.

I wish to give you my firm conviction that these differences are not on questions of principle, but on matters of detail such as must inevitably occur in every contact of neighbouring peoples, and as are easily adjusted by mutual good will. Indeed nearly all of them will disappear with fuller knowledge.

I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of civilised peoples of the world.

Believe me,

Yours sincerely,

(Sgd.) Feisal

Letter of reply from Felix Frankfurter to Emir Feisal:

Paris Peace Conference

March 5, 1919

Royal Highness,

Allow me, on behalf of the Zionist Organisation, to acknowledge your recent letter with deep appreciation.

Those of us who come from the United States have already been gratified by the friendly relations and the active cooperation maintained between you and the Zionist leaders, particularly Dr. Weizmann. We knew it could not be otherwise; we knew that the aspirations of the Arab and the Jewish peoples were parallel, that each aspired to re-establish its nationality in its own homeland, each making its own distinctive contribution to civilisation, each seeking its own peaceful mode of life.

The Zionist leaders and the Jewish people for whom they speak have watched with satisfaction the spiritual vigour of the Arab movement. Themselves seeking justice, they are anxious that the just national aims of the Arab people be confirmed and safeguarded by the Peace Conference.

We knew from your acts and your past utterances that the Zionist movement — in other words the national aim of the Jewish people — had your support and the support of the Arab people for whom you speak. These aims are now before the Peace Conference as definite proposals by the Zionist Organisation. We are happy indeed that you consider these proposals “moderate and proper,” and that we have in you a staunch supporter for their realisation.

For both the Arab and the Jewish peoples there are difficulties ahead — difficulties that challenge the united statesmanship of Arab and Jewish leaders. For it is no easy task to rebuild two great civilisations that have been suffering oppression and misrule for centuries. We each have our difficulties we shall work out as friends, friends who are animated by similar purposes, seeking a free and full development for the two neighbouring peoples. The Arabs and Jews are neighbours in territory; we cannot but live side by side as friends.

Very respectfully,

(Sgd.) Felix Frankfurter

Agreement Between Emir Feisal and Dr. Weizmann
Faisal–Weizmann Agreement

3 January 1919

His Royal Highness the Emir Feisal, representing and acting on behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hedjaz, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, representing and acting on behalf of the Zionist Organization, mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people, and realizing that the surest means of working out the consummation of their natural aspirations is through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab State and Palestine, and being desirous further of confirming the good understanding which exists between them, have agreed upon the following:


Article I

The Arab State and Palestine in all their relations and undertakings shall be controlled by the most cordial goodwill and understanding, and to this end Arab and Jewish duly accredited agents shall be established and maintained in the respective territories.

Article II

Immediately following the completion of the deliberations of the Peace Conference, the definite boundaries between the Arab State and Palestine shall be determined by a Commission to be agreed upon by the parties hereto.

Article III

In the establishment of the Constitution and Administration of Palestine, all such measures shall be adopted as will afford the fullest guarantees for carrying into effect the British Government’s Declaration of the 2nd of November, 1917.

Article IV

All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in their rights and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic development.

Article V

No regulation or law shall be made prohibiting or interfering in any way with the free exercise of religion; and further, the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall ever be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

Article VI

The Mohammedan Holy Places shall be under Mohammedan control.

Article VII

The Zionist Organization proposes to send to Palestine a Commission of experts to make a survey of the economic possibilities of the country, and to report upon the best means for its development. The Zionist Organization will place the aforementioned Commission at the disposal of the Arab State for the purpose of a survey of the economic possibilities of the Arab State and to report upon the best means for its development. The Zionist Organization will use its best efforts to assist the Arab State in providing the means for developing the natural resources and economic possibilities thereof.

Article VIII

The parties hereto agree to act in complete accord and harmony on all matters embraced herein before the Peace Congress.

Article IX

Any matters of dispute which may arise between the contracting parties shall be referred to the British Government for arbitration.

Given under our hand at London, England, the third day of January, one thousand nine hundred and nineteen

Chaim Weizmann Feisal Ibn-Hussein

Reservation by the Emir Feisal

If the Arabs are established as I have asked in my manifesto of 4 January, addressed to the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I will carry out what is written in this agreement. If changes are made, I cannot be answerable for failing to carry out this agreement.


The Anti-Zionism of Edwin Montagu and his opposition to the Balfour Declaration

Edwin Montagu was the only Jew in the British cabinet in World War I. The Montagu family was  very active in Jewish affairs, and staunchly anti-Zionist. Montagu’s fear of Zionism was animated, apparently, by the ancient Jewish desire, the desire of all persecuted minorities, not to be “noticed” and not to provide any possible excuse for persecution. Montagu organized a major part of British resistance to the The Balfour Declaration, and his opposition, on the largely specious grounds outlined below, was in the main responsible for the gradual dilution of the The Balfour Declaration.

In August of 1917 Montagu wrote the rather fatuous document below, which expands on his thesis that creation of a Jewish national home would automatically cause every country to expel its Jews, and alludes to racial theories of biological differences between Jews and non-Jews. Some of the absurdity of this document and of Montagu’s views can be appreciated from the following:

When the Jews are told that Palestine is their national home, every country will immediately desire to get rid of its Jewish citizens, and you will find a population in Palestine driving out its present inhabitants, taking all the best in the country, drawn from all quarters of the globe, speaking every language on the face of the earth, and incapable of communicating with one another except by means of an interpreter.

The tragic lack of foresight and narrowness of his views, are evident in the following:

I have always understood that those who indulged in this creed were largely animated by the restrictions upon and refusal of liberty to Jews in Russia. But at the very time when these Jews have been acknowledged as Jewish Russians and given all liberties, it seems to be inconceivable that Zionism should be officially recognised by the British Government, and that Mr. Balfour should be authorized to say that Palestine was to be reconstituted as the “national home of the Jewish people”.

Of course, within a generation it was evident that the new found promise of liberty for Russian Jews was a fleeting illusion. Montagu was tinged with racist bigotry, including groundless biological superstitions:

We reach on the whole maturity earlier, and therefore with people of our own age we compete unfairly. Many of us have been exclusive in our friendships and intolerant in our attitude, and I can easily understand that many a non-Jew in England wants to get rid of us.

The Montagu family represented a sizeable part of Jewish establishment opinion in Britain, and could mobilize quite a bit of public support in its favor. Montagu’s protest was effective. The original text of the Balfour declaration had read “Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people.” After Montagu’s attack, the text was changed to read “the establishment in Palestine of a Home for the Jewish people.” A clause was also added protecting the rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine and more curiously, to meet Montagu’s objections, a clause was added protecting the rights of Jewish communities outside Palestine. These changes were to form part of the excuse the British would use  for stopping  Jewish immigration to Palestine, thereby aiding in the massacre of European Jewry. Thus did Jewish anti-Zionism “protect” the “rights” of Jewish communities outside Palestine.

It is ironic that anti-Zionists are often anxious to trot out the views of Montagu, including this racist and far-fetched document, as an example of “Jewish criticisms of Zionism” that invalidate the Zionist thesis.

Ami Isseroff

See also Zionism and its Impact History of Zionism and the Creation of Israel

 History of Reform Jewish Opposition to Zionism

General Resources on the History of Israel, Zionism and the Jews


This document is part of the historical documents collection at the Zionism and Israel Information Center



This introduction is copyright © 2005 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel Information Center. The source document below is in the public domain.

Memorandum of Edwin Montagu on the Anti-Semitism of the Present (British) Government – Submitted to the British Cabinet, August, 1917

I have chosen the above title for this memorandum, not in any hostile sense, not by any means as quarrelling with an anti-Semitic view which may be held by my colleagues, not with a desire to deny that anti-Semitism can be held by rational men, not even with a view to suggesting that the Government is deliberately anti-Semitic; but I wish to place on record my view that the policy of His Majesty’s Government is anti-Semitic in result will prove a rallying ground for Anti-Semites in every country in the world.

This view is prompted by the receipt yesterday of a correspondence between Lord Rothschild and Mr. Balfour.

Lord Rothschild’s letter is dated the 18th July and Mr. Balfour’s answer is to be dated August 1917. I fear that my protest comes too late, and it may well be that the Government were practically committed when Lord Rothschild wrote and before I became a member of the Government, for there has obviously been some correspondence or conversation before this letter. But I do feel that as the one Jewish Minister in the Government I may be allowed by my colleagues an opportunity of expressing views which may be peculiar to myself, but which I hold very strongly and which I must ask permission to express when opportunity affords.

I believe most firmly that this war has been a death-blow to Internationalism, and that it has proved an opportunity for a renewal of the slackening sense of Nationality, for it is has not only been tacitly agreed by most statesmen in most countries that the redistribution of territory resulting from the war should be more or less on national grounds, but we have learned to realise that our country stands for principles, for aims, for civilisation which no other country stands for in the same degree, and that in the future, whatever may have been the case in the past, we must live and fight in peace and in war for those aims and aspirations, and so equip and regulate our lives and industries as to be ready whenever and if ever we are challenged. To take one instance, the science of Political Economy, which in its purity knows no Nationalism, will hereafter be tempered and viewed in the light of this national need of defence and security. The war has indeed justified patriotism as the prime motive of political thought.

It is in this atmosphere that the Government proposes to endorse the formation of a new nation with a new home in Palestine. This nation will presumably be formed of Jewish Russians, Jewish Englishmen, Jewish Roumanians, Jewish Bulgarians, and Jewish citizens of all nations – survivors or relations of those who have fought or laid down their lives for the different countries which I have mentioned, at a time when the three years that they have lived through have united their outlook and thought more closely than ever with the countries of which they are citizens.

Zionism has always seemed to me to be a mischievous political creed, untenable by any patriotic citizen of the United Kingdom. If a Jewish Englishman sets his eyes on the Mount of Olives and longs for the day when he will shake British soil from his shoes and go back to agricultural pursuits in Palestine, he has always seemed to me to have acknowledged aims inconsistent with British citizenship and to have admitted that he is unfit for a share in public life in Great Britain, or to be treated as an Englishman. I have always understood that those who indulged in this creed were largely animated by the restrictions upon and refusal of liberty to Jews in Russia. But at the very time when these Jews have been acknowledged as Jewish Russians and given all liberties, it seems to be inconceivable that Zionism should be officially recognised by the British Government, and that Mr. Balfour should be authorized to say that Palestine was to be reconstituted as the “national home of the Jewish people”. I do not know what this involves, but I assume that it means that Mahommedans and Christians are to make way for the Jews and that the Jews should be put in all positions of preference and should be peculiarly associated with Palestine in the same way that England is with the English or France with the French, that Turks and other Mahommedans in Palestine will be regarded as foreigners, just in the same way as Jews will hereafter be treated as foreigners in every country but Palestine. Perhaps also citizenship must be granted only as a result of a religious test.

I lay down with emphasis four principles:


  1. I assert that there is not a Jewish nation. The members of my family, for instance, who have been in this country for generations, have no sort or kind of community of view or of desire with any Jewish family in any other country beyond the fact that they profess to a greater or less degree the same religion. It is no more true to say that a Jewish Englishman and a Jewish Moor are of the same nation than it is to say that a Christian Englishman and a Christian Frenchman are of the same nation: of the same race, perhaps, traced back through the centuries – through centuries of the history of a peculiarly adaptable race. The Prime Minister and M. Briand are, I suppose, related through the ages, one as a Welshman and the other as a Breton, but they certainly do not belong to the same nation.
  2. When the Jews are told that Palestine is their national home, every country will immediately desire to get rid of its Jewish citizens, and you will find a population in Palestine driving out its present inhabitants, taking all the best in the country, drawn from all quarters of the globe, speaking every language on the face of the earth, and incapable of communicating with one another except by means of an interpreter. I have always understood that this was the consequence of the building of the Tower of Babel, if ever it was built, and I certainly do not dissent from the view, commonly held, as I have always understood, by the Jews before Zionism was invented, that to bring the Jews back to form a nation in the country from which they were dispersed would require Divine leadership. I have never heard it suggested, even by their most fervent admirers, that either Mr. Balfour or Lord Rothschild would prove to be the Messiah.
  3. I claim that the lives that British Jews have led, that the aims that they have had before them, that the part that they have played in our public life and our public institutions, have entitled them to be regarded, not as British Jews, but as Jewish Britons. I would willingly disfranchise every Zionist. I would be almost tempted to proscribe the Zionist organisation as illegal and against the national interest. But I would ask of a British Government sufficient tolerance to refuse a conclusion which makes aliens and foreigners by implication, if not at once by law, of all their Jewish fellow-citizens.
  4. I deny that Palestine is to-day associated with the Jews or properly to be regarded as a fit place for them to live in. The Ten Commandments were delivered to the Jews on Sinai. It is quite true that Palestine plays a large part in Jewish history, but so it does in modern Mahommendan history, and, after the time of the Jews, surely it plays a larger part than any other country in Christian history. The Temple may have been in Palestine, but so was the Sermon on the Mount and the Crucifixion. I would not deny to Jews in Palestine equal rights to colonisation with those who profess other religions, but a religious test of citizenship seems to me to be the only admitted by those who take a bigoted and narrow view of one particular epoch of the history of Palestine, and claim for the Jews a position to which they are not entitled.
  5. If my memory serves me right, there are three times as many Jews in the world as could possible get into Palestine if you drove out all the population that remains there now. So that only one-third will get back at the most, and what will happen to the remainder?
  6. I can easily understand the editors of the Morning Post and of the New Witness being Zionists, and I am not in the least surprised that the non-Jews of England may welcome this policy. I have always recognised the unpopularity, much greater than some people think, of my community. We have obtained a far greater share of this country’s goods and opportunities than we are numerically entitled to. We reach on the whole maturity earlier, and therefore with people of our own age we compete unfairly. Many of us have been exclusive in our friendships and intolerant in our attitude, and I can easily understand that many a non-Jew in England wants to get rid of us. But just as there is no community of thought and mode of life among Christian Englishmen, so there is not among Jewish Englishmen. More and more we are educated in public schools and at the Universities, and take our part in the politics, in the Army, in the Civil Service, of our country. And I am glad to think that the prejudices against inter-marriage are breaking down. But when the Jew has a national home, surely it follows that the impetus to deprive us of the rights of British citizenship must be enormously increased. Palestine will become the world’s Ghetto. Why should the Russian give the Jew equal rights? His national home is Palestine. Why does Lord Rothschild attach so much importance to the difference between British and foreign Jews? All Jews will be foreign Jews, inhabitants of the great country of Palestine.
  7. I do not know how the fortunate third will be chosen, but the Jew will have the choice, whatever country he belongs to, whatever country he loves, whatever country he regards himself as an integral part of, between going to live with people who are foreigners to him, but to whom his Christian fellow-countrymen have told him he shall belong, and of remaining as an unwelcome guest in the country that he thought he belonged to.

I am not surprised that the Government should take this step after the formation of a Jewish Regiment, and I am waiting to learn that my brother, who has been wounded in the Naval Division, or my nephew, who is in the Grenadier Guards, will be forced by public opinion or by Army regulations to become an officer in a regiment which will mainly be composed of people who will not understand the only language which he speaks – English. I can well understand that when it was decided, and quite rightly, to force foreign Jews in this country to serve in the Army, it was difficult to put them in British regiments because of the language difficulty, but that was because they were foreigners, and not because they were Jews, and a Foreign Legion would seem to me to have been the right thing to establish. A Jewish Legion makes the position of Jews in other regiments more difficult and forces a nationality upon people who have nothing in common.

I feel that the Government are asked to be the instrument for carrying out the wishes of a Zionist organisation largely run, as my information goes, at any rate in the past, by men of enemy descent or birth, and by this means have dealt a severe blow to the liberties, position and opportunities of service of their Jewish fellow-countrymen.

I would say to Lord Rothschild that the Government will be prepared to do everything in their power to obtain for Jews in Palestine complete liberty of settlement and life on an equality with the inhabitants of that country who profess other religious beliefs. I would ask that the Government should go no further.


23 August 1917

Source: Great Britain, Public Record Office, Cab. 24/24, Aug. 23, 1917. Lord Edwin Samuel Montagu (1879-1924), Anglo-Jewish statesman, was British Minister of Munitions, 1916, and Secretary of State for India, 1917-22.


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A Concise Catalog of Political and Social Events


Napoleon declares publishes a proclamation in which he invites all the Jews of Asia and Africa to gather under his flag in order to re-establish the ancient Jerusalem


Under the direction and organization of Theodor Herzl, the First Zionist Congress is held in Basel, Switzerland from 29 – 31 August


Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann meets with Arthur James Balfour’s electoral campaign to discuss the concept of a Jewish home in Palestine, as opposed to the then-popular Uganda Proposal


With World War I underway, Britain and France forge the Sykes-Picot Agreement to divide up the Ottoman Empire among the Triple Entente in the event of an Allied victory


Chaim Weizmann (L) meets with British Prime Minister David Lloyd George (R) to discuss his aspirations as to the repatriation of the Jews to “the sacred land they had made famous”


General Edmund Allenby captures Jerusalem in December 1917, tightening Britain’s grasp on the Ottoman Empire

UK Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour signs the Balfour Declaration, Expressing His Majesty’s view with “favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People” on 2 Nov.


After WWI, an international meeting of Allied delegates convenes in San Romero, Italy to deliberate on the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire


After much deliberation, the League of Nations approves the British Mandate of Palestine on 24 July


The Shaw Commission is published and released in the winter of 1929, and details the growing British concern over the Mandate of Palestine


In July, the Peel Commission is published, effectively handing over the British Mandate over to the United Nations


Britain issues the White Paper, placing a stifling limit on Jewish immigration to Palestine, in response to Arab pressure and civil unrest in the area


The UN votes on Resolution 181 for the partition of Palestine: 33 for, 13 against, with 3 abstentions. The resolution passes.

On 15 May, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine is created to find a solution to the civil unrest in the region and relive the British of their mandate