On Thursday, Britain, Israel—and all lovers of Israel—commemorate the
drafting of the Balfour Declaration, which took place 100 years ago on
November 2. For Zionists, it's a glorious day on which we raise a toast.
Balfour's Declaration—actually a letter from British Foreign Secretary
Arthur Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish
community—said "His Majesty's Government views with favor the establishment
in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
Few Americans realize that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson saw and approved
the text of Balfour's letter in advance, and the U.S. Congress in
1922 passed a resolution endorsing it, which President Harding signed.
The Palestinians, whiners to the end, started a campaign about a year ago
trying to get the U.K. to apologize for the Balfour Declaration— which effort, Barukh HaShem, went nowhere.
Indeed, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will be attending many ceremonies
in Great Britain honoring the Balfour statement and its ultimate
consequence—the re-birth of the Jewish nation as Israel in 1948. Prime
Minister Theresa May will be officiating, and even anti-Semite
Labour-leader MP Jeremy Corbyn felt compelled to send a
While the Palestinian Arabs lay the blame on Balfour and Britain for their
misery, throughout the last 100 years, they have six times rejected the opportunity to found their own state—most
crucially in 1947, in the face of the U.N. partition plan.
So, my friends, I think we have a pretty clear idea why the Palestinians
are protesting the Balfour Declaration . . . and why they still have no
state. They cannot countenance a Jewish state in their
neighborhood—it simply wouldn't be ethnically clean enough.
But the Balfour Declaration has a greater meaning for the Jewish people. As
this week's FLAME Hotline article, by firebrand Caroline Glick,
points out, Balfour didn't create Israel and didn't "permit" Israel to be
born. Rather it freed the Zionists from the chains of their limited
vision—to imagine and will a Jewish state.
Glick provides a unique perspective on all the Balfour hoopla, and I
believe her article will leave you inspired—not just because of what
Balfour did 100 years ago, but because of the triumphant and yearning spirit it should instill in us today. If you
only read one piece on the Balfour Declaration, you'll be glad you made it
Please also take a quick minute also to review the P.S. below and click on
the link to review FLAME's latest hasbarah effort, if you haven't
done so yet. It discusses the most villainous of U.N. agencies, the
Balfour's Greatest of Gifts
By Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, October 27, 2017
This week Israel's judo team was harassed and discriminated against
by UAE officials when they tried to board a flight from Tel Aviv to
Istanbul, en route to Abu Dhabi to participate in the Judo Grand Slam
Apropos of nothing, UAE told the Israelis they would only be permitted to
enter the UAE from Amman. And once they finally arrived at the competition,
they were prohibited from competing under their national flag.
The discrimination that Israel's judokas suffered is newsworthy because
it's appalling, not because it is rare. It isn't rare. Israeli athletes and
performers, professors, students and tourists in countries throughout the
world are regularly discriminated against for being Israeli Jews. Concerts
are picketed or canceled. Israelis are denied educational opportunities and
Israeli brands are boycotted and Israeli shops are picketed from Montreal
to Brooklyn to Johannesburg.
The simple act of purchasing Israeli cucumbers has become a political
statement in countries around the world.
And of course, there is the world of diplomacy, where the nations of
seem to have flushed the news of Israel's establishment 70 years ago down
the memory hole. The near-consensus view of UN institutions and to a
growing degree, of EU institutions, not to mention the Arab League and the
Organization of the Islamic Conference, is that the Jewish exile should
never have ended. The Jews should have remained scattered and at the mercy
of the nations of the world, forever.
In the face of the growing discrimination Israelis suffer and rejection
Israel endures, how are we to look at the centennial of the Balfour
Declaration, which we will mark next Thursday? One hundred years ago, on
November 2, 1917, Arthur Balfour, foreign secretary of Great Britain,
detonated a bomb whose aftershocks are still being felt in Britain and
That day, Balfour issued a letter to Lord Walter Rothschild, the leader of
the British Jewish community.
The letter, which quickly became known as the Balfour Declaration,
effectively announced the British Empire supported an end of the Jewish
people's 1,800-year exile and its return to history, as a free nation in
its homeland—the Land of Israel.
In Balfour's immortal words, "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
The Palestine Arab leadership at the time rejected his statement.
Shortly thereafter the Arabs initiated a terrorist onslaught against the
Jewish community in the Land of Israel that has continued, more or less
without interruption, ever since.
Indeed, nothing at all has changed with the Palestinians. They have not
moved an inch in a hundred years. PLO chief and Palestinian Authority
Chairman Mahmoud Abbas now demands that Britain officially renounce the
Balfour Declaration and apologize for having issued it as if Lord Balfour
was still foreign secretary and David Lloyd George was still prime minster.
And their growing chorus of supporters at the UN, throughout the Islamic
world, and in Europe is similarly stuck in 1917.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't believe that the enduring Arab
and international rejection of Israel's right to exist mitigates the
significance of the Balfour Declaration. Next week he will travel to London
to participate in the centennial commemorations of the Balfour Declarations
at the side of British Prime Minister Theresa May.
May said on Wednesday that she is "proud" to commemorate the declaration.
In her words, "We are proud of the role that we played in the creation of
the State of Israel and we certainly mark the centenary with pride."
This was certainly nice of her. But May couldn't ignore the fact
that a hundred years later, a large and growing number of people refuse to
come to terms with what Britain did. So she added, "We must also be
conscious of the sensitivities that some people do have about the Balfour
Declaration and we recognize that there is more work to be done. We remain
committed to the two-state solution in relation to Israel and the
So we return to the Palestinians, and the UAE, and the protesters who will
be screaming out against Balfour and David Lloyd George from one end of
Britain to the other next week demanding their declaration be withdrawn and
history rolled back.
And the protesters of course aren't alone. Britain's main opposition party
is being led by an ardent Israel-basher. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
announced on Monday that he will not be participating the Balfour
It certainly makes sense for him to boycott them.
It would be awkward for a man who was elected and reelected after calling
Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists his "friends," to be celebrating Britain's
role in establishing the state his friends are working to destroy.
Corbyn's boycott, and his very rise to power, are clear signs that
Balfour's legacy is a mixed bag.
Except that it isn't a mixed bag.
At a very deep level, Israel owes its existence to the Balfour
This is true not because the Balfour Declaration changed the way the world
viewed the Jews. It manifestly did not—not in its own time, and not today.
Indeed, it is ironic that the Palestinians and their supporters blame the
British for the establishment of Israel, because shortly after the Balfour
Declaration was issued, British authorities, particularly on the ground in
the Middle East, did everything they possibly could to cancel it.
In 1920, British military officers asked the local Arab strongman Haj Amin
al-Husseini to incite a pogrom in Jerusalem over Passover. Husseini's thugs
murdered four Jews and wounded many more. The purpose of the pogrom was to
convince the British Parliament to cancel the Balfour Declaration.
The plan didn't work. And two years later the League of Nations established
the British Mandate for Palestine on the basis of the Balfour Declaration.
The Mandate required Britain to fulfill the promise of the Balfour
by among other things facilitating mass Jewish immigration to the Land of
But the seeds of doubt were duly sown. Almost immediately after the League
of Nations issued the Mandate, the British carved off three-quarters of the
territory earmarked for the Jewish national home to create Trans-Jordan.
It was largely downhill from there. With each successive wave of Arab
terrorism against the Jews, the British issued restrictions on Jewish
immigration and limitations on the right of Jews to purchase land that grew
harsher with each iteration. These actions paved the way for the 1939 White
Paper which abrogated the Balfour Declaration in all but name. It renounced
Zionism, and effectively ruled out any possibility of a viable Jewish state
being established by blocking Jewish immigration and land purchase.
It also sealed the fate of the Jews of Europe, by denying them the ability
to flee to the one place on earth that wanted them—their home.
British antagonism to Jews and their national liberation movement only grew
in the postwar years. News of the Holocaust didn't move the British to
fulfill their commitment under the Balfour Declaration. Instead, they threw
Holocaust survivors into prison camps in Cyprus and raised the Arab Legion,
the most powerful Arab military force in the 1948-49 War of Independence.
Britain only recognized Israel in 1950.
So again why is Netanyahu making the trip to London?
The answer is that while the Balfour Declaration didn't change the world,
it changed the Jews.
After 1,800 years of dispersion and hopelessness, here was the British
Empire saying that the time had come for the Jews to reconstitute
themselves as a free nation in their land.
Theodor Herzl had held the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, 20
years earlier. Zionist pioneers laid the cornerstone for Tel Aviv and
established the first kibbutz eight years earlier.
These were all significant milestones.
But until Great Britain announced it supported Zionism, the vast majority
of Jews thought the national liberation movement was doomed to fail just
like all of its messianic predecessors.
Suddenly, Balfour made it practically possible to achieve the goal of
national liberation. Under the League of Nations Mandate, Jews were given
an international charter for the reconstitution of their national homeland.
Just as important, the Balfour Declaration ignited the imaginations and
passions of Jews throughout the world. For the first time since the fall of
Betar (editor: Betar was the last standing Jewish fortress against the Roman
army in 135 CE
), Jews, dispersed throughout the nations dared to believe that the
reconstitution of Israel could happen in their lifetimes.
Of course, for 6 million Jews in Europe, it was not realized in time.
But here too the Balfour Declaration was significant. The legitimacy that
the Balfour Declaration conferred on Zionism in the eyes of world Jewry
gave the Jews an answer to Hitler. As the Nazis rose to power, for the
first time, the Jews knew what they needed to do and for the first time,
the majority of world Jewry embraced Zionism.
After the Holocaust, that support became a demand. And due to the Balfour
Declaration, the nations of the world—particularly the US—were empowered to
stand up to the British government and demand that it step aside and allow
the Jews to establish their state.
In other words, the Balfour Declaration didn't change the way non-Jews felt
about the Jews. It empowered the Jews to change their fate. And it gave
license to the nations of the world to support them—if only fleetingly in
most cases—and so allowed history to change in a revolutionary way for the
Israel's first prime minister David Ben-Gurion famously said,
"It doesn't matter what the gentiles say. It matters what the Jews do."
Ben-Gurion's statement was harsh. But it was also accurate, by and large.
Generally speaking, the nations of the world have not supported the Jews,
not in the Diaspora and not in Israel. Jewish survival has always been more
a function of Jewish action than gentile sympathy.
But while accurate in the general sense, the routine hostility of the
nations of the world mustn't make us overlook the enduring significance of
their acts of friendship. The Balfour Declaration didn't change the whole
world. It changed the Jewish world. It didn't change the Jewish world by
creating a state for us. It changed the Jewish world by helping us to
believe that we could fulfill our longing to return to Zion. And once we
believed it, we did it.
So Netanyahu is right to travel to London to show his appreciation for the
Balfour Declaration—protests or no protests. Indeed, he would be right to
go to London even if Corbyn were prime minister and no one greeted him at
the airport. By showing our enduring appreciation for what the British
government did for the Jews a hundred years ago, we may inspire new unknown
Balfours to stand with us tomorrow, even as the chorus of Balfour-haters
drones on and on and on.