90 Years Since First Int'l Recognition of Zionism

Friday marks the 90th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the State of Israel's establishment. Fatah promises rockets.

Hillel Fendel,

Friday, Nov. 2, marks the 90th anniversary of the issuance of Great Britain's policy paper known as the Balfour Declaration, which set the stage for the establishment of the State of Israel. It was the first expression of international recognition of the Jewish People's national aspirations.

Fatah terrorists in Gaza said Thursday they mark the occasion by firing hundreds of rockets at Sderot and other Jewish towns in the western Negev.  The terrorists said the attacks would be a response to “the evil Balfour declaration,” as well as to IDF anti-terror operations in Gaza.

The Balfour Declaration was actually a letter British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a British Jewish leader, asking him to trasmit a British government resolution to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.  The resolution, as approved by the British Cabinet on Oct. 31, 1917, stated:

"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, 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."

The statement was the result of efforts by Zionist leaders, and particularly of London-based Chaim Weizmann, who later became Israel's first president, and Nahum Sokolow.  The Balfour Declaration was later incorporated into the Sevres peace treaty with Turkey, from whom Great Britain had conquered Palestine just months before, and the British Mandate for Palestine.

Youthful Ignorance
In light of a recent poll showing that nearly half of Israel's youth do not know the contents of the Balfour Declaration, Welfare Minister Yitzchak Herzog plans to propose, at the next Cabinet meeting, that the occasion be marked with an official ceremony in the Knesset.  He will also propose that special classes on the topic be offered to Israel's students.

The World Zionist Federation held a ceremony to mark the occasion on Wednesday in Jerusalem.  The event also marked the 55th anniversary of the death of Weizmann.