The unique story behind the Balfour Declaration

Michael Oren discusses the state of Israeli-US relations and shares the story of the US's role in the historic Balfour Declaration.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Michael Oren
Michael Oren
Arutz Sheva/Eliran Baruch

Dr. Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and Deputy Minister in the 20th Knesset, discussed the lesser-known story of the U.S. the Balfour Declaration in a new podcast from The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Oren says that “Former President Woodrow Wilson was - if you read his memoirs, his remarks, those of his wife Edith in particular - sort of what you call a garden-variety antisemite. And yet… he went against the advice of all of his senior counsel, including his Secretary of State Robert Lansing, his personal political adviser Col. Edward House, who were adamantly opposed to Zionism… But it was Wilson's restorationist worldview, which at this precise moment in history… met with a peculiar geostrategic situation that was obtained in 1917, ”pointing to the Communist revolution in Russia and the fear that the Germans would issue a similar declaration. "

"The relationship between President Wilson and Louis Dembitz Brandeis, whom he respected when Wilson was governor of New Jersey, was key in persuading the US to throw its support behind Arthur Balfour's declaration when he visited the US in 1917," Oren explains in detail. "Balfour was convinced that if he can get Wilson to sign this idea it will persuade the British government because they need America in the first World War and he's not getting anywhere with Wilson's advisers. He needs to actually get into the Oval Office, He turns to Brandeis… Brandeis says to Balfour, "Don't worry, I got it." He goes into the Oval Office, has maybe a half-an-hour meeting and walks out with Wilson's approval of what would later become the Balfour Declaration. A pivotal moment in Middle Eastern history, Jewish history, and Israel history certainly, that brief meeting between Brandeis and Wilson, "says Oren.




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