Last updated on: 6/26/2008 2:04:00 PM PST

Who Was Lord Balfour and What Was the Balfour Declaration?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Lord Balfour
"British statesman who maintained a position of power in the British Conservative Party for 50 years; he was prime minister from 1902 to 1905, and as foreign secretary from 1916 to 1919. He is perhaps best remembered for his World War I statement expressing official British approval of Zionism."

2006 - Encyclopedia Britannica 

Dilip Hiro, MA, journalist and author of the 2003 book The Essential Middle East: A Comprehensive Guide, wrote the following description of the Balfour Declaration:

"Balfour Declaration is the title given to an important policy statement on Palestine by Britain in November 1917 in the form of a letter from the British foreign secretary, Arthur James (later Lord) Balfour, in the coalition government of Prime minister David Lloyd George, to a prominent British Zionist leader, Lord Rothschild...

The Balfour Declaration applied to Palestine, which then lacked geographical or political existence with defined borders. In the Ottoman Empire, Palestine was scattered over the sanjak (county or district) of Jerusalem and the vilayat (province) of Beirut, Jerusalem and its suburbs being ruled directly from Istanbul.

The Balfour Declaration arose out of the convergence of Britain's imperial aims with Zionist aspirations, which came to the fore during the First World War (August 1914 -- November 1918), when Britain was pitted against the Central Powers, consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Ottoman Turkey."

2003 - Dilip Hiro, MA 

Arthur J. Balfour, former Secretary of the British Admiralty, wrote the following letter in 1917 to Lord Rothschild, Head of the British Zionist Organization:

"Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

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 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.

Yours sincerely,
Arthur James Balfour"

1917 - Arthur James Balfour