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Balfour Declaration 1917

The Balfour Declaration is a statement published November 2, 1917 by British Colonial Secretary[?] Arthur James Balfour ,(Arthur James Earl of Balfour 1848 - 1930), which states that Great Britain supports Zionist plans of Jewish settlement in Palestine and the creation of a Jewish national home there. It should be noted at the time "Palestine" had no definate borders.

The precondition for such a national home was that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine". Although the obvious meaning of "national home for the Jewish people" was "independent Jewish state", the wording was deliberately chosen to be unclear on this point and British officials frequently denied that interprettation during the following decades. A similar disagreement surrounded the wording "in Palestine" which intentionally left unstated the extent of the proposed homeland.

In return for a homeland in Palestine, the Zionists should work intensively to get all the Jews of the world to join the British side in the ongoing war against Germany. This would also include Zionists in Germany. Wording from the Declaration was later incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty[?] with Turkey and the Mandate for Palestine.

This declaration was made in the letter to Lord Rothschild, and expressed the view of the British Cabinet. At the time of the declaration, the Turks were still in control of most of Palestine.

From 1921 to 1922 Winston Churchill was the Colonial Secretary , under his auspices the controversial 1922 White Paper[?], a governmental decision was issued.

The 1922 White Paper (also called the Churchill White Paper) was the first official manifesto interpreting the Balfour Declaration. It was issued on June 3, 1922, after investigation of the 1921 disturbances in Palestine. Although the White Paper stated that the Balfour Declaration could not be amended and that the Jews were in Palestine by right, it partitioned the area of the Mandate by excluding the area east of the Jordan River from Jewish settlement. That land, 76% of the original Palestine Mandate by area but most desert, was renamed Transjordan and was given to the Hashemite Emir Abdullah from Mecca who was pushed out from Saudi Arabia by the ambitious Ibn Saud. This was a reward by the British for his help in the fight against the Ottoman Turks. Today it is the Kingdom of Jordan ruled by Abdullah's kin. The majority of Jordanian citizens today are Palestinian refugees.

One the main Jewish personalities who negotiated the granting of the declaration was Dr. Chaim Weizmann the leading spokesman for organized Zionism in Great Britain.During meetings in 1906 between Chaim Weizmann and Lord Balfour who was impressed by Weizman's personality. Balfour asked Weizmann why Palestine - and Palestine alone - could be the basis for Zionism. "Anything else would be idolatry", Weizmann protested, adding: "Mr. Balfour, supposing I were to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?" "But Dr. Weizmann", Balfour retorted, "we have London", to which Weizmann rejoined "That is true, but we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh."

Weizmann was a chemist who managed to synthesize acetone via fermentation. Acetone is needed in the production of cordite, a propellant needed to lob artillery shells. Germany had a corner on a key acetone ingredient, calcium acetate[?]. Without calcium acetate, Britain could not produce acetone and without acetone there would be no cordite. Without cordite, then Britain may have lost the Great War. When asked what payment Weizmann would like, Weizmann responded, "There is only one thing I want. A national home for my people."

The declaration reads as following:

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

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