The Balfour Declaration (1917)


The British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, wrote to Jewish leader Lord Rothshild, to assure him that his government supported the ideal of providing a homeland for the Jews. The British hoped thereby to win more Jewish support for the Allies in the First World War. The "Balfour Declaration" became the basis for international support for the founding of the modern state of Israel. The letter was published a week later in The Times of London as reproduced here.


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 favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors 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,
Arthur James Balfour


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This is an excerpt from Reading About the World, Volume 2, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Azfar Hussain, Richard Law, Michael Myers, Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan and published by Harcourt Brace Custom Books.

The reader was created for use in the World Civilization course at Washington State University, but material on this page may be used for educational purposes by permission of the editor-in-chief:

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Department of English
Washington State University
Pullman 99164-5020

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