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Balfour Declaration in 1917 – promise to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine

Chaim Weizman, a Jewish chemist who was of enormous value to the British during the first World War, was a good friend of Lord Balfour, the English Foreign Secretary. Their friendship was to have an historical impact on Herzl’s Zionist dream.

On November 2nd 1917, the British government published the Balfour Declaration in which it expressed its sympathy for the Jewish-Zionist goal. Great Britain, in that period a superpower, promised the Jewish people all the help they needed in the building of their National Home in Palestine.

The declaration sent by Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour to the Jewish community on behalf of the British Cabinet was the following:

“His Majesty’s Government views 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 joy following this declaration coincided with the Allies’ victory in Jerusalem. Many Jews considered this development as an important step towards the coming of the Messiah. The Balfour Declaration was without any doubt the most important product of the First World War for the Jewish-Zionist movement.