Balfour Declaration (1917)

Perhaps one of the most controversial documents of the 20th Century, the Balfour Declaration declared the support of Great Britain for Zionist aspirations and the establishment of a Jewish national home in the territory that Great Britain was in the middle of capturing from the Ottoman Empire during WWI. Due to conflicts within the government, the term ‘national home’ was purposely used instead of ‘state’. For a comprehensive look at the creation of the Balfour declaration, see Leonard Stein’s book The Balfour Declaration, published in 1961.

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

Balfour Declaration (1917)

Text transcribed from an image of the original letter (above) which is held in the British National Archives. The image was retrieved from Wikipedia on April 1, 2012.