The Balfour Declaration

A Hundred Years On

A hundred years ago today, while World War I was raging and no one knew which side would win, the British government, led by Prime Minister David Lloyd George, released a declaration bearing the name of Arthur Balfour, the foreign secretary. This “Balfour Declaration” promised to support “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” so long as that did not “prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities” there. That short document (its crucial paragraph contains 67 words) laid the foundation of modern Israel—but also sowed dragon’s teeth. Why did the British government …

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