The Balfour Declaration
1. Reply to this DB in 175 to 200 words The Balfour Declaration of 1917 COLLAPSE The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was a seemingly simple and direct correspondence from the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur James Balfour (but was actually penned by Leopold Amery a Jew who was also instrumental in creating the Jewish Legion) (JVL n.d.a), to Lord Walter Rothschild, a “Zionist financier” (Oren 2007, 362). The Declaration read, in part “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 have 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 endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object” (JVL n.d.b). While this seems straight forward enough, the implications and resulting policy and support of and from said letter are quite the opposite. This Declaration did not just come out of nowhere. In 1917 the world was at war, and Palestine was set to be part of the spoils to the victor of said war (JVL n.d.c). Furthermore, during said war, Jews were being slaughtered in what some called a “mini-holocaust” in Eastern Europe and by both sides of the dispute (Klinger n.d.). William Blackstone, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbi Stephen Wise, President Wilson and others in the United States as well as Chaim Weizmann, Nahum Sokolow (who obtained the French support of the Zionist cause), and others in Britain were aware of the ongoings and had been working behind the scenes to figure out a way to do something about atrocities befalling the Jewish people (Oren 2007; Klinger n.d.; Tahhan 2018; JVL n.d.c). The motivations varied, from altruistic to political, religious to strategic, and everywhere in between (Oren 2007; Tahhan 2018; JVL n.d.c). As mentioned herein, moves were being made by Jews and their sympathizers in powerful positions in both the United States and Britain to encourage said states to take a more solidified stance as it pertained to supporting the Zionist movement. Once Balfour believed that the United States would provide “implicit backing” (Oren 2007, 362) the letter was finalized, sent and the result was the Balfour Declaration. Controversial for several reasons, the Balfour Declaration was, according to some, “a commitment to ensure Jewish statehood” and “an unqualified triumph for Zionism” (Oren 2007, 362). The problems, or controversies were many, with the first being that it was a promise “made by a European power…about a non-European territory…in a flat disregard of both the presence and wishes of the native majority resident in that territory” (Tahhan 2018, quoting Edward Said; JVL n.d.c). Another issue was the fact that the Balfour Declaration was contradictory to several other agreements and correspondence pertaining to the occupation, independence and rule of the same geographic location (Tahhan 2018). This led to some issues and some drama in the aftermath of World War I with Britain, France, the creation of Transjordan and the Zionists (JVL n.d.c). The outcome as it pertains to USFP is clear as the U.S. was the first to recognize Israel as an independent state, continues to do so, and supports and works together with Israel in many endeavors even now. References Jewish Virtual Library (JVL). n.d.a. “The Jew Who Drafted the Balfour Declaration.” Jewish Virtual Library, The Balfour Declaration. Accessed August 1, 2019. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/secret-jew-drafted-balfour-declaration Jewish Virtual Library (JVL). n.d.b. “Balfour Declaration: Text of the Declaration.” Jewish Virtual Library, The Balfour Declaration. Accessed August 1, 2019. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/text-of-the-balfour-declaration Jewish Virtual Library (JVL). n.d.c. “History of the Balfour Declaration.” Jewish Virtual Library, The Balfour Declaration. Accessed August 1, 2019. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/commentary-on-the-balfour-declaration Klinger, Jerry. n.d. “Reverend William E. Blackstone: Brandeis, Wilson and the Reverend Who Changed History.” Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation. Oren, Michael B. 2007. Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Tahhan, Zena. 2018. “More than a Century On: The Balfour Declaration Explained.” Al Jazeera, Israel. November 2. https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/10/100-years-balfour-declaration-explained-171028055805843.html 2. Reply to this DB in 175 to 200 words Balfour Declaration COLLAPSE The Balfour Declaration had several key states, individuals, and organizations involved in supporting Jewish territory in Palestine. The states involved in the Balfour Declaration were primarily the United States of America, Great Britain, and to a lesser extent France. Also, several nationalist movements were involved and can be categorized as "nations" rather than states. American motives revolved around several contradictory goals; anti-imperialism, Arab nationalism, Zionism, inclusion in post-war decision making and isolationism. The British and French wanted to carve swathes out of the Ottoman Empire to extend their colonial assets. Among the actors that argued for a Jewish state chief among them was Balfour himself, who saw it as a "... plan ... affording greater protection to the Suez Canal while formally associating America with the effort to create a Jewish national home" (Oren). Many prominent Americans also supported the effort such as former President Theodore Roosevelt, William Blackstone, and Louis Brandeis. These and many others supported nationalist movements for both Arab and Jewish sovereignty. Yet at the president himself grappled with his convictions and the geopolitical situation. Wilson an adamant anti-imperialist but dealt with the duality conflicting goals. The "Inquiry" that was sent to the region was devoid of quantitative and qualitative data, thus Wilson's attempts at garnering support for increased US action fell short. Antisemites that were involved in the US inquires and held political office also played upon these sentiments to dissuade Americans from supporting the measure. The Zionist movements in America suffered from contradictory support for Zionism and the fear of antisemitism (Oren). The Zionist new that American Jews would not emigrate to Palestine, therefore their motives focused on European Jewry. American Zionist held a disproportionate amount of power compared to their numerical strength (Oren). Some Arabs also supported the Balfour Declaration such as Feisel the leader of the Arab Revolt. He was quoted in saying but later denied that Zionism and the Jews were "cousins in race... [greeting them] a hearty welcome home... [and viewed their cause as] moderate and proper [and] national and not imperialistic" (Oren). Feisel concluded his remarks stating that "Indeed I think that neither can be a real success without the other" (Oren). His motivations were predicated on support from America for Arab nationalist movements that would throw off the yoke of empire and grant their people freedom. In can be inferred that the multitude of conflicting states and actors involved in the process muddled the American response. The outcome of this was a lackluster involvement by the United States in the region as a whole. The barring of US interests was made permanent by the French and British who both the saw the US as unreliable. A parallel to this can be found in the US withdraw from JCPOA. The fears of stoking "negative consequences of no deal could go beyond proliferation and the likelihood that Saudi Arabia and other regional powers would also seek dual-use nuclear technology. The Middle East and South Asia are rife with conventional conflicts that would only get worse if Iran feels compelled to retaliate in a non-nuclear arena to a US withdrawal from the JCPOA" (Slavin). Indeed the fears of inflaming an already smoldering Middle East has led European states to seek an alternate route and now see US involvement as an impediment rather than a positive. In regards to the Balfour Declaration itself, the issues present in the document are; the lack of mention of Arab support for the announcement, the imperialist vision of a future Middle East, the ambiguity of the text especially human rights. The eventual outcomes would become a conflict between Arabs, Jews, and the British mandate. And would later spill over into wider regional conflict between Israel and its neighbors and continued simmering animosity between the two. “Balfour Declaration: Text of the Declaration.” Text of the Balfour Declaration, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/text-of-the-balfour-declaration. Oren, Michael B. Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present. W.W. Norton, 2011. Slavin, Barbara. “The Dangerous Consequences of US Withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal.” Atlantic Council, www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/the-dangerous-consequences-of-us-withdrawal-from-the-iran-nuclear-deal.