Published in the special Balfour 100 edition of Fathom Journal, Summer 2017
The British Prime Minister David Lloyd George believed that Chaim Weizmann would be become ‘the one name that will be remembered in Jewish history a thousand years from now’. Hyperbole, for sure, but Azriel Bermant’s researches in the Guardian Archive at the University of Manchester reveal that he was indeed central to the discussions that led to the Balfour Declaration.
The 100th anniversary is an opportune moment to revisit the role played by Chaim Weizmann, Zionist statesman par excellence, in the decision by the British government to issue the Balfour Declaration in November 1917. In the decades following the Declaration, Weizmann certainly revelled in the adulation of Britain’s political and intellectual giants, including many leading progressives and liberals. David Lloyd George believed that his would become ‘the one name that will be remembered in Jewish history a thousand years from now’. Winston Churchill described him as the ‘ablest and wisest leader of the cause of Zionism’ (Rose, 1986; 246). Richard Crossman, the Labour Member of Parliament and minister in the first government of Harold Wilson, believed that through the course of the twentieth century, ‘the histories of Great Britain and of the Jewish people have been tragically yet providentially intertwined – and the man chiefly responsible for this was Chaim Weizmann’ (Crossman, 1960; 13)... MORE
By Azriel Bermant
Published in Haaretz on July 29, 2016
This week, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki, representing President Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the Arab League Summit in Mauritania and asked them to join in preparing to sue the British government. The cause: The 100-year-old letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild regarding the British cabinet’s support for the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."
Malki explained: "Almost a century has passed since 1917… We are working to open up an international criminal case for the crime which they committed against our nation – from the days of the British Mandate all the way to the massacre which was carried out against us from 1948 onwards.” Later on in the week, the demand was scaled down to the request for a formal U.K. apology to the Palestinians.
Dr Azriel Bermant
Foreign Policy and International Security Analyst, Historian, Lecturer, Author