Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (7 November 2017, 17 Heshbon, 5778)
Why was the Balfour declaration addressed to Lord Rothschild? Who was he and what influence did he have as far as the Zionist movement was concerned?
The illustration is a caricature of Lord Walter Rothschild, by Spy, for the publication Vanity Fair, 1900. Lord Rothschild was the recipient of what is now known as “The Balfour Declaration”. This was an announcement in 1917 by the British government of British Support for a Jewish National Home in what was then known as Palestine. The Declaration laid the foundation for the British Mandate over the area and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Lord Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild (1868-1937)
was a banker and philanthropist from a long family of the same. He was a member of the English Upper Class and probably knew personally many of the government personnel. The Rothschild family had helped Britain during the wars against Napoleon. They had enabled Britain to acquire the Suez Canal in 1864. The Rothschilds were also prominent in the Jewish Community. A Rothschild cousin in France, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (1845-1934), in had been a patron and enthusiastic supporter of Jewish settlement in the Holy Land. Walter Rothschild, on his part, had also taken an interest in Zionism. He worked closely with Chaim Weizmann who was then in Britain and later became the first President of Israel. The Balfour Declaration was sent in a letter to Walter Rothschild probably because that was the most appropriate way to make the announcement. Rothschild was acceptable to the Jewish community, recognized by the Zionist establishment but not part of it, and respectably well-known in British society.
"The Vision Was There," by Franz Kobler, 1956, London, Part Five:
Thus the hour had struck for a new Decree. Dated Foreign Office, November 2, 1917, and signed by Arthur James Balfour; the "Declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which had been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet" read:
"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."
This letter did not come out of the blue. Its content and formulation had been discussed at length previously by Government officials, prominent interested parties in the Jewish and non-Jewish communities, and by Zionist officials.
Franz Kobler points out that originally the Balfour Declaration was to have said,
"the reconstitution of Palestine as the National Home of the Jewish People" .
Due to the protests of Gentile critics and Liberal non-Zionist Jews in Britain the authorities,
# modified the Zionist formula and invited representative Jewish leaders, both Zionist and non-Zionist, to present their views in writing. In the revised governmental version, the substitution of the phrase "the establishment in Palestine of a National Home" for "the reconstitution of Palestine as the National Home of the Jewish People" was a setback suffered by the restorationist and Zionist cause. .. Nevertheless, even with this modification, the basic principle of a Jewish National Home had been adopted by the Government and a victory won in the long struggle of the Restoration Movement and Zionism for its recognition. #
The Land of Israel had been promised by God Almighty to the people of Israel. The Balfour Declaration was a recognition of this.
Genesis (NIV) 13:
14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.