November 2 - 1917 - The Balfour Declaration
The Balfour Declaration was, in all reality, a letter from the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, Arthur Balfour to one of the leading British Zionists, Lord Walter Rothschild. Yet it was an official statement of His Majesty's Government on the issue of a Jewish nation in Palestine. Officially, it said that Britain would support "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." The actual language of the declaration was simultaneously simple and complicated. The declaration was one long sentence, yet its specific usage was the subject of much debate. Zionism had been a political force in Europe since the 1890s, yet Britain only fully supported the notion with the advent of World War I. As a Jewish nation in Palestine would disrupt the Ottoman Empire, Britain found Zionism more compelling. Britain's support of the Arab Revolt, however, complicated support for Zionism, especially as promises to leading Zionists would be in conflict with the promises to Arab allies. So by the end of 1917, the British government declared it would support a "national home" for Jews, rather than a state, and promised not to violate the rights of non-Jews in the area. The statement would create trouble for decades.