Balfour Declaration Motivated by British Antisemitism
Jerome Chanes, our board’s resident expert on Jewish and Zionist history, has had his latest article published in The Forward on the antisemitic conspiracy thinking that helped motivate Britain to issue the Balfour Declaration — the first international recognition of the Jewish people’s right to a homeland in Palestine, and the document that helped shape Britain’s early cultivation of the Yishuv, the self-governing Zionist community in Palestine. In the midst of Britain’s desperate struggle in World War I, British officials believed that Jews had secret influences over the Young Turks movement that controlled the Ottoman Turkish Empire:
The Dark Forces Behind the Balfour Declaration — And Its Lasting Legacy
Subhead: Why does the Balfour Declaration, written in 1917 during the darkest days of World War I, still tug at our elbow, insisting we pay attention to it even today?
Tom Segev wrote of a similarly sinister but laughable view of Jewish power in his book, One Palestine, Complete — mainly in relation to Russia, which Britain was eager to keep in the fight against Germany. Segev rather amusingly wrote of how the World Zionist Organization’s leader at the time, Chaim Weizmann (a British subject), played upon this antisemitic canard to secure Lord Balfour’s important policy statement — a great example of making lemonade out of lemons.
Interestingly, The Forward has recently published another article that documents how terrible Ottoman Turkish rule was for the Yishuv during World War I, indicating that more Jews died during those years of starvation, disease and brutality than have died in all of Israel’s wars. Ironically, German military commanders apparently prevented a Turkish governor (an actual Young Turks leader) from possibly duplicating an Armenian-style genocide there:
Did Germany Help Save Palestine’s Jews During World War I? …
Palestine’s Jewish community faced death and destruction at the hands of
Ottoman ruler Ahmed Jamal Pasha during World War One.