The current Lord Balfour has spoken for the first time of his family’s pride at the Declaration which helped pave the way for the creation of Israel – and insisted it “over simplistic” to blame the historic document for the ongoing conflict.
Roddy Balfour’s message came in a written greeting to Limmud FSU’s first conference in Western Europe, which brought around 700 participants from 18 countries to Windsor this weekend.
He said: “My family are very proud of the importance to Jewish people everywhere of this initiative by the British Government of the day. The relevance to you all here today is that the imperative for it stemmed from the appalling Russian pogroms at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries.
“Thus, and this what we are most proud of, the Declaration was first and formost a humanitarian act trying repatriate a talented but much-persecuted people to the land of the original judaic roots.”
It is “over-simplistic” to blame the Declaration, as some have, for the “subsequent political turmoil in the region”, he insisted.
“The borders imposed by Sykes -Picot were never going to be fit for purpose and nobody in 1917 could have foreseen the Holocaust or the extraordinary high birth rate among the Palestinians in recent decades.”
But he added “how much more we could celebrate” this centenary if a two-state solution was reached this year “which in effect brought closure on one of the central tenets of the Declaration”.
A gala celebration on Saturday night included a celebration of the Declaration, while an exhibition produced by the Balfour 100 Committee and the ZF was displayed throughout.