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.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.