“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…”
Those fateful words, known as the Balfour Declaration and written 100 years ago on November 2, 1917, by Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, in a letter to Britain’s Jewish leader, Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, began a process and a series of events that led to the rebirth of the Jewish State of Israel 31 years later in 1948.
But Britain did not act alone, as support came from the leaders of France, Japan, Italy and the United States for the reestablishment of a homeland for the Jewish people after almost 2,000 years. These supporters knew that whereas Judaism may be a religion, the Jews are in fact a tribe, a people, are indigenous to the Middle East, and have the right to self-determination.
Ultimately, though, it was the “blood, sweat and tears” of the Jewish people that created the facts on the ground and developed the institutions necessary to meet the internationally recognized criteria of statehood.
As Israel is about to celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2018, we must give thanks to those supporters over the past 100 years ago, which led to the creation of the only democracy in the Middle East and a staunch ally of the United States and western civilization.
Editor's note: Ross is executive director of Jewish Federation of the Quad-Cities.