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Why Balfour's Biblical Background Matters

British artillery in Jerusalem, 1917 (Photo: Library of Congress/American Colony)

November 2 will mark a full century since the Balfour Declaration, which was the first support by a world power for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in the Holy Land, and which would pave the way thirty years later for the establishment of the modern state of Israel. Writing at The Jerusalem Post, Rabbi Tuly Weisz explains the importance of Great Britain's acknowledgment - the only empire to control the Holy Land that ever did so - of Israel as the Jewish people's historic and rightful homeland:

Exactly one century ago a Christian army was about to conquer Jerusalem from a Muslim empire. The Christian government prepared for the historic occasion by issuing a major statement that would effectively turn control of the newly-won territory over to the Jewish people.

These Christians were from the very same country that had previously expelled all its Jewish inhabitants, only accepting them back to convert them to Christianity more effectively.

This is the background to the Balfour Declaration, issued on November 2, 1917, just weeks before the British army captured Jerusalem in World War I.

How do we understand such a strange fact pattern? Only by appreciating England’s long and complex relationship with the Bible and the Jewish people.

Of all the kingdoms and empires that controlled the Holy Land over the millennia, England was the first and only one to acknowledge the Jewish people’s legitimate claim to their historic homeland.

“His Majesty’s government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object,” wrote foreign minister James Arthur Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild in what became known as the “Magna Carta” of the Jewish state...

Tags: History , Israel

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