The Balfour Declaration: From Imagining a State to Re-imagining Majority-Minority Relations in Jewish Thought and the Jewish State

By Ophir Yarden, ADAShA program director

Read the full article at Academia.edu
To the full book: Religious Imaginations: How Narratives of Faith are Shaping Today’s World, James Walters (ed.), 2018

 

In exploring the international status of the Balfour Declaration at the time of its promulgation, this essay demonstrates that it represented the global consensus circa 1917.  France, the U.S., Italy, Japan, Greece, Serbia, China, and Siam all concurred and supported the idea of “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”  Additionally, the idea was recognized at the San Remo conference of 1920.

The essay follows the evolution of Balfour Declaration text, examining pressures and considerations exerted regarding its potential influence on the future status of (1) Jews living outside the Jewish national home; and (2) Non-Jewish minorities living in what would become the Jewish state.  These concerns yielded the declaration’s two caveats that sought to insure that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” The author then considers the realities of these caveats’ implementation, giving examples of Jewish communities outside Israel which were compromised (particularly, but not only, in the Arab world).

Finally, the essay explores the status of Arab citizens in the State of Israel in light of traditional Jewish teaching regarding majority-minority relations and against the background of the Jewish minority experience, and concludes that the State of Israel has been deficient in fulfilling the obligations imposed upon it by the Balfour Declaration’s second caveat.

Rossing Center logo

Other news and updates

Rossing Center logo
  • All
  • Annual Reports
  • News and Updates
  • Public events
  • Webinars
Annual Report
The Rossing Center 2021 Annual Report

If you want to see what we’ve been up to this last year, click here for the PDF version

Presentation
The Power of Stories in Interreligious Dialogue and Peacebuilding – The Rossing Report April 2022

As we spend time with our families during Ramadan, Passover and Easter, stories will be shared between us. We often forget about the power of a story and how it shapes who we are – a lesson that was the focus for one of our groups over the past few months. Within the walls of an old house in Ramle, eleven students sat down together to start a conversation.

Women Sotries Ramle
Stories Beyond the Arches: Women’s Voices from Ramle

We were very excited to open the exhibition “Stories Beyond the Arches: Women’s Voices from Ramle” last week, to mark International Women’s Day. On this festive evening, over 100 people celebrated together, women and men, Israeli-Jews and Palestinians, young and elderly from different communities in the city – gathered side-by-side in the Open House.

Christmas
We Came to Drive Away the Darkness… What Darkness? – The Rossing Report December 2021

Over the course of the Chanukah holiday, several different events raised questions about belonging in the Holy Land, and how we understand that connection.

Webinar - Is Dialogue Enough
Is Dialogue Enough?

Is dialogue enough for promoting better relations between different ethnic, national and religious communities? If not, what other methods and strategies should organisations, institutions and individuals adopt?

Dialogue and Identity meeting
Dialogue, not diatribe

Earlier this week far-right MK Bezalel Smotrich (leader of the Religious Zionism party) attacked the Arab members of Knesset and by inference at least, all Arab citizens of Israel saying, “You’re here by mistake, it’s a mistake that Ben-Gurion didn’t finish the job and didn’t throw you out in 1948.” The appalling cultural resonance of that remark makes the lack of condemnation by mainstream Jewish leaders all the more shameful.

Scroll to Top