The Balfour Declaration

Fredy Winkler

As the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration was remembered in Israel and Great Britain at the beginning of November, British Prime Minister Theresa May stated, “We are proud to have played a role in the founding of the State of Israel.” This statement was received with displeasure in Palestinian circles. They called for Theresa May and the British government to apologize for this “crime” to the Palestinian people and—in their words—for the “catastrophe” that was caused by the founding of the Jewish state.

To mark the 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, there were numerous articles in Israeli newspapers that focused on the background circumstances that supposedly led the Foreign Minister at the time, Lord Balfour, to write the Declaration. Most of the articles pointed to the political explanations, such as endeavors to further extend the British Empire, but the suggestion that there was a religious motive behind the Declaration was generally denied.

One article, entitled “Christian Zionism and the Balfour Declaration,” was an exception to the general denial of a religious motive. The author, Eli Kavon, wrote that there is one aspect that all historians who have studied the Declaration have ignored; namely, the religious aspect. One of the most relevant reasons for the Declaration was religion, particularly Protestant Christianity.

The Zionist movement today is a Jewish movement, but back then, more than 100 years before modern Zionism, it was Christians who spoke up for the return of Jews to their country. He referred to Professor Shalom Goldman, who in his book Zeal for Zion, exposed the myth that there were only a few “Righteous among the Nations” who supported the founding of the Jewish state. Goldman wrote that until the end of the 19th century, most of the plans for Jewish nationhood in Palestine came from Christians. Those visionary ideas and plans were grounded in the conviction that the land of Palestine belonged to the Jews. That biblical belief was supported by Christians in the United States in the 19th century, and still prevails today. This not only applies to the United States, but also other countries, too. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Christians in England, who were favorably disposed toward Zionism, would have had a strong influence on Lord Balfour, leading him to write his famous Declaration.

Goldman wrote, “The religious convictions of Lord Arthur James Balfour influenced his political decisions, especially those that dealt with the question of the Jews returning to their homeland, because for him that represented the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.”

At the conclusion of his article, Eli Kavon wrote that there are undoubtedly Christians who consider the return of the Jews to their homeland to be a pre-condition for the return of Jesus Christ. He wrote that as an incidental statement, but of the many articles that were written to mark the 100-year anniversary, his article was the only one that brought up this important fact for Bible-believing Christians.

In most articles pertaining to the Balfour Declaration, the authors attempted to play down or even deny the religious motive. In connection with this important anniversary, apparently nobody wanted to mention the uncomfortable fact that many Christians consider the return of the Jews to their homeland to be a precondition for the return of Jesus Christ.

On the Palestinian side, there was also a preference not to bring up any troublesome facts. They were quite happy to discuss the “catastrophe” that the Balfour Declaration caused for them, but there was no mention that their repeated declines of peaceful solutions to the Palestinian question might have led to their catastrophe. For the most part, that is a fact they will not admit.

For those of us who believe in the truth of the Bible, Israel is the “hand on God’s clock” that tells us, “The time is near.”

In the knowledge that the time of His coming is near, I wish to greet you, dear readers, and wish you much goodness and God’s blessing for the coming year. At the same time, I’d like to thank you for your support and for all the work that you are able to do for our Lord.

News From Israel - 01/2018

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