Marking the centenary of the Balfour declaration, which laid the foundations for the State of Israel, the current Lord Balfour has expressed pride in his family’s assistance to the Jewish people.
Roderick Balfour had never before made a public statement about the famous declaration.
In a letter read aloud to Jewish leaders at the Limmud FSU regional conference in Britain, he wrote of the importance of the State of Israel as a refuge for persecuted Jews and described the declaration as “first and foremost a humanitarian act.”
“My family is very proud of the importance to Jewish people everywhere of this initiative by the British government of the day,” he wrote. “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 and 20th centuries. Thus, and this is what we are most proud of, the declaration was first and foremost a humanitarian act trying to repatriate a talented but much-persecuted people to the land of the original Judaic roots.”
On November 2, 1917, the UK foreign secretary, Lord Arthur Balfour, sent a letter to the leader of the British Jewish community, Lord Walter Rothschild, in which he stated his government’s support for a Jewish state in the area then known as Palestine.
“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,” he wrote, “it being clearly understood 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.”
Roderick Balfour, the 5th earl of Balfour, is the great-grandson of Arthur’s brother Gerald William Balfour. Arthur never married and died childless.
Balfour, who is also 5th Viscount Traprain, of Whittingehame, East Lothian, received both titles from his father in 2003. He does not sit in the UK parliament’s House of Lords but is a financial director who worked most recently as director of the Rothschild Trust Corporation.
— Limmud FSU Official (@Limmud_FSU) February 4, 2017