British prime minister Theresa May views
the Balfour Declaration with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Jacob Rothschild at his house. The Balfour
Declaration, which is the birth certificate for the Zionist state, was actually a letter written to Lord Rothschild in 1917.
The letter stated Britain's support for a Zionist state in Palestine, which was in effect one party (UK) giving to a second
party (Rothschild Zionists) the land of a third party (i.e. Palestine, Palestinians). What the UK got out of the deal was
a promise by the Rothschilds to use their considerable power in the USA to influence Americans to join the battle that was
to become known as World War I. The sinking of the Luisitania did the trick.
The Rothschilds had more money than governments and didn't want it confiscated, they needed a safe haven to protect
their wealth. The Rockefellers and Rothschild Zionists set up
their "Federal" Reserve in 1913 along with their criminal collection agency the IRS.
The Balfour Declaration of 1917 showing the intent to make a "Jewish"
state in Palestine, against the Torah, then the Rothschild and Rockefeller families create the UN and about 1947
take over Palestine using their alliance with the British and the UN; Party A (Britain) gives Party B's property
(Palestine) to Party C (Rothscild's Zionist Israel). Sounds legit to me.
Why was Israel really created? Israel was created and funded by the Zionist
Rothschilds to protect their wealth. Here it is in 5-minutes:
The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November
1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter
Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation
of Great Britain and Ireland.
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, 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.
The text of the letter was published in the press one week later, on 9 November
1917. The "Balfour Declaration" was later incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with the
Ottoman Empire and the Mandate for Palestine. The original document is kept at the British Library.
The Balfour Declaration was a sham. Britain did not possess Palestine and had no right whatsoever
to promise Zionism a place in Palestine. Palestine at the time was controlled and effectively owned by Ottoman
Turkey. The Balfour Declaration did allow Zionism to say that its claim to Palestine had been recognized by a major
power, and then to assert that the Zionist enterprise was therefore a legitimate one. But the legitimacy Britain
conveyed by implication was entirely spurious, meaning not genuine, false, a sham.
The Balfour Declaration was dated November 2, 1917 (See:http://commons.wikimedia.org/.../File:Balfour_declaration...), and the British-led Egyptian Expeditionary Force, commanded by Edmund Allenby, captured Jerusalem
on 9 December 1917 and occupied the whole of the Levant following the defeat of Turkish forces in Palestine at
the Battle of Megiddo in September 1918 and the capitulation of Turkey on 31 October. The Balfour Declaration
was a sham.
Arthur James Balfour
The Forgotten Truth about the Balfour Declaration
years the British statement, which inaugurated Zionism’s legitimation in the eyes of the world, has been seen
as the isolated act of a single nation. The truth is much different.
British Lord Arthur Balfour in Jerusalem in 1925.
Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
November 2, 1917, a century ago, Arthur James Balfour, the British foreign secretary, conveyed the following pledge in a
public letter to a prominent British Zionist, Lord Walter Rothschild:
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, 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.
At the time, as World War I raged, British and Australian forces were fighting deep in Palestine
against the Ottomans, and were poised to take Jerusalem.
Balfour Declaration, for all its vagaries, constituted the first step toward the objective of political Zionism as outlined
by the First Zionist Congress at its meeting in Basle, Switzerland in 1897: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for
the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law.” Theodor Herzl had failed to land such a commitment, either
from the Ottoman sultan or from any of Europe’s potentates. The declaration was the much-awaited opening: narrow, conditional,
hedged, but an opening all the same.
“There is a British
proverb about the camel and the tent,” said the British Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann later that November. “At
first the camel sticks one leg in the tent, and eventually it slips into it. This must be our policy.” And so it became.
Debate Over the Declaration’s Meaning
Since the Balfour Declaration constitutes the beginning of Israel’s legitimation
by other nations, the declaration’s own legitimacy has been the subject of unending attacks. This is made easier with
each passing year, as the world that produced the declaration draws ever more remote. Few people today are sure why World
War I was fought at all, and Britain circa 1917 is best known through PBS costume dramas along
the lines of Downton Abbey. The Balfour Declaration? In the mind’s eye, one imagines back-and-forth negotiations
in the palaces of Whitehall and the gilded drawing rooms of the Rothschild dynasty, with white-gloved servants delivering
urgent sealed missives. Surely the declaration was stirred by similarly antique passions and interests, from safeguarding
England’s route to India to satisfying the Christian Restorationist imperative of returning the Jews to the Holy Land.
The content of the declaration seems no less distant or downright baffling. The prominent
Jewish intellectual Arthur Koestler, repeating a frequent mantra, would call it “one the most improbable political
documents of all time,” in which “one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.”
The fact that it included no explicit rationale for itself has also fueled the suspicion that its authors had dark or disreputable
motives. After all, it was issued in the name of the largest empire in history, embracing (or, perhaps, gripping) almost
a quarter of the world’s landmass and population. In the guilt-sodden litany of imperialism at its apogee, the Balfour
Declaration has enjoyed a certain preeminence as (in the words of the British Arabist Elizabeth Monroe) “one of the
greatest mistakes in our imperial history.”
The content of the Balfour Declaration seems distant or downright baffling. The prominent Jewish intellectual Arthur
Koestler, repeating a frequent mantra, called it “one the most improbable political documents of all time.”
The whiff of old-style imperialism also explains why
some Israelis and supporters of Israel have tended to downplay the Balfour Declaration’s significance. Some have tried
to shift the focus to the League of Nations mandate for Palestine, conferred on Britain in 1922, which not only incorporated
the declaration but helpfully added a rationale: it was “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine”
that formed “grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” Sixty years ago, the American lawyer
Sol Linowitz insisted that by itself the declaration was “legally impotent. For Great Britain had no sovereign rights
over Palestine; it had no proprietary interest; it had no authority to dispose of the land.” It was only in the League
of Nations mandate that “the victorious Allies in solemn proclamation recognized the prior Jewish rights to Palestine,”
and did so in “a formal international document of unquestionable legal validity.”
Another approach to downplaying the Balfour Declaration has been to skip straight to the
1947 UN General Assembly resolution endorsing the partition of Palestine into two states. An example is a recent article
by Galia Golan, a distinguished Hebrew University professor, headlined “Balfour Just Isn’t That Big a Deal.”
Her argument: the declaration was merely the pronouncement of a “colonial power,” whereas the 1947 resolution
constituted “international legitimacy,” conferred by “the international community as represented by the
It is interesting, then, that the late
Abba Eban, even though he played a major role in securing the 1947 resolution, thought otherwise. The events of 1947 and
1948, he wrote, “seemed to overshadow the Balfour Declaration” and “to have more revolutionary consequences.”
But in fact, by 1947 the Zionists could not be stopped: the Yishuv was “too large to be dominated by Arabs, too self-reliant
to be confined by tutelage, and too ferociously resistant to be thwarted in its main ambition” of statehood. In 1917,
by contrast, proposing the recognition of the right of the Jews to a “national home” in Palestine “was
to rebel against the inertia of established facts” and against “mountainous obstacles of rationality.”
In Eban’s view, the Balfour Declaration thus stands alone as “the decisive diplomatic victory of the Jewish people
in modern history.”
And so indeed it has largely been
taken. The declaration has come to be remembered as either the moment of conception for Israel (and what the pro-Zionist
parliamentarian Richard Crossman called “one of the greatest acts of Western statesmanship in the 20th century”)
or the original sin against the Palestinian Arabs (and what the Palestinian scholar-activist Walid Khalidi recently called
“the single most destructive political document on the Middle East in the 20th century”). In this sense, the
declaration’s centennial is truly “a big deal.” According to various announcements, come November, it will
be celebrated by Israel, protested by the Palestinians, and “marked” by Britain.
Few of the celebrants or the protesters, however, will have much understanding of what
produced the Balfour Declaration—which should not be surprising. Even historians cannot agree, which assures that almost
no one who hasn’t studied the history of it is likely to have a clue.
II. Chaim Weizmann’s Forgotten Partners
The various views of Britain’s
motives need only be summarized here.
In 1916 and 1917, the
Allied powers (Britain, France, Belgium, Russia, Italy, and later the United States) were locked in a devastating war with
the Central powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire) and fearful that they might be fought to
a draw. Hence the most documented explanation for the declaration is that the British government hoped to persuade Jews
in two wavering Allied countries, the United States and Russia, to insist that their governments stay in the war until total
victory. Jewish influence, the British thought, would tilt the debate in Washington and St. Petersburg and could best be
activated by the promise of a Jewish restoration to Palestine. This was married to a (misplaced) fear that Germany might
steal a march on the Allies by issuing its own pro-Zionist declaration.
To us today, this seems like a vast exaggeration of the power of Jews at the time. But British policymakers believed
in what the British Zionist Harry Sacher once called “the great Jewish legend”:
That legend finds its crudest and its stupidest expression in the Protocols
of the Elders of Zion [wrote Sacher], but many even of those who reject a forgery and a lie have a residual belief
in the power and the unity of Jewry. We suffer for it, but it is not wholly without its compensations. It is one of the
imponderabilia of politics, and it plays, consciously or unconsciously, its part in the calculations and the decisions of
The second explanation is that the
British rushed to embrace Zionism as a means of justifying their own claim to Palestine in the anticipated postwar carve-up
of the Middle East. The British, as patrons of the Jews, could exclude their French ally from Palestine while claiming to
champion the “self-determination” of a small people. While this explanation differs from the first, it shares
with it a straightforward assumption: needing Zionism for their own ends, the British required very little prodding to produce
the Balfour Declaration.
But in the collective memory of Zionists
and Israelis, there is another factor: the persuasive genius of one man, Chaim Weizmann. That telling goes like this: Weizmann,
famed biochemist and later head of the English Zionist Federation, managed single-handedly to win over Britain’s leading
politicians and opinion-makers to the Zionist idea. The Weizmann saga unfolds behind the scenes in London drawing rooms,
where this Russian Jewish immigrant, having arrived in England only in 1904, succeeds in persuading—some might say,
seducing—the likes of Balfour, Mark Sykes, Alfred Milner, and David Lloyd George, who would soon hold the fate of
the Middle East in their hands. The Balfour Declaration is the triumph of one man’s indefatigable will, and his personal
effect upon a handful of British statesmen.
as early as January 1918, cast Weizmann in this heroic role:
The declaration is the personal achievement of one man alone: Dr. Chaim Weizmann. Four years of patient and calculated
work established the link between us and each one of the statesmen in this country. The important people of England speak
openly of his personal charm as one of the most effective factors in Zionist propaganda in England. The endorsement of Zionism
by most of the Rothschilds in London is also due to his influence. . . . In our history, the declaration will remain linked
to the name of Weizmann.
In the decades that
followed the Balfour Declaration, Weizmann would go on to a famed career as a leader, spokesman, and diplomat of Zionism,
culminating in his election as Israel’s first president. In 1949, he published his autobiography, Trial and Error, translated over the next two years into Hebrew, German, Dutch, Swedish,
Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, and a few years later French. This work firmly cemented his place in the Zionist pantheon as
the man who brought forth the declaration. He died in 1952; when, in 1967, Israel celebrated the 50th anniversary of the
Balfour Declaration, it issued two stamps, one depicting Balfour, the other, Weizmann.
True, when one consults the website of Yad Weizmann, the institute that houses his archives, one discovers that Weizmann was not alone: “there were additional partners in this success.” Still, “the achievement
is generally identified with Chaim Weizmann, who quickly became the prominent Zionist leader of his generation.”
When the fuller story is told, the Balfour Declaration looks very
different. It is no longer a British imperial grab but the outcome of a carefully constructed consensus of the leading democracies
of the day.
Who were these “additional
partners”? Their contribution has been largely forgotten. But when the fuller story is told, the Balfour Declaration
looks very different. It is no longer a British imperial grab but the outcome of a carefully constructed consensus of the
leading democracies of the day. It is no longer in tension with the principle of self-determination, but a statement made
possible by the very champion of the principle. And it is no longer an emanation of secret dealings but one of the first
instances of public diplomacy. It is, in short, not a throwback to the 19th century but an opening to the 20th.
The key to understanding the fuller story is this: in regard to Palestine, Britain could
not have acted alone, because it belonged to an alliance. The Allied powers, especially Britain and France but also Russia,
Italy, and later America, were fighting together. Their policies had to be coordinated. It would have been unthinkable for
Britain to have issued a public pledge regarding the future of territory yet to be taken in war without the prior assent
of its wartime allies—especially those that also had an interest in Palestine.
This fact is entirely obscured by the Balfour Declaration’s form. The letter was written on
behalf of His Majesty’s government and no other. The declaration was approved by the British cabinet and no other.
It was signed by the British foreign secretary and no other. On the face of it, the declaration was a unilateral British
letter of intent. In truth, in expressing a broad consensus of the Allies, it might even be seen as roughly comparable to
a UN Security Council resolution today.
To appreciate this,
it is necessary to shift the focus away from London to Paris, Rome, and Washington; and away from Chaim Weizmann to a Zionist
leader now barely remembered: Nahum Sokolow.
III. Enter Nahum Sokolow
Nahum Sokolow? Most Israelis
know a Sokolow Street—several older Israeli cities have one. Fewer can locate Beit Sokolow, the headquarters of the
Israeli Journalists’ Association in Tel Aviv, or know of the biennial Sokolow Prize, a journalism award. Scarcely anyone
is aware that Sde Naḥum, a small kibbutz in the Beit She’an valley, is named after him.
But as this short list suggests, Sokolow has been almost entirely forgotten. Unlike Weizmann,
no institute or memorial bears his name, no currency or stamp bears his image. He is buried on Mount Herzl, where he was
reinterred in 1956, two decades after his death. Even then, an Israeli newspaper reported that “those born in Israel
and the new immigrants who encountered the funeral processions, asked: ‘Who is this Nahum Sokolow?’” Today,
more than 80 years after his death, only a few historians remember Sokolow, and none has troubled to produce a scholarly
Who then was he? Nahum Sokolow was born sometime
between 1859 and 1861 in central Poland and received a traditional rabbinic schooling. But he taught himself secular subjects
and soon gained renown as a prodigy, a polyglot, and a prolific writer on a vast array of subjects. In 1880 he moved to
Warsaw and later assumed the editorship of the Hebrew journal Hatsefirah, which became a daily in 1886. There he contributed a popular column and wrote much of the
rest of the paper, so that his fame spread with the spread of modern Hebrew. He was soon acknowledged as the world’s
most prominent Hebrew-language journalist.
In 1897, Sokolow
reported from the First Zionist Congress and fell under the spell of Herzl. It was he who translated Herzl’s utopian
novel Altneuland into Hebrew and who gave it the Hebrew title Tel
Aviv, which a few years later became the name of a new Jewish city. Leaving daily journalism in 1906,
he became the secretary general of the World Zionist Organization, which was struggling after the death of Herzl two years
Sokolow is the entry point
into the fuller story of the Balfour Declaration. Indeed, at the time of the declaration, many Jews around the world gave
him more credit for it than they gave to Weizmann.
Sokolow thereupon threw himself into lobbying, diplomacy, and propaganda, traveling across Europe, America, and
the Ottoman Empire. In 1911, he was elected to the Zionist Executive; in 1914, following the outbreak of war, he relocated
to Britain, where he joined forces with the dynamic young Chaim Weizmann in the campaign to win British recognition for
Sokolow is the entry point into the fuller story
of the Balfour Declaration. Indeed, at the time of the declaration, many Jews around the world gave him more credit for
it than they gave to Weizmann. This was partly because Sokolow the Hebrew journalist was better known than Weizmann the
biochemist. As Herzl’s contemporary, he was also senior to Weizmann in age and in his standing in world Zionism.
But Sokolow was also given credit because he accomplished what many thought impossible:
during the spring of 1917, he secured the explicit or tacit assent of the French and Italian governments, and even of the
Catholic pope, to a Jewish “national home” under British auspices. How did he surprise everyone, including Weizmann,
by his achievement? Why has it been forgotten? And how might its recovery benefit the centennial retrospective on the Balfour
IV. Britain as a Repository of Zionist Hopes
In early 1917, the Zionists had one objective. There was
no doubt that the best prospects for Zionism lay in a total Allied victory over the German-backed Ottomans and the placing
of Palestine under an exclusively British protectorate. Only in Britain did Zionism have sufficient support in governing
circles to overcome deep-seated opposition from critics and doubters across Europe, including among influential Jews opposed
to Zionism. And only Britain had the mix of strategic interests, military power, and political will to enforce its writ
But the Zionists faced two problems. The first:
Britain had already promised to share Palestine with its wartime allies. The second: the Zionists didn’t know it.
The Zionists faced two problems. The first: Britain had already promised
to share Palestine with its wartime allies. The second: the Zionists didn’t know it.
In the spring of 1916, Britain, France, and Russia had finalized a secret agreement to
partition the Ottoman empire upon its eventual defeat. This was the “Asia Minor Agreement,” commonly known as
the Sykes-Picot accord after the British negotiator Sir Mark Sykes and his French counterpart, the diplomat François
Georges-Picot. The agreement divided the Levant and Mesopotamia between Britain and France, along an east-west “line
in the sand” from the Mediterranean to the western border of Persia. (Russia was to receive a large swath of eastern
But Palestine involved so many conflicting interests
that it needed a special status. According to the Sykes-Picot map, the northern Galilee would to go to France; the ports
at Haifa and Acre would be allotted to Britain; and the center of the country, including Jerusalem and Jaffa, was to come
under “an international administration the form of which is to be decided upon” through consultation with all
of the Allies, who also included Italy and Tsarist Russia. If the Sykes-Picot agreement had been implemented, it might well
have destroyed the prospects of Zionism. Weizmann later described it as “fatal to us.”
Fortunately for the Zionists, David Lloyd George, who became prime minister at the close
of 1916, thought that the Sykes-Picot agreement had given too large a place in Palestine to the French. Britain, after all,
would do nearly all of the expected fighting and dying against Ottoman forces in the Sinai and Palestine. So Sykes was tasked
with revising the Palestine portion of the Sykes-Picot accord in such a way as to leave Britain with the lion’s share.
The French, represented by Picot, resisted, insisting that their own claim to Palestine was at least equal to Britain’s.
It was at this moment that Sykes “discovered” Zionism. “It seems at first
a strange enough story,” Sokolow later wrote. “A certain Sir Mark appears, he makes some inquiries, and then expresses a wish to meet the Zionist leaders. Finally
a meeting actually takes place and discussions are entered upon.” That meeting took place on the morning of February
7, 1917, at a private home in London. Sykes there met the foremost leaders and sympathizers of the Zionist movement: Sokolow,
Weizmann, Lord Walter Rothschild, James de Rothschild, and Herbert Samuel. From the record of that meeting, it is clear that
Sykes held out the prospect that Britain might grant the Zionists some form of recognition—on condition.
“France,” he told them, “was the serious difficulty. . . . The French
wanted all Syria and [a] great say in Palestine.” Sykes proposed that the Zionists approach Picot in order to “put
the Jewish views” before him and “convince” the French. Some of the Zionists in the room resisted the
idea, arguing that Britain should do the work, but Sykes thought otherwise. James de Rothschild finally replied that Sokolow
was “the proper person” who could “speak for the Russian Jews also.” Sykes agreed to introduce Sokolow
to Picot the following day.
Why was Sokolow “the proper
person”? Harry Sacher, a protégé of Weizmann who was present at the London meeting, later characterized
Sokolow was the diplomatist
of the Zionist movement, the diplomatist of the school of the Quai d’Orsay [the French foreign ministry]. His handsome
appearance, his air of fine breeding, his distinguished manner, his gentle speech, his calculated expression, his cautious
action, his well-cut clothes, his monocle, were faithful to a tradition which perhaps is not so highly honored as before
the war. . . . Diplomats and ministers felt that he belonged to their club, spoke their language, and was one of themselves.
He practiced their art and was entitled to their privileges.
Sokolow made the impression of a statesman, albeit one without a state, and this went beyond his prodigious mastery
of European languages. One admirer attributed his diplomatic finesse to his being “a European through and through,
internally as well as externally, in his Weltanschauung and manners. . . . He shined in the presence of Woodrow Wilson,
Paul Painlevé, George Clemenceau, and Arthur James Balfour.”
And while Sokolow represented no state, Europe’s leaders saw in “this little bent Jew,” still
bearing Russian nationality, an authentic spokesman of the Jewish masses of Russia and Poland, who could move them in the
desired direction by the power of his words. He seemed to personify what Sacher called “the great Jewish legend,”
as a cosmopolitan leader of the “great Jewry” to which Sykes and others attributed a vast, subterranean influence.
so Sokolow went forth—first to engage with Picot in London, then back and forth to Paris, with an unexpected detour
to Rome, all in close coordination with Sykes. It was a daunting mission. Sokolow’s task was to persuade the French
not just of the feasibility of the Zionist project but also of the virtues of a British protectorate over Palestine. On
the face of it, both propositions should have seemed preposterous to the French. Zionism enjoyed little support among French
Jews, and the French had already been promised a share of Palestine equal to Britain’s in the Sykes-Picot accord (the
details of which Sykes had kept secret from Sokolow and Weizmann).
Yet Sokolow managed not only to disarm suspicion of the Zionist program; he even succeeded in extracting statements
of support. Most books on the Balfour Declaration do devote a chapter to the story. (Prime instances: Leonard Stein: “Sokolow
in Paris and Rome.” Isaiah Friedman: “Achievements in Paris and Rome.” Ronald Sanders: “Sykes and
Sokolow in Paris and Rome.” Jonathan Schneer: “Sokolow in France and Italy.”) With a nod of acknowledgment
to them all (and apologies for some simplification), here is a quick summation of Sokolow’s achievements.
After two preparatory meetings with Picot in London, Sokolow headed for Paris. In two
separate rounds of talks (punctuated by a trip to Rome), he thrice met Jules Cambon, secretary-general of the foreign ministry
and one of the great French diplomats of the day, and the second time around had an audience with Prime Minister Alexandre
Ribot. To Picot in London, Sokolow had expressed an open preference for British protection, and Picot pushed back. So in
Paris he instead emphasized the feasibility of the Zionist project and how it animated Jewish opinion in Russia and America.
Two leading historians of French policy, Christopher Andrew and A.S. Kanya-Forstner, described
this revised approach as “more diplomatic, more conciliatory, and more misleading.” The French expressed a general
sympathy for Zionism, but Sokolow then had the bold temerity to ask for it in writing. And he received it. On June 4, 1917,
Cambon issued him a letter (on the prime minister’s authority), which not only anticipated the Balfour Declaration
but cleared the way for it.
expressed a general sympathy for Zionism, but Sokolow had the temerity to ask for it in writing. And he received it. On
June 4, 1917, they issued him a letter that not only anticipated the Balfour Declaration but cleared the way for it.
The Cambon letter, almost as forgotten as Sokolow,
was addressed to him and is worth quoting in full:
were good enough to present the project to which you are devoting your efforts, which has for its object the development
of Jewish colonization in Palestine. You consider that, circumstances permitting, and the independence of the Holy Places
being safeguarded on the other hand, it would be a deed of justice and of reparation to assist, by the protection of the
Allied Powers, in the renaissance of the Jewish nationality [nationalité juive] in that land from
which the people of Israel were exiled so many centuries ago.
The French government,
which entered this present war to defend a people wrongly attacked, and which continues the struggle to assure the victory
of right over might, can but feel sympathy for your cause, the triumph of which is bound up with that of the Allies.
I am happy to give you herewith such assurance.
As Weizmann’s biographer Jehuda Reinharz has noted, the Cambon letter “in content and form was much
more favorable to the Zionists than the watered-down formula of the Balfour Declaration” that followed it. The French
accepted a rationale in terms of “justice” and “reparation,” and acknowledged the historical Jewish
tie to the land. The letter bound Zionism to the cause of all the Allies, and made no reference at all to the rights of
“The Quai d’Orsay had been skillfully
and decisively outmaneuvered” by Sokolow, according to Andrew and Kanya-Forstner. “The Zionists now had a written
assurance of French support. France, however, had neither any assurance of Zionist support nor any prospect of obtaining
one.” The French obstacle to a possible British declaration had been neutralized.
“Our purpose,” explained Sokolow, looking ahead, “is to receive from the [British]
government a general short approval of the same kind as that which I have been successful in getting from the French government.”
On arriving back in London, he deposited the Cambon letter at the Foreign Office, where it stimulated a spirit of competition.
British officials who sympathized with Zionism now urged that Britain “go as far as the French.”
It was not only the Cambon letter that Sokolow secured during his continental sojourn.
“Yes, yes, I believe we shall be good neighbors!” These words, spoken to Sokolow by Pope Benedict XV on May 4,
1917, thoroughly departed from the previous Catholic approach to Zionism. The visit to Rome had been urged upon Sokolow
by the French and facilitated by Sykes. They had hoped that he might win over the government of yet another ally, Italy.
But the Catholic Church was no smaller prize: it claimed rights to holy places all over Palestine and maintained, as a matter
of theology, that the Jews had been dispersed as punishment for their refusal to accept Jesus as messiah. In 1904, Herzl
had met with Pope Pius X, who told him in no uncertain terms that “the Jews have not recognized our Lord, therefore
we cannot recognize the Jewish people.” “Non possumus”—we cannot.
Yet Sokolow had an amiable meeting with Benedict, in which the pontiff described the return
of the Jews to Palestine as “providential; God has willed it.” (Sokolow wrote up the exchange verbatim.) Sokolow
assured the pope that the Zionists would respect the Vatican’s immemorial rights over the holy places, and the pope
offered reciprocal assurances. The Italian government also gave Sokolow an assurance of its goodwill and sympathy. The Zionists
in London hadn’t expected Sokolow to go to Rome or, when he did, to gain an audience with the pope. Only weeks earlier,
Weizmann had written to Lord Rothschild that “I am afraid the Catholic influence is asserting itself very strongly
and is obscuring the political issues.” When Weizmann heard of the outcome at the Vatican, he congratulated Sokolow
on his “brilliant result.”
At that point, Britain
had pledged nothing, so Sokolow could be forgiven for informing Weizmann, from Paris, that “we have achieved here
no less—and maybe more—than in your country [England] where we have been working for nearly three years.”
In the months that followed, Weizmann and Sokolow worked in tandem with Sykes to close the gap and elicit a British declaration
of support building on Sokolow’s achievements on the continent. The history of these efforts has been researched and
analyzed in great depth. Here, too, Sokolow played a major role, drafting numerous documents, including the proposed formula
for the declaration submitted by the Zionists to Balfour. It was Sokolow who coined the phrase “national home.”
But a crucial portion of the story unfolded not in London but in Washington. For just
as Britain would never have moved on Palestine without the prior consent of its European allies, so it would not have acted
without the agreement of President Woodrow Wilson. In April 1917, the United States declared war on Germany (although not
on the Ottomans), making itself a major player in the anticipated post-war settlement. One more ally had to be persuaded
before Britain could move.
Here, too, Sokolow had an effect,
if only because he had recruited Louis D. Brandeis to the cause. This occurred during a whistle-stop visit by Sokolow to
America right before the war, in March 1913. Sokolow, Weizmann later reminisced, was “on the alert for new men—and
he found them. He was the Columbus, so to speak, who discovered Louis D. Brandeis.” And it was Brandeis, whom Wilson
named a Supreme Court justice in 1916, who led the campaign to gain an American buy-in to a British declaration. Brandeis
was kept fully in the picture about developments in Britain and on the continent; as Sokolow later wrote, “the negotiations
in political circles in England and France were known in America, every success was welcomed there with enthusiasm, and often,
also, received further support.”
The American policy
establishment was entirely hostile to Zionism: the Zionist idea seemed impractical, and missionary interests opposed it.
On the first ask, in September 1917, Wilson had withheld his approval. Only the second time around in mid-October, when Wilson
received the proposed text from London, did he change his mind. “I find in my pocket the memorandum you gave me about
the Zionist Movement,” he wrote to his trusted foreign-affairs adviser, Col. Edward House. “I am afraid I did
not say to you that I concurred in the formula suggested by the other side [Britain]. I do, and would be obliged if you would
let them know it.” House did so, discreetly—even Wilson’s secretary of state wasn’t informed.
“The support of the British government, when given, will be in conjunction and agreement with the Allied powers.”
So announced Weizmann at a Zionist conference in May 1917; as he well knew, it could not have been otherwise. If the French,
the Americans, or perhaps even the Italians had thrown cold water on the Zionist project, that would have broken the momentum
in London, leaving the Zionists without a British declaration. And so the triumvirate of Sokolow, Weizmann, and Brandeis
left nothing to chance. Thanks to their efforts, when the crucial moment came in the British war cabinet, Balfour could
claim the assent of the Allies: “Mr. Balfour then read a very sympathetic declaration by the French Government which
had been conveyed to the Zionists, and he stated that he knew that President Wilson was extremely favorable to the Movement.”
The Cambon letter proved indispensable. The historian Isaiah Friedman, who probably weighed
more evidence than anyone, believed that without it “there would have been no Balfour Declaration.” (Balfour
reportedly said the same to Sokolow.) As for Woodrow Wilson’s assent, the British war cabinet had insisted upon it;
without it, as the diplomatic historian Frank Brecher noted, the Balfour Declaration “almost certainly” would
not have been issued. Weizmann called it “one of the most important individual factors in breaking the deadlock created
by the British Jewish anti-Zionists, and in deciding the British government to issue its declaration.”
Despite appearances, the Balfour Declaration was more than the chess
move of a single power. Behind it stood the Allies, each of whom gave it some push forward.
Despite appearances, then, the Balfour Declaration was more than the chess move of a single
power. Behind it stood the Allies, each of whom gave it some push forward. And when Balfour finally issued it, no one doubted
that that the Allies stood by Britain’s side. Just after publication of the declaration, the Jewish
Chronicle of London affirmed that the British government had acted “in accord—it is
without doubt to be assumed—with the rest of the Allies.” The Zionist Review
described the declaration as “formal public recognition by Great Britain (and, that is, by the
Allies) that Israel as a nation lives and persists.”
Wise, chairman of the Provisional Zionist Committee in New York, knew all of the inside details of how Sykes and the Zionists
had canvassed for Allied “votes.” “It may be assumed,” he hinted, “that Britain is not acting
It is not for us to predicate that
England has spoken and acted in concert with her Allies, but we are justified in believing that England, ever working in
closest cooperation with her Allies in the war, will in the day of peace find herself not only supported by France and Italy,
but above all by the American government and people.
VII. Collecting Endorsements
The British issued the Balfour
Declaration on November 2, 1917. But the Zionists understood perfectly well that the Allies would have to be consulted once
more on the “day of peace,” and that Palestine as a “national home” for the Jews would be contested.
The Balfour Declaration thus opened another chapter, in which the Zionists worked to persuade each Allied government to
endorse it openly.
Here, too, Sokolow played the lead on the
continent, and it was no small task. The French had cooled; America was now well in the war, and Russia (after the Bolshevik
Revolution of November 1917) was out, so Jewish opinion in both countries no longer mattered much (assuming it ever had).
And there had been a change of government in France since the Cambon letter. In January and February 1918, Sokolow returned
to Paris, this time with the aim of securing a public French declaration in support of the Balfour Declaration. There he
met with the French foreign minister Stephen Pichon, an old friend, who assured him that nothing had changed in France’s
position since the Cambon letter.
But Sokolow asked for a
formal statement: an explicit French endorsement of the Balfour Declaration. American Jews would appreciate it, Sokolow
assured Pichon, and this would help France at the peace conference. So Pichon delivered an endorsement, and it was published
on February 10, 1918. Pichon affirmed that “the understanding is complete between the French and British governments
concerning the question of a Jewish establishment in Palestine (un établissement
juif en Palestine).” Sokolow was not satisfied with this phrase, which fell short of the “national home”
(foyer national) mentioned in the Balfour Declaration. So he pleaded with Pichon to use that phrase; on February
14, Pichon sent Sokolow another letter that did just that.
Zionists collected other endorsements, some outright, some with emendations. The most important came from Italy and Japan—the
two states that, along with Britain and France, would participate in the San Remo conference and become permanent members
of the Council of the League of Nations. In May 1918, the Italian government pledged to Sokolow to help “facilitate
the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national center (centro nazionale ebraico).” In January 1919, Japan informed Weizmann that “the Japanese Government gladly take note of the Zionist
aspirations to establish in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people and they look forward with a sympathetic interest
to the realization of such desire.” (Similar endorsements came from Siam and China, the other two then-independent
states of East Asia.)
Last but not least, in August 1918
Woodrow Wilson sent a letter to Stephen Wise expressing “satisfaction in the progress of the Zionist movement . .
. since the declaration of Mr. Balfour,” whose text Wilson repeated in its entirety. Wise announced that “the
conjecture of some,” that the Balfour Declaration “commanded the President’s approval,” had now
been “established as a certainty for all.”
Between his secret endorsement in October 1917 and his public one in 1918, Woodrow Wilson introduced a new principle
in international relations: self-determination.
Between Wilson’s secret endorsement of October 1917 and this public one, Wilson had introduced a new principle
in international relations: self-determination. “National aspirations must be respected,” said the president
in his “self-determination” speech of February 11, 1918. “Peoples may now be dominated and governed only
by their own consent.” From that point onward, critics of the Balfour Declaration would insist that it had denied
self-determination to the majority-Arab population. But how could facilitating the Jewish “national home” violate
Wilson’s principle, if Wilson himself (as Lloyd George put it) was “fully committed to the Balfour Declaration
and was, in fact, an enthusiastic supporter of the project it involved”? Wilson’s endorsement eased any Allied
doubt as to whether the Balfour Declaration conformed to the new rule of the international order.
The Zionists brought of all these endorsements to the peace conference in Paris in February
1919. Sokolow opened the Zionist presentation at the conference before the foreign ministers of Britain (Balfour), France
(Pichon), the United States (Robert Lansing), Italy (Sidney Sonnino), and Japan (Makino Nabuaki). In the era before the
United Nations and the League of Nations, there existed no higher international forum than this.
In his preface, Sokolow spoke of the Balfour Declaration as though it had been made by
all of the Allies:
In the midst of this
terrible war, you, as representatives of the Great Powers of Western Europe and America, have issued a declaration which
contained the promise to help us, with your goodwill and support, to establish this national center, for whose realization
generations have lived and suffered.
carefully chosen words, the Balfour Declaration had morphed into the Allied declaration. A monumental effort in many capitals
had permitted him to utter that sentence without fear of contradiction.
The San Remo conference in April 1920 was an extension of the peace conference. One of its tasks was to parcel out
former Ottoman territories into mandates, which the powers would administer as trusts on behalf of the League of Nations.
There the powers agreed that Britain would receive the League of Nations mandate for Palestine.
But what would it be mandated to do? Would it be charged with facilitating the “national
home”? The Balfour Declaration, if introduced into the mandate, would become part of international law. Absent that,
there would be no legal standing to the “national home.” Britain, at Zionist urging, sought to have the entire
Balfour Declaration inserted in the text of the mandate, and it was here that Sokolow’s 1918 efforts in Paris were
Since Sokolow’s triumph in Paris, there
had been another change of government in France, and the French had grown intransigeant. The lead French negotiator, Philippe
Berthelot, “knew not Joseph,” and attempted to exclude the Balfour Declaration from the mandate on the grounds
that it was an “unofficial declaration made by one power, which had never been formally accepted by the Allies generally.”
In particular, it “had never been officially accepted by the French government.”
Lord Curzon, Balfour’s successor as foreign secretary, replied that Berthelot “was
possibly not fully acquainted with the history of the question.” He then produced Pichon’s letter to Sokolow
and had the interpreter read it aloud. One “could hardly say that M. Pichon was unaware of the significance of the
declaration,” Curzon observed, adding that Pichon “had not only endorsed, on behalf of his own government, Mr.
Balfour’s declaration, but had added in his letter: ‘besides, I am happy to affirm that the understanding between
the French and British government on this question is complete.’”
A flailing Berthelot countered that “it was not in any way evident that M. Pichon had accepted the whole declaration
in its entirety.” But it certainly sounded as though he had. In the end, Pichon’s endorsement could not be undone.
Berthelot retreated, and the Balfour Declaration entered whole into the preamble of the League of Nations mandate—at
which point it acquired full legal standing in international law. The “national home” for the Jews in Palestine
had become a legal commitment of the international community. The Allied powers made Britain “responsible for putting
into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted
by the said Powers.”
VIII. The Weakness of Secret Pledges
The Balfour Declaration has often been weighed against
an earlier set of promises: in 1915 and early 1916, Britain made various pledges to Sharif (later King) Hussein of Mecca,
leader of the Arab Revolt, in a series of Arabic letters known as the Hussein-McMahon correspondence. In the letters, the
British promised Hussein that they would support Arab independence within certain borders—at the very least in Syria
and Mesopotamia, and possibly in Palestine. How was it that the Balfour Declaration became international law, while the
Hussein-McMahon correspondence ended up a dead letter? Answer: there was no Arab Sokolow.
Once Hussein had his secret pledges from the British, he made little effort to extract comparable
commitments from other Allies. In particular, Sykes tried to press Hussein’s son Faisal to act as Sokolow did and
come to some understanding with the French over Syria. McMahon had included a key reservation—namely, that the territories
promised for Arab independence were only those “in which Great Britain is free to act without detriment to interests
of her ally France.” As France’s interests in Syria (and Palestine) were well-known, this should have been a
powerful incentive to the Arabs to reach a thorough understanding with the French. But Hussein and Faisal never did, and
Faisal came to the peace conference in 1919 without any French chits.
Not only that: his British chits had been given secretly. At the peace conference in Paris, Lloyd George invoked
the British commitments to Hussein as though they were binding on France. Pichon objected: “This undertaking had been
made by Great Britain alone. France had never seen it until a few weeks before [this conference].” Lloyd George countered
that France “had for practical purposes accepted our undertaking to King Hussein.” Pichon: “How could
France be bound by an agreement the very existence of which was unknown to her?”
Pichon was exaggerating France’s ignorance, but because the Hussein-McMahon correspondence
was secret, knowledge of it could be denied. Faisal had entered a collision course with France, which in 1920 occupied Syria
by arms and threw him out of Damascus. Given French determination to rule Syria, a clash would have been difficult to avoid,
but the absence of an Arab Sokolow in Paris made it inevitable.
less significant, McMahon’s secret pledges were meant for Hussein’s eyes only. They weren’t publicized
to the Arabs until long after the war. The Balfour Declaration was something entirely different: a pledge to an entire people,
given before all the world. This was only partly obscured by the vehicle of the declaration: the letter addressed by Balfour
to Lord Walter Rothschild for conveyance to the (English) Zionist Federation. But the letter was no more than a convenience,
and Sokolow made light of it at a dinner on November 15, 1917 at which Lord Rothschild read the Balfour Declaration. Sokolow
quipped that it had been “sent to the Lord and not to the Jewish people because they had no address, whereas the Lord
had a very fine one.”
Declaration anticipated what later came to be called public diplomacy. The Zionist movement had no use for secret pledges
of the sort Britain gave to the Sharif Hussein of Mecca.
The Balfour Declaration thus anticipated what later came to be called public diplomacy. The Zionist movement had
no use for secret pledges of the sort Britain gave to Hussein. As Herzl insisted at the First Zionist Congress in 1897,
the movement sought “publicly legalized guarantees” since anything less “could be revoked at any time.”
Herzl took a dim view of “secret interventions” and called for “free and open discussion subject to constant
and complete monitoring by world public opinion.” The aim was to produce a public assurance by any government with
control or a say over Palestine, and have it incorporated in public law.
In this aspect, Sokolow, a journalist like Herzl, was Herzl’s truest disciple. It was Sokolow who coined the
Hebrew term hasbarah (“explanation”), a word that perfectly parallels public diplomacy in its modern sense. Sokolow saw hasbarah as the natural form of Zionist advocacy in the chancelleries of Europe, in editorial boardrooms, and in public speeches.
“We are not conducting any secret diplomacy,” he said in a London speech in
mid-1917. “Such a thing is obviously impossible for the Jewish people. The Zionist leaders are endeavoring to make
clear to the powers the aspirations of the Jewish people.” In 1919, he insisted that “in the whole proceedings
there are no secret treaties, no secret diplomacy, in fact neither diplomacy nor conspiracy; but they constitute a series
of negotiations, schemes, suggestions, explanations, measures, journeys, conferences, etc.”
While Sokolow may have seemed like a diplomat, even to professional diplomats, he thought
like a publicist, eager to get the story out. He took every assurance he received and made it public. Sokolow saw no point
in discretion for discretion’s sake. In mid-1917, he told a London audience that he and Weizmann had been “abundantly
successful” in winning over the French and British governments, that “our success with the Italian government
transcended all of our expectation,” and that Pope Benedict had given him “the warmest assurances of his sympathy.”
(News of Sokolow’s audience with the pope spread so widely that it gave rise to a joke: two Jews find themselves in
St. Peter’s Square, where they see two figures standing on the papal balcony. The one Jew asks the other: “Who’s
that next to Sokolow?”)
Wilson explicitly asked that
his prior approval of the Balfour Declaration not be made public, and it wasn’t. But the Zionists publicized every
other assurance. This had the dual purpose of spurring competition among the Allies and raising the morale of rank-and-file
Zionists. But above all, an open assurance, communicated to a vast public, could only be retracted at a cost.
Indeed, had the Balfour Declaration been issued as a secret letter to Zionist leaders
without having been cleared by the Allies (that is, like the British promises to Hussein), it would have never entered the
preamble of the mandate, and Britain probably would have disavowed it in the 1920s. In 1923, in light of growing Arab opposition,
a new British government did order a review of Palestine policy. Could the Balfour Declaration be abandoned? The review
committee (under Lord Curzon) noted that the declaration had been “accepted, not indeed without some reluctance, by
the whole of our Allies, that it met with especial favor in America, that it was officially endorsed at San Remo, that it
figured in the original Treaty of Sèvres, and that it was textually reproduced in the mandate for Palestine, which
was officially submitted to and approved by the Council of the League of Nations in July 1922.” Under those circumstances,
it was “well-nigh impossible for any government to extricate itself without a substantial sacrifice of consistency
and self-respect, if not of honor.”
The British would
no doubt have had far fewer qualms about violating a secret pledge made only to the Jews. A public pledge that had been
cleared and then seconded by the Allies was another matter. Britain wasn’t yet prepared to sacrifice honor on that scale.
IX. Why Sokolow Has Been Forgotten
How is it that the true nature
of the Balfour Declaration has been obscured, so that it is remembered solely as a product of British imperial will? Why
does no other government “mark” the centennial? (Apropos, June 4 marked exactly a century to the Cambon letter.)
Why has Israel itself failed to remind Washington, Paris, and Rome of their crucial roles, perhaps prompting them to express
their own pride in the decisive assurances they gave in 1917?
memory is the answer. It is easy enough to understand why the British would prefer to forget that they needed the prior approval
of Allies (the French, no less!). Initially, the British wanted the gratitude of the Jews for themselves. Later, when Zionism
became a burden, they wanted the exclusive prerogative to downgrade the “national home” in any way they chose,
without being second-guessed (by the Americans, of all people!). Even today, Britons ridden by imperial guilt over the Palestinians
want the privilege to wallow in it alone. Britain, in this view, has a unique obligation to “set things right”—a
remote echo of past imperial hubris.
But surely it is incumbent
on Israel to remember the Balfour Declaration for what it was: the carefully calibrated consensus of the nascent international
community circa 1917. Why has Israel forgotten?
are two reasons. First, when Britain became the mandatory power in Palestine, Zionism fixed its political action almost exclusively
upon London. After the peace settlement, sympathy toward Zionism dissipated in France, Italy, and the United States, and
the Vatican reverted to its traditional hostility. Britain became almost the sole support of Zionism. Weizmann spent the
interwar years tirelessly reminding Britain of its obligation to foster the “national home,” with steadily diminishing
results. His desperate strategy was to present the Balfour Declaration as thoroughly British, having emanated entirely from
the depths of Britain’s own supposed tradition of “gentile Zionism.”
Sokolow, too, wrote a polemical History of Zionism in two volumes, published in 1919, designed
to convince British readers that the Balfour Declaration capped centuries of the English love of Zion. The possibility that
France or Italy or the United States, for a moment’s lack of enthusiasm, might have nipped the whole thing in the
bud couldn’t be admitted.
But there was a second, pettier
reason. Weizmann wanted full credit for the Balfour Declaration. To secure it, he and his associates had to cut out of the
story all those parts in which he didn’t star. That included Sokolow’s diplomacy on the continent, which was
a solo performance.
full credit for the Balfour Declaration. To secure it, he and his associates had to cut out of the story all those parts
in which he didn’t star.
story of Weizmann and Sokolow, and Weizmann versus Sokolow, could fill a much longer essay and has yet to be told.
Suffice it to say that every aspect of Sokolow’s role in 1917 brought the tension between them close to the surface.
In his autobiography, Weizmann described Sokolow as lacking “practicality.” “He had no idea of time,”
claimed Weizmann, “or the meaning of a practical commitment.” Sokolow also allegedly suffered from an “over-diversification
of opinions and convictions,” and “was always in favor of compromise”—a dangerous trait, in Weizmann’s
These elements of distrust emerged strongly when Sokolow
accepted the mission to Paris. Weizmann disliked the very idea of him darting about the Quai d’Orsay, even under the
watchful eye of Sykes. In particular, Weizmann suspected, erroneously, that Sokolow might buy success in Paris with concessions
to the French in Palestine, encouraging them to press for a standing equal to Britain’s. “Your work in France,”
Weizmann warned Sokolow, “may be interpreted as negotiations on behalf of our movement in favor of France. On no account
[is] such [an] impression admissible.”
that missive by demanding that Sokolow return to London. For his part, Sokolow dismissed the notion that his mission might
encourage French ambitions as “pure imagination.” “Either you have not received my letters,” he wrote
to Weizmann, “or you have not had time to go through them.” Sokolow remained on the continent for a full six
weeks, working alone and in tandem with Sykes.
No one could
argue with the results: Sokolow had performed beyond anyone’s expectations. According to Jehuda Reinharz, Weizmann
had “underestimated Sokolow’s skills as a diplomat.” But of course Weizmann did not fail to put the assurances
made to Sokolow to good use in Britain, and even stretched them when it served the cause. “Our friend, chief, and
leader, Mr. Sokolow,” he announced in a speech to the English Zionist Federation on May 20, 1917, “has been both
in France and in Italy, and from both these governments he has received assurances of full sympathy and full support.”
Full? Not exactly. And this: “We have assurances from the highest Catholic circles
that they will view with favor the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine.” This was an elastic interpretation
of Pope Benedict’s words to Sokolow.
Then, once the
Balfour Declaration was issued, Weizmann reversed gears, and it became his habit to minimize Sokolow’s achievement.
Sokolow himself offered an explanation in 1918, after his return from Paris where he had secured Pichon’s endorsement
of the Balfour Declaration:
In our offices [in
London], I found Weizmann and reported to him the results of my effort in Paris. I can’t resist the impression that
he is not sincere, and that ambition eats him whole. It seems to me that he increasingly forgoes calm and objective consideration,
and instead operates out of personal motives, which arise from his anxiety. He is very suspicious, fears rivals, and brooks
no opposition. I showed him the French document. He said, that’s very fine, but I felt he saw it as some sort of competition.
The American Zionist leader Stephen Wise later wrote that a “deep abyss” opened
up between Sokolow’s and Weizmann’s versions of how the Balfour Declaration came to be. Weizmann’s wife
Vera alluded to this in her memoirs in recalling a Zionist congress convened in the early 1920s. Some of the delegates,
were rather jealous that one man
from the little [Russian] village of Motol [Weizmann’s birthplace] should have secured the Balfour Declaration. The
Polish Jews in particular felt like this since they would have preferred Nahum Sokolow, the father of the Hebrew press,
to have been the initiator of the Declaration. To smooth over their ruffled feelings, Schmarya Levin, who was never at a
loss for words, told the story of two Jews who were arguing as to which was more important—the sun or the moon. At
length they decided that the moon was more important: the sun gives light in the day-time, when it is light out anyhow,
whereas the moon gives light when it is dark!
of the two men lined up, and it wasn’t necessarily along the Polish-Russian divide. Lewis Namier (originally from Poland),
a British historian and an admirer of Weizmann, dismissed Sokolow as a “little Jewish faktor [sales agent] now raised to the level of pseudo-statesmanship.” Reubin Brainin (originally from Russia), a
publicist and an admirer of Sokolow, claimed that “it was Sokolow, perhaps more than Weizmann, who won the sympathy
of prominent British Jewish figures theretofore indifferent to Jewish national aspirations in Palestine.”
Into the 1930s, Sokolow’s disciples still claimed the Balfour Declaration as his
achievement. But Sokolow did practically nothing to promote his version. Vain he may have been, but he never got around to
writing his memoirs, even of the events leading up to the Balfour Declaration. According to his son, Sokolow made notes
and even started filing material, but he died in 1936 without having written anything.
Weizmann, by contrast, told his version many times. In his Trial and Error,
he devoted this single sentence to Sokolow’s diplomacy: “Sokolow was entrusted with the
task of modifying the attitude of the French, and of winning the consent of Italy and the Vatican—a task which he discharged
with great skill.” (This, while admitting that “the chief danger always came from the French.”) One of
Weizmann’s sharpest critics detected a pattern: “The most conspicuous feature of Dr. Weizmann’s appraisal
of Nahum Sokolow are the omissions. In many phases of Zionist history the latter played an important role, to which no reference
is made in Trial and Error.”
The historian Mayir Vereté wrote that “it is not easy to decide whether [Weizmann’s] share was greater than that of Sokolow” in securing
the Balfour Declaration. That assertion has been contested by Weizmann’s biographers (although one, Norman Rose, has
admitted that Sokolow’s contribution was “often overlooked in the wake of Weizmann’s achievements”).
But the question is not whether Sokolow has received less than his due. Until a biographer researches Sokolow as thoroughly
as others have researched Weizmann, there cannot be an answer. The problem is that the forgetting of their partnership,
perhaps the most consequential in the history of Zionism, didn’t only erase Sokolow from memory; it erased awareness
of the Allied antecedents of the Balfour Declaration. The earliest Zionist success in mobilizing international legitimacy
became a story of collusion between a wily British Jew and a clutch of British imperialists.
Retreat from the Declaration
For two decades, Weizmann led the Zionist struggle to hold Britain to its promises, to close what he recognized
as “the gap between the promise of the [Balfour] declaration and the performance.” But by the late 1930s, Britain
was in full retreat from the declaration; in the British White paper of 1939, Zionists saw its final abrogation. The White
Paper, which informed British policy throughout World War II, blocked Jewish immigration to Palestine at precisely the moment
when the Jews of Europe faced destruction. Britain attempted to set Palestine on a course to become an Arab state with a
As the sun set on Britain’s support
for Zionism, Weizmann argued that Britain hadn’t the right to discard or even interpret the Balfour Declaration on
its own. Why? Not because its text had appeared in the preamble of the League of Nations mandate. By 1939, the League was
in tatters. Instead, Weizmann cited the World War I commitments made to Zionism by the other
Allies. Britain had the “moral right” to rule Palestine only because the “civilized nations of the world”
had conferred it “for the explicit and direct purpose of helping to build up the Jewish National Home.” And
these nations did so because of Zionist exertions.
not the British government of the time—1917-18—encourage us, the late lamented leader Sokolow, myself, and other
friends who were working in the cause of Great Britain and Palestine, to go to France, Italy, America, and plead—I
do not exaggerate this contribution—that the mandate should be given to Great Britain? We were encouraged to do it.
We were encouraged to bring in our people. We were encouraged to pour out all that was best in us because we trusted in
the word of Britain; that was for us the rock on which we were to build in Palestine.
The Balfour Declaration did not legitimate Zionism. It was Zionism,
through its diplomatic efforts, that legitimated the Balfour Declaration.
Thus did Weizmann, at his lowest ebb, admit the true character of the Balfour Declaration.
It had not legitimated Zionism. It was Zionism, through its diplomatic efforts among “civilized nations,” which
had legitimated the Balfour Declaration. Not only had its issuance depended on the tacit or explicit agreement of the Allied
powers, but that agreement had been secured by the Zionists themselves—by Weizmann, Brandeis, and, above all, by the
lamented but forgotten Sokolow.
XI. Time to Fix the Distortions
The centennial of the Balfour Declaration is the perfect
opportunity to chip away at the distorted accretions of a century. The largest of these is the notion that the Balfour Declaration
arose outside any legitimate framework, as the initiative of a self-dealing imperial power. This is utterly false. The Balfour
Declaration wasn’t the isolated act of one nation. It was approved in advance by the Allied powers whose consensus
then constituted the only source of international legitimacy. Before Balfour signed his declaration, leaders and statesmen
of other democratic nations signed their names on similar letters and assurances. The Balfour Declaration anticipated a world
regulated by a consortium of principal powers—the same world that, 30 years later, would pass a UN resolution legitimating
the establishment of a Jewish state.
This centennial is thus
the time to remind governments of their shared responsibility for Britain’s pledge to establish a Jewish “national
home” in Palestine. In Washington, Paris, Rome, and Vatican City, it is important for Israel’s ambassadors and
friends to speak openly of the historic and essential role of each government in the gestation of the declaration. The same
should be done in all of the capitals that endorsed the Balfour Declaration after its issuance, but before it was enshrined
in the mandate. That would include Beijing and Tokyo.
American role deserves particular emphasis. Few Americans know that Wilson approved the Balfour Declaration in advance, or
that this approval had a decisive effect in the British cabinet. The United States never entered the League of Nations,
and so never ratified the mandate. But in June 1922 the United States Congress passed a joint resolution (the so-called
Lodge-Fish resolution) that reproduced the exact text of the Balfour Declaration (“the United States of America favors
the establishment in Palestine,” etc.). President Warren G. Harding signed the resolution the following September.
The centennial is a unique opportunity to remind the American public of these facts, all of which point to America’s
shared responsibility for the Balfour Declaration.
commemoration will take place in Britain, and here it is imperative that Israel and its friends insist on a full accounting
of Britain’s record. The past months’ attempt by the Palestinians to force Britain to “apologize”
for the Balfour Declaration has already failed. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas demanded such an apology several
times over the past year, most notably in a speech at the United Nations, where he cited “the catastrophes, misery,
and injustice this declaration created.” In April, the British government informed the Palestinian Authority that it “does not intend to apologize”:
We are proud of our role in creating the state of Israel. . . . Establishing a homeland for the Jewish people in
the land to which they had such strong historical and religious ties was the right and moral thing to do, particularly against
the background of centuries of persecution.
Britain may be, but Israel cannot forget that in May 1939 the British unilaterally abrogated the Balfour Declaration, shutting
down Jewish immigration to Palestine. This act had no legal foundation. The Permanent Mandates Commission of the League
of Nations concluded that the White Paper “was not in accordance with the interpretation which, in agreement with
the mandatory power and the Council, the commission had always placed upon the Palestine mandate.” Not only did Britain
freely reinterpret the “national home” so as to preclude a state, but Britain even denied that it meant a haven.
So Britain barred Europe’s Jews from entry to their legally recognized “national home,” and Jews perished
in the millions.
If the 1917 Balfour
Declaration is now to be deemed a source of British pride, its 1939 abrogation should be deemed a source of British shame.
The subject of Britain and Europe’s Jews during
the Holocaust has been researched thoroughly. “Within the [Holocaust’s] greater circle of tragedy,” wrote
one historian, “there was a smaller one”: namely, Britain’s determination to keep desperate Jewish refugees
out of Palestine by every possible means. This must not be forgotten when Israel’s prime minister arrives in London
to “mark” the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Yes, this will be a chance to strengthen bilateral relations.
No, an apology is not demanded. But if the Balfour Declaration is now to be deemed a source of British pride, its revocation
should be deemed a source of British shame.
And what of the
other claim, that the Balfour Declaration disregarded the Palestinian Arabs? Balfour was not ignorant of objections to Zionism.
Its critics, he said in a 1920 speech, invoked the principle of self-determination, claiming that if applied “logically and honestly,
it is to the majority of the existing population of Palestine that the future destinies of Palestine should be committed.”
Balfour thought there was a “technical ingenuity” to this claim.
But, looking back upon the history of the world, upon the history more particularly of all the most civilized portions
of the world, I say that the case of Jewry in all countries is absolutely exceptional, falls outside all the ordinary rules
and maxims, cannot be contained in a formula or explained in a sentence. The deep, underlying principle of self-determination
points to a Zionist policy, however little in its strict technical interpretation it may seem to favor it.
This should be read as the codicil to the Balfour Declaration. The Cambon letter spoke
of “justice” and “reparation,” Pope Benedict cited “providence,” the mandate preamble
mentioned “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine.” These were all attempts to contain,
in a formula, that which Balfour said no formula could contain. The poetic simplicity of the Balfour Declaration resides
in its presumption that a home for the Jews in their land needs no justification. “How goodly are thy tents,”
the declaration proclaims. A century later, it still does.
Jews Killed Jews In Order To Create The State Of Israel
Now, when professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, Anthony Polonsky published a monumental
three volume work entitled “Jews in Poland and Russia,” and in Israel opinions are divided about the
wisdom of proposed nuclear bombing of Iran one should also remember the book of Naeim Giladi and his description
how Jews killed Jews in order to create the state of Israel. Naeim Giladi, is the author of the book: “Ben-Gurion’s
Scandals: How The Haganah and Mossad Eliminated Jews,” (Dandelion Books, LLC, Tempe Arizona, 2nd expanded
Giladi wrote this book first in Hebrew and then in Arabic upon arrival to the US where
he confirmed as an eye witness the facts concerning the Zionist bombings in Iraq, the rejection by Israel of Arab
peace overtures and the deadly violence inflicted by Jews on Jews in the cause of creating Israel. Then Stalin’s
intended Israel to be a “bone of contention” in the Middle East in the Cold War. Some observers mention
the possibility that Stalin also hoped to create Isarel as a Marxist state, part of the Soviet postwar empire.
Stalin’s decision do use the Zionists in establishing the
state of Israel after the Second World War, was motivated primarily by his intent to oppose the United States in the
oil rich Middle East. The temporary Soviet support for the Zionists materialized in the form of allowing 711,000
Jews to exit from countries behind the Iron Courtain, in 1945-1947 supposedly in order to emigrate to Palestine.
The Zionists advertised this migration under the code-name “Briha” - Escape of Jews
from Europe. In reality the vast majority of Jews preferred to go to the United States or stay in France. Of the
711,000 Jewish refugees, panicked by some fifteen pogroms staged by the NKVD in 1945-1947, with some Zionist assistance,
only 232,000 actually went to Palestine.
Only the Pogrom
of Kielce of the 4th of July, 1946, was described in the world press, naturally in the Soviet version. Fifteen
other pogroms in the satellite states, four of them in Budapest alone, were never reported in the world media or
were reported in such a way that they did not survive in public memory. The Zionists organized the groups of
Jewish refugees who left Poland mainly through the cities of Szczecin and Klodzko.
The Soviet terror apparatus in Kielce conducted show-trials of nine Poles, who under tortures signed
confessions and were immediately executed. Later their families provided evidence, that none of the executed men,
was present in Kielce on the 4th of July, 1946. The Bishop of Kielce, Czeslaw Kaczmarek was tortured for forty
hours and lost nineteen teeth before Jewish security officers were able to extract from him an incriminating statement.
They acted under the supervision of colonel Jozef Rózanski Goldberg, director of the ministry of national
security (MBP), who wrote threatening note to Bishop Kaczmarek: “I have smashed the faces of the lawyers,
and I warn you Bishop Kaczmarek, not to ever seek legal help.”
Dr. Roman Dzwonkowski, SAC described these events in Nasz Dziennik of May 20- 21, 2006, Nr . 117m (2527) “War
on the Catholic Church in the Polish People’s Republic (PRL 1945-1989).” These events happened during
the reign of terror of Jozef Berman, Moscow’s representative in Warsaw, in Soviet controlled Poland.
According to Stefan Korbonski, (former head of the military and the civil underground
resistance in Poland), during ten years after World War II, “Poles and Jews in World War II.” Polish
people lived under Jewish terror controlled by Stalinist Russia. Stefan Korbonski published a number of books on
wartime Poland, such as “The Polish Underground State” (ISBN o-88254-517-5). Stefan Korbonski received
the Righteous Gentile Award from Yad Vashem in Israel.
terror apparatus organized the departure for Palestine of Jewish war-veterans and provided them with weapons manufactured
in Czechoslovakia. In March 1947, the Soviet Union, represented by Andrei Gromyko, was the first member state
of the United Nations to demand the partition of Palestine and creation there of the state of Israel as a new
member of the UN. The UN authorized the Partition of Palestine in November 1947 and on May 14, 1948 the state of
Israel was founded.
The Israeli armed forces were officially
established on May 28, 1948. They were composed of the Haganah (the defense) and the Irgun Zwei Leumi (National Military
Organization.) The armed forces of the new Israeli state included 60,000 soldiers and officers, many of them veterans
of the Second World War. They occupied more land than they could settle with Jews present in Palestine where population
of million Arabs. The Israeli conquests provoked an Arab rally in defense of their homeland, which was confiscated
by the Jewish invaders from Europe, mostly Turkmen Khazar converts to Judaism. who did not have Semitic DNA>
Naeim Giladi, author of the book: “Ben-Gurion’s Scandals:
How The Haganah and Mossad Eliminated Jews,” was 12 years old when on June 1, 1941 during the riots provoked
by the British colonial forces, when several hundred Iraqi Jews were killed. In 1921, a British puppet, Amir Faisal,
became king of Iraq. He appointed many Jews to important government positions, including that of economics minister.
At that time “Zionism has sown dissension between Jews and Arabs” as a result of the British support
for the “Balfour Declaration.”
In exchange for helping
to bring the United States into the First World War, the British proclaimed Palestine as a “Jewish Homeland.”
This was done in a letter of November 2, 1917 written by the foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, to the chief Zionist
in Gr. Britain, Walter Rothschild (see John Cornelius: “The Hidden History of the Balfour Declaration.”)
The new bitterness, which did not previously exist, developed between Jews
and Arabs. British support for the Zionists and the British “tutelage” of Iraq was deeply resented
by the Iraqi Arabs, among whom grew an anti-Zionist backlash. The British occupied Basra in Iraq on April 12,
1941. They alleged that the local Jews pledged allegiance to them and provoked riots that served as a pretext for
intervention and looting by the British army, which occupied Bagdad on May 30, 1941. False rumor was spread that Jews
from Palestine were fighting alongside the British against the Iraqi’s near the town of Felujah. By June 2,
looting spread to the Jewish quarter in Bagdad damaging 1300 stores and 1000 homes.
The British Indian Gurkha units killed some 500 Jews in
the streets of Bagdad as a part of the British pacification and occupation of Iraq. Then the Zionists underground
was set up in Iraq.
The Zionist conquests in Palestine and
massacres of Arabs, such as in the village of Deir Yassin, strengthened the anti-British movement in Iraq. In
January 1948 riots broke out in Iraq against the British domination. When Israel declared its independence the
Iraqis closed the oil pipeline connected to the refinery in Haifa. As a Zionist, Naeim Giladi was imprisoned in
Abu-Gharib prison later used for torturing the Iraki prisoners by the CIA fifty years later as described in “One
Woman's Army by: The Commanding General of the Abu-Gharib Prison ... - Powell's Books Oct 12, 2005 – The
“One Woman's Army” by Janis Karpinski: In an outspoken memoir by Brigade General Janis Karpinski, who
received a Bronze Star for service in the Gulf War. The author Naeim Giladi escaped from Abu-Gharib in September
Six month later on March 19, 1950, a bomb exploded
in the American Cultural Center and Library frequented by Jews in Bagdad. On April 8, 1950 a bomb was thrown at
the Jews into El-Dar El-Bida Café, where Jews were celebrating the Passover and four of them were injured.
Leaflets were distributed calling on Jews to leave Iraq immediately. Very many Jews who had no property jammed emigration
offices to renounce their citizenship and to apply for permission to leave for Israel.
Jewish owned The Jewish owned Beit-Lawi Automobile Company building was damaged by a grenade on May 10,
1950 without any causalities. On June 3, 1950 grenade exploded harmlessly in the Jewish area El-Batawin and Zionists
sent telegrams to Israel asking for an increase of immigration quotas for Iraqi Jews. On June 5, another Jewish
building was damaged without killing anyone by a bomb explosion on El_Rasjid street. On January 14, 1951 a high-voltage
cable damaged by a grenade killed three Jews outside Masouda Shem-Tov Synagogue. By ten the exodus reached 600-700
Jews per day.
Contrary to the Zionist propaganda, Giladi writes: ”The
terrible truth is that the grenades that killed and maimed Iraqi Jews and damaged their property were thrown by
Zionist Jews.” The leaflets published by the Zionist underground in Iraq on March 16, 1950 and on April 8,
1950, called on Jews to leave Iraq immediately.
Wilbur Crane Eveland,
CIA agent stated in 1988 that: “In an attempt to portray the Iraqis as anti-American and to terrorize the
Jews, the Zionists planted bombs in the U.S. Information Service library and in the synagogues. Soon Leaflets
began to appear urging Jews to flee to Israel.. The Iraqi police later provided our embassy with evidence to show
that the synagogue and library bombings, as well as the anti-Jewish and anti-American leaflet campaigns, had been the
work of an underground Zionist organization, most of the world believed reports that Arab terrorism had motivated
the flight of the Iraqi Jews whom the Zionists had “rescued” really just in order to increase Israel’s
Jewish population.” (Wilbur Crane Eveland, “Ropes of Sand: America’s Failure in the Middle East,:
N.Y. Norton, 1980, pp 48-49).
Giladi writes that Israeli prime minister
David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) needed “Oriental” (Arab) Jews to farm the thousands of acres of land
left by the Palestinians, who were driven out by Israeli forces in 1948. Israel Shamir describes the hatred of
farm work and farm workers by the European Jews (“Jewish History, Jewish Religion”). Out of over one
million hectares owned by Jews in carist Russia less than 10% was worked by Jews themselves.
Giladi describes how Israel was using bacteriological methods and deliberately infected many Palestinians
with typhus and dysentery. He quotes Israeli daily, Hadashot of August 13, 1993 in which Sara Laybobis-Dar reported
interviews with Isarelis who had knowledge of the use of bacteriological weapons in the 1948 war. Mileshtin said
that bacteria was used to poison the wells of every village emptied of its Arab inhabitants and Moshe Dayan, a division
commander at the time “gave orders in 1948 to remove Arabs from villages, bulldoze their homes, and render
water wells unusable with typhus and dysentery bacteria.”
The Arab town of Acre was well defended and was situated on a creek named Capri. The Haganah put typhus bacteria
upstream into water flowing to Acre, the defenders got sick and Jewish forces were able to occupy that locality.
Haganah sent Jews dressed as Arabs into Gaza, then occupied by Egyptian soldiers, who caught them putting two cans
of bacteria, typhus and dysentery into the drinking water supply.
Giladi started his political activity because of contemptuous treatment by eastern European, mostly Polish
Jews of Jews from Islamic countries who were treated like “Negroes.” Among Jews, who came from Poland
there were many descendents of mixed marriages and their features differed from Semitic Jews in the Arab countries.
Giladi organized demonstrations in Ashkelon, against Ben-Gurion’s racist
policies and 10,000 people participated. They protested being treated as “second class” citizens in
Israel. The cease-fire with Egypt in 1970 brought enough tranquility to enable the “second class” Israelis
to demand equal treatment. They were called “Israel’s Black Panters” and proudly displayed posters
of personalities such as Martin Luther King, Malcom X, and Nelson Mandela.
Similar attitudes were common in Germany before WWI when the German Jews discriminated against the “Ost
Juden” who tried to migrate to Germany from the East. According to professor Israel Shahak at the end of the “golden
decade” of Jewish colonization and exploitation of Poland’s Ukrainian provinces in 1648 Khmelnytzky
rebellion broke out and possibly as many as 50,000 Jews were slaughtered Khmelnytzky’s Cossaks. At that
time the Jewish leadership became convinced, that Jews will be evicted from Poland sooner or later, as they were
evicted earlier from England, France, German states, and most recently from Spain.
The flight of Jewish money out of Poland to Berlin helped to finance in 1701 the creation of the
Kingdom of Prussia, the initiator of the partitions of Poland in 1762. When the international crime of the partitions
of Poland was taking place, the Germans evicted from western Poland masses of poor Jews called “Bettel Juden.”
Germans allowed only well-to-do Jews to remain in the Kingdom of Prussia.
The expressions “The Bettel Juden” as well as “The Ost Juden” were used
as contemptuous terms by German Jews, and they were similar in intent to the term “Jews from Islamic countries”
as it is used today in Israel.
When the Isareli authorities condoned the massacres of Palestinians
in Lebanon at Sabra and Shatilla, Naeim Giladi moved to the United States, revoked his Israeli citizenship and
became an American citizen. In order to publish his book translated into English, Giladi spent $60,000 out of
pocket, or rather out of proceeds from the sale of his house in Israel. He mentions that on Sept 12, 1990, the New York
State Supreme Court issued a restraining order, at the request of the Israeli government, to prevent the publication
of Victor Ostrovsky’s book, “By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer.”
(The New York State Appeals Court lifted the ban the next day.)
Giladi now considers the Zionst program to be criminal from the beginning, because Zionist leaders knew, that
in order to establish a Jewish state, they had to expel the indigenous Palestinians and import hundreds of thousands
Jews (first 232,00 from Soviet satellite states and then 547,000 from the Arab states). Vladimir Jabotinsky (Włodzimierz
Żabotyński) frankly admitted that such a transfer of population could only be brought by force and terror.
To drive Jews out of their homes in countries such as Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary
pogroms were staged by the NKVD in Kielce in the Soviet occupied eastern Europe. The best known of these is the
pogrom of Kielce on the 4th of July, 1946. There also occurred two pogroms in Bratislava and four pogroms in Budapest
in 1945-1947, etc. But the Pogrom in Poland received most publicity, because it could “kill two birds with
one stone,” so to speak: persuade the Polish Jews to leave for Israel, and convince the western powers that
only a strong Soviet hand could keep “anti-Semitic” Poland from “doing harm to Jews.”
Subsequently the Zionists organized, with Soviet permission, the exit of
some 711,000 Jews from countries behind the “Iron Curtin.” The Zionists also organized the terror in
the Arab states and caused the flight of Jews from Bagdad, Damscus, and other Arab cities in 1950-1951, and later.
In the early 1950s an Iraqi investigator published in Arabic
a book of the1950-51 bombings in Bagdad. The book was titled “Venom of the Zionist Viper,” in which
the anti-hero is Israeli emissary Mordechai Ben-Porat. Mossad, working through the US Embassy in Bagdad, bought up all
the books about the “Zionist Viper” and destroyed them.
Giladi writes about Zionist collaboration with the Nazis and states that Britain was able to force the Arab
governments to operate under pro-British leaders. And if, as in Iraq, these leaders were overthrown, then the
British would foment an anti-Jewish riot or two in order to use the riots as useful pretexts to invade the Arab
capital and reinstate the “right” leaders. In 1949, Israel sent the spy Mordechai Ben-Porat to Iraq,
to offer the government of el-Said in Bagdad, large financial incentives to enact a law that would take away the
citizenship from the Iraqi Jews so that they would be forced to migrate to Israel. Uri Avnery, writing in the
magazine Haolam Hazel, accused Ben-Porat of the Bagdad bombings. Ben- Porat is still called Morad Abu al-Knabel
or “Mordechai of the Bombs.”
Giladi asked Ben-Gurion:
why, since Israel is a democracy with a parliament, does it not have a constitution? Ben-Gurion answered: “Look
boy if we have a constitution, we have to write in it the border of our country. And this is not our border, my
dear.” Asked: “Then where is the border?,” Ben-Gurion answered: “Wherever the Sahal (Isareli
army) will come, this is the border.”
to Naeim Giladi “Jews killed Jews to create the state of Israel. ” He is the author of the book mentioned
before: “Ben-Gurion’s Scandals: How The Haganah and Mossad Eliminated Jews.” Ghiladi’s
book provides ample proof for that statement. Thus, in the process of creating, enlarging and consolidating the
state of Israel more than million two hundred thousand Jews were cruelly and brutally driven by terror from their
homes in Europe and in the Middle East. This was planned and done in order to create a Jewish state in Palestine
at the expense of the Palestinian Arabs.
The Hidden History of the Balfour Declaration
By John Cornelius
IN THIS article the author relates
what he believes to be the true story of how the British government came to issue what has come to be known as the Balfour
The Balfour Declaration took the
form of a letter, dated Nov. 2, 1917, from Arthur Balfour, foreign secretary of the British government, to Lord Walter Rothschild,
head of the organization of British Zionists. This letter promised that the British government would work to bring about
“a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.” (See box.)
I have written three earlier articles in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, on this subject,
and my views have evolved with the passage of time.1,2,3 What has not changed is my belief in a British-Zionist
trade whereby the Zionists assisted in bringing America into the war and, in return, the British promised them Palestine.
Among the things that have changed is my concept of the timing
of the agreement. The earliest article contained a chronology showing that the British received a plain-language copy of
the Zimmermann telegram (ZT) a few days after it was sent, encoded, from Berlin to Washington, on Jan. 16, 1917, and that the first formal meeting
between British Zionists and the British government took place on Feb. 7, 1917. It now appears that the basic agreement
was made several months before that time and what was betrayed to the British was not the text of the ZT, but rather the
code in which it was sent.
The story can begin about halfway through the First World War, in the autumn of 1916. We will
examine three components of the situation at that time: the military and naval positions and the status of British Zionist
On land, the war began in August 1914
with the German army facing enemies on two fronts. In accordance with a long-standing plan, the Schlieffen plan, Germany
attacked France first, hoping for a quick victory there, after which it could turn its full attention to the Russian front.
Events did not work out that way. The Germans did advance, through Belgium, deep into France, but they did not succeed in
enveloping Paris from the west, as had been the intention. By the end of 1914 a sort of stalemate had developed. A year and
a half later the location of the front had not changed greatly, and a continuous line of trenches ran from the Swiss border
almost to the North Sea. Both sides mounted offensives from time to time, with heavy loss of life, but the location of the
front changed by only a few miles.
The Germans fared
better on the Russian front, but that does not concern us here.
By the middle of 1916 the French army was largely exhausted, and the next big Allied offensive was undertaken primarily
by the British. The battle of the Somme began on July 1, 1916 and was one of the bloodiest in history. The British suffered
60,000 casualties (19,000 dead) on the first day alone. Total casualties were over a million, more or less equally divided
between the two sides. The location of the front shifted by a few miles.
Well before the battle ended, the British must have concluded that they would not be able to drive the Germans out
of France by frontal assault.
At sea, the situation
was delicate. Early in the war, on Nov. 3, 1914, Britain had declared the whole of the North Sea a theater of war and instituted
an illegal blockade of the adjoining neutral coasts and ports. The purpose of the blockade was to starve Germany into submission.
The American government protested but took no action.4
On Feb. 4, 1915 the German ambassador informed the American government that from Feb.18 a counter blockade would
be in force, and the territorial waters of Great Britain and Ireland, including the whole of the English Channel, were declared
a war area.
On May 7, 1915 the British liner Lusitania,
traveling from New York to Liverpool, was struck off the Irish coast by a single torpedo, which provoked a much larger secondary
explosion. The ship sank quickly, with the loss of almost 1,200 lives, 128 of them American.
There was strong American reaction to the sinking of the Lusitania, both popular and
diplomatic, and the U.S. came close to breaking off diplomatic relations with Germany. A meeting between the German ambassador
and President Woodrow Wilson on June 2 had the effect of calming matters for a time, but an exchange of diplomatic notes
occurred. The second American note, of June 10, led to the resignation of the American secretary of state, William Jennings
Bryan, who believed that neutrality required that American citizens be forbidden from traveling on ships bearing the flag
of any belligerent nation. And, in fact, Americans could perfectly well have traveled on American, Dutch, or Scandinavian
Although there had been no settlement of
the Lusitania case, feeling died down for a time. Then on Aug. 19, 1915 the British passenger steamer Arabic was
sunk off the coast of Ireland, with the loss of two American lives. Once again the possibility of war between the U.S. and
Germany loomed. In this case, however, Germany revealed that, following the Lusitania sinking, German submarine
commanders had been ordered not to sink liners without warning, and apologized and offered compensation. Although the Lusitania
matter still was not settled, following the Arabic apology German-American relations remained tranquil for several
The next cloud on the horizon was the “Sussex
incident.” On March 24, 1916 the French trans-channel steamer Sussex was reported torpedoed and sunk in the
English Channel, with the loss of several American lives. There seems to be some question as to whether the Sussex
was in fact torpedoed and sunk at all, but in any case, the American government issued an ultimatum, and the German government
was forced to acknowledge that the Sussex had been sunk by a German submarine and to agree that henceforth German
submarines would abide by the rules of “cruiser warfare,” a severe restriction which seriously handicapped
the submarine as a strategic weapon.
war, there were two schools of thought within the German government. One held that the submarine was a major strategic weapon,
with the potential of winning the war for Germany. The other held that the continued use of submarines against merchant
shipping would lead to continual incidents and ultimately bring America into the war on the side of the Allies, and that
therefore the use of submarines against merchant shipping was against Germany’s interest. By the fall of 1916 this
issue had not been resolved.
date back at least to 1903. In that year the sixth Zionist congress took place in Basel. It is referred to as the “Uganda”
congress because it dealt with an offer by the British government to make available land in Uganda for Jewish settlement.
The offer was seriously considered and was, in fact, approved by a majority of the delegates, but the debate proved to be
very divisive, and ultimately the offer was not taken up.
that period Arthur Balfour was British prime minister, and the Zionists had retained the London law firm of Lloyd George,
Roberts and Co. This firm was chosen because one of the partners, David Lloyd George, was an MP and thus in touch with Foreign
Office thinking.5 Both Balfour and Lloyd George must have given serious thought at that time to the question of
what the British government and the Zionists could do for each other.
That Balfour continued to think about this is shown by his statement at what Chaim Weizmann calls their second
meeting in 1915 (the first was in 1906): “You know, I was thinking of that conversation of ours, and I believe that
after the guns stop firing you may get your Jerusalem.”6
British-Zionist negotiations date back at least to l903.
the other hand, in her 1983 book, Dear Lord Rothschild, Rothschild’s niece, Miriam Rothschild, states
that Balfour and Weizmann had met on several occasions between 1905 and 1915 and had established an excellent rapport.7
In any case, it would seem that a pattern of British-Zionist negotiations,
and in particular of Balfour-Weizmann negotiations, had been established well before the fall of 1916.
It is interesting to note that the Encyclopedia Britannica states that Balfour succeeded
Winston Churchill as first lord of the admiralty in May 1915, whereas in Trial and Error Weizmann states that in
March 1916 he was summoned to the British admiralty in connection with a chemical process he had developed and was subsequently
brought into the presence of “the First Lord of the Admiralty, who was at that time Mr. Winston Churchill.”
Whatever the truth of the timing may be, Weizmann established a
pattern of frequent visits to the admiralty, ostensibly in connection with his chemical process, but which would also have
provided the opportunity for frequent, prolonged and secret negotiations between Weizmann and Balfour.
What Happened Next
Once it became clear,
in the fall of 1916, that the battle of the Somme would not result in the German army’s being forced out of France,
the British, with their resources approaching exhaustion, had to consider what to do next.
Herbert Asquith, who had been prime minister since 1908, had begun, reluctantly, to consider
a negotiated peace, but negotiations with the Zionists, through Weizmann and Balfour, provided another option for Britain,
although not for Asquith. That option was the possibility of a formal, but secret, alliance between the Zionists and the
Monarchy, whereby the British Monarchy would undertake to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine and
the Zionists would undertake to help bring America into the war on the side of the Allies, thus assuring an Al-lied victory.
An agreement with a British government would certainly be necessary, but British governments come and go, and a commitment
from something less ephemeral than a British government would have been required by the Zionists.
It is proposed that such a secret agreement took place. There seems to be no way to date it
accurately, but it seems likely to have occurred sometime in October 1916.
Once a formal agreement was in place, the next step was to arrange for several changes in personnel—on both
the British and the German sides.
- The first
change was in the leadership of Room 40, the name given the British codebreaking organization. Room 40 was destined to play
a key role in the vast deception to follow, and it was necessary to have a trusted actor at its head. Room 40 was first set
up in the fall of 1914 under the direction of Alfred Ewing, who retained that position until October 1916. At that time
Ewing was replaced by Captain Reginald Hall, director of naval intelligence. Balfour found a suitable position for Ewing
in academia. See “Five Books,” p. 47.
Germany, Gottlieb von Jagow, who had been foreign minister since 1913, resigned in November 1916 over the issue of unrestricted
submarine warfare, which he opposed. Speaking of the situation in Berlin at that time, the then German ambassador to the
U.S. stated, “the unrestricted submarine campaign was only made possible by the resignation of Herr von Jagow, who
was the chief opponent of the submarine campaign,” and “as long as Herr von Jagow remained secretary of state,
a breach with the United States was regarded as impossible.”8
- Von Jagow was replaced by Arthur Zimmermann, undersecretary for foreign affairs since 1911. Before 1914, Berlin
was the center of Zionist activity, and in 1912 the organization which was to become the Technion, or Israel Institute of
Technology, in Haifa had placed itself under the protection of Germany, and Zimmermann had arranged with the Turkish government
for the purchase of land and the erection of a building.9 Zimmermann clearly enjoyed good relations with German
Zionists and was thus susceptible to Zionist influence.
November 1916, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected to a second term as U.S. president with the slogan, “He kept us out of
war.” It was understood that Wilson’s aim was to bring about a negotiated end to the war without victory for
- In early December 1916, a political crisis,
probably engineered, occurred in Britain, and Herbert Asquith, who had been prime minister since 1908, was forced to resign.
The denouement came on Dec. 6, 1916. That afternoon King George V summoned several prominent political figures, including
Balfour and Lloyd George, to a conference at Buckingham Palace. Later that same evening, Balfour received a small political
delegation, which proposed that the difficult political situation could be resolved with Lloyd George as prime minister,
provided Balfour would agree to accept the position of foreign minister, which he did.10
- Lloyd George then quickly imposed a war dictatorship, and direction
of the war was entrusted to a “War Cabinet” of five members, including himself as prime minister and Balfour
as foreign minister. Mark Sykes was named secretary.
At that point, all necessary changes in personnel had been accomplished.
- On Dec. 18, 1916, the American ambassador to Britain conveyed an “offer of peace” on behalf of the
Central Powers to the Allies.
- On the following day, David
Lloyd George, in his first speech to Parliament as prime minister, heaped scorn on the peace proposal and vowed that Britain
and its allies would fight on until victory.
In retrospect, it seems clear that this speech was a bluff and was meant to goad the Germans into resuming unrestricted
That this was indeed the case is
indicated by a series of messages from the U.S. ambassador to Britain, Walter Page, to President Wilson and the secretary
of state, written in June 1917.11 These messages make it clear that Britain was on the verge of financial collapse,
and that only American support could avert disaster.” These messages were made public only in 1925 and are, in my
opinion, too little known.
- On Jan. 9, 1917
the German government made the fateful decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare at the beginning of the following
- Date unknown—What would come to be known as the Zimmermann telegram was concocted in London. My source for this information is a letter to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,
written in response to my first (1997) article, by author Russell Warren Howe.12 Howe stated that he had been
taught at Cambridge that the ZT was “concocted in London to encourage Washington to join the Allies against the Central
Powers.” My first reaction to this letter was doubt—because Zimmermann subsequently accepted responsibility
for the ZT. But of course he had to, because he was responsible, even if the idea came from someone else.
- Date unknown, possibly before the previous two entries—The key to German
code 7500 (in which the ZT was to be sent) was provided to Room 40 by an informant. Howe states that Britain broke code
7500 (he calls it 0075) “a few weeks before the ZT.” By “broke,” he presumably means “acquired.”
- Date unknown—One Herr von Kemnitz, an East Asia expert in the German
foreign office and presumably a Zionist agent, presented Zimmermann with the text of a proposed telegram, the ZT, that he
had supposedly drafted but had more likely received from London.13 Against the opposition of some of his colleagues,
he persuaded Foreign Minister Zimmermann to send it.
Jan. 16, 1917, two telegrams were sent sequentially, by cable, from Foreign Minister Zimmermann, in Berlin, to the German
ambassador in Washington, Count Bernstorff. The first, which both Zimmermann and Bernstorff considered to be by far the
more important, informed Bernstorff of the decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare on Feb. 1, 1917, and gave him
instructions on when and how to inform the American government. The second was what has come to be known as the Zimmermann telegram. (See box on facing page.) This second telegram was relayed to the German Embassy in Mexico City on Jan. 19, 1917.
- The British intercepted the ZT on the day it was sent and promptly decoded it.
It should be noted that Zimmermann sent the ZT on
his own authority. Neither the Kaiser nor Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg knew anything of it until it was made public in America.
After seeing these cables, Bernstorff attempted to have the German
government rescind the unrestricted submarine warfare decision, but was unsuccessful.
- Jan. 31, 1917—Bernstorff informed the U.S. government that unrestricted submarine
warfare would commence the following day.
- Feb. 3, 1917—The
U.S. broke off diplomatic relations with Germany, and Bernstorff was told to leave the U.S.
- Feb. 7, 1917—The secretary of the War Cabinet, Mark Sykes, met with Weizmann and
other Zionist leaders in London, in what is widely, but incorrectly, believed to have been the first contact between the
British government and the Zionists during the war. It is doubtful that Sykes himself had any knowledge of the October 1916
- Feb. 14, 1917—Bernstorff
left New York on the Danish steamer Friedrich VIII to return to Germany. Safe conduct had been granted by the British.
- Feb. 16, 1917—The Friedrich VIII entered Halifax, Nova Scotia
harbor. Bernstorff remained incommunicado for almost two weeks.
- Feb. 26, 1917—The State Department received a telegram from the American ambassador in London containing
the plain language text of the ZT.
- Feb. 27, 1917—Friedrich
VIII permitted to sail from Halifax.
- March 1, 1917
—Text of ZT published in U.S.
- March 15, 1917—Czar
Nicholas II abdicated, following the first of two 1917 revolutions in Russia. A provisional government was formed, later
headed by Alexander Kerensky. Democracy appeared to have taken hold in Russia.
- April 2, 1917—President Wilson addressed Congress. He spoke of the “wonderful and heartening”
events in Russia, stated that “the world needs to be made safe for democracy,” and asked Congress to declare
war on Germany.
- April 6, 1917—Congress declared war
- Aug. 6, 1917—Zimmermann replaced as foreign
minister in Germany.
- Early November 1917—The Bolshevik
revolution took place in Russia. The promise of democracy disappeared. The ex-Czar and his family were subsequently put
to death. Kerensky was removed from power but came to no harm.
- Nov. 2, 1917—Arthur Balfour sent a letter, including what has come to be known as the Balfour Declaration
(BD), to Lord Walter Rothschild. For a number of years it was not known that the BD took this form. Lord Balfour’s
obituary in The New York Times of March 20,1930 stated that the BD was the text of a speech delivered by Balfour
on Nov. 4, 1917. See box p. 44.
- March 8, 1918—Weizmann
had a private and secret audience with King George V. According to Weizmann’s account in Trial and Error,
the meeting consisted of an exchange of pleasantries, and one must wonder whether the meeting did not have some unstated
purpose. One wonders, for example, if Weizmann did not emerge from the meeting in possession of a document signed by the
King of England, possibly committing to more than did the BD.
11, 1918-World War I ended.
Books: How the Betrayal of German Code 7500 to the British Was Covered Up
To establish that German Code 7500 was obtained by the British in 1917 by means other than codebreaking, it is
instructive briefly to review five publications. These will be examined in the order in which they were published, which—because
book three was first published classified and later declassified—is different from the order in which they were made
Our first book is The Life and Letters
of Walter H. Page by Burton J. Hendrick.14 Walter Page was a long-time (since 1881) friend of President Woodrow
Wilson and was appointed by him to be U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, serving from 1913 until his death in 1918.
Volumes I and II of this three-volume work have a common index
and were both published in 1922. Volume III deals largely with Page’s correspondence with President Wilson and Secretary
of State Robert Lansing and was published in 1925, after Wilson’s death. It is important to remember that these volumes
were written not by Page himself, who died in 1918—less than two months after the end of World War I—but by
his biographer, Hendrick, who assembled the letters from many sources. We are concerned here only with Volume III.
Hendrick relates that in late February 1917 Balfour personally
handed Page a copy of the document which has come to be known as the Zimmermann telegram. This document can be found in the box at right, and is referred to there as ZT-2. It is the version of the telegram that
was forwarded by the German Embassy in Washington to the German Embassy in Mexico City on Jan. 19, 1917. Balfour stated
that the telegram had not been obtained in Washington but had been bought in Mexico City.
Two other versions of the Zimmermann telegram may also be found in the box at right. These are ZT-1, the original telegram as cabled from Berlin to Washington on Jan.
16, 1917, and what we may call ZT-Hendrick. ZT-Hendrick appears nowhere else than in Hendrick’s book. It seems to
be something the British gave Page, with an indication that it was an early, partial, decipherment of ZT-2 made sometime
before Page was given the completely deciphered version. It is evident, however, that ZT-Hendrick is derived from ZT-1, not
ZT-1 and ZT-2 are, of course, English translations
of German originals. There is no German original of ZT-H.
people in the U.S. government must have learned in early 1917 that ZT-1 and ZT-2 were sent encrypted in two different and
unrelated codes. This did not become public knowledge, however, until F&M (see Book 3, below) was declassified in 1965.
It is difficult to see how the national interest was served by
hiding from public knowledge for 48 years the simple fact that ZT-1 and ZT-2 were encrypted in different codes.
It was fortunate for the British that Page died when he did in
1918. Page was clearly an anglophile and eagerly accepted everything Balfour told him. Nevertheless, had he learned that
the two versions of the ZT had been sent in different codes and that ZT-Hendrick could only have been derived from ZT-1,
he would surely have realized that he had been deceived.
second book is Arthur James Balfour by Lord Balfour’s niece, Blanche Dugdale, published in two volumes in 1936
(London) and 1937 (NY).15 This is a lengthy work, covering Lord Balfour’s entire life and political career.
We are concerned here only with Chapter 10 of the second volume, in which the following significant paragraphs appear. The
year referred to is 1917.
Ever since the middle
of January, however, a piece of information had been in the possession of the British Government, which would move, if anything
could, the vast populations behind the Atlantic seaboard States, who still read of the European War with as much detachment
as if it had been raging on the moon. This was the famous telegram from Zimmermann, the German Foreign Minister, to the
German Minister in Mexico, instructing him, if and when the United States should enter the War on the Allied side, to propose
to Mexico an alliance which would restore to her, when peace came, her “lost territories in Texas,
Arizona and New Mexico.”
by which this information had reached the British Intelligence Service made it impossible for some time to communicate it
to the United States Government. Therefore for over a month Balfour read his dispatches from Washington of the slow wakening
of the American will to war, but could do nothing to hasten the process. Till—at last—information about the
Mexican plot reached London through channels which enabled the Intelligence Service to cover up the traces of how it had
first been got.
This appears to open the possibility
that the British government obtained either the Zimmermann telegram or the code in which it was sent from an informant, rather than by code-breaking, and in any case indicates that the British
possessed the full text of ZT-1 shortly after it was sent.
The third work to be examined is a U.S. Army Signal Corps Bulletin, The Zimmermann Telegram of January 16, 1917 and its Cryptographic Background, by William F. Friedman and Charles J. Mendelsohn (F&M).16
This work was published, classified, in 1937 and was declassified in 1965. The senior author was born Wolfe Friedmann in
Kishinev, Russia in 1891 and ultimately became known as the Father of American Cryptanalysis.
Friedman and Mendelsohn (F&M) undertake to determine how the British were able to intercept
the Zimmermann telegram and how they were able to decipher it.
that the ZT (ZT-1) was first transmitted by submarine cable from Berlin to the German ambassador in Washington, Count Bernstorff,
on Jan. 16, 1917, encrypted in German code 7500, and that Bernstorff then relayed it (ZT-2) as a Western Union telegram
encrypted in German code 13042, to the German legation in Mexico City on Jan. 19. Two different codes were used because
the German legation in Mexico did not possess code 7500, and the ZT had to be relayed to them in an older and less secure
The texts of the two versions of the ZT, the
Berlin-to-Washington (7500) version and the Washington-to-Mexico City (13042) version, were identical, but they had different
preambles. The preamble of the 7500 version was “For your Excellency’s personal information and to be forwarded
to the Imperial Minister in Mexico by a safe route.” The preamble of the 13042 version was simply “The foreign
office telegraphs on January 16.” (See “Three Versions” box on previous page.)
Code 7500 was a new and difficult code, only recently delivered by submarine to the U.S., and
it is the professional judgment of F&M that the British would have been able to make, at best, a very rudimentary decipherment
of the ZT by the time they made the verbatim text of the ZT available to the U.S.
F&M’s explanation of how the British obtained the text of the ZT is that, after
making a meager beginning in deciphering the 7500 version, they were able to obtain a copy of the 13042 version, after which
decipherment was soon accomplished. This fails to explain, however, how the British were able to obtain the text of the
preamble of the 7500 version of the ZT, which they did.
more likely explanation of how the British were able to obtain a verbatim copy of the original 7500 version of the ZT is
that, at the time the ZT was sent, the British already possessed the key to that code.
Although F&M reproduce the Dugdale quotation given above, they are remiss in having failed
even to consider the obvious possibility that the British might have obtained the text of ZT-1 (or code 7500) through an
informant rather than by code-breaking. The possibility must be considered that this failure was by design rather than through
The fourth book to be considered is The
Zimmermann Telegram, by Barbara Tuchman.17 This work first appeared in 1958, and a second edition appeared in 1966, i.e., after
F&M was declassified in 1965.
The first edition
of Tuchman’s book states that the British picked up the encoded ZT by wireless on Jan. 16, 1917, and found it to be
in code 13042, which was related to codes the British already had deciphered. They were thus able, in short order, to produce
a nearly complete copy of the decoded ZT.
the ZT was transmitted by cable, not radio, and encrypted in code 7500, not 13042.
Normally, the second edition of a book provides an opportunity, and also the duty, for the
author to correct errors in the first edition. That did not happen with this book. The text is unchanged, but a “Preface
to New Edition” has been added. In it, Tuchman reports the declassification of F&M and acknowledges that it “appears
to modify my account”—a gross understatement. She acknowledges having been aware of the existence of F&M
and acknowledges having been in contact with Friedman but professes to have been unaware of the content of the book.
The heart of Tuchman’s book is the de-tailed story in Chapter
1 of how the British deciphered the ZT in code 13042 on Jan. 16, 1917. A reading of F&M makes it clear that this story
is false. It is conceivable that Tuchman believed this story when she first wrote it, but it is not possible that she still
believed it when the second edition of her book was issued. It is the belief of this writer that Tuchman fabricated a false
story of how the British obtained the text of the ZT in order to conceal the fact that they obtained it by betrayal rather
than by codebreaking.
It is remarkable that Tuchman’s
book continues to be read and believed more than 30 years after hard evidence has become available that the story is false.
The fifth and final book on our list is The Codebreakers,
by David Kahn, published in 1967.18 This a lengthy work of 26 chapters and over 1,000 pages. We are interested
primarily in Chapter 9, entitled “Room 40.” About half of that chapter is devoted to the ZT. A second edition
appeared in 1996, but it does not alter Chapter 9.
explanation of how the British were able to decipher the ZT in code 7500 (which, like Tuchman but unlike F&M, he calls
0075) is that “somehow” the British obtained enough material in code 7500 to make a start at breaking it. Kahn
quotes an incomplete version of the ZT as being what the British were able to produce. This same incomplete version is referred
to by F&M as the “Hendrick version,” of which they say: “When all is said and done, the decipherment
of the 7500 version of the Zimmermann telegram, even to the degree given in the Hendrick version, approaches the unbelievable.” Note that, unlike Kahn, who is
a writer on cryptography, F&M were professional cryptographers.
One’s confidence in Kahn is eroded by the fact that, in discussing the question of why, after the ZT was
made public, Zimmermann admitted authorship of it, Kahn states, “to this day no one knows why Zimmermann admitted it”
(p. 297). This is disingenuous. Anyone who has looked into the matter knows exactly why he admitted it. The Germans were
as much taken by surprise by the publication of the ZT as anyone else and wanted to know if it was genuine. Zimmermann was
called on to testify before the Reichstag and had no choice but to admit it.
As an aside, note that Room 40 was the name given to the cryptoanalytic bureau set up in the British admiralty
early in the war under the direction of Sir Alfred Ewing. Kahn reveals that Ewing remained the head of Room 40 from the fall
of 1914 until October 1916, when he returned to academia, whence he had come. His departure was facilitated by Lord Balfour,
and his replacement was Captain Reginald Hall, R.N., director of naval intelligence. We may infer that at this time British-Zionist
negotiations were well under way and that Room 40’s role was being broadened from cracking German codes to include
pretending to crack German code 7500.
We have examined
our five books one-by-one. Let us now relate them to each other.
It is the unproven belief of the present writer that German code 7500, in which the original ZT was sent in January
1917, was obtained by a Zionist agent inside the German government, possibly either by means of photography or a photographic
memory, and provided to the British government.
second book cited, by Blanche Dugdale, is consistent with this belief in that it contains a veiled hint that the British
might have obtained the plain language text of the ZT by means other than codebreaking, whereas the three following books
totally ignore this possibility. Interestingly, the other three books give different, and incompatible, stories of how the
British did obtain the text of the ZT.
It is clear
that the authors of books three, four and five were acquainted with each other.
Since it was the first of these three books, F&M, of course, make no mention of Tuchman or Kahn.
In her “Preface to New Edition,” written after the
declassification of F&M, Tuchman acknowledges having known of the existence of F&M, though not its content, and
having spoken to Friedman. (There was no mention of either of these facts in the first edition.) Also in the same preface,
Tuchman states that decipherment of code 7500 (which she calls 0075) will be analyzed in Kahn’s, at that time forthcoming,
book. This implies contact between them.
Kahn makes no mention of Tuchman, nor does her name appear in the index, although Kahn’s account of the historical
circumstance of the ZT seems to be largely borrowed from her book. Kahn does, however, mention Friedman. In the preface
to The Codebreakers. Kahn mysteriously thanks Friedman for “a gift made in 1947, upon my graduation from high
school, that was a major step in my cryptographic education.” One wonders if that “gift” might not have
been the secret of how the British first obtained German code 7500 and of the need to protect that secret in perpetuity.
In his seminal work, Arab Awakening (1938), George Antonius points out that in early 1917 three major obstacles
stood in the way of Zionist efforts to obtain a commitment from the British government in support of their goals in Palestine.19
First was the bargain concluded in 1915 with Sharif Husain of Arabia for an independent Arab state whose territory included
Pales-tine. Second was the Sykes-Picot agreement, dividing the Middle East between Britain and France and placing the Holy
Land under some sort of international administration. And third was the hostility toward political Zionism of an influential group of British Jews.
“Undeterred, however, by those
obstacles, Mr. Lloyd George appointed Sir Mark Sykes to open negotiations with the Zionists. What his motives were in wishing
to come to an understanding with the Zionist leaders, and what the considerations were which induced the British Government
eventually to issue the Balfour Declaration are questions to which the answers have been obscured by a smoke-screen of legend
and propaganda. It is alleged, for instance, that the Jews used their financial and political influence to bring the United
States into the War on the side of the Entente and that the Balfour Declaration was a reward for actual services rendered.
All published evidence goes to disprove that allegation, and one can only infer either that it does not rest on any foundation
or, if it does, that the services rendered by international Jewry in that connection were of so occult a nature that they
have hitherto escaped the scrutiny of all the historians of America’s intervention.”
The initial meeting between Sykes and the Zionists took place on Feb. 7, 1917, and we can now
see why the “services rendered” toward bringing America into the war have hitherto escaped the scrutiny of
all the historians of America’s intervention. One would expect that Zionist actions aimed at bringing America into
the war would have taken place sometime after the first British-Zionist meeting, but the first acknowledged contact between
the British Government and Zionists was the Sykes meeting of Feb. 7, 1917. Yet by that time the Zionist contributions toward
bringing America into the war already had largely been accomplished, although it is likely that Sykes himself was unaware
The Balfour-Weizmann agreement of October
1916 was and remains entirely secret.
The Sykes meeting
served as a sort of decoy.
In the few months between
these two events, the following had taken place:
civilian head of codebreaking “Room 40” in London had been replaced by the director of Naval Intelligence.
- Von Jagow, who had served since 1913, was replaced by Zimmermann as German foreign
- Asquith, who had served as British prime minister
since 1908, was removed from power, and a new War Cabinet was formed, in which Lloyd George was prime minister and Balfour
foreign minister—both friends of Zionism since 1903.
- The key to German code 7500 was betrayed to
- A draft of the ZT was concocted in London and
presented to Zimmermann by one of his subordinates in Berlin.
ZT was transmitted by cable from Berlin to Washington on Jan. 16, 1917. It was copied by Room 40 and promptly de-coded.
Note that this is incompatible with Tuchman’s story but entirely consistent with Dugdale’s account.
Thus, by the time of the Sykes-Zionist meeting of
Feb. 7, 1917, the Zionist part of the bargain had been accomplished, and America was as good as at war. All that remained
was for the British to find the best time and method for revealing the contents of the ZT to President Wilson and for him
to convince Congress and the American people to go to war.
Cornelius, John. “The Balfour
Declaration and the Zimmermann Note,” The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Washington Report on Middle
East Affairs), Aug./Sept. 1997.
Cornelius, John. “Answering
Critics of the Theory that Balfour Declaration Was Payoff for Zionist Services in WWI,” Washington Report on Middle
East Affairs, Sept. 1998.
Cornelius, John. “Palestine, the
Balfour Declaration, and Why America Entered the Great War,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Oct./Nov.
Bernstorff, Count Johann Heinrich. My Three Years in America,
New York: Scribner’s, 1920.
Dugdale, Mrs. Edgar. The Balfour
Declaration-Origins and Background, London: The Jewish Agency for Palestine, 1940, pp. 15-16.
Weizmann, Chaim. Trial and Error, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1949, p. 152.
Rothschild, Miriam. Dear Lord Rothschild, Glenside, Pa.: Balaban Publishers, 1983, p.
Weizmann, p. 143.
Dugdale, Blanche. Arthur James Balfour,
NY, Putnam’s, 1937, Vol. II, pp. 127-9.
Hendrick, Burton J. The
Life and Letters of Walter H. Page, NY, Doubleday, Page & Co., 1925, Vol. III, Chap 14.
Howe, Russell Warren. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Letters to the Editor,
Jan./Feb. 1998, p. 110.
Link, Arthur S., Wilson, Vol. 5, Princeton,
NJ, 1965, Princeton University Press, pp 433-5.
Hendrick, Vol. III.
Dugdale, Arthur James Balfour, Vol. II.
Friedman, William F. and Mendelsohn, Charles J. The Zimmermann Telegram of January 16, 1917 and its Cryptographic Background, Laguna Hills, CA: Aegean Park Press, 1994.
Kahn, David. The
Codebreakers. New York: Macmillan, 1967, 1996
The Arab Awakening. Philadelphia, NY: Lippencott, 1939.
Versions of the Zimmermann Telegram
ZT-I as sent in code 7500 from Berlin to Washington on Jan. 16, 1917
Source: German Hearings
For your Excellency’s exclusively personal information
and transmission to the Imperial Minister at Mexico by safe hands:
Telegram No. 1.
To be personally deciphered.
It is our purpose on the 1st of February to commence the unrestricted U-boat war.
The attempt will be made to keep America neutral in spite of it all.
In case we should not be successful in this, we propose Mexico an alliance upon the following terms: Joint
conduct of war. Joint conclusion of peace. Ample financial support and an agreement on our part that Mexico shall gain back
by conquest the territory lost by her at a prior period in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Arrangement as to detail is entrusted
to your Excellency.
Your Excellency will
make the above known to the President in strict confidence at the moment that war breaks out with the United States, and
you will add the suggestion that Japan be requested to take part at once and that he simultaneously mediate between ourselves
Please inform the President that
the unrestricted use of our U-boats now offers the prospect of forcing England to sue for peace in the course of a few months.
ZT-2 as sent in code 13042 from Washington to Mexico City on Jan. 19, 1917
Source: Friedman and Mendelsohn, translated from the German version
The Foreign Office wires (telegraphiert) January 16:
To be personally deciphered.
It is our purpose on the 1st of February to commence the unrestricted
U-boat war. The attempt will be made to keep America neutral in spite of it all.
In case we should not be successful in this, we propose Mexico an alliance upon the
following terms: Joint conduct of war. Joint conclusion of peace. Ample financial support and an agreement on our part that
Mexico shall gain back by conquest the territory lost by her at a prior period in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Arrangement
as to detail is entrusted to your Excellency.
Excellency will make the above known to the President in strict confidence at the moment that war breaks out with the United
States, and you will add the suggestion that Japan be requested to take part at once and that he simultaneously mediate
between ourselves and Japan.
the President that the unrestricted use of our U-boats now offers the prospect of forcing England to sue for peace in the
course of a few months.
ZT-Hendrick, date unknown
Source: Hendrick found among Ambassador Page’s papers
Zimmermann to Bernstorff for Eckhardt W. 158.
I6th January, 1917
for your Excellency’s personal information and to be handed on to the Imperial Minister in ? Mexico with Tel. No. 1...by
a safe route.
We purpose to begin on 1st February
unrestricted submarine warfare. In doing so, however, we shall endeavor to keep America neutral....? If we do not (succeed
in doing so) we propose to (? Mexico) an alliance upon the following basis:
(joint) conduct of the war
(joint) conclusion of peace
Excellency should for the present inform the President secretly (that we expect) war with the U.S.A. (possibly) (...Japan)
and at the same time to negotiate between us and Japan...(indecipherable sentence meaning please tell the President) that...our
submarines...will compel England to peace in a few months.
Doesn’t Go to Istanbul
known historical incident took place in the spring of 1917, shortly after the U.S. entered World War I on the side of the
Allies. President Woodrow Wilson devised a plan for bringing about an early end to the war by detaching Turkey from the
Central Powers. To this end, he sent a mission to Europe, where it was to meet with representatives of Britain and France
in Switzerland and then make its way to Turkey. The mission was headed by Henry Morgenthau, Sr., who had been American ambassador
to Turkey from 1912 to 1915 and had many contacts there. This story is related in Chapter 17 of Chaim Weizmann’s 1949
autobiography, Trial and Error.
The American mission never arrived in Switzerland, let alone Turkey. In early June of
1917, Weizmann, who was then in London, received a cable from Louis Brandeis in the U.S., informing him of the mission and
suggesting that he contact it. Weizmann immediately contacted members of the British government and learned the nature of
the mission. Weizmann was concerned that the Morgenthau mission might result in the war ending with the Ottoman Empire still
intact, eliminating the possibility of a Jewish state in Palestine.
A subsequent conference with Lord Balfour lead to Weizmann’s
being sent as the official British representative to meet with the American mission and a French representative. This meeting
took place at Gibraltar after the American mission disembarked at Cadiz on July 4, 1917.
Weizmann reports that he had no
difficulty persuading Morgenthau to drop the whole matter, so instead of proceeding to Switzerland and Istanbul, Morgenthau
went to Biarritz, in the South of France, where, he said, he would communicate with General Pershing and await further instructions
from President Wilson.
The Morgenthau mission was apparently secret, for Weizmann says he does not know how the story got out. He also
says that in 1922, when Congress was looking into the merits of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, a senator stated that the
leaders of the Zionist movement were unworthy men and that Weizmann, in particular, had prolonged the war for two years by
scuttling the Morgenthau mission.
Morgenthau seems to have shown more loyalty to Zionism than to his president or his country.
One Hundred Years of the Balfour Decision
British Prime Minister Theresa
May has announced that Britain will celebrate the 100the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration later this year. The Conservative
Party leader addressed her party's "Friends of Israel" faction and declared that the Balfour Declaration was
"one of the most important letters in history" while pledging that her government would celebrate it "with
pride." Her determination to do so is a clear indication that those who control national politics also control official
interpretations of history. In the case of the Balfour Declaration's centenary, it is the ongoing alliance of Zionist special
interests and British political power that is about to turn what has been a disaster for Britons, Jews and Palestinians
alike, into a source of national pride.
the Balfour Declaration
The Balfour Declaration
may be the most extraordinary document produced by any government in world history. It took the form of a letter from the
government of His Britannic Majesty King George the Fifth, the Government of the largest empire the world has even known,
on which -- once upon a time -- the sun never set; a letter to an international financier of the banking house of Rothschild
who had been made a peer of the realm ... Malcolm's belief in the Balfour Declaration as a means of bringing the United
States into the war was confirmed by Samuel Landman, secretary to the Zionist leaders Weizmann and Sokolow, and later
secretary of the World Zionist Organization.
Balfour Declaration: A Century of Jewish Power
... The Balfour Declaration provides solid evidence
that the dominance of Jewish political lobbies in world affairs is not really a 'new development.' ... In his invaluable
book, The Pity of it All, Israeli historian Amos Elon suggests that the 1917 Balfour Declaration was at least
partially motivated by the British government's desire to win the support of pro-German American Jews so that they would
help to pull the USA into the war ... Elon's conclusion is clear. "The 1917 Balfour Declaration, calling for the
establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, was at least partly motivated by the British government's desire
to win support among pro-German American Jews."