This week marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most important documents in modern history. In the middle of World War I, on Nov. 2, 1917, England issued the "Balfour Declaration," recognizing the Jewish people’s right to return to Palestine — their national homeland. This was the first major milestone contributing to the founding of the State of Israel 30 years later.
The history behind the Balfour Declaration is both surprising and fascinating.
Of all the kingdoms and empires controlling the Holy Land over the millennia, England was the first and only to acknowledge the Jewish people’s legitimate claim to their historic homeland. "His Majesty’s government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object," wrote Foreign Minister James Arthur Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild in what became known as the Magna Carta of the Jewish state.
Balfour was a deeply religious Christian who read his Bible every day. Although he didn’t keep memoirs, his niece wrote that he considered the Balfour Declaration his greatest accomplishment, since it combined his role as a politician with the promises outlined in the Bible. He was one of the first "Christian Zionists" who support the Jewish people and the state of Israel, stemming from their understanding of the word of God. Christian Zionism has played, and continues to play an important part in the modern story of Israel and is the subject of a conference taking place in Jerusalem this week.
Israel365 along with the Christian group Bridges for Peace is hosting a conference in Jerusalem entitled 100 Years of Christian Zionism: From Arthur James Balfour to Nikki Haley this coming Thursday.
We are gathering thought leaders to discuss trends in Christian Zionism in our panel Restoration Without Replacement and looking at the Biblical sources that describe Jews and Gentiles working together on behalf of Israel.
The centennial anniversary of the Balfour Declaration is the right time to reflect on our appreciation for the Bible, the positive developments within Christian Zionism, and how faith-based diplomacy can help secure the Jewish state for the next century. Much has changed over the past 100 years both in terms of Israel’s own strength and in the relationship between Jews and Christians. Nonetheless, one thing is clear: the Bible remains a powerful tool for effecting change and bringing peace to the region.
Not everyone views the Balfour Declaration in a positive light. Anti Israel activists and anti-Semites are calling England to renounce their decision from the previous century, yet many are proud of Britain's role in shaping history and the Biblical reasons for doing so.
As Newsmax readers, we should embrace the parts of our faith that Jews and Christians share and focus more on the Bible’s emphasis on the connection between the people of Israel and the land of Israel. By recognizing the Biblical background of the Balfour Declaration, many more Christian Zionists, can — like Balfour — emerge to change the face of history.
Rabbi Weisz is the director of Israel365, which connects 2 million people to Israel every month. He founded the I365 newsletter, is publisher of Breaking Israel News, and editor of The Israel Bible. He lives with his family in Ramat Beit Shemesh. To read more of his reports, Click Here Now.
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