The great-grandson of the British diplomat who expressed support for a Jewish homeland in the historic Balfour Declaration has spoken out for the first time about the pride his family feels to have played a role in the founding of Israel.
A century after then-Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour penned the famed declaration supporting the tenets of Zionism, his great-grandson, Lord Roderick Balfour, told a gathering of Jews from the former Soviet Union that he believes the document was a key “humanitarian act.”
“My family is very proud of the importance to Jewish people everywhere of this initiative,” Rodrick Balfour wrote in a letter to the Limmud FSU conference in Britain. “The declaration was first and foremost a humanitarian act trying to repatriate a talented but much-persecuted people to the land of the original Judaic roots.”
The 1917 Balfour Declaration held that Jews should have a right to a homeland in what they claim as a historic home in the land of Israel.
Although the document is often viewed through a political lens, the younger Lord Balfour called it a gesture to the widespread persecution Jews faced in Eastern Europe.
“It stemmed from the appalling Russian pogroms at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries,” the letter said.