From any standpoint apologising for the Balfour Declaration would have to be the goofiest campaign since this same squalid witless mob started picketing Australian chocolate shops because of a perceived Israeli/Jewish connection. There is a risk of paying someone like Dr James Renton more attention than he deserves. There are three reasons it should be pursued. It is a very clear example of how far standards of scholarship have slipped and raises again questions about the value of an education from that tier of university. It shows how seamlessly something purporting to be academic opinion merges into blind ideology. It indicates how far the dhimmification of Jews has advanced in the UK and how important antizionist Jews of the far left once again are to what is essentially a genocidal antisemitic campaign.
I made a start on the outer layers of fatuousness here but almost everything Dr Renton has to say, even in his keyhole take of history, is wrong.
Dr Renton contends that the Declaration was essentially driven by antisemitic notions of tremendous Jewish power and ignorance about the stretch of Zionism among Jews. British efforts therefore were nothing more than a:
.. propaganda policy based on mistaken assumptions about Jews,
derived from influential anti-Semitic ideas and conceptions of race and
nationalism. Figures like Balfour and Prime Minister Lloyd George thought that
Jews possessed immense power, especially in the U.S. and Russia. They also
believed that most Jews were Zionist. Both of these assumptions were incorrect.
The upshot, however, was the Government conclusion that support for Zionism
would be a great help to British interests in the war against Germany and its
The truth of course is that the British adopted the policy because they had decided that there should be a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine. No ambiguities. No sleight of hand. No attempts to play both the Jews and the Arabs for mugs. If there is any racism in this it is in the explicit observation of Dr Renton that the Jews and Arabs were "politically backward". The Zionists and the Hashemites were tricked by some smooth talking Brits? It really is quite bizarre.
Of course there were Realpolitik considerations in the British decision and in that regard the British calculations were not nearly as racist and ignorant as Dr Renton would have it.
Zionism had already developed as a strong , well organised movement among the Russian and Ukrainian Jewish communities well before the First World War. November 1917 was also the month of the Bolshevik revolution and British policy was formulated in the fear that the turmoil in Russia would take Russia out of the war. The Declaration had an immediate impact with pro-British articles in the Russian Jewish press and pro-British demonstrations in Odessa and Petrograd.. And if the British overestimated the influence of Zionism in America then so did the Bolsheviks. The founder of the Soviet secret police (Chekka later KGB) supported a soft line on the Zionists given their "considerable influence in Poland and America".
I am using as authority for this Dr Robert Wistrich and in particular
Wistrich; From Ambivalence to Betrayal ; University of Nebraska ; Chapter 13 From Lenin to the Soviet Black Hundreds pages 419 - 421
These posts are being emailed to Dr Renton and he has been invited to comment here.
3 July . I omitted to note that Zionism or "Palestinism" as it was known in some British circles was popular in the US and Britain at the time and not just among Jews. The pogroms of Russia and Eastern Europe had been vicious and the idea of a Jewish homeland in the Holy Land struck a chord among the allied countries at a time of terrible war which still had another year to run
The Declaration was widely announced and as Dr Renton noted the British foreign office set up a unit specifically to publicise it. Not the act of a Government involved in a cynical and squalid deceit.
The troops in Palestine including those who had just taken Beersheba had a clear war aim.. So did the homefronts. So did the Jewish Legion and the Palestinian Jews. All knew this land was to be restored to the Jews as a a national homeland. New Zealand troops took Jaffa in mid November and in December British, Australian and New Zealand troops took Jerusalem. The Jewish Legion took a critical role in the climactic battle of Megiddo and by September 1918 the Australian Light Horse took Damascus unopposed.
The global support for a Jewish homeland was strong enough years later to enshrine it forever in international law.
cross posted Israel Thrives