25 October 2017
Zero-sum dream: the causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict will always be contested. But some trace its origins back to the Balfour Declaration
“Dr Weizmann, it’s a boy!” exclaimed Sir Mark Sykes as he rushed out of the War Cabinet meeting on 31 October 1917. He was addressing Dr Chaim Weizmann, who had been waiting outside to learn the outcome of the discussion. The British Cabinet had been deliberating whether or not to support the Zionist leader’s programme of creating a Jewish state in the Middle East. To Sir Mark’s relief, it had voted definitively to back Weizmann’s plan.
Two days later the Balfour Declaration, a promise whose centenary is being either celebrated or mourned this week (depending on which side of the fence you are on), was issued. It was, effectively, the birth certificate of the State of Israel.
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