Zionist circles recalled today that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, less than a year after issuance of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, implicitly interpreted that document as envisaging creation of the a Jewish State and expressed the hope that the nation would some day be associated with either the United States or the British Empire.
Mr. Chamberlain was at the time a Member of Parliament from the Ladywood division of Birmingham. His interpretation of the significance of the Balfour Declaration’s disputed phrase concerning establishment of a “Jewish national home in Palestine” was implicit in a speech he made in Birmingham on Oct. 13, 1918, while acting as chairman of a Zionist meeting. Taken in the light of the White Paper he has just approved, under which the “State” dwindles into what the Jewish Agency scornfully describes as a “territorial ghetto,” the Prime Minister has experienced a pronounced change of mind in the 21 years intervening since the Birmingham speech.
As recorded in a recent issue of the London Jewish Chronicle, Mr. Chamberlain said in that address:
“It may be that among some of them (Jews) there may be fears lest the establishment of a new Jewish State should provoke some suspicion of their loyalty to their own country…. I think the answer to these suggestions depends very largely upon the future political actions of Palestine. If the new Jewish State which is to be established there is to be merely another isolated, separate, small nation, then I think it is conceivable it must be the prey of political intrigues, as have other small nations in the past. But if, as I rather hope, while preserving its own nationhood intact, this new State should be associated with some great and progressive people, such as those of the American Commonwealth or of the British Empire, then in such a case it seems to me that those fears which I have mentioned would be groundless, and that the existence of this new Jewish State would only add to the dignity and influence of Jews in other countries.
“A great responsibility will rest upon the Zionists, who before long will be proceeding with joy in their hearts to the ancient seat of their people. Theirs will be the task to build up a new prosperity and a new civilization in old Palestine, so long neglected and misused. They will carry with them the hearty goodwill of the British nation and its earnest hope that in their own country they may prove worthy of their past and of the great opportunity that has been given them.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.