31: Dear Lord Rothschild

Lord Rothschild

One hundred years after a single-page letter boosted the Zionist cause and changed the course of Jewish history, we go out in search of Balfour, and his declaration, in modern-day Israel.

On November 2, 1917, Arthur James Balfour – Britain’s mustached Foreign Secretary – signed his name at the bottom of a short, typed letter addressed to a shy banker-turned-zoologist by the name of Lionel Walter Rothschild. “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” it read. In the century since that fateful day, those words have reverberated around the world. They’ve changed reality, creating national dreams on the one hand, and squashing political aspirations on the other. And, of course, they’ve been scrutinized, analyzed and debated from every possible angle. The Balfour Declaration, for better or worse, is still very much with us. In a special commemorative episode, we set out on a less-than-intuitive journey in Balfour’s footsteps.

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