Israel's first president Chaim Weizmann.
(photo credit: MENDELSON HUGO)
Buried in the hearts of the citizens of the nations of the world lies the desire to help the Jewish people return to their historic homeland and establish a flourishing state, just as the prophets of Israel foretold.
But while this is an innate feeling, it still occasionally needs help to be drawn out.
Chaim Weizmann, a scientist, leading Zionist figure and the first president of Israel, was the man who knew how to do just that
Weizmann’s success began from his scientific endeavors. After becoming a senior lecturer at the University of Manchester in the early 20th century, he met Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, an MP for Manchester, in one of his political campaigns, speaking with him about the future of Zionism
“I am deeply moved and interested, it is not a dream, it is a great cause and I understand it,” Balfour, who was very knowledgeable in the Bible, told Weizmann in one of their earlier meetings, as told in “The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” by Jonathan Schneer
The British weren’t convinced of the necessity to return to the Holy Land, however, and offered a home in the British Protectorate of Uganda – until Balfour saw that these efforts were futile.
“Conversations I held with Mr. Weizmann in January, 1906, convinced me that history could not thus be ignored, and that if a home was to be found for the Jewish people, homeless now for nearly nineteen hundred years, it was vain to seek it anywhere but in Palestine,” Balfour wrote in the introduction to Nahum Sokolow’s “The History of Zionism, 1600-1918."
In Balfour and Weizmann: The Zionist, the Zealot and the Emergence of Israel
, by Geoffrey Lewis, one of the key conversations as quoted from Weizmann’s biography Trial and Error
shows how the Zionist leader softened the earl's heart:
“‘Mr. Balfour, supposing I were to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?’ He sat up, looked at me and answered, ‘But, Dr. Weizmann, we have London.’ ‘That is true,’ I said. ‘But we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh,’” the two bantered.
The only real option is the Holy Land, Weizmann concluded. “I believe I speak the minds of millions of Jews whom you will never see and who cannot speak for themselves, but with whom I could pave the streets of the country I come from.”
This 1906 conversation served as one of the foundations for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which saw Britain favoring “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
More than 30 years later, on the eve of Israel’s independence on May 14, 1948, Weizmann was tasked with convincing the most powerful country in the world to recognize the tiny Jewish state.
Christian-Zionist scholar Thomas Ice wrote that President Harry S. Truman, who was a Baptist and knew the Bible extremely well, had beliefs that would never have let him not support the prophetic return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land.
“God raised-up Harry S. Truman and put him in the White House for the purpose of providing a key human agent through whom He used, as He did Cyrus centuries ago, to restore Israel to her land.”
But with Truman's administration against the decision, Weizmann came to sweeten the deal.
“You have the opportunity of the ages. If you’ll stay strong now, you’ll go down in history for all eternity,” he was reported to have said to Truman.
Truman’s recognition of the nascent State of Israel in 1948 became the standard-bearer for strong US-Israeli ties that flourish until this day.
On November 9, 1952, Weizmann passed away at the age of 78.To learn more about Jewish-Christian relations, and the building of the modern State of Israel as envisaged by the prophets of the Bible check us out at @christian_jpost, on Facebook.com/jpostchristianworld/ and see the best of the Holy Land in The Jerusalem Post - Christian Edition monthly magazine.sign up to our newsletter