Israeli history photo of the week: Balfour in Jerusalem

JPost special feature: Library of Congress collection of photographs documenting pre-state Israel.

November 29, 2012 11:11
1 minute read.

The balfour declaration. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept.)


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The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.

The government of Great Britain issued the Balfour Declaration 95 years ago this week, on November 2, 1917. The document in effect served as the birth certificate for a Jewish national home.

The British Army had just captured Be’er Sheva (October 31) after months of trying to break through the Ottoman army’s Gaza-Be’er Sheva defense line. The British goal was to push north and capture Jerusalem by Christmas.

In April 1925, Lord Balfour arrived in Palestine to lay the cornerstone for Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus. He was received as a hero in Tel Aviv and Rishon LeZion. In the Arab community his visit was marked with black flags and a commercial strike.

Would the State of Israel have come into being without the Balfour Declaration in 1917? Perhaps. The Jews' return to Zion was well under way -- well before the Holocaust. The building of an infrastructure for a state had begun. The Balfour Declaration laid the legal and political foundation for the state's acceptance by the world community,

More photos can be viewed at

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