(photo credit: LIBRARY OF CONGRESS)
November 2, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the issuance of the Balfour Declaration. In the US, my generation learned that Chaim Weizmann was presented the Balfour Declaration as a gift for his World War I chemical process that created acetone. The story about it is a sweet myth, but a more realistic appraisal is that Weizmann did his chemical work in the British War Department, where he made a favorable impression on key government leaders. In Weizmann’s biography, he confronts this story and says, “If it had been only that easy.”The other myth is that Justice Louis Brandeis, a leading American Zionist, did nothing to convince President Woodrow Wilson to endorse the Declaration. The truth is that Brandeis was involved at an important juncture in Jewish and world history, and his actions were as crucial as any of the players in the story.