England / Israel / Middle East / War / World War I

“There was a more immediate motive for the timing of the Balfour Declaration”

There was a more immediate motive for the timing of the Declaration. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson had declared his intention to join the war on the side of the Allies, but no American troops had arrived. By the summer of 1917, the Allies were fighting Germany to a stalemate along the Western Front. Meanwhile, Tsar Nicholas II had been toppled, and Alexander Kerensky’s provisional government was struggling to keep Russian troops to Germany’s east. So Lloyd George, plausibly shaken—and, along with Balfour, curiously attached to the idea that Jewry in both Russia and the United States wielded disproportionate influence—supposed that a promise to support Jewish nationalism would reinforce American commitment and Russian resolve. (In some individual cases, there was truth to this: Louis Brandeis, who was then on the Supreme Court, actively encouraged Wilson both to enter the war and to support the Balfour Declaration.)

Bernard Avishai, “The Balfour Declaration Century”, The New Yorker (2 November 2017) [https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-balfour-declaration-century]