Celebrating Balfour 100: Centenary Activities to Honor History
The Centenary approaches of what Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, has called “ One of the most important Letters of History” - the Balfour Declaration. In the first public statement of its kind by a British official in recent years, May declared, “it is an anniversary we (the British Government) will be marking with pride”.
The Balfour Centenary Committee of Israel, in association with its constituent organisations, is proud to be a part of the planning and implementation of an exciting range of events and programmes to mark 100 years of this monumental event in Zionist history.
On 2nd November 1917, Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, sent the letter containing the Declaration to Lord Walter Rothschild, as head of the Jewish Community. The Balfour Centenary Committee is honored and delighted that Walter’s great-nephew, Lord Jacob Rothschild, will be participating in the events at the Knesset and speaking at the Balfour Dinner, which the Israel British and Commonwealth Association has for many years organized in November to mark the anniversary.
In affirmation of the vision of Balfour and Weizmann’s efforts to propel forward the rights of Jewish Nationalism, the Postal Authority will be issuing a commemorative stamp.
The Knesset will mark the occasion on 7th November with meetings of relevant committees followed by a symposium promoted by the B’nai B’rith World Centre, in which, inter alia, Speaker Edelstein, Lord Jacob Rothschild, Prof Simon Schama, HE David Quarrey, the British Ambassador, Ambassador Daniel Taub and Prof. Efraim Karsh have agreed to participate. In the afternoon there will be a plenary session of the Knesset.
Among the other activities planned for the centenary year are commemorative events, public lectures, educational initiatives, and social gatherings - all geared to engage the broader community in Israel in a celebration of Balfour, the historical significance of the declaration, and the relevance to current and future generations.
On November 2nd, officially known as “Balfour Day,” a range of events are planned for different audiences, both within and outside of Israel.
One of several Balfour Centenary Lectures, hosted by the Jewish Historical Society of England, will feature Lord Leslie Turnberg, who will discuss his book, "Balfour and the 100-Year War: Searching for a Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict". Additionally, JHSE will be organising a symposium of four speakers "How the Balfour Declaration was celebrated in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Liverpool".
In honor of Balfour Day and the continued celebration of 120 years of Zionism, the World Zionist Organization will be hosting the Israeli Jewish Congress, together with the delegates of the Zionist Council (Va’ad HaPoel) organizations.
The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities will be providing a platform of experts to speak on the subject of the Balfour Declaration and related topics. The National Library will be mounting an exhibition opening in September.
HOB, the British Immigrants Society of Israel, is inviting individuals to link up virtually with new and not-so-new olim on “Balfour Day”, the date of the centenary, to share views and memories. In association with the Zionist Council a nationwide quiz is being organised.
On 8th November the Annual Balfour Dinner, hosted by IBCA, will take place at the Hilton Hotel, Tel Aviv. To mark the centenary it will be a very special occasion and the guest speakers will be Lord Jacob Rothschild and Speaker Edelstein.
The Israel Forever Foundation, in partnership with the American Zionist Movement and the World Zionist Organization, will be hosting a Balfour Centenary Symposium in Washington DC November 15-17 which will include a special program at the United States Congress.
Telfed is hosting a visit by Philip Weyers, great-grandson of Jan Smuts, who was a member of the War Cabinet that approved the Declaration who, with an invited group of South Africans will visit Ramat Yochanan, a kibbutz founded in honour of Jan Smuts, on 2nd November 2017.
A large number of other activities are planned running through the year from November 2017 to 2018, including an extensive lecture programme organised by ESRA, at venues across the country, as well as street parties.
Details of all centenary activities can be found at CelebrateBalfour.org, created and managed by The Israel Forever Foundation which has also crafted an educational package enabling communities, organizations and schools to create their own local programmes to mark this historical event in an engaging and exciting way.