Paul Calvert spoke with the 5th Earl of Balfour, about whether the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration should be celebrated in Britain this year, and his opinion that it's still a work in progress.

Lord Balfour
Lord Balfour

Paul: Why are you in Jerusalem at this time?

Lord Balfour: Very simply put, because I was invited, and it seemed to me very opportune, given the reputation of the Balfour Declaration here in Israel, that a family representative should come out. I am the natural person as the current Lord Balfour to be here.

Paul: We are celebrating 100 years of the Balfour Declaration. How historic was the Balfour Declaration?

Lord Balfour: At the time I suspect it wasn't that historic; it wasn't earth shattering. I think it is really how Israel has developed since that has caused the controversy, and the interpretation of the Declaration.

Paul: Was Lord Arthur Balfour a religious man? And did his religious beliefs play a part in the Balfour Declaration?

Lord Balfour: Oh I think most certainly, and this is something that doesn't often come out. But the Scottish education system was very much based on the Bible. So in Britain and in Scotland, you got all the missionaries who went out into the world, but particularly in respect of the Old Testament, those people started to read in Deuteronomy, in Jeremiah and those Old Testament books about the covenant and the return of the Jewish people. Jesus was a Jew so it was a very natural thing to think, right it's only correct that the Jews should be allowed to go back under the terms of the covenant; under the promise of the covenant to Israel.

Paul: What do you think the mood of the Jews was when they read the Balfour Declaration?

Lord Balfour: I would agree with one or two people who said, "It was really nice to know that that had been achieved, that there was a home, but they wouldn't necessarily want to leave their banking jobs in New York, or Buenos Aires, or Budapest."

Paul: Maybe it felt like it was a bit of a backup plan?

Lord Balfour: Yes I think that was the case, but when it was needed they couldn't get there.

Paul: You are a descendant of Lord Arthur Balfour, how does that make you feel?

Lord Balfour: He achieved a great deal and he was a great philosopher and I am very proud of his legacy.

Paul: Are relations today between Britain and Israel good relations?

Lord Balfour: I think in trade they are very good, but I think against the general populous they could be better.

Paul: Do you think that Great Britain will be celebrating the Balfour Declaration this year?

Lord Balfour: There are going to be celebrations, or commemorations, as I prefer to call them. I have already criticised the word celebrate rather than commemorate because I think it's still a work in progress.

Paul: What is your prayer for Jewish/British relations today?

Lord Balfour: Oh I would obviously like everybody to live and co-exist peacefully and for all the races here to be able to pursue their own religions and everything in peace.

Balfour Declaration

'His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.' CR

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