In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Zionism is Number 162 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The book includes a historical overview of Zionism, which it describes as “the oldest nationalist movement in history.” The section “Zionism in the Bible” discusses the role of such prophets as Moses, Isaiah, and Malachi, and the exile of ten of the tribes of Israel following conquest by the Assyrians in 720 BC and of the remaining two tribes at the hands of the Babylonians in 606−588 BC. Exile was followed by the partial return of the Jews to Palestine brought about by the Persians under Darius, beginning in 536 BC. Subsequent sections cover the Jewish presence in Palestine under Persian, Greek, and Roman rule. The remainder of the book deals with the development in Europe of modern Zionism, including the role of such important figures as Sir Moses Montefiore, Moses Hess, and, above all, Theodore Herzl. Important organizational developments covered include the Zionist Congresses that began in 1897 and the establishment that same year of the Jewish National Fund. The study concludes with a discussion of the future of Palestine and of prospects for implementation of the famous Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917. In that document, Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour stated that the British 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….”

Last updated: September 5, 2014