Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Middle Eastern Studies


Simon Davis


Craig Daigle

Subject Categories

Near Eastern Languages and Societies | Other International and Area Studies


The 1917 Balfour Declaration remains perhaps one of the furthest reaching British policy statements. It laid foundation for the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine, and was ever since perceived by some as the source of the subsequent Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine. The Declaration was also interpreted in certain circles as a desperate wartime measure of the British government which hoped to turn the tide of the costly war against Germany by making promises to supposedly influential worldwide Jewish community. However, the Balfour Declaration was more than that. It was a continuation of parallel British geostrategic and humanitarian sensibilities dating back to the Foreign Secretary Viscount Palmerston, and which influenced the attitudes and policies of later British leaders like the Foreign Secretary Arthur J. Balfour and the Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Much of the geopolitical drive behind the Declaration could be traced back to long established British interest in the security of the Suez Canal and communication with India. Humanitarianism, on the other hand, involved a genuine concern for the future of European Jewry, sometimes leavened by messianic Protestantism. Palmerston, Balfour and Lloyd George believed they could successfully merge humanitarian philo-semitism with pragmatic geopolitics securing a better future for an oppressed people and their own empire simultaneously.