Today in history: 2 November 1917
The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Walter Rothschild (Second Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.
The document made clear the support of the British government for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It is suggested that it was used by the English to persuade the Jewish Bolshevik leaders to remain in the Great War and also to persuade the Americans to join in as Zionists were well-placed in the Woodrow Wilson administration.
Zionism was based on the desire of Jews to have their own country as a place where they would be safe from anti-Semitism but they had never expected to have it miraculously handed to them in such a fashion as in the Balfour Declaration. Although the letter mentions a Jewish "home" as distinct from a country, the Zionists always intended that a Jewish state would be established as soon as Jews made-up the majority of the population of Palestine and this is what happened in 1948.