The Balfour Declaration is somewhat controversial as many today see it as the western world and especially the British giving away Arab lands. It may well be that it is the first time anyone put the notion of recreating a nation of Israel in writing, but the idea was not new. What we call the modern Zionist movement emerged in the late 19th century in Central and Eastern Europe as a national revival movement, in reaction to anti-Semitic and exclusionary nationalist movements in Europe. The Balfour Declairation impacted much of what finally came out of World War I.

World War I redrew many national boundaries, it lasted from July, 28 1914 to November 11, 1918. Among other things it marked the end of the Ottoman Empire. Out of those ashes came British mandate Palestine which lasted from 1920 until 1948. The actual declaration is from a letter dated November 2, 1917 from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. It read:

Balfour declaration unmarkedHis 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.

The text of the letter was published in the press one week later, on November 9, 1917. The "Balfour Declaration" was later incorporated into both the Sèvres peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire, and the Mandate for Palestine. The original letter, pictured here, is kept at the British Library.

The Sharif of Mecca Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi and other Arab leaders considered the Declaration a violation of previous agreements made in the McMahon-Hussein correspondence which was a series of ten letters exchanged during World War I, between Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, and Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner in Egypt, concerning the political status of lands under the Ottoman Empire. Palestine is not explicitly mentioned in the correspondence, and territories which were not purely Arab were excluded by McMahon and Hussein, although Palestine had been part of Syria from Roman times. (As an aside the name "Palestine" was given to the area by Emperor Hadrian after Bar Kochba's revolt.)

The Arabs, taking Palestine to be overwhelmingly Arab, claimed the declaration was in contrast to the letters, which promised the Arab independence movement control of the Middle East territories "in the limits and boundaries proposed by the Sherif of Mecca" in exchange for revolting against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The British claimed that the McMahon letters did not apply to Palestine, therefore the Declaration could not be a violation of the previous agreement. The issuance of the Declaration had many long lasting consequences, and was a key moment in the lead-up to the Arab–Israeli conflict, often referred to as the world's "most intractable conflict". 4/17/17 4/17/17 4/17/17 4/17/17 4/17/17 4/17/17