On November 2, 1917, the British government, represented by Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour, declared that they were in favor of “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” This short note would be one of the most controversial documents of its time. A hundred years after its signing, Bernard Regan recasts the history of the Balfour Declaration as one of the major events in the story of the Middle East. Offering new insights into the imperial rivalries between Britain, Germany and the Ottomans, Regan exposes British policy in the region as part of a larger geopolitical game.
Yet, even then, the course of events was not straightforward and Regan charts the debates within the British government and the Zionist movement itself on the future of Palestine. The book also provides a revealing account of life in Palestinian society at the time, paying particular attention to the responses of Palestinian civil society to the imperial machinations that threatened their way of life. Not just a history of states and policies, Regan manages to brilliantly present both a history of people under colonialism and an account of the colonizers themselves.
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