The Letters and Papers of Chaim Weizmann
August 1914 – November 1917
Volume VII, Series A
Introduction: Leonard Stein
General Editor Meyer W. Weisgal, Volume Editor Leonard Stein in collaboration with Dvorah Barzilay and Nehama A. Chalom, Oxford University Press, London and Israel Universities Press, Jerusalem, 1975[Reprinted with express permission from the Weizmann Archives, Rehovot, Israel,
by the Center for Israel Education www.israeled.org]
The period covered by the 534 letters comprised in this volume extends from 10 August 1914, just after the beginning of the First World War, to 2 November 1917, the date of the Balfour Declaration.
In the summer of 1914 Weizmann was in his fortieth year. He had been for ten years a resident in England and had since 1910 been a naturalized British subject. At Manchester University, after holding some less important posts in the chemical department, he had been appointed in May 1913 as a Reader in Biochemistry. In the Zionist Movement he had become a prominent though not yet a commanding figure. At the 1913 Congress he had had the distinction of serving as Chairman of the Standing Committee (Permanent Ausschuss) and had been selected as Rapporteur on one of the main items on the agenda, the project for the establishment of a Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The great majority of the letters are concerned, as was to be expected, with Weizmann’s political work in the interests of Zionism. In an Introduction to be published separately as a companion volume, these will be discussed in the context of the Cabinet and Foreign Office papers at the Public Record Office and other relevant documentary material. The purpose of this Introductory Note is to help the reader in his approach to the letters by giving an indication of their contents and background in broad outline, without going closely into details and with a minimum of comment. To clear the ground, it will be convenient to start with the letters included in this volume which relate to Weizmann’s scientific work for the British Government.
At an interview early in February 1915 with Dr. William Rintoul, the head of the Research Department of Nobel’s Explosives, Ltd., Weizmann demonstrated a process he had invented for the speedier and more economical production of acetone. This substance was essential to the manufacture of the important explosive known as cordite. Early in the war a shortage of acetone had begun to cause serious anxiety. After advising Weizmann to patent his invention, which he did, Rintoul brought it to the notice of Sir Frederick Nathan, at that time Adviser to the Admiralty on cordite supply. Nathan was impressed, and after a discussion with Weizmann on 21 April 1915 arranged for his acetone process to be given a trial.
Encouraged by the success of some preliminary experiments, the Admiralty decided to test the process on a larger scale at the Royal Naval Cordite Factory at Holton Heath (near Wareham, Dorset) and on 1 September 1915 appointed Weizmann as Honorary Technical Adviser on acetone supplies. In 1916 a factory for the production of acetone by the Weizmann process was built by the Admiralty at Poole, near Wareham. The factory, which was under the general supervision of Captain Arthur Desborough, R.N., the Superintendant of the Holton Heath establishment, made a successful start early in 1917.
Quite independently of its adoption by the Admiralty, the Weizmann process was, early in June 1915, brought by Weizmann’s staunch friend and admirer, C.P. Scott, the Editor of The Manchester Guardian, to the notice of Lloyd George, who had taken charge of the recently established Ministry of Munitions. In September 1915 Weizmann was appointed Chemical Adviser to the Ministry on acetone supplies. As a sequel to some successful experimental tests, the production of acetone by the Weizmann process was begun in June 1916 at a factory at King’s Lynn requisitioned by the Ministry. Weizmann’s employment by the Ministry of Munitions ended on 31 September 1916. Thereafter he worked exclusively for the Admiralty until the final termination of his appointment in June 1918. His scientific work for the Government entailed his removal from Manchester to London, where he became permanently resident towards the end of 1915.
For some months after entering the Government service Weizmann was seriously concerned about his personal position and prospects. Writing to Nathan he said: “I think that my status is not sufficiently regularized. Somehow I remain a temporary and anonymous worker.” In Nathan’s reply, dated 5 April 1916, he told Weizmann that he was to have the official title of “Superintendent of the Lister Institute Government Laboratories,” with the status of Technical Adviser on all scientific work connected with the production of acetone.
The question of status was not Weizmann’s only worry. At the Ministry of Munitions though he enjoyed the full confidence of Lloyd George, he found the Director-General of Explosive Supplies, Lord Moulton, antagonistic and obstructive. He had reason to be suspicious of the handling of the negotiations for the use of his process in France. In 1917 difficulties began to arise from a growing shortage of maize.
Weizmann’s process, being based on the fermentation of maize, was, therefore, in jeopardy, and attempts to find a substitute were only partially successful. All the time he had hanging over his head a threat by two competitors, Professor Auguste Fernbach and Edward Strange, of legal proceedings for the alleged infringement of their joint patent rights. The matter was not finally disposed of until, long after the end of the war, the originality of Weizmann’s process, described by the Judge as an “exercise of inventive genius,” was fully vindicated in an action in the English Courts in 1926. Lastly, there was the question of the award to be made to Weizmann for his services to the Government. He had hoped for a capital sum of the order of £50,000. In his letter of 20 September 1917 to Scott he mentions a communication from the Admiralty about the payment to be made to him, but this letter has not been found either in the Weizmann Archives or in the Public Record Office. All we know about the actual nature and amount of the reward is that, according to Weizmann’s autobiography, what he received was not the substantial lump sum to which he thought himself entitled, but royalties amounting, in the aggregate, to £10,000.
In August 1914, Weizmann, though well known in Zionist circles, held no office in the World Zionist Organization except as one of the 26 members of the Greater Actions Committee. He was not even the leading figure in the English Zionist Federation. He was one of its two Vice-Presidents, but the President was Joseph Cowen. It was not until February 1917 that Cowen stepped down in his favor. Outside the Zionist world he was not a public figure like Max Nordau or Israel Zangwill. He was just an obscure scientist —not even a professor—working at a provincial University. No one invited him to take charge of Zionist activities in England in the crisis arising from the outbreak of war, followed three months later by the Allied declaration of war on Turkey, which made the future of Palestine an open question.
To him it was clear that the time had come for the Zionists “to emerge from [their] torpor and do something.” With characteristic energy and self-confidence, he, on his own initiative, accompanied only by a small group of intimate friends, started on the road which was to lead to the Balfour Declaration. The group consisted, at the outset, of Ahad Ha’am, for whom Weizmann felt respect bordering on reverence, together with two younger men, Harry Sacher and Leon Simon. It did not include any of the older generation of English Zionists, such as Herbert Bentwich, Cowen, Moses Gaster, Leopold Kessler and Leopold Greenberg. Without completely cutting himself off from them, he kept them, especially Cowen and Greenberg, at a distance.
He was sure from the outset that, in spite of the set-backs of its opening phase, the war would in the end be won by the Allies. “I am convinced,” he wrote, “that the outcome of this catastrophe will be a British and French victory.” Even before Turkey had entered the war on the side of the Central Powers he predicted that, given such a victory, “Palestine will fall within the influence of England,” and, further, that “England will understand the Zionists better than anyone else.” He believed that the Zionists on their side would have something to offer their British protectors. “We […] could easily move a million Jews into Palestine within the next 50 to 60 years, and England would have a very effective and strong barrier [against an attack on the Suez Canal), we would have a country.” It was with these ideas firmly rooted in his mind that Weizmann started on the “reconnoitring work” (his own description) on which he reported, early in January 1915, to Yehiel Tschlenow and Nahum Sokolow, two Russian members of the Smaller Actions Committee who had just arrived in England.
A chance encounter in the middle of September 1914 with the influential Editor of The Manchester Guardian, C.P. Scott, had gained him a staunch supporter and had resulted in December 1914 in his being invited to see Herbert Samuel, the only Jewish member of the Cabinet, whose views he found, to his astonishment, to be closely in accord with his own. Just outside the period covered by his report to Tschlenow and Sokolow was Weizmann’s first meeting, for which likewise he had reason to thank Scott, with Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, who later told Scott how favourably Weizmann had impressed him. The report includes an account of an encouraging interview in December 1914 with Arthur Balfour, who had a clear recollection of his meeting with Weizmann in 1906 in circumstances described in Volume IV. He now responded wholeheartedly to Weizmann’s analysis of the Jewish question and his plea for Zionism as the only effective solution.
Shortly before the war Weizmann had engaged the interest of the head of the French house of Rothschild, Baron Edmond, in the Hebrew University project and had, through him, become acquainted with his son, James. James being in France on military service, Weizmann had very early in the war approached his wife in the hope of enlisting her support. Mrs. de Rothschild was sufficiently impressed to sound some influential members of the family circle, with encouraging results. From that time forth she threw herself enthusiastically into Weizmann’s plans and did everything in her power to further them. At an interview with Weizmann at the end of November 1914 James de Rothschild, then on leave from France, showed that his readiness to co-operate could be taken for granted. At the end of 1914 Weizmann went to Paris for a meeting with Baron Edmond, in whom he found, as he was to find to the end, a staunch and sagacious ally.
By the end of 1914 Weizmann had become anxious to have his hands strengthened by an assurance that he had the support of the American Zionists, now represented by the Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs, with Louis Brandeis as Chairman. Soon after the outbreak of war a leading member of the Committee, Judah L. Magnes, telegraphed to Weizmann assuring him of the enthusiastic support of all classes of American Jewry. Weizmann wanted this assurance to be confirmed by Shmarya Levin, the only member of the S.A.C. then in the United States, and Brandeis, but no such confirmation was forthcoming. What Weizmann did receive was a letter from Magnes warning him, as a member of the G.A.C., against involving himself in propaganda for a Jewish settlement in Palestine under British auspices, since the Zionist Organization could not afford to arouse any suspicion of hostility to Turkey. Weizmann’s reply was that he agreed about the need for discretion, but had in many cases been unable to restrain others (meaning especially the Jewish Chronicle) from “actions and expressions of opinion which would do a great deal of harm.” As can be seen from Nos. 88, 166 and 171, Weizmann did not consider that the time was ripe for a public appeal as distinct from approaches to influential individuals. The first serious attempt to interest a wider circle was the publication, in the summer of 1916, of Zionism and the Jewish Future: a collection of essays dealing both with the ideas underlying the Zionist Movement and with the problems presented by a large-scale settlement of Jews in Palestine, but steering clear of any discussion of the choice of a protecting Power.
One important aspect of Weizmann’s ‘reconnoitering’ work was his attempt to come to terms with the Conjoint Foreign Committee of the Jewish Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association. The Conjoint Committee, with Lucien Wolf as its secretary and principal spokesman, represented the predominantly anti-Zionist Anglo-Jewish establishment. Weizmann was determined that the C.F.C. should not be allowed to stand in his way. “We,” he wrote to Sacher and Simon, “have a programme and shall have the support of a great majority of Jews. They [the C.F.C.] can do us harm, but we shall cut the grass under their feet.” At the same time, he realized that the Zionist position would be strengthened if the Anglo-Jewish community could be brought into line in support of agreed objectives. “I am going,” he wrote, “to fight openly and sans treve, but before opening the fight we shall attempt everything to rope in those Jews and work with them harmoniously.” Pourparlers began in November 1914 and seemed at first to point to a satisfactory outcome. Disillusionment was to follow. In April 1915 two conferences between representatives of the C.F.C. and of the Zionists disclosed irreconcilable differences. Weizmannhad by this time despaired of any meeting of minds. “Of course,” he wrote to Mrs. de Rothschild, “they spoke two different languages and arrived at no conclusion. That is after all the best that could happen. I was frightened of a compromise.” In the summer of 1916 a meeting between Weizmann and Lucien Wolf was arranged by James de Rothschild in the hope that they might find some common ground. The only result was to show how far apart they were. In the months which followed there was a voluminous but inconclusive correspondence between representatives of the two sides. Nothing came of this fencing-match, and in 1917, as will appear later, growing animosity flared up into open war.
Though Tschlenow and Sokolow were Weizmann’s superiors in the Zionist hierarchy as members of the S.A.C., their arrival in England at the end of 1914 did not materially affect his activities. In the middle of 1915 he began to be preoccupied with his scientific work for the Government, but he still somehow found time to win new friends for the Zionist cause and for the idea of British sponsorship of Zionist aspirations. Among these were Lord Robert Cecil, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Rothschild and the Marchioness of Crewe, who, at a reception early in March 1916, was heard to say, “We are all Weizmannites in this house.” In Alfred Zimmern, who was probably put in touch with him by Sacher, Weizmann had a link with the influential “Round Table” group. Closely associated with that group was Waldorf Astor, with whom, and his wife Nancy, Weizmann was by the spring of 1916 on friendly terms, thus gaining the entrée to their wide circle of acquaintances. It was through the Astors (though the letters do not say so) that Weizmann met Philip Kerr, then the Editor of The Round Table, and later, after Lloyd George had succeeded Asquith as Prime Minister, to become an important member of his personal Secretariat. Weizmann remained in close contact with Herbert Samuel. He appears to have seen Balfour only twice in 1915-16. He had at least seven interviews with Lloyd George. These were mainly concerned with his work for the Ministry of Munitions, but the personal relations he had thus established with the future Prime Minister helped materially to strengthen his position after the change of Government at the end of 1916.
It was at this point that the tide began to turn in favor of the Zionists. In place of Asquith and Grey, neither of whom Weizmann had ever met, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary were now Lloyd George and Balfour.
Near the end of January 1917 James Malcolm, the London representative of the Armenian National Delegation, introduced himself to Weizmann and on January 28th introduced Weizmann to Mark Sykes. Colonel Sir Mark Sykes, M.P., was a member of the War Cabinet secretariat charged with watching and reporting on the situation in the Middle East. He had been the British representative in the discussions leading to the Sykes-Picot Agreement of May 1916 concerning the respective claims of Great Britain and France in a post-war partition of Asiatic Turkey. At the time of Weizmann’s first meetings with Sykes he was unaware of the existence of the Agreement. He knew that there were rumors of a Franco-British accord concerning the future of Turkey in Asia, but he had no idea that Great Britain had, in fact, conceded to France a slice of Northern Palestine and had accepted the idea of a Franco-British condominium in a large part of the remainder of Palestine west of the Jordan. Weizmann realized, though some of his Zionists friends did not, that Sykes was by no means enamored of the idea of a Franco-British condominium and would like, if it were possible, to see Palestine under exclusive British control. What Weizmann did not know, until he learnt of it from Scott, in April 1917, was that what was in question was not merely a French claim but a British commitment.
Weizmann’s interview with Sykes on 28 January 1917 was followed by another on the 30th, when it was agreed that Sykes should have an early meeting with leading Zionists and their friends. The meeting took place on 7 February under the chairmanship of Gaster, who had since the spring of 1916 had a number of informal discussions with Sykes. At the conference Sykes declared that the idea of a Jewish Palestine had his full sympathy. On the question of a Franco-British agreement he was less than frank, saying that the British Government had with great difficulty managed to keep the Palestine question open.
At the end of January 1917 there appeared the first issue of Palestine, the weekly organ of a body describing itself as the British Palestine Committee, but consisting, in fact, of a small group of Manchester Zionists, together with Herbert Sidebotham, the Military Correspondent of The Manchester Guardian. Except for a small grant from Zionist funds it was financially independent of the Zionist leadership. In its statements on Zionist aims its tone was more militant, its demands more ambitious, and its advocacy of British control of Palestine more explicit and emphatic than either Sykes or Weizmann could approve. Weizmann’s embarrassment is reflected in a letter in which he tells Samuel Tolkowsky “We shall have to institute a more effective control over the B.P.C. if it is at all possible.” Effective control was never established, and squabbles continued on the issue of the independence of the British Palestine Committee.
In March 1917, when Sykes was preparing to leave for the East, Weizmann suggested to Scott that he should accompany Sykes to Egypt and “enter there into negotiations with the leading Arabs from Palestine […] It is of the utmost importance that […] the Palestinian people and Jews at large should realize that we mean business…” A little later Sykes himself proposed that Weizmann should follow him to Egypt. Nothing came of this in the end. Weizmann was shaken by what he learned from Scott’s letter of 16 April 1917 about the Anglo-French agreement with regard to the future of Palestine. Scott strongly advised him not to join Sykes in the East until the British Government had made up its mind what to do about Palestine. At an interview on 25 April 1917 with Robert Cecil, the Acting Foreign Secretary, Weizmann was told that if he went to Egypt he would be free to work for a Jewish Palestine under a British protectorate. Nevertheless after some vacillation Weizmann’s journey was first postponed and finally abandoned.
In the meantime, though neither Weizmann nor Scott was aware of it, the Prime Minister had, in fact, made up his mind about British policy in regard to Palestine. On 3 April 1917, in giving Sykes his instructions on the eve of his departure for Egypt, Lloyd George, accompanied by Lord Curzon, told him that he was to work for the inclusion of Palestine in the British area and to do nothing to prejudice the Zionist movement and the possibility of its development under British auspices. Soon afterwards arrangements were made for the transmission, through British official channels, of communications passing between Weizmann, Sokolow, Brandeis and Tschlenow.
On 21 April Weizmann joined with James de Rothschild in a cable informing Brandeis that discussions with leading Zionists, Herbert Samuel, and “competent authorities” had led to the unanimous conclusion that the “only satisfactory solution Jewish Palestine under British Protectorate.” Satisfactory replies were received from the American Zionists. The Russians were less responsive. On 29 April Weizmann followed up a telegram to their leader Tschlenow, with a letter explaining how important it was that the Russian Zionists should make clear their assent to the idea of a Jewish Palestine under British protection. To this there was no reply. In the middle of May Tschlenow telegraphed to London that an All-Russian Zionist Conference would open in Petrograd on 6 June. Weizmann telegraphed to Sokolow, then in Rome, that his presence at the Conference was essential and was strongly desired by the British Government. What lay behind this was the hope that Sokolow might be able to win over the delegates to the idea of British sponsorship of Zionist aspirations.
Sokolow had gone to Rome from Paris, where he had spent several weeks on a mission of which the main purpose, in part at least fulfilled, was to acquaint the French Government with Zionist aspirations and to establish friendly relations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Weizmann and some of his associates, notably Sacher, were nervous about Sokolow’s activities in Paris, fearing —though Sokolow stoutly denied it—that they might give the impression that the Zionists were not wedded to the idea of British protection, but might be content with a French alternative. The imminence of the Petrograd Conference provided a further reason for pressing Sokolow to expedite his return to London, but he found it essential, after his visit to Rome, to go back to Paris, where he had important engagements. He did not arrive in London until 17 June, well after the end of the Petrograd Conference.
On the eve of the Conference Weizmann wrote to Tschlenow and one of his leading colleagues, Israel Rosov, appealing to them to support the idea of Palestine as a British protectorate. For Weizmann the Conference was a serious disappointment. Neither in Tschlenow’s opening address nor in the resolution with which the Conference closed was there any hint of a desire for British control of Palestine. Some weeks later (1 September 1917) Weizmann told Tschlenow frankly what he thought of the Conference and how much he deplored its evident preference for sitting on the fence. Tschlenow remained unmoved and never departed from his skeptical attitude towards the idea of anchoring the Movement to Britain.
In a speech at a Conference in London convened by the English Zionist Federation on 20 May 1917 Weizmann for the first time publicly declared that the Zionists could rely upon British support and protection during their progress towards their final aim, “the creation of a Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine.” “I am authorized,” he said “to state in this assembly that His Majesty’s Government is ready to support our plans.” This was broadly in line with Lloyd George’s instructions to Sykes on 3 April and elicited no comment when Weizmann communicated the text to the Foreign Office on 23 May.
The London Conference was followed almost immediately by an open confrontation between the Zionists and the C.F.C. It began with the publication in The Times of 24 May, over the signatures of the Joint Presidents of the C.F.C., of what was generally regarded as an anti-Zionist manifesto. On 28 May The Times published letters from Lord Rothschild, the Chief Rabbi (Dr. J.H. Hertz), and Weizmann, attacking the statement. On the following day a Times leader summed up in favor of the Zionists. On 17 June the Jewish Board of Deputies condemned the publication of the C.F.C.’s statement, with the result that the leadership was discredited and the C.F.C. was soon afterwards dissolved.
This materially strengthened Weizmann’s hands in appealing to the Government for a public declaration of British sympathy for Zionist aspirations. Weizmann had put the case for such a declaration in a letter to the Foreign Office dated 13 June 1917. By the time his proposal had been fully considered by the Foreign Office the result, of the Board of Deputies debate had removed what might otherwise have been a stumbling-block. On 19 June Weizmann and Rothschild saw Balfour, who invited them to submit a draft declaration for the approval of the War Cabinet.
Weizmann took no part in the preparation of the draft, this being left to Sokolow with a small group of advisers. Soon after the meeting with Balfour on 19 June Weizmann left, at the instance of the Foreign Office, for Gibraltar, with a view to taking part in discussions with an American Mission headed by Henry Morgenthau and Felix Frankfurter. The ostensible purpose of the Morgenthau Mission was to alleviate the sufferings of the Jews in Palestine, but there was reason to suspect that its real object was to enable Morgenthau to sound some Turkish friends of his about the possibility of a separate peace between Turkey and the Allies. Weizmann had no confidence in Morgenthau and his distrust was shared by the Foreign Office, which relied on Weizmann to head him off. In this Weizmann succeeded. Having been convinced that he could achieve nothing, Morgenthau gave it up and left Gibraltar empty-handed. Weizmann’s success considerably enhanced his prestige in official circles. The story of the Gibraltar Conference is fully told in Weizmann’s reports to the Foreign Office—Nos. 451 to 454. He had hardly returned to London when he was asked by the Foreign Office to go to Paris, where an Inter-Allied Conference opened on 25 July 1917. Together with Sokolow he had encouraging interviews with Lloyd George and Balfour. He came back to London at the end of July with the impression that the French were no longer seriously interested in obtaining a foothold in Palestine and that the British Government could be relied upon for a pro-Zionist Declaration.
In the meantime a draft Declaration had, in response to Balfour’s request, been approved by the Committee working with Sokolow and submitted to Balfour by Lord Rothschild on 18 July (for text see No. 496). It was circulated to the War Cabinet, which, at a meeting on 3 September, had before it the Rothschild draft, a slightly amended version proposed by Balfour and an alternative draft presented by Lord Milner, who proposed a considerable watering down of the Rothschild formula. The only Jewish Minister of Cabinet rank, Edwin Montague, who had already circulated an anti-Zionist memorandum to his colleagues, was present by invitation and vehemently objected to any description of Palestine as the home of the Jewish people. In the end the War Cabinet decided, before going further, to ascertain the views of President Wilson on the desirability in principle of a pro-Zionist Declaration. On 3-September 10th Colonel House replied that in Wilson’s view “the time was not opportune for any definite pro-Zionist statement further, perhaps, than one of sympathy, provided it could be made without conveying any real commitment.”
In August and September 1917 serious tension developed between Weizmann and some of his leading colleagues. At the end of July 1917 the War Office announced its intention of forming a Jewish regiment within the British Army. Though there was no express statement to that effect, it was generally understood that the Jewish Regiment was destined for Palestine. The proposal was unacceptable to the majority of the English Zionists, largely on the ground that the appearance in Palestine of a Jewish regiment fighting under the British flag would be a direct challenge to Turkey and was calculated to endanger both the Jewish population of Palestine and the Turkish Jews generally. Weizmann at heart favored the formation of a Jewish regiment for service in Palestine, though he always insisted that in discussions with members of the Government or other persons outside the Zionist Movement, he had made it clear that, while he personally welcomed the proposal, the Zionist Organization did not and must not be regarded as a party to it. This is the background to a letter to Sokolow dated 17 August 1917, in which Weizmann announced his withdrawal from active participation in Zionist work. He did not persist in his resignation, but by early in September a fresh storm had blown up. Writing to Sokolow he again announced his withdrawal from any part in the leadership of the Movement. Behind this lay something more than differences of opinion on the question of the Jewish,regiment. “The atmosphere surrounding me,” he wrote, “is full of suspicion, envy and a certain fanaticism, in the presence of which any fruitful work is impossible for me.” “[My colleagues],” he told Scott, “began to introduce Soviet tactics into the Zionist movement;” hence the reports of his resignation.
By this time Weizmann’s nerves were frayed by friction with his colleagues and, to add to his discouragement, he learnt with dismay, in the middle of September, of Wilson’s cold douche in his reply to the War Cabinet’s enquiry. But he realized and so did his colleagues, that his leadership had become indispensable. Once more he did not persist in his resignation and continued plodding on towards a goal which seemed to be receding into the distance.
Wilson’s message was a factor in the deferment of discussion of a pro-Zionist Declaration by the War Cabinet. The question was restored to the War Cabinet agenda in accordance with instructions given by Lloyd George on 28 September in response to a personal appeal to him by Weizmann and was re-considered by the War Cabinet, Montagu again being present by invitation, on 4 October. Once more no conclusion was reached. What was eventually decided was that the draft presented by Milner, with an addendum proposed by Leopold Amery, should be submitted, with a request for their views, to President Wilson, to some leading Zionists and to representative persons in the Anglo-Jewish community opposed to Zionism. The Zionist group was nominated by Weizmann and consisted, in addition to himself, of the Chief Rabbi, Rothschild and Sokolow. Of the four members of the Anglo-Jewish group all but one, Sir Stuart Samuel, were reported to the War Cabinet by its Secretary, Maurice Hankey, to have sent replies unfavorable to the proposed Declaration. On October 16th the British Government learnt that the Milner-Amery draft had been approved by Wilson.
In the meantime Weizmann had been concentrating his energies on securing messages in support of a British pro-Zionist statement from as many parts of the Jewish world as possible. He telegraphed in this sense to Brandeis, to Rosov (Petrograd), to Percy Marks (Sydney), to Jacques Mosseri (Cairo) and to Baron Edmond. He also, in his capacity as President of the English Zionist Federation, arranged for pro-Zionist resolutions to be passed by some 300 synagogues and other representative Jewish bodies in the United Kingdom. Notices were sent on 23 October to the Foreign Office where they appear from a memorandum submitted to Balfour to have made a considerable impression.
The question appeared on the War Cabinet agenda on 25 October, but greatly to Weizmann’s disappointment it was held over pending the production of a memorandum (as it turned out, an unfriendly one) which Curzon said that he was preparing. On 31 October the War Cabinet authorized the Foreign Secretary to apprise the Zionists of what was to become known as the Balfour Declaration —a slightly modified version of the Milner-Amery draft. On November 1st the Foreign Office sent Weizmann, for his personal information, a copy of the approved text. On 2 November this was formally communicated by Balfour to Rothschild, with a request to bring it to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.