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Before 2 November 1917 no public position had been taken on the future of Palestine by any government. Thereafter there was a proposal from Lloyd George’s British government, approved by President Wilson in America,  to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland under certain conditions. But the future of Palestine had been included in three radically different commitments secretly made by the British government to the French, the Arabs and the Jews. The French could be bought-off with Syria. The Arabs, well they were considered a lesser race by the Secret Elite and, it was presumed, could be led down a different path. The Jews, by that time described as Zionists, offered a very interesting opportunity. Key inner-circle members of the Secret Elite believed that the Empire’s strategic security would be greatly enhanced by a Jewish Palestine which owed its existence to Britain. These Zionists could be useful.

The Zionist Commission. Chaim Weizmann centre in white with Captain James de Rothschild to the right.

Behind the political enthusiasm for a Jewish homeland displayed so publicly by the War Cabinet in 1917 lay this question: who was influencing them? Which of the small number of Zionist enthusiasts penetrated their inner circle and found favour with the Secret Elite? The primary answer was the House of Rothschild. Not every Rothschild, no, but over the span of 1914-1917 significant Rothschilds championed the Zionist cause and were seen by the public, especially the Jewish public, as its real leaders. Baron Edmond de Rothschild in Paris was the first of the nineteenth-century Rothschilds to help Russian victims of the vile pogroms to emigrate to Palestine between 1881-2. Throughout the pre-war years, he acquired and supported several communities in Palestine. By 1903 nineteen out of twenty-eight Jewish settlements in Palestine were subsidised partly or wholly by him. It was claimed that Edmond’s commitment was not aimed at the creation of a Jewish state. [1] That is convenient, for once the First World War was underway, it was he who urged Weizmann to seize the opportunity to establish a Jewish Palestine. [2]

Lord Natty Rothschild whom Walter claimed became pro-Zionist.

In London, under the patronage of Lord Nathaniel, the Rothschilds had originally expressed no particularly strong enthusiasm for Palestine. They were considered to be disinterested, until Natty died in 1915. Described at his funeral as the ‘leader of his far-flung brothers … the Prince of the Diasporas of Israel’ [3] by the Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, the great ‘Natty’ held a ‘quasimonarchial status within British Jewry’.[4] Yet again mythistory gave rise to extravagant titles. Suddenly, Natty Rothschild was transformed into a mythological prince of a mythological diaspora.

If Nathaniel was King, Walter was his heir. It was to Walter Rothschild that Balfour sent the Declaration  because, for much of the preceding year, Walter had been actively promoting Zionism in company with Chaim Weizmann. Walter has long been described first and foremost as a zoologist who collected exotic birds and animals; a reluctant banker; a very shy man with a speech impediment. [5] The evidence from which we have analysed the Balfour Declaration stands testament to a different truth. It was Walter Rothschild who allegedly drafted and redrafted letters to foreign secretary Balfour in 1917. [6] Be mindful that the Declaration passed through at least 5 drafts. At the very least, if  say, Weizmann drafted these letters in Walter’s name, it had the Rothschild signature.  Walter opposed the idea that power in Palestine might be shared between Britain and France and, Weizmann claimed, believed that Palestine must become a British Protectorate. [7]

The 'eccentric' Walter Rothschild in his Zebra-drawn carriage.

Later, Jacob, the 4th Lord Rothschild described his grandfather Walter as a deeply eccentric ornithologist who, for example, did not open any mail over a two year period because he didn’t want to communicate with the rest of the world. [8]  Well, he clearly opened Balfour’s letter. Walter did not flinch when confronted by Jewish opponents to political Zionism. He tackled them head-on. He wrote to The Times on several occasions to condemn leading Jewish opponents. When the presidents of the Jewish Board of Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association published what he deemed to be a manifesto against Zionism, both he and Weizmann wrote stinging letters of condemnation. Walter Rothschild then had the authors of the letter censured at the next meeting of the Board of Deputies and used his father’s name to justify his position. Whether he was a led in such matters by Weizmann or not, changes nothing.

It was generally believed that Natty Rothschild held little time for Zionists but Walter insisted that ‘during the latter years of his life, [his father] had frequently told him that in principle he was in favour of the establishment of a Jewish National homeland in Palestine, but not so long as Palestine was in Turkish hands’ [9] The dead cannot easily contradict the living. Walter Rothschild pressed both Lloyd George and Balfour to make a clear statement in favour of a Jewish homeland, and accompanied Chaim Weizmann when the Zionist leader in Britain went to persuade Balfour that a Jewish homeland had to have an expression of support before the war ended. [10] Walter presided over the mass meeting of triumph after the Declaration at the London Opera House on 2 December and spoke eloquently. Walter Rothschild was intimately involved in the successful delivery of the Balfour Declaration and fronted much of the political pressure which the Zionists exerted.

The outrageous treatment of Captain Dreyfus disillusioned many French Jews who found their anti-semitic establishment impossible to bear.

So too was the French-born James de Rothschild, Edmond’s son. He abandoned France after the anti-Jewish Dreyfus affair at the turn of the century [11] and was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. James shared his father’s enthusiasm for Jewish communities in Palestine. Chaim Weismann corresponded with him, [12] and visited his wife, Dorothy Pinto [13] while James was serving in France. The Rothschild Archives at Waddesdon Manor retains a priceless collection of documents, including the original Balfour letter itself, but the correspondence from Dorothy de Rothschild clearly proves that Weizmann’s success within British society was neither opportunism nor good fortune. Dorothy had married James when she was seventeen years of age and her commitment to the Zionist cause never wavered. She wrote frequently to Chaim Weizmann and helped him to become integrated into  British Society, and most importantly, the Secret Elite. According to Lord Jacob, Dorothy devoted herself to Israel. If, as he claimed, Chaim Weizmann miraculously seduced Lloyd George, Balfour and the Secret Elite into accepting the Zionist ambitions, [14] it was a miracle facilitated by and through the Rothschild family.

James de Rothschild had attended a special meeting on 17 February 1917, with Weizmann, Walter Rothschild, Herbert Samuel and Sir Mark Sykes to establish a  pressure group specifically created to urge the British government to make a positive statement confirming Palestine’s future. [15] James, distrustful of French politicians, warned that if British Jews approached the French government for support, the French would would use their own Rabbis to press for a French mandate for Palestine. He became involved in  day-today Zionist politics and in April and May, 1917, he played an integral part in the Brandeis- Weizmann telegram exchanges which we have already examined. [16]  He too spoke at the great rally of 2 December and, quoting his father Edmond’s unerring commitment to Palestine, claimed that ‘Jewish ideals up to this time had been met at the gate, but could not get through. With one stroke of the pen the English government had flung open these gates.’ According to the Rothschild historian, Niall Ferguson, the meeting at Covent Garden was held to underline the Rothchilds’ contributions to the historic breakthrough from which the state of Israel could be traced.[17]

Frontpiece of pamphlet issued by The Zionist Organisation in London with a subtitle Jewry's Celebration of its National Charter'

What’s more, the English Zionists Federation soon re-interpreted the original letter so that it was entitled ‘The Charter of Zionism’. But this letter of support was not a charter. It was not a Magna Carta.  This ‘breakthrough’, this ‘Jewish Charter’  [18]  contained a delicate and labyrinthine conundrum. How could any Power which claimed to have gone to war to protect the rights of small self-determining nations bring a non-existent ‘country’ to an international conference and claim it had greater rights to recognition than others? The first step was the British government’s Declaration of intent to support the establishment of a ‘homeland’. An outburst of international and orchestrated approval certainly helped. But there had to be a more tangible basis; proof positive that there was a just cause. This was the reason behind the Zionist Commission sent to the ‘Holy Land’ in 1918 to reassure the Arabs that no-one intended them harm. It aimed to lend credibility to the Zionist claims; give Zionists some right to be heard when the world was redivided at the end of the war. And all of this timely enterprise was orchestrated through the Rothschild influence.

In addition, membership of the Secret Elite began to change in a subtle manner to which Carroll Quigley made no overt reference. Perhaps a better word might be partnership. As economic power increasingly flowed through the Morgan – Rothschild – Rockefeller – Kuhn Lowe axis in the United States, political alliances began to firm around key issues … like Palestine, but why did they go to such extraordinary lengths to realise a mythistory? The Brandeis – Weizmann connection was reflected in the Balfour-Lansing understandings. In other words, the Zionist aims metamorphosed into British and American foreign policy. The Anglo-American Establishment began to slowly readjust its position. In a sense, the drive for one world government moved towards a shared trans-Atlantic agenda that would become clearer in the coming decades. In the new order that lay ahead, would it still be the British elite who were in charge? If so, for how long could that continue?

1. Ferguson, The House of Rothschild, p. 280.

2. Weizmann, Trial and Error, p. 189.

3. Memorial Sermon given by The Very Rev. Dr. J. H. Hertz, 19 April, 1915, https://archive.org/stream/rthonlordrothsch00hert#page/n3/mode/2up

4. Ferguson, The House of Rothschild, p. 450.

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Rothschild,_2nd_Baron_Rothschild

6.  National Archives GT 1803 and CAB 24/24/4.

7. Niall Ferguson, The House of Rothschild, p. 450.

8.Interview with Lord Jacob Rothschild on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sCioKnpHdY

9. The Times 18 June 1917.

10. Weizmann, Trial and Error, p. 256.

11. In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jew, was wrongly convicted by the army of spying for the Germans. His conviction was ridiculous and became a celebrated cause of establishment -based anti-semitism. The scandal split France and made many Jews very angry and uncomfortable with the anti-semitic attitude of their government. After great public protest, Dreyfus was exonerated in 1908. Recommend Ruth Harris, The Man On Devil’s Island.

12. Ibid., p. 201.

13. Ibid., p. 206.

14. Interview with Lord Jacob Rothschild on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sCioKnpHdY

14. Ibid., p. 238.

15. Interview with Lord Jacob Rothschild on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sCioKnpHdY

16. The Balfour Declaration 7: posted on 1st August 2017.

17. Ferguson, The House of Rothschild, p. 452.

18. The title ‘Charter’ appears to have been invented by the English Zionist Federation, whose pamphlet, Great Britain, Palestine and the Jews: Jewry’s Celebration of its National Charter, published anonymously after December 1917 repeats the concept of a ‘Charter’ almost as if it was the Magna Carta, talking of ‘ a National Charter’, ‘The Charter of Zionism’ and the ‘British Charter of Zionism’