To the Editor:
In an otherwise excellent article [“Our (English) Crowd,” April] Chaim Raphael says that when Lord Balfour asked Lord Walter Rothschild to bring the Balfour Declaration to the attention of the British Zionist Federation, the request was “almost as an afterthought.” He hints also that it was addressed to Lord Rothschild in deference to the latter’s relationship to the “Cousinhood.” Both statements are wrong, and may easily be misinterpreted.
Dr. Weizmann tells us in his autobiography that the Declaration was addressed to Lord Rothschild at his request. Dr. Weizmann was then President of the British Zionist Federation, and Lord Rothschild was one of a small political committee of only six of the British Zionist Federation. Balfour had also consulted, while in Canada, with the President of its Zionist Federation.
Lord Rothschild was in his own right a significant representative of British Zionism. The Declaration was intended primarily for the world Zionist movement, with full knowledge of its publicly declared aims.
This fact is of importance.
Zionist Organization of America
New York City
Chaim Raphael writes:
Harry Cohen’s gentle criticism makes me realize that I wrote too elliptically. I should have said that Balfour’s request sounded almost like an afterthought. But surely Mr. Cohen himself documents the second point. The letter was sent to a Rothschild, rather than to the head of the Zionist Federation, because to address this historic Declaration to the top British Rothschild gave it tremendous “Cousinhood” weight, whether the anti-Zionist “cousins” liked it or not. This was what Weizmann was after in his unremitting cultivation of the Rothschilds all through this period. His letters to a whole variety of them, full of his magnetic blend of intelligence and charm, in the years preceding the Declaration, are a tour de force, as will be seen when they are published in the collection of Weizmann’s papers now being edited by Meyer Weisgal.
But here’s a howler. When I referred to a Cousinhood industrialist who helped to build up Palestine as “Sir Bernard Waley-Cohen,” I meant, of course, his father, Sir Robert, and without a hyphen.