Rare Footage Shows Lord Balfour's 1925 Visit to Palestine

Film is revealed in honor of 96th anniversary of British decision to establish a national home for Jewish people in Palestine.

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

In honor of the 96th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917, film researcher Yaakov Gross has published rare footage of Lord Balfour’s visit to Tel Aviv, Haifa, Nazareth and Petah Tikva.

Whoever said there was no holiday in the Hebrew month of Heshvan — the month that falls immediately after the High Holy Days of Tishrei. Saturday, November 2, was a holiday in the Land of Israel — the 96th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, according to the Hebrew calendar.

On that day, the British foreign minister announced his government’s support of “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” Film researcher Yaakov Gross found in his film collection rare footage of Lord Balfour’s visit to the Land of Israel in 1925 and uploaded it to YouTube, in several parts, in honor of the Balfour Declaration’s 96th anniversary.

Lord Balfour visited pre-state Israel in 1925 for the opening of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “He gave the Jewish inhabitants of pre-state Israel the opportunity to honor the man who had encouraged the Zionist movement to lay the foundations of the national home,” Gross says. The film was made by Kamil Suago for the French-Jewish banker Albert Kahan.

The film shows Lord Balfour visiting the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium in Tel Aviv, the country’s first high school, on March 26, 1925. Thousands of people, wearing their holiday finery and photographs of Balfour decorated with blue ribbons, filled Allenby Street in honor of the visit. The pupils of all the schools in Tel Aviv marched toward the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium, waving blue-and-white flags and British flags. A gate of honor with the words “Barukh haba” — “Welcome” — in gold lettering was put up on Allenby Street, and police officers and ushers maintained order among the crowds of people who filled the city streets.

Lord Balfour arrived at 3:30 P.M., accompanied by Zionist leaders Nahum Sokolow and Chaim Weizmann, to applause and cheering. Tel Aviv’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, read him a proclamation. “Fortunate are you, to be privileged to draw close the fulfillment of the ideals,” he said. Balfour went to the courtyard of the Herzliya Gymnasium to watch the parade, in which thousands of school pupils participated. Chaim Bograshov, the principal of the Gymnasium, welcomed him.

Balfour visited the Galilee as well. When he stopped in Nazareth, he looked out over the country’s vistas. People came from communities from all over the Jordan Valley.

Bedouin also welcomed him in Balfouriyya, a moshav that had been established five years earlier. Balfour got out of his car, and the area's residents received him at a gate of honor.

The chief rabbi of Jaffa and Tel Aviv, Meir Uziel, welcomed him, too. As documented in the film, Lord Balfour’s convoy also stopped in Rishon Lezion, Petah Tikva, Binyamina, Haifa, Rosh Pina and Tiberias.

A screengrab from footage showing Balfour's 1925 visit to Palestine, published by Yaakov Gross in Nov 2013.

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