WEIZMANN, DR. CHAIM, (1874-1952) Israel
Without Dr. Weizmann it is inconceivable that a homeland for the Jews could be founded at a crucial period in the modern history. The 20 th century had begun with so many crises one after the other,- and Great Powers harried by the ethnic problems in their own backyard looked to convulse entire Europe into some great catastrophe.
Theodore Herzl’s Zion Movement* was already in the air which was coalesced when Dr. Weizmann came into contact with Arthur J. Balfour,Lloyd George and Churchill among other influential politicians of the day.
In 1917 Weizmann became president of the British Zionist Federation and worked with Arthur Balfour to obtain the milestone Balfour Declaration.
In 1904, Weizmann became a chemistry lecturer at the University of Manchester and became involved with the Movement. With the help of people like CP Scott, Harry Sacher he made Manchester the fulcrum of practical Zionism.At that time in Manchester, Balfour was a Conservative MP representing the district, as well as Prime Minister, and the two met during one of Balfour’s electoral campaigns. Balfour supported the concept of a Jewish homeland, but felt that there would be more support among politicians for the then-current offer in Uganda. Following mainstream Zionist rejection of that proposal, Weizmann was credited later with persuading Balfour, then the Foreign Minister, for British support to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine, the original Zionist demand.
The statesman in him saw the land as a national home, the growth of many generations living in peace and amity with the Arabs. The scientist,-he was a chemist who developed the ABE process, in him saw the barren land transformed by the Jews into a fertile and humane country. In the subsequent events like the rise of Nazism, Zion militancy and Arab intransigence and the holocaust destroyed his optimism for an evolutionary state. He was the first President of the state of Israel after its birth.
Theodore Herzl after the Dreyfus Affair realized Jews will not get an equal standing because of the deep seated prejudice against them. He published a book Der Judenstaat –1896 placing all their unfulfilled hopes into print and it was the writing of the wall on the European consciousness. How sincere was the idea of European Enlightenment would be judged in the way it was answered. The United Kingdom was the first world power to endorse the Establishment in Palestine a homeland for the Jews. In 1916 the Picot –Sykes agreement had given Great Britain the mandate over Palestine and the rest is history.