Balfour's trip to Israel, 1925
In the first photograph, that was published as a postcard, Balfour is being greeted at the power station in Tel Aviv by a number of local dignitaries. The three men in the centre of the postcard are (from left to right) Lord Balfour, Meir Dizengoff, the mayor of Tel Aviv, and Chaim Weizmann, the then president of the Zionist Organization. This postcard was published by Moshe Ordmann.
The second photograph was taken by Moshe Ordmann and shows Balfour being welcomed at the Zionist club in Tel Aviv by officials and local dignitaries.
The third photograph shows Lord Balfour (seated centre) during a visit to the Meir Shfeya Youth Village in March 1925. Standing to his right is Nahum Sokolow, who served as translator for Balfour; seated to his left is Chaim Weizmann. There are other men and women in the photograph and a child, probably a pupil from the youth village. The photo was donated to NLI in 1969.
All of these photographs were created during Lord Balfour’s 1925 trip to Israel. The photographs were taken by Moshe Ordmann, a famous publisher of postcards at the time. In these images colour has been added to what were originally black and white images in order provide a more vivid rendering of the occasions.
During his trip to Israel, Lord Balfour visited many locations and was given a warm reception wherever he went. In several places, even those where he was not scheduled to stop, entire villages turned out to greet and applaud him. In these images, as well as numerous testimonies from the time, we can see the excitement and deep sense of gratitude that was felt by the citizens of Israel during the period following the Balfour Declaration.
Balfour visited Tel Aviv accompanied by Chaim Weizmann, who later became the first president of the State of Israel, and Nahum Sokolow, chair of the Zionist Executive who had been a key figure in the negotiations for the Balfour Declaration. On March 26, Balfour was welcomed by crowds of Tel Aviv residents who lined Allenby Street, where he received honorary citizenship of the city. Balfour also visited the Herzliya Gymnasium high school and was then taken to cut the ribbon of the newly named Balfour Street.and he cut the ribbon at the entrance to the street. He also visited the theatre that evening. The following day he visited the Tel Aviv power station and other factories, and a luncheon was held on the beach. Upon his departure from Israel, he was presented with a scroll of Ezra and Nehemiah.
Jewish Studies teachers could use these images when teaching about the history of Zionism and the Balfour Declaration and its legacy for the people of the Yishuv in particular. The photographs could also trigger a discussion about the connection between Britain and the Zionist movement.
Geography teachers can follow Balfour’s route in Tel Aviv and in other places in Israel. Teachers can also use Balfour’s route to study various sites in Tel Aviv and the history of the city.
Art teachers could discuss the interesting effect of colour in these black and white photos and the role of photography and postcards to commemorate events.
Finally, Media Studies teachers can compare Balfour’s visit to Israel to documentation of official visits of other politicians and celebrities.
Where were these photographs taken?
When were these photographs taken?
Who is the central figure in all these photographs?
Which other historical figures can be seen?
How are the people in the photographs dressed?
Reading Between the Lines
These images depict some of the highlights of Lord Balfour’s visit to Israel in 1925. Why do you think Balfour was taken to see these different places?
What do you think was the purpose of this visit?
Who accompanied him on the visit and why?
Why did Balfour visit so many places?
Do you think all the residents of Israel were pleased to be visited by Balfour? Why or why not?
Why were postcards created of these events?
Colour photography had not yet been invented in 1925 when these photographs were taken.
Why do you think the publisher of the cards added colour?
Balfour was warmly received in Israel due to his central role in the Balfour Declaration.
How do people feel about the Balfour Declaration today?
“The Balfour Declaration, which inspired such jubilation among Zionists in 1917, did not give that land to the Jews. It only gave the Jews the opportunity to struggle for it.” (Adam Kirsch, Founding Document, Tablet, 2010)
Do these photos support this statement? Explain your answer.
During his visit Balfour was taken to see a street in Tel Aviv that was named in his honour.
Can you think of any other places in Israel named after Balfour?
Imagine that Balfour was visiting Israel today. Plan a schedule demonstrating the achievements of the State of Israel and including places that were named in his honour.