Revisiting the Balfour Declaration, this article offers a threefold argument: first, challenging
those who read the Declaration as symbolizing a new dawn of Jewish political
history, the article proposes an alternative reading that considers it as a continuation
of familiar patterns of Jewish political behaviour based on the forging of ‘vertical alliances’.
Second, it argues that this perspective led many Jews to treat the Declaration
as an unsigned ‘contract’, and it was not until the 1940s, with the rise in popularity of a
discourse concerning Britain’s ‘betrayal’, that this view began to be challenged. Third,
explaining how and why the vertical alliance perspective was pushed to the margins
of Israeli collective memory, the article looks at the rise of the ‘security paradigm’ in
Hebrew literature and examines the ways in which the creation of a Jewish army was
imagined as marking the end of old forms of Jewish politics.