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On Vertical Alliances, ‘Perfidious Albion’ and the Security Paradigm

Reflections on the Balfour Declaration Centennial and the Winding Road to Israeli Independence

Arie M. Dubnov

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.