The innauguration of Chaim Weizmann (Photo: @NLIsrael - Twitter)

As a teenager, Weizmann studied in Pinsk and excelled in chemistry studies. When he was 18 years old he went to study in Germany, where he joined a group of Jewish Zionist students from Russia. When he was 24 years old he moved to Friborg in Switzerland And a year later he received a doctorate in chemistry. From then on he divided his time between scientific research activity and Zionist activity.

Thanks to his connections with British statesmen and thanks to his contribution to Britain's war effort in the First World War, Weizmann had a major influence on the diplomatic process that gave birth to the 1917 Balfour Declaration that affirmed England's desire to create a Jewish homeland in the land of Mandatory Palestine. In that same year, Dr. Weizmann was elected president of the Zionist Federation in England. In 1918 he met with Hashemite Prince Amir Faisal and later the Weizmann-Faisal agreement was signed between them which promised Arab recognition of Zionism which in retrospect did not come to fruition.

Dr. Weizmann advocated a moderate policy towards the Arabs. Until 1937, he supported a plan for political cooperation between Jews and Arabs in the Land of Israel, without considering the numerical ratio between them, but the Arab resistance thwarted any such possibility. From 1937, Weizmann supported the idea of ​​partition and the establishment of two separate states for Jews and Arabs In 1939, the British government published the White Paper which limited the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel and greatly reduced the acquisition of land by the Zionist movement. 

The White Paper, which promised the establishment of a state with an Arab majority within a decade, which the British government adhered to even after World War II and the Holocaust of European Jewry, aroused strong opposition in the Jewish community and in the Zionist leadership. Dr. Weizmann invested a lot of effort in trying to change British policy, but he advocated a moderate policy vis-à-vis the British government.

Chaim Weizmann’s presidency would pave the way for his many successors, emphasizing the non-political, nationalistic duties the Israeli presidency required. Weizmann was a strong advocate of dialogue and moderate military and political discourse, something all presidents ever since have been strong supporters of, in the name of Zionism and unity between the citizens of Israel.

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