Rothschild Jewish identity and positions on Zionism
Jewish solidarity in the family was not homogeneous. Many Rothschilds were supporters of Zionism, while other members of the family opposed the creation of the Jewish state. Lord Victor Rothschild was against granting asylum or help to Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. In 1917 Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild was the addressee of the Balfour Declaration to the Zionist Federation, which committed the British government to the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.
After the death of James Jacob de Rothschild in 1868, his eldest son Alphonse Rothschild took over the management of the family bank and was the most active in support for Eretz Israel. The Rothschild family archives show that during the 1870s the family contributed nearly 500,000 francs per year on behalf of Eastern Jewry to the Alliance Israélite Universelle. Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, youngest son of James Jacob de Rothschild, was a patron of the first settlement in Palestine at Rishon-LeZion, and bought from Ottoman landlords parts of the land which now makes up present-day Israel. In 1924, he established the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA), which acquired more than 125,000 acres (50,586 ha) of land and set up business ventures. In Tel Aviv, he has a road, Rothschild Boulevard, named after him as well as various localities throughout Israel which he assisted in founding including Metulla, Zikhron Ya'akov, Rishon Lezion, and Rosh Pina. A park in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris, the Parc Edmond de Rothschild (Edmond de Rothschild Park) is also named after its founder. The Rothschilds also played a significant part in the funding of Israel's governmental infrastructure. James A. de Rothschild financed the Knesset building as a gift to the State of Israel and the Supreme Court of Israel building was donated to Israel by Dorothy de Rothschild. Outside the President's Chamber is displayed the letter Mrs. Rothschild wrote to the then current Prime Minister Shimon Peres expressing her intention to donate a new building for the Supreme Court.
Interviewed by Haaretz in 2010, Baron Benjamin Rothschild, a Swiss-based member of the banking family, said that he supported the peace process: "I understand that it is a complicated business, mainly because of the fanatics and extremists – and I am talking about both sides. I think you have fanatics in Israel... In general I am not in contact with politicians. I spoke once with Netanyahu. I met once with an Israeli finance minister, but the less I mingle with politicians the better I feel." On the subject of religious identity, he stated that he held an open-minded attitude: "We do business with all kinds of countries, including Arab countries ... My oldest daughter's boyfriend is a Saudi. He is a great guy and if she will want to marry him, she can."