Rothschild conspiracy is 'utter nonsense'

What was Claimed

The Rothschild family created the modern state of Israel.

Our Verdict

False. Individual members of the family were involved in the early Zionist movement but the family did not create Israel.

From starting Californian wildfires to downing the Titanic and even unleashing COVID-19, the Rothschild banking family has been linked to dozens of conspiracy theories.

One of the latest to gain traction on social media is that the influential family created the modern state of Israel, examples here, here and here.

Many of the claims link the suggestion to other established anti-Semitic tropes associated with the family, examples here, here and here.

The claims are false.

Most claims point to the 1917 Balfour Declaration - a statement of support from the British government for establishing a home for the Jewish people in Palestine - as evidence.

Lionel Walter Rothschild
A screenshot from a Facebook video that falsely claims Israel was created by the Rothschild family.

The Declaration was penned by the then-British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour. It was addressed to Lionel Walter Rothschild, who was a leading figure in the British Jewish community and a supporter of Zionism.

Rothschild was an influential member of the banking family, a dynasty that has been influential in European economic and political history for two centuries and has been the target of conspiracy theories for almost as long.

However, experts say it is false to say he - or his family - created Israel. Instead, the Balfour Declaration was addressed to him as he was a figurehead in the British Jewish community at the time.

Professor Emeritus Suzanne Rutland, of the University of Sydney, described the claim as "utter nonsense".

"Israel was created through a range of different factors, and cannot be attributed to one person, and certainly not Rothschild," she told AAP FactCheck.

"I think if anyone is seen as the founder of the State of Israel it is Theodor Herzl, who founded the political Zionist movement in Basel in 1897 following the Dreyfus Affair in 1894 and his publication of Der Judenstadt in 1896,” she said.

Prof Rutland also pointed to Chaim Weizmann, who became Israel’s first president, as influential in the Balfour Declaration.

"What really created Israel was the entire Jewish world, which provided the funding, and the state building under (first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion's) leadership in what was known as 'the Yishuv', which meant that the Jews of Palestine had created an effective, democratic system of government,” she said.

Prof Rutland said UN resolution UNGA Resolution 181, which created Israel, and the support of Australia’s then-foreign minister Herbert Vere Evatt, were central in Israel's creation, along with Israel’s victory in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war

David Ben-Gurion
Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion (left) is regarded as the state's founding father.

Professor Anita Shapira of Tel Aviv University pointed to Edmond James de Rothschild, a French distant cousin of Lionel Walter Rothschild, and his contributions to the early settlements of Jews in Palestine, but added "this is far from establishing the state of Israel".

Dr Ran Porat, affiliate research associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University, agreed Edmond was involved in the early chapters of the Jewish state but said the Rothschild family did not have a stake in the creation of Israel.

“It's not like there was a hidden agenda to take control over the world, that's obviously not the case," he told AAP FactCheck.

Dr Porat also pointed to Herzel, who died in 1907, as the person who "envisioned the idea of a Jewish state".

He also pointed to the influence of Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister and the leader of the socialist Zionist movement from the early 1920s, who he said made the decision to create a state in 1948.

Many social media posts also point to this interview with Jacob Rothschild, who died earlier this year, as further proof.

"You are watching Lord Rothschild himself tell you straight to your face that the state of Israel was created by his family," this post reads.

This is also false. Jacob Rothschild responds to a question as to why the Balfour Declaration was addressed to his relative.

He suggests that given there was no clear leader of the wider Zionist movement, Lionel Walter's standing in the British Jewish community made him an obvious recipient of the then-British foreign secretary's letter.

Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family date back to the Battle of Waterloo. AAP FactCheck has debunked several claims relating to the family, examples here, here and here.

The Verdict

The claim that the Rothschild family created the modern state of Israel is false. 

The Balfour Declaration was addressed to Lionel Walter Rothschild as he was a leading Jewish figure in Britain at the time.

Experts told AAP FactCheck that while members of the banking family played key roles in the early history of the Zionist movement, it was incorrect to say the family created Israel.

False — The claim is inaccurate

AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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