In history, it's a bit arbitrary to choose any moment and call it the beginning.
But that meeting between Dr Chaim Azriel Weizmann and Lord Balfour, in 1906, is as good a place as any. After all, one signed the declaration and the other became Israel's first president.
Dr Weizmann (pictured) was a useful man to have in Britain. Born in Belarus, he studied in Germany and Switzerland, before moving to Britain as a chemistry lecturer. If he had played no part in politics, he would have been known only in the scientific world as the Father of Industrial Fermentation.
Or, even better from the point of view of Britain, as someone who'd worked out an efficient way of producing acetone. As this is the main ingredient in cordite, this was later a tremendous contribution to the Allied war effort.
Back in 1906, Dr Weizmann was conducting his experiments and lecturing chemistry students at the University of Manchester. Lord Balfour was the local Member of Parliament, as well as the Prime Minister, hence it was to him that the chemist turned with his dreams for the future.
Nobody could deny that the Jews had suffered centuries of anti-Semitic persecution, throughout the world and particularly in Europe. Balfour didn't even try. Dr Weizmann's point was that this was possible because there was no Jewish state to defend them. As a community marginalized in every country on Earth, it was easy to become scapegoats for each nation's ills.
Lord Balfour listened politely. He was on a campaign trail for re-election. Just like any politician, he'd listen to anyone and anything, as long as it would gain him a vote.
Yet Balfour did have a suggestion. Britain also owned Uganda and this wasn't the first time that a Zionist had tried to make a case for a homeland. In 1903, the Ugandan Colony Secretary Joseph Chamberlain had already offered a substantial area of it to be used as a Jewish state.
The Zionists had turned him down; as Dr Weizmann did with Balfour mentioning the same now. They wanted the promised land of Israel and nowhere else would do.
"Mr. Balfour, supposing I was to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?" Dr Weizmann recalled the conversation in his memoirs.
He said that Lord Balfour sat a little straighter in his chair, as he pointed out, quite reasonably, "But Dr. Weizmann, we have London."
"That is true, but we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh."
Britons are used to being the ones with all of the history, so this obviously struck a chord. Lord Balfour asked, "Are there many Jews who think like you?"
"I believe I speak the mind of millions of Jews," Dr Weizmann spoke earnestly, "whom you will never see and who cannot speak for themselves."
With a politician's eternal assessment, Lord Balfour concluded, "If that is so you will one day be a force."
Then promptly did nothing about it at all. If promises were made, then they were vague enough to ignore. Especially since Balfour's Conservative party promptly lost that general election.