America and Israel

Jonathan Tobin, writing in, reports:

In 1844, a biblical scholar and professor of Hebrew at New York University published a pamphlet urging the establishment of a Jewish state in the place then known as Palestine.

The name of this early Zionist who argued for the recreation of Jewish sovereignty over the land of Israel: George Bush.

But the astonishing thing about this manifesto is not just that the author was a forebear of two later U.S. presidents of the same name. It was that his advocacy of a theological/political position known as "restorationism" — support for the "restoration" of the Jewish people to their historic homeland — was common in 19th century America.…

All this and more in historian Michael Oren’s (Six Days of War) new book, Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present.



Filed under Books, Israel

5 responses to “America and Israel

  1. frummeyid

    I haven’t read the book yet (definitely will BLN) but what the post describes is the result in the peculiar American belief in manifest destiny and in the idea that America was a modern-day Promised Land. Absolutely essential to understand the deep roots of American Christian support for Israel.

  2. Yochanan Lavie

    Before Britain became a secular, post-Christian nation (or is that pre-Islamic nation)they too had a restorationist ideology. The Balfour Declaration is the culmination and swan song of that. The Victorians had a large philo-Semitic strain to counterbalance the traditional European anti-Semitic strain. That’s one of the reasons Benjamin Disraeli became prime minister. He didn’t try to hide his Jewish roots (how could he, with that name, and his physiognomy). Instead, he wrote novels celebrating those roots. (He was baptized as a child by his renegade father; it was not his decision, although probably for expediancy he didn’t renounce his baptism). In his novels is a Zionistic theme, as well. Other straight-up gentiles, such as Byron and Matthew Arnold also celebrated “Hebraism.” Alas, after the debacle of WWI, everything Victorian was discredited, including philo-Semitism. I hope the same thing doesn’t happen, in the wake of Iraq.

  3. Yochanan Lavie

    One more thing, there was also the notion of the Lost Tribes of Israel. The Brits thought it was them, while others thought it was the Native Americans. The American Puritans wanted to establish a New Jerusalem and even considered speaking Hebrew. Thanksgiving was modeled on Sukkot.

  4. Neo-Conservaguy

    “One more thing, there was also the notion of the Lost Tribes of Israel.”

    Interestingly enough, the only two groups of people in the world that have the genes for red hair are Semites and Celts (Scots, Irish, Welsh, a bit of France). Makes you go: hmmmm.

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