Friends of Zion
Arthur Hertzberg's anthology of key Zionist writings, The Zionist Idea, has for many decades been the most widely used collection of its kind. But as Shalom Goldman points out in his recently published Zeal for Zion: Christians, Jews and the Idea of the Promised Land, it "makes no mention of Christian precursors of the Zionist idea." Historians of Zionism, in general he observes, have for a long time failed to give the movement's many gentile advocates and activists the attention that they deserve. Israeli historians, in particular, have tended to ignore the role of gentile Zionists. They have found it necessary, for a variety of reasons, to stress that the establishment of the State of Israel was solely an accomplishment of the Jews. As Goldman writes:
[I]n the prevailing ideology of the first decades of Israeli culture, Gentiles were actors
in the history of Zionism only insofar as they had persecuted Jews and thereby generated
the need for a Jewish state. If some Gentiles had helped pave the way, they were marginalized
as rare exceptions. Their contributions were seldom mentioned and less often praised.
Lately, these unfortunate trends have been, to a significant extent, reversed. As Goldman observed not long ago in a review essay, in recent years "there has been an outpouring of books and papers on Christians and Zionism." His own new book makes a valuable contribution to this field. More a compilation of essays united around some common themes than a sequential historical narrative, Zeal for Zion offers important if sometimes unsettling readings of history that could point to a reshaping of the traditional Zionist story.
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