"A first-class job of primary archival and media research on the origins of American involvement in Palestine, an area of major interest and importance to Zionists, Palestinians, and the United States."--Michael W. Suleiman, Kansas State University
"Davidson develops an important thesis concerning the impact of perceptions on foreign policy, with reference to U.S. policy toward Palestine. . . . [His] emphasis on the pre-state period makes his study unique."--Ann M. Lesch, Villanova University
In a revisionist look at the history of U.S. relations with Palestine, Lawrence Davidson offers a critical study of the evolution of American popular and governmental perceptions of Zionism and Palestine, from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the founding of Israel in 1948.
Zionism, which sought to transform Palestine into a Jewish state, emphasized the biblical and religious connections of the West to Palestine. Davidson argues that this orientation predisposed the American people to see Zionism as a form of "altruistic" imperialism that would bring civilization to a backward part of the world. However, American Zionists met resistance from the State Department, particularly the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, whose neutral stance until 1945 was shaped by a fear of foreign entanglements. Exploring rising tensions on both sides, Davidson describes how the American Zionists overcame this resistance and outmaneuvered the State Department by using lobbying techniques and appeals to popular sentiment.
Showing how a powerful and determined interest group turned the U.S. political system to its advantage and shaped foreign policy, America's Palestine is an important study of one of the 20th century's most controversial international stories.
Lawrence Davidson, professor of history at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, is the author of Islamic Fundamentalism and of numerous articles on U.S. attitudes toward and relations with the Middle East.