American Zionism Finds Its Voice

Reconciling American identity with support for a Jewish homeland

Print this page Print this page

WWII & After

As Hitler ascended to power, the stakes rose and cooperation among these disharmonious groups became crucial. Unable to influence American foreign policy to the extent of providing refuge for those fleeing the Holocaust, American Zionists nevertheless greatly in creased their constituency. In the face of Hitler's atrocities, the Jewish community in the United States cam to see a national home as a necessity. Even those who had most opposed Zionism became supporters. The Biltmore Program, adopted in May of 1942, made Jewish control of Palestine and the establishment of the State of Israel official Zionist policy.

In the years that followed the establishment of Israel in 1948, Zionist organizations became less necessary and, therefore, less powerful. With official recognition of the State of Israel by President Truman, American foreign policy was committed to the existence of the Jewish homeland. There was, however, still a place for American Jews in supporting the newly created nation. American Jews contributed large amounts of financial aid to help Israel defend self against its Arab neighbors and against the assaults of Palestinian terrorists--more than $150 million during the War of Independence in 1948 and more than $317.5 million during the Six-Day War in 1967.

In the 1970s and 1980s support for Israel became less fervent and more qualified. Idealists were disillu­sioned by what they perceived as Israel's aggressive behavior toward Palestinians. Other American Zionists were angered by Israel's refusal to accept Diaspora Jews as equals within Judaism. Still, American Zion­ism has been a crucial element in the creation and continuation of the Jewish state. The horrors of the Holocaust notwithstanding, the post-World War II commitment to Israel would have failed without the American Zionist movement. Support for Israel has remained strong ever since, both among the American Jewish community and as the official policy of the United States government.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.