Israel: The First Hundred Years - Vol. 4

Israel: The First Hundred Years - Vol. 4

Israel: The First Hundred Years - Vol. 4

Israel: The First Hundred Years - Vol. 4


This work examines Israel's experience in foreign affairs in its first 50 years of existence. Contributors ask to what extent an Israeli foreign policy can be said to be a Zionist foreign policy and analyse Israel's international role in the Cold War era.


Allon Gal

The years 1938-40 represent a critical watershed in Zionist history. Great Britain, the mandatory power committed to implement the Balfour Declaration on the establishment in Eretz Israel (Palestine) of a national home for the Jewish people, increasingly pursued a policy that threatened to undermine the entire Zionist enterprise at a time when the situation of European Jewry had disastrously deteriorated.

The purpose of this essay is to discuss the political course conceived by David Ben-Gurion in the face of these odds and to highlight the democratic elements embedded in the new policy. By way of achieving these goals, it will demonstrate that notwithstanding these formidable challenges, Ben-Gurion did not succumb to despair and violence, instead adopting a predominantly political-diplomatic perspective. This perspective, furthermore, was associated with an increasing democratization of the Zionist course.

The United States of America, home to the largest Jewish community in the free world, remained formally neutral for more than two years after the outbreak of the Second World War. Were the Zionist leaders ready-despite this neutrality-to activate American Jewry and the American public in general in favour of the Zionist cause? Chaim Weizmann, the President of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), who enjoyed tremendous influence in the Jewish and Zionist worlds, was strongly pro-British in both political philosophy and practice. For all Britain's increasing alienation from Zionism, Weizmann continued to consider it the main address for political Zionist efforts. in contrast, David Ben-Gurion, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Eretz Israel since 1935, had a political biography that included a meaningful 'American record' worthy of an in-depth discussion.

Indeed, in contrast with other leaders of Zionism and the Yishuv, Ben-Gurion, as his foremost biographer Shabtai Teveth has noted, had direct

Allon Gal is Professor of History at Ben-Gurion University, Beersheba.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.