American Presidents, Religion, and Israel: The Heirs of Cyrus

American Presidents, Religion, and Israel: The Heirs of Cyrus

American Presidents, Religion, and Israel: The Heirs of Cyrus

American Presidents, Religion, and Israel: The Heirs of Cyrus

Synopsis

"From Truman to Ford, American presidents have, in part, relied on their religious and moral commitments to support their policies and views toward Israel. Beginning with Carter, however, U. S. presidents have abandoned the role of champions of Israel to become champions of the "Peace Process," stressing peace and a secular approach that rises above the religious and theological fray. And yet, even in the context of this attempted fair-mindedness, U. S. presidents consistently reveal the character and commitments of their personal religious and moral beliefs in their responses to the issues of Israel. Now, George W. Bush, one of the most vocally religious presidents, seems poised to take up the tradition once again of relying on his religious convictions to justify his positions toward the Arab-Israeli conflict. Here, Merkley argues that while faith alone does not determine action, or that it even has a controlling influence, religious belief does play a role in the policies presidents, and the nation, adopt toward Israel." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Now the LORD had said to Abram, "Get out of your own country, from
your family, and from your father's house, to a land which I will show you.
I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great;
and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse
him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be
blessed." (Genesis 12:l-3)

In November 1953, just a few months after leaving the presidency of the United States, Harry S. Truman took up an invitation to visit the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Accompanying him was his good friend Eddie Jacobson, a comrade from his Army days, and his partner during the brief life, over thirty years previous, of Truman and Jacobson, Men's Haberdashery, in Kansas City. Jacobson introduced his friend to the assembled theologians: "This is the man who helped create the State of Israel." To which Truman retorted: "What do you mean, 'helped to create?' I am Cyrus. I am Cyrus."

Truman's fascination with Zionism, the cause of the Jews in the Twentieth century, found confirmation in his Biblical faith. He recalled with affection and gratitude the Christian upbringing he had received, and, being a man of intellectual and moral integrity, he had no wish to suppress the recollection of this nurturing. To him, it all made sense: he had . . .

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