The Political World of American Zionism

By Samuel Halperin | Go to book overview

7
zionism and christian america

THE POLITICAL USE OF REFERENCE GROUPS

Any effort to document the building of Zionist strength from among the reservoir of potential American supporters must do more than trace the emergence of increasingly pro-Zionist postures on the part of virtually every major Jewish organization in the years preceding the birth of Israel. Attention must also be directed at non-Jewish (or what Zionists preferred to call "Christian") reactions to Zionist aspirations. This is so not only because the mobilization of non-Jewish notables in behalf of their program was a conscious objective of Zionist leaders but also because Zionist strivings with non- and anti-Zionist Jews cannot be abstracted from the total environment of the majority, non- Jewish culture. Indeed, aside from the direct value of non-Jewish contributions to the achievement of Zionist political goals, a challenging question may be raised: Could Zionism have mobilized American Jewry without the active support and encouragement of prominent non-Jews?

Sociological theory and common observation both aver that large sections of every minority group are oriented in their daily lives and values toward the dominant, majority culture rather than toward their own groups. Thus, the "anti-Semitic Jew," or what Kurt Lewin more adequately termed the "self-hating Jew,"1 is familiar to any student of Jewish affairs. With so many Jews haunted by minority-group feelings of inferiority vis-U+00EO-vis the possibly more attractive and rewarding reference groups of their Christian neighbors, the reactions of non-Jews to the Zionist program were matters of no small concern in determining the ulti

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