ideology or philanthropy? the politics of zionist fund-raising
In 1930, organized American Zionism stood on the brink of complete collapse. Leaders and followers alike had generally ceased talking of the near-term prospects for a sovereign Jewish state. As a worldwide political movement, Zionism no longer quested immediately for statehood; Palestine was instead to be developed gradually. Far from being the "potent political lobby" described by many journalists a decade later, Zionism was largely a fund-raising movement dedicated to the economic reclamation and colonization of Palestine. In the words of one contemporary wag, a Zionist was a person who schnorred (begged) money from a second person in order to send a third person to Palestine. But even in this regard, Zionist success was feeble at best. Hampered by a crippling organizational deficit, the Great Depression, and a membership that had fallen to less than one-fourth of the 1918 high of 200,000, Zionist remissions to Palestine averaged only $1,000,000 annually.
Little over a decade later, however, memberships in the American Zionist movement rose to almost 600,000 while funds raised for Palestine exceeded $100,000,000 per year. Drawing upon a public of only 5,000,000 persons, organized Zionist fund-raising in America far surpassed the drives of such well-established national philanthropies as the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. Indeed, it may not be an exaggeration to suggest that, measured by fund-raising, American Zionism was the most successful political interest group in our nation's history.
This chapter concentrates on a vital yet scarcely-studied dimension of interest group politics: the techniques of financing political action. Specifically, it "tests" an hypothesis implicit in many studies