Ben-Gurion’s messianic ideas and American Jewry

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Abstract

On 23 August 1950, Israel’s Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Jacob Blaustein, President of the American Jewish Committee, expressed their mutual understanding about the relationship of Israel to Jews in the United States and other free countries. Ben-Gurion’s declaration in the exchange that Jews of the United States owe no political allegiance to Israel was naturally seen as a compromise made for pragmatic reasons by the Prime Minister, known for his belief in aliyah, the ascent of world Jewry to Israel. Observing the exchange from a seventy-year perspective, however, I suggest that Ben-Gurion’s statements were rather consistent with a unique conceptual framework he used as a means for the sovereign state of Israel to gain the support of Jews living in other sovereign states, while reducing the danger that they be accused of dual loyalty. I describe that conceptual framework, which stresses the universal messianic mission of the Jewish state, and raise some thoughts on the implications of its abandonment in Israel in later years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-314
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ben-Gurion
  • Israel-Diaspora relations
  • ethnic particularism
  • messianism

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