Biblical Interpretation and Middle East Policy:
The Promised Land, America, and Israel, 1917-2002

Irvine H. Anderson

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"[An] important and timely topic: the influence of Biblical imagery and Christian messianic hopes on the shaping of British and American policy in the Middle East. . . . Anderson is a careful and judicious historian who presents a balanced and well-nuanced account."--Yaakov Ariel, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Irvine Anderson's provocative argument--that fundamentalist interpretations of the Christian Bible have helped create a cultural predisposition that favors returning the Jewish people to the "promised land"--offers an important perspective on British and American foreign policy toward Israel. He asserts that stories about promises of land to the Hebrew people and the "Second Coming of Christ" have made it easier for Zionist and pro-Israel lobbies to be effective in both countries.

Starting with analysis of Armageddon theology and the Biblical passages on which these ideas have been based, Anderson shows how they have been disseminated throughout popular culture from the 19th century onward, through Sunday School teaching, novels, and TV evangelism. He then examines the origins of the Balfour Declaration, the travails of the British Mandate in the 1930s, and Truman's decision to hurriedly recognize the newly proclaimed State of Israel--emphasizing the president's Baptist background and intimate knowledge of the Bible. Anderson also discusses the assumption that developed after World War II that Israel was a strategic ally in a dangerous part of the world and he shows that at the time no real countervailing force existed. Among the electorate in both Great Britain and the United States, there was little general knowledge of Islam, Arabs, or the Middle East and limited understanding of the importance of healthy relations with friendly oil-producing states.

Adding new information to our understanding of pro-Israel organizations, Anderson illustrates the linkages that developed in the last part of the 20th century between pro-Israel lobbies and the religious right. While acknowledging that this alliance is not the only reason that the American government supports the return of Jews to Palestine, he shows that the influence of conservative teachings and beliefs on policy is and has been profound.

This controversial book presents a comprehensive and persuasive discussion of the impact of Christian Zionism in the 20th century. It will be important to historians, sociologists, political scientists, and others interested in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Irvine H. Anderson is a retired professor of American diplomatic history specializing in the Middle East; he formerly taught at the University of Cincinnati.
Sample Chapter(s):
Prologue
Table of Contents

"Anderson traces the development of Christian Zionism within American religious thought from the beginning of the 20th century, and the role it has played in shaping policy regarding Israel and the Middle East." Middle East Journal

"Does a splendid job of tracing the origins and development of. . . the belief by an important number of Christians that the states of Israel is ordained by God -- part of his plan leading to the end times." "Brings a dispassionate appreciation to a subject so often fraught with misrepresentation. . .quite simply, the most readable and best on its subject."Biblical Foreign Affairs

"Provides a thorough and helpful summary of the events in American and British diplomatic history that led to the formation and immediate recognition of the state of Israel in 1948, as well as the subsequent and still current policies that support Israel." Digest of Middle East Studies

"A very useful introduction to the history of US-Israeli relations" "Adds the provocative argument that fundamentalist Christianity, both in Great Britain and the US, helped create a cultural climate that favored a restoration of the Jews to their homeland in Palestine." Choice

"Timely and enlightening to all wishing to make sense of the cultural/historical context of conflict in the Middle East generally, yet specifically with respect to the protracted Israeli-Palestinian struggle for states of civil society and sovereignty over that long-embattled city that is Jerusalem." International Journal on World Peace

"Much of what Anderson has to say about past American actions and attitudes toward the Arab-Israel conflict can be fruitfully applied to consideration of the current and multiple Mideast crises." The American Historical Review

"Insightful analysis." Journal of Church and State

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