America's Palestine:
Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood

Lawrence Davidson


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"A first-class job of primary archival and media research on the origins of American involvement in Palestine, an area of major interest and importance to Zionists, Palestinians, and the United States."--Michael W. Suleiman, Kansas State University

"Davidson develops an important thesis concerning the impact of perceptions on foreign policy, with reference to U.S. policy toward Palestine. . . . [His] emphasis on the pre-state period makes his study unique."--Ann M. Lesch, Villanova University


In a revisionist look at the history of U.S. relations with Palestine, Lawrence Davidson offers a critical study of the evolution of American popular and governmental perceptions of Zionism and Palestine, from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the founding of Israel in 1948.
Zionism, which sought to transform Palestine into a Jewish state, emphasized the biblical and religious connections of the West to Palestine. Davidson argues that this orientation predisposed the American people to see Zionism as a form of "altruistic" imperialism that would bring civilization to a backward part of the world. However, American Zionists met resistance from the State Department, particularly the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, whose neutral stance until 1945 was shaped by a fear of foreign entanglements. Exploring rising tensions on both sides, Davidson describes how the American Zionists overcame this resistance and outmaneuvered the State Department by using lobbying techniques and appeals to popular sentiment.
Showing how a powerful and determined interest group turned the U.S. political system to its advantage and shaped foreign policy, America's Palestine is an important study of one of the 20th century's most controversial international stories.

Lawrence Davidson, professor of history at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, is the author of Islamic Fundamentalism and of numerous articles on U.S. attitudes toward and relations with the Middle East.

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"Davidson is a pioneer in researching the early history of US policy making on the Palestine problem, and America's Palestine is a seminal work. A must read for anyone - student, policy maker, journalist or casual observer- who wants to plumb the roots of American thinking and US policy on the Palestine problem. A unique and thorough treatment of the first 30 years of policy making and perception making, and it deserves high marks for careful research, for the skillful weaving together of many strands of research, for its readability, and for its non polemical tone. Davidson has given scholarship on Palestine a gem. " - Middle East Policy Middle East Policy

"American views of the Palestine-Israel issue have been the subject of several important monograph studies… Davidson… offers an incisive and new perspective on many of the issues." - Journal of American History Journal of American History

"Davidson is a pioneer in researching the early history of U.S. policy making on the Palestine problem, and America's Palestine is a seminal work, describing how public and policy-maker perceptions were formed in the immediate post-World War I era, as well as how these initial perceptions became bedrock, influencing countless later generations of policy makers, down to the present." "a must read for anyone- student, policy maker, journalist or casual observer- who wants to plumb the roots of American thinking and U.S. policy on the Palestine problem." "Davidson has given scholarship on Palestine a gem." - Middle East Policy Middle East Policy

" A most useful and original book on the Palestinian- Zionist confrontation." - Cheryl Rubenberg, Associate Professor of Political Science at Florida International University, Miami. Reviewed by Cheryl Rubenberg

"American views of the Palestine-Israel issue have been the subject of several important monograph studies over the past three decades. Davidson…offers an incisive and new perspective on many of the issues." - Journal of American History Journal of American History

"This volume is a most useful and original book on the Palestinian-Zionist confrontation." - Journal of Palestine Studies Journal of Palestine Studies

"What is most eye-catching about Davidson's book is the extensive presentation of empirical material showing how pervasive derogatory images of the Arab population of Palestine have been." "As a catalogue of US attitudes, the book succeeds admirably." - Middle East Journal Middle East Journal

"This is an important book that deserves to be on the shelves of public, undergraduate, and graduate libraries." - Choice Choice

"Readers will welcome the archival material that Davidson has uncovered and perhaps turn to it to substantiate their own arguments, positions, and scholarship on the question of Palestine." International Journal of Middle East Studies

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