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Churchill's Promised Land

Churchill's Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft

Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Churchill's Promised Land
    Book Description:

    This book is the first to explore fully the role that Zionism played in the political thought of Winston Churchill. Michael Makovsky traces the development of Churchill's positions toward Zionism from the period leading up to the First World War through his final years as prime minister in the 1950s. Setting Churchill's attitudes toward Zionism within the context of his overall worldview as well as within the context of twentieth-century British diplomacy, Makovsky offers a unique contribution to our understanding of Churchill.Moving chronologically, the book looks at Churchill's career within the context of several major themes: his own worldview and political strategies, his understanding of British imperial interests, the moral impact of the Holocaust, his commitment to ideals of civilization, and his historical sentimentalism. While Churchill was largely sympathetic to the Jews and to the Zionist impulse, he was not without inconsistencies in his views and policies over the years. Makovsky's book illuminates key aspects of Middle Eastern history; Zionist history; and British political, imperial, and diplomatic history; and further helps us understand one of the pivotal figures of the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13792-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    WINSTON CHURCHILL CAME TO CONSIDER himself a Zionist, though he had trouble pinpointing the source of this development. In 1921, he traced it to contact with North-West Manchester Jews a dozen years earlier, while in the 1950s he connected it with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which committed Britain to a Jewish homeland in Palestine. At other times in the 1950s, he claimed to have been a Zionist his entire life.¹ It was only natural for Churchill to be puzzled, because he frequently conveyed conflicting and confusing messages about Zionism. He advocated a Jewish homeland in 1906; extolled the virtues...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Churchill’s Worlds
    (pp. 9-37)

    IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO GAIN PROPER insight into a person’s views on a subject without understanding that person’s overall worldview. This is certainly true when examining Winston Churchill’s approach toward any world issue, but especially Zionism, a relatively new issue that did not have much relevance to British imperial or strategic interests. More than most politicians and statesmen, Churchill often appeared erratic in his opinions, and yet in truth he developed a distinct perspective of the world.

    Although he is perceived today by many, particularly in the United States, as a man of great principles and constancy, for much of his...

  7. CHAPTER TWO “The Lord Deals with the Nations as the Nations Dealt with the Jews” 1874–1914
    (pp. 38-68)

    IN 1874, THE YEAR CHURCHILL WAS BORN, the Jews had been without a state of their own in Palestine for eighteen hundred years. They had lived a tenuous life as aliens in various countries, frequently persecuted, exiled, and killed. But now, Jews had achieved political emancipation in Britain and throughout much of Europe. Still, they experienced widespread, pernicious anti-Semitism, leading some Jews to consider a homeland in Palestine necessary for a normal life and even survival. This sentiment led to a movement in the late nineteenth century that became known as Zionism, a term that was coined in 1892 based...

  8. CHAPTER THREE “Zionism versus Bolshevism” 1914–1921
    (pp. 69-97)

    WHEN THE FIRST WORLD WAR broke out in August 1914, there was nothing to suggest that the fighting would much affect Zionism. The English Zionist Federation had been absorbed for years in internal squabbling, had made no progress in its efforts, and had not been the focal point of Anglo-Jewish attention.¹ However, official discussions, memos, and agreements emerged in response to events in Palestine, Turkey, Germany, Russia, and the United States that had a great impact on Zionism. On November 2, 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, which committed Britain to the establishment of a Jewish homeland in...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR “Smiling Orchards” 1921–1929
    (pp. 98-139)

    IN 1920, AS SECRETARY OF WAR, Churchill offered Lloyd George his normally clear perspective on the top foreign policy issues: “Compared to Germany, Russia is minor: compared to Russia, Turkey is petty.” What then was Palestine? Very trivial indeed, had he elaborated. Thus, when Churchill reluctantly became colonial secretary in February 1921—where he had official authority over mandatory Palestine but not relations with Germany, Russia, or Turkey—he acutely felt that he was in charge of subordinate matters that nevertheless carried supreme political risk at a time of his own political vulnerability. This required caution, at least by his...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. CHAPTER FIVE Together in the Wilderness 1929–1939
    (pp. 140-170)

    FROM 1929 TO 1939, Churchill was without a ministerial position for the first extended period since his early days in Parliament. This was quite a turn of events after reaching the heretofore pinnacle of his political career in the prominent position of chancellor of the exchequer. These self-described “wilderness years” were difficult and unsettling for him, especially at the beginning. He grappled with financial demands, especially after losing substantial money in the stock market crash, and as usual turned to writing books and articles to earn money. He even considered retiring from politics to earn a significant full-time income. Adding...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Champion in War 1939–1945
    (pp. 171-226)

    ON SEPTEMBER 3, 1939, Britain and France rose to the defense of Poland, which was suffering the onslaught of fifty-eight German divisions, and the world found itself at war for the second time in two decades. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, whose appeasement policy was in shambles, sought to boost his credibility by appointing Churchill first lord of the Admiralty and a member of the War Cabinet. Then on May 10, 1940, after Chamberlain lost political support and resigned following a failed British assault on Norway and a punishing German attack on France and Belgium, Churchill achieved a lifelong dream and...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN Zionist at the End 1945–1955
    (pp. 227-258)

    THE MAGNITUDE OF THE HOLOCAUST LED MANY JEWS around the world to believe that they urgently required their own state in Palestine. Their prospects were promising: there was international sympathy for the Jews; the Palestinian Jews had contributed troops and other support to the Allied cause, developing military skill and national cohesiveness in the process; and the new British government was headed by a Labour Party that consistently declared its strong support for Zionism. However, the new prime minister, Clement Attlee, was anti-Zionist, while Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin was outright hostile to Jews and Zionism, and they, like Neville Chamberlain...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 259-266)

    WINSTON CHURCHILL FULLY ENGAGED THE WORLD. He lived and breathed it, his moods were frequently affected by it, and he desperately wanted to shape it. He deeply felt an obligation to posterity, to contribute his part to the progress of civilization. Churchill did not accept the status quo but impatiently battled to fashion a better a world. This anxious and restless urgency to act, so uniquely mixed with creative thought and imagination, was evident in a 1916 letter to his wife from the western front in the First World War criticizing the government from which he had just resigned in...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 267-298)
    (pp. 299-322)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 323-342)