Sunday, February 4, 2018

David Ben-Gurion's 1940 Mission to Rouse the Fighting Spirit of American Jews - by Rick Richman

As millions of Jews fell under the Nazi yoke, Zionism’s foremost leader came to America with one goal. He didn’t achieve it.

Rick Richman..
Mosaic Magazine..
17 January '18..

In 1940, as millions of Jews came under Nazi control in the countries conquered by Hitler, and as the route to safety in Palestine remained closed by the British Mandatory power, three of Zionism’s greatest leaders traveled to America. They came at different times, on separate missions, but all three—Chaim Weizmann, the president of the Zionist Organization, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, the leader of the Revisionist Zionist movement, and David Ben-Gurion, the Labor Zionist leader who headed the Jewish Agency in Palestine—shared a single goal: to win support in America for a Jewish army to fight the Nazis alongside the British.

This article focuses on Ben-Gurion, the last to come. Writing to his wife Paula before leaving London for the United States, he said he wanted “to see with my own eyes what we can expect from America in wartime.” In particular, he wrote, “I want to know the extent of the contribution America’s Jews are prepared to make for the life of their own people.”

Ben-Gurion would remain in America for four months, on a visit that—like those of his two predecessors—would reveal a great deal not only about American Jews but also about their Zionist visitors. The following brief account draws on Ben-Gurion’s diary, translated into English for the first time, as well as on letters and other contemporaneous documents, most of them previously unpublished.

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