The History of US-Israel Relations

Against Our Better Judgment

The hidden history of how the United States
was used to create Israel

Louis Brandeis, flanked by Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise, founding secretary of the American Federation of Zionists (right) and Nathan Straus, co-owner of Macy’s

Louis Brandeis, flanked by Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise, founding secretary of the American Federation of Zionists (right) and Nathan Straus, co-owner of Macy’s (Source: Library of Congress)

Alison Weir is Executive Director If Americans Knew and President of the Council for the National Interest. She is available to give presentations on this topic and can be reached at contact@ or inform@

Alison Weir
February 28, 2014

The following is a short excerpt. To read more, order the book on (paperback or Kindle). For discounted bulk orders, please contact us.

Chapter One

How the U.S. "Special Relationship" with Israel came about

While many people are led to believe that U.S. support for Israel is driven by the American establishment and U.S. national interests, the facts don't support this theory. The reality is that for decades U.S. foreign policy and defense experts opposed supporting the creation of Israel. They then similarly opposed the massive American funding and diplomatic support that sustained the forcibly established state and that provided a blank check for its aggressive expansion. They were simply outmaneuvered and eventually replaced.

Like many American policies, U.S. Middle East policies are driven by a special interest lobby. However, the Israel Lobby, as it is called today in the U.S.[1], consists of vastly more than what most people envision in the word "lobby."

As this book will demonstrate, the Israel Lobby is considerably more powerful and pervasive than other lobbies. Components of it, both individuals and groups, have worked underground, secretly and even illegally throughout its history, as documented by scholars and participants.

And even though the movement for Israel has been operating in the U.S. for over a hundred years, most Americans are completely unaware of this movement and its attendant ideology – a measure of its unique influence over public knowledge.

The success of this movement to achieve its goals, partly due to the hidden nature of much of its activity, has been staggering. It has also been at almost unimaginable cost.

It has led to massive tragedy in the Middle East: a hundred-year war of violence and loss; sacred land soaked in sorrow.

In addition, this movement has been profoundly damaging to the United States itself.

As we will see in this two-part examination of the pro-Israel movement, it has targeted virtually every significant sector of American society; worked to involve Americans in tragic, unnecessary, and profoundly costly wars; dominated Congress for decades; increasingly determined which candidates could become serious contenders for the U.S. presidency; and promoted bigotry toward an entire population, religion and culture.

It has promoted policies that have exposed Americans to growing danger, and then exaggerated this danger (while disguising its cause), fueling actions that dismember some of our nation's most fundamental freedoms and cherished principles.[2]

All this for a population that is considerably smaller than New Jersey's.[3] 

Chapter Two

The beginnings

The Israel Lobby in the U.S. is just the tip of an older and far larger iceberg known as "political Zionism," an international movement that began in the late 1800s with the goal of creating a Jewish state somewhere in the world. In 1897 this movement, led by a European journalist named Theodor Herzl [4], coalesced in the First Zionist Congress, held in Basle, Switzerland, which established the World Zionist Organization, representing 117 groups the first year; 900 the next.[5]

While Zionists considered such places as Argentina, Uganda, the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, and Texas,[6] they eventually settled on Palestine for the location of their proposed Jewish State, even though Palestine was already inhabited by a population that was 93-96 percent non-Jewish. The best analysis says the population was 96 percent Muslims and Christians[7], who owned 99 percent of the land.[8]

After the Zionist Congress, Vienna's rabbis sent two of their number to explore Palestine as a possible Jewish state. These rabbis recognized the obstacle that Palestinians presented to the plan, writing home: "The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man."[9] Still, Zionists ultimately pushed forward. Numerous Zionist diary entries, letters, and other documents show that they decided to push out these non-Jews – financially, if possible; violently if necessary.[10]

Political Zionism in the U.S.

The importance of the United States to this movement was recognized from early on. One of the founders of political Zionism, Max Nordau, wrote a few years after the Basle conference, "Zionism's only hope is the Jews of America."[11]

At that time, however, and for decades after, the large majority of Jewish Americans were not Zionists. In fact, many actively opposed Zionism. In the coming years, however, Zionists were to woo them assiduously with every means at hand and the extent to which Nordau's hope was eventually realized is indicated by the statement by a prominent author on Jewish history, Naomi Cohen, writing in 2003, "but for the financial support and political pressure of American Jews... Israel might not have been born in 1948."[12]

Groups advocating the setting up of a Jewish state had first begun popping up around the United States in the 1880s.[13] Emma Lazarus, the poet whose words would adorn the Statue of Liberty, promoted Zionism throughout this decade.[14] A precursor to the Israeli flag was created in Boston in 1891.[15]

In 1887 President Grover Cleveland appointed a Jewish ambassador to Turkey (seat of the Ottoman Empire, which at that time controlled Palestine), because of Palestine's importance to Zionists. Jewish historian David G. Dalin reports that presidents considered the Turkish embassy important to "the growing number of Zionists within the American Jewish electorate."[16]

Every president, both Republican and Democrat, followed this precedent for the next 30 years. "During this era, the ambassadorship to Turkey came to be considered a quasi-Jewish domain," writes Dalin. [17]

By the early 1890s organizations promoting Zionism existed in New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Boston, Philadelphia, and Cleveland.[18]

Reports from the Zionist World Congress in Basle, which four Americans had attended, gave this movement a major stimulus, galvanizing Zionist activities in American cities that had large Jewish populations.[19]

In 1897-98 Zionists founded numerous additional societies throughout the East and the Midwest. In 1898 they converged in a first annual conference of American Zionists, held in New York on July 4th. There they formed the Federation of American Zionists (FAZ).[20]

By the 1910s the number of Zionists in the U.S. approached 20,000 and included lawyers, professors, and businessmen. Even in its infancy, when it was still relatively weak, and represented only a tiny fraction of the American Jewish population, Zionism was becoming a movement to which "Congressmen, particularly in the eastern cities, began to listen."[21]

The movement continued to expand. By 1914 several additional Zionist groups had formed, including Hadassah, the women's Zionist organization.[22] By 1918 there were 200,000 Zionists in the U.S., and by 1948 this had grown to almost a million. [23]

From early on Zionists actively pushed their agenda in the media. One Zionist organizer proudly proclaimed in 1912 "the zealous and incessant propaganda which is carried on by countless societies." The Yiddish press from a very early period espoused the Zionist cause. By 1923 every New York Yiddish newspaper except one was Zionist. Yiddish dailies reached 535,000 families in 1927.[24]

While Zionists were making major inroads in influencing Congress and the media, State Department officials were less enamored with Zionists, who they felt were trying to use the American government for a project damaging to the United States. Unlike politicians, State Department officials were not dependent on votes and campaign donations. They were charged with recommending and implementing policies beneficial to all Americans, not just one tiny sliver working on behalf of a foreign entity. [25]

In memo after memo, year after year, U.S. diplomatic and military experts pointed out that Zionism was counter to both U.S. interests and principles.

While more examples will be discussed later, Secretary of State Philander Knox was perhaps the first in the pattern of State Department officials rejecting Zionist advances. In 1912, the Zionist Literary Society approached the Taft administration for an endorsement. Knox turned them down flat, noting that "problems of Zionism involve certain matters primarily related to the interests of countries other than our own."[26]

Despite that small setback in 1912, Zionists garnered a far more significant victory in the same year, one that was to have enormous consequences both internationally and in the United States and that was part of a pattern of influence that continues through today.

Chapter Three

Louis Brandeis, Zionism, and the "Parushim"

In 1912 prominent Jewish American attorney Louis Brandeis, who was to go on to become a Supreme Court Justice, became a Zionist.[27] Within two years he became head of the international Zionist Central Office, newly moved to America from Germany.[28]

While Brandeis is an unusually well known Supreme Court Justice, most Americans are unaware of the significant role he played in World War I and of his connection to Palestine.

Some of this work was done with Felix Frankfurter, who became a Supreme Court Justice two decades later.

Perhaps the aspect of Brandeis that is least known to the general public – and often even to academics – is the extent of his zealotry and the degree to which he used covert methods to achieve his aims.

While today Brandeis is held in extremely high esteem by almost all of us, there was significant opposition at the time to his appointment to the Supreme Court, largely centered on widespread accusations of unethical behavior. A typical example was the view that Brandeis was "a man who has certain high ideals in his imagination, but who is utterly unscrupulous, in method in reaching them."[29]

While today such criticisms of Brandeis are either ignored or attributed to political differences and/or "anti-Semitism,"[30] there is evidence suggesting that such views may have been more accurate than Brandeis partisans would like.

In 1982 historian Bruce Allen Murphy, in a book that won a Certificate of Merit from the American Bar Association,  reported that Brandeis and Frankfurter had secretly collaborated over many years on numerous covert political activities. Zionism was one of them.[31]

 "[I]n one of the most unique arrangements in the Court's history,  Brandeis enlisted Frankfurter, then a professor at Harvard Law School, as his paid political lobbyist and lieutenant," writes Murphy, in his book The Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection: The Secret Political Activities of Two Supreme Court Justices. "Working together over a period of 25 years, they placed a network of disciples in positions of influence, and labored diligently for the enactment of their desired programs."[32]

 "This adroit use of the politically skillful Frankfurter as an intermediary enabled Brandeis to keep his considerable political endeavors hidden from the public," continues Murphy.[33]

Brandeis only mentioned the arrangement to one other person, Murphy writes, "another Zionist lieutenant– Court of Appeals Judge Julian Mack."[34]

One reason that Brandeis and Frankfurter kept the arrangement secret was that such behavior by a sitting Supreme Court justice is considered highly unethical. As an editorial in the New York Times pointed out following the publication of Murphy's book, "... the Brandeis-Frankfurter arrangement was wrong. It serves neither history nor ethics to judge it more kindly, as some seem disposed to do... the prolonged, meddlesome Brandeis-Frankfurter arrangement violates ethical standards."

The Times reiterates a point also made by Murphy: the fact that Brandeis and Frankfurter kept their arrangement secret demonstrated that they knew it was unethical – or at least realized that the public would view it as such: "They were dodging the public's appropriate measure of fitness."[35] 

Later, when Frankfurter himself became a Supreme Court Justice, he used similar methods, "placing his own network of disciples in various agencies and working through this network for the realization of his own goals." These included both Zionist objectives and "Frankfurter's stewardship of FDR's programs to bring the U.S. into battle against Hitler."[36]

Their activities, Murphy notes, were "part of a vast, carefully planned and orchestrated political crusade undertaken first by Brandeis through Frankfurter and then by Frankfurter on his own to accomplish extrajudicial political goals."[37]

Frankfurter had joined the Harvard faculty in 1914 at the age of 31, a post gained after a Brandeis-initiated donation from financier Jacob Schiff to Harvard created a position for Frankfurter[38]. Then, Murphy writes, "for the next 25 years, [Frankfurter] shaped the minds of generations of the nation's most elite law students."[39]

After Brandeis became head of the American Zionist movement, he "created an advisory council–an inner circle of his closest advisers–and appointed Felix Frankfurter as one of its members."[40]

The Parushim

Even more surprising to this author – and even less well-known both to the public and to academics – is Brandeis's membership in a secret society that covertly pushed Zionism both in the U.S. and internationally.[41]

Israeli professor Dr. Sarah Schmidt first reported this information in an article about the society published in 1978 in the American Jewish Historical Quarterly. She also devoted a chapter to the society in a 1995 book. Harvard author and former New York Times editor Peter Gross, sympathetic to Zionism[42], also reported on it in both a book and several subsequent articles. [43]

According to Grose, a highly regarded author, Brandeis was a leader of "an elitist secret society called the Parushim, the Hebrew word for 'Pharisees' and 'separate,' which grew out of Harvard's Menorah Society."[44]

Schmidt writes:  "The image that emerges of the Parushim is that of a secret underground guerilla force determined to influence the course of events in a quiet, anonymous way."

Grose writes that Brandeis used the Parushim "as a private intellectual cadre, a pool of manpower for various assignments."[45] Brandeis recruited ambitious young men, often from Harvard, to work on the Zionist cause – and further their careers in the process.

 "As the Harvard men spread out across the land in their professional pursuits," Grose reports, "their interests in Zionism were kept alive by secretive exchanges and the trappings of a fraternal order. Each invited initiate underwent a solemn ceremony, swearing the oath 'to guard and to obey and to keep secret the laws and the labor of the fellowship, its existence and its aims.'"[46]

At the secret initiation ceremony, new members were told:

"You are about to take a step which will bind you to a single cause for all your life. You will for one year be subject to an absolute duty whose call you will be impelled to heed at any time, in any place, and at any cost. And ever after, until our purpose shall be accomplished, you will be fellow of a brotherhood whose bond you will regard as greater than any other in your life–dearer than that of family, of school, of nation."[47]

While Brandeis was a key leader of the Parushim, an academic named Horace M. Kallen was its founder, creating it in 1913. Kallen was an academic first hired by Woodrow Wilson, who was then president of Princeton, to teach English there.[48] When Kallen founded the Parushim he was a philosophy professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Kallen is generally considered the father of cultural pluralism.

In her book on Kallen, Schmidt includes more information on the society in a chapter entitled, "Kallen's Secret Army: The Parushim."

She reports, "A member swearing allegiance to the Parushim felt something of the spirit of commitment to a secret military fellowship." [49]

"Kallen invited no one to become a member until the candidate had given specific assurances regarding devotion and resolution to the Zionist cause," Schmidt writes, "and each initiate had to undergo a rigorous analysis of his qualifications, loyalty, and willingness to take orders from the Order's Executive Council."[50] Not surprisingly, it appears that Frankfurter was a member.[51]

'We must work silently, through education and infection'

Members of the Parushim were quite clear about the necessity of keeping their activities secret. An early recruiter to the Parushim explained: "An organization which has the aims we have must be anonymous, must work silently,[52] and through education and infection rather than through force and noise." He wrote that to work openly would be "suicidal" for their objective.[53]

Grose describes how the group worked toward achieving its goals: "The members set about meeting people of influence here and there, casually, on a friendly basis. They planted suggestions for action to further the Zionist cause long before official government planners had come up with anything."

"For example," Grose writes, "as early as November 1915, a leader of the Parushim went around suggesting that the British might gain some benefit from a formal declaration in support of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine."[54] (There will be more on this in the next chapter.)

Brandeis was a close personal friend of President Woodrow Wilson and used this position to advocate for the Zionist cause, at times serving as a conduit between British Zionists and the president.[55]

In 1916 President Wilson named Brandeis to the Supreme Court. At that time, as was required by standard ethics, Brandeis gave in to pressure to officially resign from all his private clubs and affiliations, including his leadership of Zionism. But behind the scenes he continued this Zionist work, quietly receiving daily reports in his Supreme Court chambers and issuing orders to his loyal lieutenants.[56]

When the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) was reorganized in 1918, Brandeis was listed as its "honorary president." However, he was more than just "honorary."

As historian Donald Neff writes, "Through his lieutenants, he remained the power behind the throne." One of these lieutenants, of course, was Frankfurter. [57]

Zionist membership expanded dramatically during World War I, despite the efforts of some Jewish anti-Zionists, one of whom called the movement a "foreign, un-American, racist, and separatist phenomenon."[58]

[1] In Israel it is typically called "the Jewish lobby," perhaps reflective of the fact that today virtually all the mainstream Jewish organizations in the U.S., both religious and secular – the ADL, Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Relations Councils, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Jewish Studies departments, Hillels, etc – advocate for Israel. For a list see

Benjamin Ginsberg, in the anthology Jews in American Politics, notes that the "greatest triumph of American Jewish organizations during the postwar period" was to secure recognition of the state of Israel over the objections of the U.S. State and Defense Departments and then to successfully urge the U.S. government to provide Israel with billions of dollars over the subsequent decades.

Benjamin Ginsberg, "Identity and Politics: Dilemmas of Jewish Leadership in America" in Jews in American Politics, ed. Louis Sandy Maisel et al. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), 9-10.

However, until World War II and Nazi atrocities against Jews, the majority of Jewish Americans did not support Zionism. From its beginnings in Germany, Reform Judaism had rejected Jewish nationalism, and in the U.S. the Reform movement embraced universalism. Historian Rafael Medoff writes that an 1885 proclamation specifically "denounced the concept of a Jewish return to the land of Zion."

Rafael Medoff, Militant Zionism in America: The Rise and Impact of the Jabotinsky Movement in the United States, 1926-1948 (Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 2006), 26.

In 1897 the Central Conference of American Rabbis passed a resolution that stated, "We affirm that the object of Judaism is not political nor national, but spiritual, and addresses itself to the continuous growth of peace, justice and love in the human race, to a messianic time when all men will recognize that they form 'one great brotherhood' for the establishment of God's kingdom on earth."

Naomi Cohen, The Americanization of Zionism, 1897-1948 (Hanover: Brandeis UP, 2003), 43.

Today's unanimity was only created after years of strenuous and sometimes secretive (see Murphy, Sanua, Schmidt, and Smith) efforts to overcome the objections of anti-Zionist Jewish individuals and organizations, and even now, J.J. Goldberg's contention, made in his informative book Jewish Power, may hold considerable truth: "…the broader population of American Jews… are almost entirely unaware of the work being done in their name."

J.J. Goldberg, Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1996), 7.

Many people feel this is a profoundly unfortunate situation, believing, as Israel professor Yosef Grodzinsky writes: "...the State of Israel and its actions actually put world Jewry at risk."

Yosef Grodzinsky and Chris Spannos, "In the Shadow of the Holocaust," Znet, June 7, 2005,

[2] See, for example: Tom Stephens, "Civil Liberties After September 11," CounterPunch, July 11, 2003,

"Report - A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years After 9/11," American Civil Liberties Union, September 7, 2011,

[3] New Jersey's population is 8,864,590.

"State&County QuickFacts: New Jersey," United States Census Bureau, accessed January 1, 2014,

Israel's population is 7,707,042 (July 2013 est). Of this, approximately 5,826,523 are Jewish citizens.

"The World Factbook: Israel," Central Intelligence Agency, accessed January 1, 2014,

Israel's area is 20,770 square kilometers – smaller than all but four of the states in the United States (CIA, World Factbook).

"US States (plus Washington D.C.): Area and Ranking," Enchanted Learning, accessed January 1, 2014,

More on Israel's population growth:

"Population Statistics: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,", September 17, 2010,

[4] Herzl is considered the founder of political Zionism and is often referred to as "the father of Israel." His seminal book The Jewish State (1896) is online at

"Herzl devoted all his time to this movement, eventually dying at the age of 44 leaving his family penniless. An article in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reports that his daughter Pauline suffered from emotional problems from youth and eventually died of morphine addiction. His son Hans converted to Christianity in 1924, at which time he was abandoned by the Jewish community and denounced publicly. He committed suicide following his sister's death. A book about Herzl's children was written in the 1940s but was suppressed by the World Zionist Organization, which decided to bury Pauline and Hans in Bordeaux, despite their wish to be buried beside their father in Austria, "probably to avoid tarnishing Herzl's image."

Assaf Uni, "Hans Herzl's Wish Comes True - 76 Years Later," Ha'aretz, September 19 2006. Online at

[5] Kathleen Christison, Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy, 1st ed. (Berkeley, Calif: University of California, 2000), 22.

John Herbert Davis, The Evasive Peace: a Study of the Zionist/Arab Problem, 1st American ed. (New York: New World Press, 1970), 1.

It was first called the Zionist Organization; its name officially changed to the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in 1960. Most people use the two names interchangeably.

According to the WZO website, today the organization "consists of the following bodies: The World Zionist Unions, international Zionist federations; and international organizations that define themselves as Zionist, such as WIZO, Hadassah, Bnai-Brith, Maccabi, the International Sephardic Federation, the three streams of world Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform), delegation from the CIS – Commonwealth of Independent States (former Soviet Union), the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS), and more."

"Mission Statement," World Zionist Organization, accessed January 1, 2014,

[6] John W. Mulhall, CSP, America and the Founding of Israel: an Investigation of the Morality of America's Role (Los Angeles: Deshon, 1995), 47-52.

"...the Galveston Immigration Scheme (GIS) brought 10,000 Jews to Texas between 1906 and 1914; ITO [Jewish Territorial Organization] ran GIS from 1907 until GIS ended at the start of World War I." (Mulhall, America, 52)

[7] Justin McCarthy, The Population of Palestine: Population Statistics of the Late Ottoman Period and the Mandate (New York: Columbia UP, 1990), 37.

See table 2.18, "The Population of Palestine by Religion, 1870 to 1946."

Walid Khalidi, "The Palestine Problem: An Overview," Journal of Palestine Studies 21.1 (1991): 5-16. Print. Online at

Khalidi discusses the Zionist plans and cites a Jewish population of seven percent in 1897, but McCarthy provides fully documented and explained numbers that indicate a Jewish population of four percent.

Additional resources on the pre-Israel population are:

Salman H. Abu-Sitta, Atlas of Palestine, 1917-1966 (London: Palestine Land Society, 2010).

Walid Khalidi, All That Remains: the Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992).

British Mandatory Commission, A Survey of Palestine: Prepared in December 1945 and January 1946 for the Information of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1991).

Supplement to Survey of Palestine Notes Compiled for the Information of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1991).

[8] Walid Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem until 1948, Vol. 2 (Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1971), xxii.

[9] Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2001), 3.

[10] Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians: the Concept of "Transfer" in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948, 4th ed (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2001), 10-13.

An example of the fanaticism to be found within some segments of the movement is represented by a statement by Dr. Israel Eldad:

"Israel is the Jews land… It was never the Arabs land, even when virtually all of its inhabitants were Arab. Israel belongs to four million Russian Jews despite the fact that they were not born here. It is the land of nine million other Jews throughout the world, even if they have no present plans to live in it."

Edwin M. Wright, The Great Zionist Cover-up: A Study and Interpretation (Cleveland: Northeast Ohio Committee on Middle East Understanding, 1975), 1.

Wright cites the Times of Israel, August 19, 1969, for the quote.

Eldad was a strategist for a pre-state underground militia who later became a lecturer at several Israeli universities, authored a number of books, and in 1988, was awarded Israel's Bialik Prize for his contributions to Israeli thought.

Another example is described by Israeli Uri Avneri, who quotes a song that was being sung while he was growing up in Palestine: (cited by Wright, Zionist Cover-up, 9)

"We have returned, Young and Powerful

                        We have returned, We the Mighty

To conquer our Homeland, In a storm of War,

                        To redeem our land, with a lofty hand,

With blood and fire, Judea fell

            With blood and fire, Judea shall rise."

Noted Israeli scholar Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, writes: "There are stories of how early Zionist leaders were unaware of the existence of a native population in Palestine: they thought the land was uninhabited and were shocked to discover the Arabs. It is hard to believe such stories…"

He goes on to write: "Looking at the writings of Zionist leaders and intellectuals at the turn of the century, we discover that the presence of natives was not only known but recognized immediately as both a moral issue and a practical question." Beit-Hallahmi quotes a number of such writings from the late 1800s on. He reports that the leading Hebrew periodical of its time, Hashiloah, "During the first decade of the twentieth century… published scores of articles dealing with the Arab national movement (using this exact term!)…"

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel (New York: Olive Branch, 1993), 72-77.

He gives several quotes demonstrating this knowledge.

[11] Dr. Max Nordau was a close associate of Theodor Herzl. This statement is quoted in the Maccabaean, Vol. 7 (1904). (Cohen, Americanization of Zionism, 1)

[12] Cohen, Americanization of Zionism, 1.

She continued: "Indeed, the American Jewish investment in the development and preservation of the Jewish state has continued to the present day."

According to the Jewish Women's archive, Cohen was a "prolific author and noted educator and academic [who] has achieved prominence as a historian of the United States and Jewish Americans." She was on the faculties of Hunter College of the City University of New York, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Upon her retirement in 1996 she moved to Israel.

Tamar Kaplan Appel, "Naomi W. Cohen," Jewish Women's Archive, accessed January 1, 2014,

[13] An earlier project with both a domestic and international focus, "The Board of Delegates of American Israelites," was organized in 1861, which coalesced to block an effort by the Union during the Civil War to prepare a constitutional amendment declaring America a Christian nation. (Goldberg, Jewish Power, 97)

In 1870 the group organized protest rallies around the country and lobbied Congress to take action against reported Romanian pogroms that had killed "thousands" of Jews. The chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee suggested that such reports might be exaggerated, but under pressure from the "Israelite" board, the Senate ordered the committee to take up the matter with the State Department. Eventually, it turned out the total killed had been zero. (Goldberg, Jewish Power, 98-99)

In their book on foreign lobbying in Washington, The Power Peddlers, authors Russell Warren Howe and Sarah Hays Trott write that the American Jewish Committee's history of Jewish lobbying on behalf of both American and foreign Jews began in the mid-nineteenth century.

Russell Warren Howe and Sarah Hays Trott, The Power Peddlers: How Lobbyists Mold America's Foreign Policy (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977), 284.

Howe and Trott write, "The first lobby link with Palestine came in 1881, when Jewish American groups wrote to General Lewis Wallace," the author of Ben Hur and then U.S. minister to the Ottoman Empire (which included Palestine), to intercede on behalf of American Jews who had retired to Jerusalem and were allegedly being harassed. (Howe, Power Peddlers, 285)

[14] Diane Lichtenstein, "Emma Lazarus," Jewish Virtual Library, accessed January 1, 2014,

Historian Jonathan Sarna calls her "the foremost advocate (to that time) of what would become known as American Zionism" aimed at "establishment of a free Jewish state."

Jonathan Sarna, American Judaism: A History (New Haven: Yale UP, 2004), 139-40.

[15] Jonathan D. Sarna, Ellen Smith, and Scott-Martin Kosofsky, eds, The Jews of Boston (New Haven: Yale UP, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, 2005), 252. Online at

"Israel, flag of," Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, accessed January 1, 2014,

[16] David G. Dalin, "At the Summit: Presidents, Presidential Appointments, and Jews," in Jews in American Politics, ed. Louis Sandy Maisel et al. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), 31-32.

[17] Dalin, "At the Summit," 31-32.

The appointee was Oscar Straus, whose brothers owned Macy's Department Store and whom Theodore Roosevelt later named to his cabinet. Dalin reports a humorous incident that occurred at a dinner years later for Straus and Roosevelt:

"In his remarks, Roosevelt had stated that Straus had been appointed on the basis of merit and ability alone; the fact that he was Jewish had played no part in Roosevelt's decision to appoint him. A few minutes later, in introducing Straus, [another speaker, the Jewish financier and philanthropist Jacob] Schiff, who was a bit deaf and had evidently not heard Roosevelt's remarks, recounted how Roosevelt had sought his advice as to who would be the most suitable and eminent Jewish leader to appoint to his cabinet."

The 30-year pattern ended in 1917 when Turkey broke off diplomatic relations after the U.S. declared war on Germany; after the war Turkey no longer controlled Palestine.

[18] Thomas A. Kolsky, Jews against Zionism: the American Council for Judaism, 1942-1948 (Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1990), 24.

[19] Kolsky, Jews against Zionism, 24.

[20] Kolsky, Jews against Zionism, 24.

In a 1918 reorganization the FAZ renamed itself the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). (Kolsky, Jews against Zionism, 26)

[21] Donald Neff, Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy towards Palestine and Israel since 1945, Reprint ed. (Washington D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2002), 8.

[22] Kolsky, Jews against Zionism, 25.

[23] Neff, Pillars, 17; Edward Tivnan, The Lobby: Jewish Political Power and American Foreign Policy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 30.

[24] Richard P. Stevens, American Zionism and U.S. Foreign Policy 1942-1947, Reprinted by the Institute for Palestine Studies, 1970 (New York: Pageant Press: 1962), 20.

[25] Neff, Pillars, 9.

[26] Neff, Pillars, 10.

[27] While Brandeis' beloved uncle, after whom he was named, had been a Zionist, it appears that Brandeis himself had not become a Zionist until later in life. The main person credited with his conversion to Zionism was a journalist named Jacob De Haas. De Haas had been sent to the U.S. ten years before Brandeis met him by Zionist founder Theodor Herzl to recruit Americans to the cause. 

Peter Grose, "Louis Brandeis, Arthur Balfour and a Declaration That Made History," Moment 8, no. 10 (November 1983): 27-28.  Online at

According to its website, Moment Magazine is "North America's premier Jewish magazine." It was founded in 1975 by Elie Wiesel and Leonard Fein.

[28] Neff, Pillars, 10; Christison, Perceptions, 28; Robert John and Sami Hadawi, The Palestine Diary: 1914-1945, Britain's Involvement, Vol. 1, Reprint of Third Ed. (Charleston: BookSurge, 2006), 59.

[29] Urofsky, Melvin. Louis D. Brandeis: A Life. New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 2009, 438. Urofsky, an Israel partisan and Brandeis champion, while noting that the campaign against Brandeis centered on ethical questions, attributed the motivation to political differences. 

[30] Regarding the possible role of anti-Semitism in the opposition to Brandeis, it seems that his ethnicity may actually have enhanced his chances. Many Jewish leaders, while disliking his Zionism, felt they must support him. Similarly, many non-Jews, fearful of being called anti-Semitic, remained silent.  Journalist Gus Karger reported at the time that "many Senators who might base their opposition to him on sound and logical grounds, if he were a Presbyterian, are reluctant to take a stand, lest their opposition be misconstrued." (Urofsky, Brandeis, 440) 

[31] Bruce Allen Murphy, The Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection: The Secret Political Activities of Two Supreme Court Justices (New York: Oxford UP, 1982), 10.

Bruce Murphy is a judicial biographer and scholar of American Constitutional law and politics and is the Fred Morgan Kirby Professor of Civil Rights at Lafayette College. He holds a PhD from the University of Virginia. This book received a Certificate of Merit from the American Bar Association.

[32] Murphy, Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection, 10.

[33] Murphy, Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection, 10.

[34] Murphy, Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection, 44.

[35] New York Times, "Judging Judges, and History," editorial, February 18, 1982, Late City Final ed., Section A,

[36] Murphy, Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection, 10; back cover flap.

[37] Murphy, Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection, 11.

[38] Michael Alexander, Jazz Age Jews (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2001), 83.

[39] Murphy, Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection, 39.

[40] Murphy, Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection, 39.

[41] It is surprising how extremely buried this information remains. After I posted Sarah Schmidt's article on it (see footnote below) online in 2010 and mentioned it in my online and print drafts of this book, another book released this year mentions the society, but fails to report accurately on its covert nature and significant activities.

[42] A positive review of the book in Foreign Policy stated: "[Grose] is not a one-sided partisan; he exposes the faults and foibles of all concerned (above all, the State Department). What slant the book has derives from his chosen theme: that America and the Jewish state are 'bonded together' through history and shared values."

John C. Campbell, "Israel in the Mind of America," review of Israel in the Mind of America, by Peter Grose, Foreign Affairs, Spring 1984. Online at

[43] Sarah Schmidt, "The Parushim: A Secret Episode in American Zionist History," American Jewish Historical Quarterly 65, Dec (1975): 121-39. Online at

Sarah Schmidt, Horace M. Kallen: Prophet of American Zionism (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson, 1995), 77.

Dr. Sarah Schmidt teaches courses related to modern Jewish history at the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, with an emphasis both on Israeli and American Jewish history. She is also associated with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (focused on "Israeli Security, Regional Diplomacy, and International Law") See

Peter Grose, Israel in the Mind of America (New York: Knopf, 1984).

"Peter Grose Papers, 1942-1999: Preliminary Finding Aid," Princeton University Library, accessed January 1, 2014,

Peter Grose was an editor and specialist on the history of intelligence and an editor for the New York Times and Foreign Affairs. He held a position at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is the author of a number of books on modern U.S. history. 

[44] Peter Grose, Israel in the Mind of America (New York: Knopf, 1984), 53.

[45] Peter Grose, "Brandeis, Balfour and a Declaration," 31.

[46] Grose, Mind of America, 53.

The Menorah Society was also a largely a Zionist organization, and was similarly secretive about this. An essay from the time states that the Menorah Society "camouflaged its Zionism by organizing itself as a purely nonpartisan body so as to obtain a larger membership." The writer reports that "practically all the leaders and active workers in the Menorah organization are Zionists… the thing of which the Menorah boasts now…is its little list of prize conversions to Zionism."

Mark Raider, "Pioneers and Pace-Setters: Boston Jews and American Zionism," in Jews of Boston, ed. Jonathan Sarna, et al (New Haven: Yale UP, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, 2005), 256.

[47] Sarah Schmidt, "The Parushim: A Secret Episode in American Zionist History," American Jewish Historical Quarterly 65, Dec (1975): 121-39. Online at

Schmidt writes:  "The image that emerges of the Parushim is that of a secret underground guerilla force determined to influence the course of events in a quiet, anonymous way."

Schmidt gives the entire oath and response of the Parushim initiation:

"A member swearing allegiance to the Parushim felt something of the spirit of commitment to a secret military fellowship. At the initiation ceremony the head of the Order informed him:

'You are about to take a step which will bind you to a single cause for all your life. You will for one year be subject to an absolute duty whose call you will be impelled to heed at any time, in any place, and at any cost. And ever after, until our purpose shall be accomplished, you will be fellow of a brotherhood whose bond you will regard as greater than any other in your life—dearer than that of family, of school, of nation. By entering this brotherhood, you become a self-dedicated soldier in the army of Zion. Your obligation to Zion becomes your paramount obligation... It is the wish of your heart and of your own free will to join our fellowship, to share its duties, its tasks, and its necessary sacrifices.'

The initiate responded by swearing:

'Before this council, in the name of all that I hold dear and holy, I hereby vow myself, my life, my fortune, and my honor to the restoration of the Jewish nation, -to its restoration as a free and autonomous state, by its laws perfect in justice, by its life enriching and preserving the historic speech, the culture, and the ideals of the Jewish people.

To this end I dedicate myself in behalf of the Jews, my people, and in behalf of all mankind.

To this end I enroll myself in the fellowship of the Parushim. I pledge myself utterly to guard and to obey and to keep secret the laws and the labor of the fellowship, its existence and its aims. Amen.'"

Schmidt reports that Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization, was an early member of the Parushim.

She writes: "Brandeis … began to assign the Parushim to carry out special 'missions' for him. In particular the Parushim were to serve as a school for leaders, and under Kallen's direction its members initially became the leading activists of the reorganized American Zionist movement."

Among those invited to be members were "Alexander Dushkin, an authority on Jewish education; Dr. I. L. Kandel, an educator then with the Carnegie Foundation and Teacher's College of Columbia University; Israel Thurman, a lawyer and 'Harvard man,' who would be used to propagandize among young lawyers; Nathan C. House, a 'Columbia man,' high school teacher, who could work out plans for training Jewish high school boys,"  I.J. Biskind, a doctor in Cleveland; Stephen S. Wise, prominent Reform Rabbi and leader in the Jewish Community; Oscar Straus; Alexander Sachs, a graduate student in economics at Columbia University; David Shapiro, an agricultural student at the University of California; Jesse Sampter, a writer and poetess; Elisha Friedman, President of the Collegiate Zionist League.

According to Schmidt, "The Pittsburgh Program seems to have been the last of the projects of the Parushim."

[48] A. Scott Berg, Wilson (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2013), Chapter 6. (Accessed online, page number not available)

Berg writes that Kallen went on to a "stellar career," but mentions nothing of his Zionism and creation of a secret society. When Wilson hired Kallen, he became the college's first Jewish lecturer.

[49] Sarah Schmidt, Horace M. Kallen: Prophet of American Zionism (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson, 1995), 77.

[50] Schmidt, Horace M. Kallen, 77.

[51] Ben Halpern, "The Americanization of Zionism, 1880-1930," in American Zionism: Mission and Politics by Jeffrey Gurock (New York: Routledge, 1998), 125-43. (Part of a 13 Volume series edited by Jeffrey S. Gurock published by the American Jewish Historical Society.)

[52] Grose, Mind of America, 53.

[53] Grose, Mind of America, 40.

Another organization that chose to work secretively was the American Jewish Committee (AJC), though this organization was largely non-Zionist in its early decades. Author Marianne R. Sanua describes its activities in her authorized biography of the organization, Let Us Prove Strong: The American Jewish Committee, 1945-2006.

Except where noted otherwise, the following information comes from pages 3-27.

The AJC was founded in 1906 by wealthy banker Jacob H. Schiff, who invited "fifty-seven prominent Jews across the country" to explore the creation of a body to protect Jews both at home and abroad. "On the appointed day," Sanua writes, "rabbis, businessmen, scientists, judges, ambassadors, scholars, writers, and philanthropists gathered in New York from Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Richmond, and as far away as San Francisco."

Although part of the original group withdrew, fearing such an entity would reinforce gentile beliefs in powerful Jewish cabals, the others went forward and in many ways created just such an entity.

While the existence of the AJC, unlike the Parushim, was not kept hidden, many of its activities were. As a leader wrote about its earliest days, "The new body was not to engage in publicity except as an instrument for achieving objectives."

According to Sanua, the AJC desired "in general to remain as unobtrusive as possible in conducting its work, preferring to use the names and addresses of supposedly nonsectarian organizations instead of its own."

When necessary," Sanua writes, the AJC "would create the name of an essentially fictitious organization to hide the fact that American Jews were behind the effort at all."

In the 1930s and 1940s, Sanua, reports, "its agents went undercover, infiltrated meetings, and compiled a list of 50,000 offenders [alleged anti-Semites or German sympathizers] whose names were shared with the FBI…"

According to Sanua, scores of Americans were sent to jail "because of the efforts of the AJC," which, out of a total of 50,000 "offenders," raises the question of exactly who was on this list, and why.

In 1944 undercover AJC agents attended the first national convention of the America First Party, which had opposed entering European wars. The AJC charged that its presidential candidate, Gerald Smith, was anti-Semitic, a charge that Sanua says he denied, accusing the ADL and others of using the millions of dollars at their disposal to "hound innocent Christian nationalists with their Gestapo techniques." (Sanua, Let Us Prove Strong, 41)

The AJC successfully pushed for federal investigations into Smith, and in 1946 he was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Sanua notes that the AJC had "pulled all their strings in Washington to put him there." (Sanua, Let Us Prove Strong, 41)

These AJC activities continued after the war, Sanua reports, and notes, "Again, secrecy and behind-the scenes work was the key. Most of the written records of these activities remain closed to the public to the present day."

While the AJC began as a non-Zionist organization and opposed the immediate creation of a Jewish state for the AJC's first few decades, its activities at times were helpful to the Zionist cause. The organization endorsed the Balfour Declaration, some members provided financial support for Jewish settlement and institutions in Palestine, and for a time AJC representatives served with Zionists in the Jewish Agency for Palestine.

Eventually, over the objections of many members, the AJC became Zionist, and in the watershed year of 1947, Sanua reports, the AJC threw its weight behind the Zionist cause, using its connections at high levels of the U.S. government, including in the White House, to help push through a UN partition plan intended to create a Jewish state in Palestine.

In October 1948, Sanua writes, the AJC's executive committee resolved to work for "financial aid from the United States – which it achieved the following year." 

Marianne Sanua, Let Us Prove Strong: The American Jewish Committee, 1945-2006 (Waltham, MA: Brandeis UP, 2007), 3-27.

According to journalists Abba A. Solomon and Norman Solomon, the AJC "adjusted to the triumph of an ideology – militant Jewish nationalism – that it did not share."  The Solomons quote a January 1948 AJC position paper that described the actions of "militant Zionists," who were "then ascendant among Jews in Palestine and in the United States." The AJC warned that this group served "no less monstrosity than the idol of the State as the complete master not only over its own immediate subjects but also over every living Jewish body and soul the world over, beyond any consideration of good or evil."

According to the Solomons, such concerns "became more furtive after Israel became a nation later in 1948." By 1950 debate over Zionism was to be permissible only within the Jewish community – it was to be, in the Solomons' words, "inaudible to gentiles." Soon, the Solomons contend, even debate among Jews became "marginal, then unmentionable."

Norman Solomon and Abba A. Solomon, "The Blind Alley of J Street and Liberal American Zionism," Huffington Post, January 22, 2014,

[54] Grose, Mind of America, 54.

American professor Horace Kallen was a major mover and the original founder of the Parushim.

In his book American Zionism: Mission and Politics, Jeffrey Gurock writes: "Brandeis conducted a vigorous search of his own for 'college men,' particularly young graduates of Harvard Law School, whom he co-opted to leadership or special assignments for the regular and emergency Zionist organizations he controlled. Among those recruited were men like Felix Frankfurter, Judge Julian Mack, Walter Lippmann, Bernard Flexner (one of the founders of the Council on Foreign Relations), Benjamin Cohen (high official under both FDR and Truman), and others who achieved national and international eminence."

Jeffery Gurock, American Zionism: Missions and Politics (London: Routledge, 1998), 135. 

Parushim creator Kallen is known as being one of the fathers of "cultural pluralism," opposing the highly popular "melting pot" view, in which immigrants from all over the world would join together as non-hyphenated Americans. See, for example: Michael Alexander, Jazz Age Jews (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2001), 90.

Most Americans and new immigrants – including Jewish Americans – were opposed to Kallen's creation of cultural pluralism and hyphenated Americans, preferring assimilation and the melting pot. See, for example, Cohen, Americanization of Zionism, 18: "Most [Jews] had found their promised land in America." One of the primary goals in the U.S. for some Zionists leaders was, in Cohen's words, "to guard against assimilation." (Cohen, Americanization of Zionism, 22) "The popular melting-pot theory was antithetical to the heart of the Zionist message." (Cohen, Americanization of Zionism, 15)

[55] Neff, Pillars, 12-14.

[56] Neff, Pillars, 12; Grose, Mind of America, 57-58.

Brandeis also "played a decisive role in planning Wilson's economic program, and particularly in formulating the Federal Reserve."

Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1993), 93.

[57] Neff, Pillars, 12; John & Hadawi, Palestine Diary, 59-60.

Felix Frankfurter's work on behalf of Zionism spanned many years. FDR was to appoint him to the Supreme Court in 1939, and even before this time he used his "access to the president to bring Zionist issues to his attention and urge his intercession on behalf of the Zionist cause. (Christison, Perceptions, 47)

"At Brandeis's behest, Frankfurter also became involved with American Zionism. In 1917 Frankfurter accompanied Ambassador Henry Morgenthau to Turkey and Egypt to see what could be done for the settlements in Palestine during the World War. Frankfurter also attended the peace conference in Paris as a representative of the American Zionist movement and as a liaison for Brandeis." (Alexander, Jazz Age Jews, 91)

At the request of Brandeis, financier Jacob Schiff had donated funds to have a position created for Frankfurter at Harvard early in his career. (Alexander, Jazz Age Jews, 83).

[58] Kolsky, Jews against Zionism, 25, 32.

Israel-Palestine Timeline

Israel-Palestine Timeline: The human cost of the conflict records photos and information for each person who has been killed in the ongoing violence.

History of the Israel Lobby

Alison Weir's book Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel brings together meticulously sourced evidence to outline the largely unknown history of U.S.-Israel relations.

Buy it on Amazon, and visit the book website for reviews, more ordering options, and upcoming author events.

Information largely missing from U.S. news reports. Read the Blog

Remember the USS Liberty
Some of the USS Liberty Dead

June 8, 1967
34 U.S. Servicemen Killed, 174 Wounded in intentional Israeli ‘act of war’ against the U.S.
Learn more & educate your community

Featured Links in This Section

The Secret of Leopold Amery

Alison Weir discusses secret author of Balfour Declaration

The Zionist Plan for the Middle East

Jimmy Carter:
Speaking frankly about Israel and Palestine

Yes, It’s the Lobby:
“Political Fear” Drives US Support for Israel

Reflecting on Our Relationship with Israel

The Elephant in the Room:
Israel’s Lobby in the US


Video: Israel is Spying in and on the U.S.?

Video – Interview with Karen Kwiatkowski

Video – The Middle East in Election 2004: The Capitol Hill Hearings

Video: USS Liberty Memorial - June 8, 2009

Interview with Captain Boston, the 1967 Chief Attorney in the Liberty Investigation

Documentary: Dead in the Water

Documentary: The Day Israel Attacked America

Video – The Lobby USA: Abridged

Video – The Israel Lobby

Video – Ralph Nader on Israel Lobby

Video – Former President Carter on C-SPAN

Video – Former President Carter on Meet the Press

Video – Former President Carter on Larry King Live

excerpt from Foreign Agents
Foreign Agents

AIPAC was founded by Isaiah L. "Si" Kenen, springing from the American Zionist Committee for Public Affairs Kenen registered twice with the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) as a foreign agent for Israel. Read More!

Buy a Copy!

Stay Informed

Sign up for our mailing list and receive an email whenever we post a new article on our news site, Israel-Palestine News.

This website is printer-friendly. Please Print this article and share it with your friends and family.