Date of Award
Program or Major
Doctor of Philosophy
John Obert Voll
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, followers of the Zionist Revisionists went to the United States at the urging of their leader, Vladimir Jabotinsky. They established two groups which initially attempted to gain public support for the creation of a Jewish Army.
The New Zionist Organization of America, headed by Ben Zion Netanyahu, followed the Revisionist political party. Its campaign exposed the anti-Jewish position of the British in Palestine. It was effective in placing the Palestine problem on the world (rather than regional) agenda of the State Department.
The Irgun Delegation to the United States, headed by Hillel Kook (Peter Bergson), acted independently, in defiance of the Revisionist political party. While assisting in some rescue work for the underground Irgun Z'vai Leumi, the American delegation did work which was primarily political and educational.
Though independent of one another, the efforts of both groups heightened public awareness of the extermination of European Jewry. They created a nationwide advertisement campaign which pressured the United States government through growing public support. They fought for a Jewish Army and later for statehood. They were the pioneers of the Jewish lobby in America.
The Irgun Delegation provided intelligence to the United States in World War II and aided in the rescue of American airmen. They also helped to forestall the pro-Arab policy of Franklin Roosevelt. His allegiance and promises to Ibn Saud resulted from wartime national security concerns which necessitated Saudi oil concessions and guarantees for an American air base at Dharan.
The Irgun Delegation to the United States and the New Zionist Organization of America have generally been overlooked, or incorrectly described, in American Jewish historiography. Personal interviews, F.B.I. files, and government documents confirms that they were two distinct, independent organizations having different philosophies and goals. They remained neutral toward one another until Hillel Kook called for a democratic (rather than Jewish) state in Palestine. This resulted in charges that the Irgun Delegation was anti-Zionist and in an open attack by the NZO. The antagonism which existed between the two groups was never totally resolved.
Saidel, Joanna Maura, "Revisionist Zionism in America: The campaign to win American public support, 1939-1948" (1994). Doctoral Dissertations. 1824.