One of America’s most constant allied relationships has always been with the modern nation of Israel. But many do not know that the births of these two nations are actually
tied closely together. The birth of
modern Israel came about as an indirect result of the birth of the United
States of America.
Jews came to the thirteen colonies in colonial times seeking freedom of religion that could not be found in Europe. The American Revolution was
a joint effort between Christians and Jews, and much of the financial support
for the American Revolution came from the Jewish community.
Haym Solomon died on January 6, 1785. Just a few months later on July 14, 1785 another important and prominent Jewish American was born, Mordecai Manuel Noah.
In 1811 President James Madison, who as a member of the Continental Congress was sponsored by Haym Solomon appointed Noah as consul at Riga, then part of Imperial Russia, but Noah declined the appointment. Madison called upon Noah again in 1813 when he nominated him
Consul to the Kingdom of Tunis. While
serving his country in that capacity Noah managed to rescue many American
citizens being kept as slaves by Moroccan masters. He also managed to secure the release of some hostages being held
In 1815 the question arose, was the United States of America a Christian Nation, or a Judeo-Christian Nation? The then Secretary of State James Monroe challenged Noah’s right to serve, claiming that Noah’s Jewish religion was "an obstacle to the
exercise of [his] Consular function.
Noah protested and gained letters from Founding Fathers John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison supporting the freedom of religion in the United States. Prominent Rabbi Isaac Harby was moved to write, in a
letter to Monroe:
[Jews] are by no means to be considered as a religious
sect, tolerated by the government. They constitute a portion
of the People. They are, in every respect, woven in and compacted with the citizens of the Republic.
In 1825 in a precursor to modern Zionism Noah tried to found a Jewish "refuge" at Grand Island in the Niagara River, to be called "Ararat,". Noah had brought
with him a cornerstone which read:
Ararat, a City of Refuge for the Jews,
founded by Mordecai M. Noah
in the Month of Tishri, 5586 (September, 1825)
and in the Fiftieth Year of American Independence.
(It is now on permanent display at the Buffalo Historical Society in Buffalo, NY.)
Noah maintained a belief which was common at that time, that some of the American Indians were decedents of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel, and his concept at the time was a reunion of the two Houses of Israel.
On September 2 thousands of Christians and Jews assembled for what was expected to be a historic event. Noah led a large procession, paraded to St. Paul's Episcopal church. Here,
there was a brief ceremony which included including a singing of the psalms in
Hebrew and a proclamation establishing
the refuge was read.
The idea of a Jewish Homeland in the United Staes did not attract many followers and Mordecai Noah started to advocate the creation of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, then a part of the Ottoman Empire, and thus
modern Zionism was born. Noah then
instigated a current in Judaism supporting a return to Zion which grew in
popularity especially in Europe, where anti-semitism was growing. Jews began to
emigrate to “Palestine”.
Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel started in earnest in the wake of these efforts. Most immigrants came from Russia, escaping the frequent pogroms and state-sponsored persecutions. A number of agricultural
settlements were founded with financial support from Jewish philanthropists.
Further immigration followed the Russian Revolution and Nazi persecution with
support from American Zionists who provided funding and influence in
Washington, D.C. through the highly effective American Palestine Committee.
After World War II and the Holocaust, a massive wave of stateless Jewish refugees, mainly Holocaust survivors, began migrating to The Land of Israel in small rag tag boats in rebellion to the British rulers. The
British government either imprisoned these Jews in Cyprus, including many
orphaned children, or sent them to the British-controlled Allied Occupation
Zones in Germany. This resulted in almost universal Jewish support for Zionism
and the refusal of the U.S. Congress to grant economic aid to Britain. Zionist
groups attacked the British in Palestine and, with its waning empire facing
bankruptcy, Britain was forced to refer the issue to the newly created United