Britain helped spark Israel's founding by issuing the Balfour Declaration, but one has to wonder what kept it from backsliding afterwards and attempting to end Zionist dreams before they were realized. Britain had a horrible history with Jews: The first

Britain helped spark Israel's founding by issuing the Balfour Declaration, but one has to wonder what kept it from backsliding afterwards and attempting to end Zionist dreams before they were realized. Britain had a horrible history with Jews: The first recorded ritual murder charge in medieval Europe took place in England in 1144; there was the York massacre of the city's Jews in 1190; the expulsion in 1290; and political emancipation for England's Jews arrived only in 1871, far later than in other Western European countries. In the Victorian era, "Jews, no matter how assimilated or influential, were perceived as Jews first, and often not even considered to be English, no matter how long they or their families had resided in England. The Jew was widely thought of as suspect, sinister, clever, rich and powerful, and—in the words of historian Elie Kedourie—'an agent of reaction or revolution, pursuing hidden aims of his own, divine or demonic as the case may be.'"[1] Moreover, in the first half of the twentieth century, Zionism "seemed to many Britons—Gentile and Jew alike—a ludicrous goal that defied much historical and current thinking and, in the 1930s and beyond, conflicted with Britain's strategic interests."

So how did this relatively anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist nation come to be the one that, while not delivering the Jewish state, helped the Zionists at key moments and acquiesced to the declaration of Jewish statehood in 1948? The answer comes in this book, a detailed account of Winston Churchill and his three-decade long struggle to preserve Britain's promise as set forth in the Balfour Declaration.

Makovsky skillfully shows that only one man, Churchill—a true admirer of Disraeli and his mantra that "the Lord dealt with the nations as the nations dealt with the Jews"—seemingly kept the Zionist dream alive by vigorously and creatively pushing back against rampant anti-Zionism in the British government and among the public. As anti-Zionist calls deepened in Britain, he constantly reinforced his pro-Zionist political message to keep domestic anti-Zionist adversaries at bay. When the infamous MacDonald White Paper of 1939 looked as if it would crush Zionist hopes, Churchill engaged Roosevelt and the United States on the Zionists' behalf, leveraging a relationship Britain needed more than ever at that time. While Roosevelt proved genuinely uninterested in Zionism and appeared ready to undercut it for political concerns, Churchill's engagement allowed Truman to assume the role of main Western advocate for Zionism when Churchill fell from power after the war.

As Makovsky shows, Churchill's political activism sheltered Zionists as they spent the years between Balfour and statehood building the institutions that would prove indispensable to the new Jewish state.

[1] Elie Kedourie, England and the Middle East: The Destruction of the Ottoman Empire, 1914-1921 (London: Bowes and Bowes, 1956), p. 82.