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The “Christianization” of Israel and Jews in 1950s America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2018


In the 1950s, the United States experienced a domestic religious revival that offered postwar Americans a framework to interpret the world and its unsettling international political problems. Moreover, the religious message of the cold war that saw the God-fearing West against atheistic communists encouraged an unprecedented ecumenism in American history. Jews, formerly objects of indifference if not disdain and hatred in the United States, were swept up in the ecumenical tide of “Judeo-Christian” values and identity and, essentially, “Christianized” in popular and political culture. Not surprisingly, these cultural trends affected images of the recently formed State of Israel. In the popular and political imagination, Israel was formed by the “Chosen People” and populated by prophets, warriors, and simple folk like those in Bible stories. The popular celebration of Israel also romanticized its people at the expense of their Arab (mainly Muslim) neighbors. Battling foes outside of the Judeo-Christian family, Israelis seemed just like Americans. Americans treated the political problems of the Middle East differently than those in other parts of the world because of the religious significance of the “Holy Land.” A man such as Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who combined views of hard-nosed “realpolitik” with religious piety, acknowledged the special status of the Middle East by virtue of the religions based there. Judaism, part of the “Judeo-Christian civilization,” benefitted from this religious consciousness, while Islam remained a religion and a culture apart. This article examines how the American image of Jews, Israelis, and Middle Eastern politics was re-framed in the early 1950s to reflect popular ideas of religious identity. These images were found in fiction, the press, and the speeches and writings of social critics and policymakers. The article explores the role of the 1950s religious revival in the identification of Americans with Jews and Israelis and discusses the rise of the popular understanding that “Judeo-Christian” values shaped American culture and politics.

Research Article
Copyright © Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture 2004

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1. The indicators of growing religiosity among Americans are familiar to historians, ranging from the 1954 addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance to President Eisenhower's assertion that “an atheistic American is a contradiction in terms” to growing church attendance among ordinary Americans. For discussion, see Carter, Paul, Another Part of the Fifties (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), 114–16Google Scholar; Marty, Martin E., Under God, Indivisible, 1941–1960, vol. 3 of Modern American Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 278–79, 289, 301Google Scholar; and Whitfield, Stephen, The Culture of the Cold War (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), 89, 83Google Scholar. Religious resurgence was also seen in the nation's Bible sales. The Holy Bible, The Revised Standard Version was the nonfiction bestseller in 1952, 1953, and 1954. Other contemporary reissues included: The Septuagent Bible, The Heirloom Bible, The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text, The Olive Pell Bible, and The Complete Hebrew-English Jerusalem Bible (“Sixty Years of Bestsellers” from lists by Alice Hackett, New York Times Book Review [hereafter, NYTBR] October 7, 1956, 6ff.) Observations about mainstream religious publications are made from a survey of all NYTBR from 1947 to 1958, a selected survey of the New York Herald Tribune Book Review [hereafter, NYHTBR], and Saturday Review of Literature [hereafter, SRL]. Robert Ellwood notes that Publishers Weekly observed the publishing trend in a February 1950 editorial on “The Phenomenal Interest in Religious Books.” Ellwood also discusses a number of the religious publications and the revival in general. See Ellwood, Robert S., 1950: Crossroads of American Religious Life (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000)Google Scholar, preface and chap. 1.

2. Robert Ellwood illustrates the assumption that the Cold War was a religious war with the widely quoted passage of William F. Buckley's 1951 God and Man at Yale: “I myself believe that the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world. I further believe that the struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle reproduced on another level.” From a different Christian perspective, the rising evangelical preacher Billy Graham similarly concluded in 1950, “If you would be a true patriot, then become a Christian. If you would be a loyal American, then become a loyal Christian…. The world is divided into two camps!” Ellwood, 1950, 60–61, 3.

3. Source from 1912 quoted in Cohen, Naomi, Jews in Christian America: The Pursuit of Religious Equality (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 111 Google Scholar.

4. Marty, Under God, Indivisible, 54.

5. Myrdal, Gunnar, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1944), 911 Google Scholar.

6. Eleanor Roosevelt to Truman, January 29, 1952, Personal, Eleanor Roosevelt (2), President's Secretary's Files [hereafter, PSF], box 322, Harry S. Truman Library. For a contemporary critique of the idea that the United States was a Christian nation, see McWilliams, Carey, A Mask for Privilege: Anti-Semitism in America (Westport Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1947), 51 Google Scholar.

7. Memo of conversation, by Stuart Rockwell, April 19, 1950, Foreign Relations of the United States [hereafter, FRUS], 1950, vol. 5 (Washington D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1978), 863.

8. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War, 83.

9. Marty, Under God, Indivisible, 249. For discussion on the development of ecumenical organizations and perspectives, also see Ellwood, 1950.

10. Despite the push for unity, there were fissures along race lines (African American churches were segregated from the larger white Protestant movement) and doctrinal lines (mainstream Protestants represented by the Federal Council of Churches [FCC] had a different religious perspective from fundamentalists, evangelicals, and Pentecostals).

11. Martin Marty observed that, for many Americans, universalism and religious resurgence were inextricably linked in the immediate postwar period: “It is hard to recapture the heady and uncalculating sense expressed by liberal Protestantism in the early days of the United Nations and in those ripe years for proclaiming One World over and against One Nation.” Marty, Under God, Indivisible, 145.

12. Dulles's religious upbringing and renewed religious focus in the late 1930s is discussed in Immerman, Richard H., John Foster Dulles: Piety, Pragmatism, and Power in U.S. Foreign Policy (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1999)Google Scholar, esp. 1–3, 14–15, 20–21. See also Marty, Under God, Indivisible, 97, 125, and Ellwood, 1950, 159. Ellwood notes that Dulles was prompted to move from a more pacifist outlook to a cold warrior one in response to the postwar American-Soviet tensions. Dulles “saw this transformation as a move from ‘naiveté’ to ‘realism’” (159).

13. Marty, Under God, Indivisible, 145 (quoting Charles Clayton Morrison). For examples of discussions of “realism” and other characteristics of masculinity in postwar culture and politics, see Emily Rosenberg, “‘Foreign Affairs’ after World War II: Connecting Sexual and International Politics,” Diplomatic History 18, no. 1 (Winter 1994): 59–70; Ehrenreich, Barbara, The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment (New York: Anchor Books, 1983)Google Scholar; Costigliola, Frank, “The Nuclear Family: Tropes of Gender and Pathology in the Western Alliance,” Diplomatic History 21, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 163–83Google Scholar; and Smith, Geoffrey, “National Security and Personal Isolation: Sex, Gender, and Disease in the Cold War United States,” International History Review 14, no. 2 (May 1992), 307–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

14. Dulles speech, October 11, 1953, Papers of Carl McCardle, box 6, Eisenhower Library. Taft and Hall quotes are from Marty, Under God, Indivisible, 133, 135 (emphasis added). Egal Feldman notes that “vigor[ous]” “Christian realism” and the neoorthodox views espoused by Dulles, Niebuhr, and others were an important alternative to fundamentalism and liberalism at mid-century. Feldman, Egal, Dual Destinies: The Jewish Encounter with Protestant America (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990), 189 Google Scholar.

15. For a discussion of the scientific ideal and diminishing faith in twentieth-century culture, see Hollinger, David A., Science, Jews, and Secular Culture: Studies in Mid-Twentieth Century American Intellectual History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996)Google Scholar, esp. “Jewish Intellectuals and the De-Christianization of American Public Culture in the Twentieth Century.” While the Protestant ecumenical movement was encouraged by the possibility of a new world order as well as by Cold War anxieties, some Protestants were also motivated by a lingering anti-Catholicism in American society and politics. For more on contemporary anti-Catholicism, see John T. McGreevy, “Thinking on One's Own: Catholicism in the American Intellectual Imagination, 1928–1960,” Journal of American History 84, no. 1 (June 1997): 97, 98. See also, Marty, Under God, Indivisible, esp. “Stating the Catholic Attitude with Every Frankness.” Anti-Catholicism remained a strong force as the number of Catholics in the United States grew; by the end of the 1950s, Catholics numbered more than 22 percent of the population. See Feldman, Dual Destinies, 189. See also the discussion of the Catholic church and attitudes toward it in Ellwood, 1950, esp. chap. 6.

16. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War, 85.

17. McCarthy quote is from Ellwood, 1950, 83; the phrase “biblical tone” is Ellwood's (84).

18. There has been much debate about the sincerity of religious feeling in this touted revival. For example, some surveys found that weekly attendance at worship was not nearly as high as reports of church membership. Other surveys found that Americans were not that concerned with such theological questions as the existence of an afterlife but felt that religion would help people “get along better.” See the surveys cited in Marty, Under God, Indivisible, 278–79, 280, 291.

19. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War, 81. See also Ellwood, 1950, 160. Others, less religious, also believed that spirituality was inherently a political issue. For example, Leonard Finder, newspaper publisher and correspondent of Dwight Eisenhower’s, wrote in 1951, “The spiritual and psychological condition … of the American people is an integral part of the contemporary picture.” Finder to Eisenhower, June 27, 1951, Papers of Leonard Finder, box 1, Dwight David Eisenhower Library.

20. Charles Stember's analysis of public opinion polls from the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s finds a decline in the percentage of respondents who thought of Jews first as a racial group. By the mid 1960s, a plurality of respondents thought of Jews first as a religious group. In the mid 1950s, of those asked if they viewed Jews as different from other Americans, a third of those who answered yes cited religion as the reason that Jews were different from other Americans. As Jews came to be viewed primarily as a religious group, their acceptance as American citizens increased. See Stember, Charles et al., Jews in the Mind of America (New York: Basic Books, 1966), 50, 62–63Google Scholar.

21. Eisenhower speech at the American Jewish tercentenary dinner, October 20, 1954, Speech File, Dwight David Eisenhower Papers as President, 1953–1961 (Ann Whitman File) [hereafter, Whitman File], box 10, Eisenhower Library. Similarly, when Eisenhower asserted that the American government was formed on a religious faith, he concluded that “it is the Judeo-Christian concept but it must be a religion that all men are created equal.” Mark Silk, “Notes on the Judeo-Christian Tradition in America,” American Quarterly 36 (Spring 1984): 65. In the rest of the article (65–85), Silk provides a comprehensive discussion on the evolution of this term, as well as its social and political meanings.

22. Herberg, Will, Protestant—Catholic—Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1955, 1960), 2, 87, 172Google Scholar. Herberg's book was quite popular. Many critics and readers were receptive to Herberg's study because of its affirmation that there was a religious revival in the nation. See, for example, the review by theologian Gustave Weigel, who observed, “There may have been moments when religion was more intensive in the United States, but never a time when it was so extensive.” Gustave Weigel, “Americans Believe That … Religion Is a Good Thing,” America, November 5, 1955, 150. For more on Herberg and changing ideas of assimilation within a pluralist framework, see Kazal, Russell, “Revisiting Assimilation: The Rise, Fall, and Reappraisal of a Concept in American Ethnic History,” American Historical Review 100, no. 2 (April 1995): 437–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

23. Reinhold Niebuhr, “America's Three Melting Pots,” NYTBR, September 25, 1955, 6.

24. Benson, Michael T., Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1997), 34 Google Scholar.

25. Johnson, Willard, “Religion and Minority Peoples,” in One America: The History, Contributions, and Present Problems of Our Racial and National Minorities, ed. Brown, Francis J. and Roucek, Joseph S. (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1952), 524 Google Scholar.

26. Silk, “Notes on the Judeo-Christian Tradition.”

27. See Moore, Deborah Dash, “Jewish G.I.s and the Creation of the Judeo-Christian Tradition,” Religion and American Culture, 8, no. 1 (Winter 1998), 3153 CrossRefGoogle Scholar, quotes from 34, 35.

28. Ibid., 44–46. Leonard Dinnerstein, among others, has also noted that there were widespread antisemitic incidents in the army throughout the war. Dinnerstein, Leonard, Antisemitism in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 138–39Google Scholar.

29. See discussion in Feldman, Dual Destinies, and Dinnerstein, Antisemitism in America.

30. Dinnerstein, Antisemitism in America, 80–82.

31. Ibid., 112, 127.

32. For further discussion, see Erens, Patricia, The Jew in American Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984)Google Scholar; Friedman, Lester, Hollywood's Image of the Jew (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1982)Google Scholar; Jarvie, I. C., “Stars and Ethnicity: Hollywood and the United States 1932–1951,” in Unspeakable Images: Ethnicity and the American Cinema, ed. Friedman, Lester (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991)Google Scholar; and Woll, Allen and Miller, Randall, Ethnic and Racial Images in American Film and Television: Historical Essays and Bibliography (New York: Garland Publishing, 1987)Google Scholar.

33. Felicia Herman argues that there were examples of “coded anti-Nazi films,” especially The House of Rothschild (1934), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), and the short The Sons of Liberty (1939), that were popular with Jews and non-Jews, demonstrating that Hollywood was indeed willing to make a statement—albeit with “subtlety”—against Nazis and to depict Jewish characters. She clearly demonstrates that films were not Judenrein in this period, though the great debate over these efforts also illustrates that such statements were unusual for Hollywood in the prewar period. See Herman, Felicia, “Hollywood, Nazism, and the Jews, 1933–1941,” American Jewish History 89 (March 2001): 6189 CrossRefGoogle Scholar (quotes 62, 89).

34. For more on Coughlin, see Brinkley, Douglas, Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin and the Great Depression (New York: Vintage Books, 1982)Google Scholar, and Dinnerstein, Antisemitism in America.

35. Ellwood, 1950, 192, 185.

36. See discussion of Liebman and his impact, in spite of continuing religious disputations in Andrew Heinze, “Peace of Mind (1946): Judaism and the Therapeutic Polemics of Postwar America,” Religion and American Culture 12, no. 1 (Winter 2002): 31–58.

37. R. M. MacIver, “Mosaic of a People's Enduring Spirit,” NYTBR, February 19, 1950, 7.

38. Wilson's book remained on the NYT bestseller list from November 13, 1955, to June 24, 1956. Other accounts of the archeological discovery were published, including Millar Burrows, Dead Sea Scrolls (1955), which also became a bestseller for two weeks in April 1956. For discussion of the popular impact of the scrolls, see Frank M. Cross, Jr., “From Manuscripts Found in a Cave: The Dead Sea Scrolls Bare New Clues to Our History and Religious Past,” NYTBR, October 16, 1955, 6ff.; and Millar Burrows, “Background in Common,” NYTBR, May 6, 1956, 6ff.

39. See, for example, Keller, Werner, The Bible as History: A Confirmation of the Book of Books (New York: W. Morrow, 1956)Google Scholar; Guitton, Jean, The Problem of Jesus: A Freethinker's Diary (New York: Kenedy, 1955)Google Scholar; Paul, Louis Heroes, Kings, and Men (New York: Dial Press, 1955)Google Scholar; and Rosten, Leo, ed., A Guide to Religions in America (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1955)Google Scholar.

40. Wilson, Edmund, Red, Black, Blond and Olive (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956), 396–97Google Scholar.

41. American Jews along with their fellow non-Jewish citizens had well-developed images and expectations of the Jewish state, even before it was created. For further discussion of these views, see Gal, Allon, ed., Envisioning Israel: The Changing Ideals and Images of North American Jews (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University; and Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1996)Google Scholar.

42. See “I am the Lord … ,” Time, August 30, 1948, 26; “Israel Faces the Facts of Life,” Life, May 14, 1951, 116–26; and George Biddle, “Israel: Young Blood and Old,” Atlantic, October 1949, 19–25, esp. 22–23.

43. Dulles speech, June 1, 1953, Israel Relations (6), Subject Series, Papers of John Foster Dulles, box 10, Eisenhower Library.

44. Note that Stevenson uses “Arab” and “Muslim” interchangeably, ignoring the existence of Arab Christians. “No Peace for Israel,” Look, August 11, 1953, 43.

45. T. A. Gill, “Sometime Holy Land,” Christian Century, October 10, 1956, 1157.

46. Stevenson, “No Peace for Israel,” 43.

47. Examples from Time include: “In Abraham's Bosom,” November 1, 1948, 37; “5710,” October 3, 1949, 47; “Till the End of Time?” December 26, 1949, 15; “The Battle of El Anja,” November 14, 1955, 37; and “Israel is Born in Travail and Hope” Life, May 31, 1948, 21. This last article also finds a certain inevitability in the Jewish-Arab estrangement, based on a “5,000 year” hostility between Isaac and Ishmael. Murrow's portrait of Jerusalem is found in “See It Now: Murrow at Wake Island” (1953) at the Museum of Television and Radio, New York.

48. Examples are from John Cogley, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem … ,” Commonweal, January 8, 1984, 350–52, and “If I Forget Thee,” Time, April 25, 1949, 30–31.

49. See, for example, Dana Adams Schmidt, “Israel's Little War of the Borders,” June 14, 1953, 14ff.; and Seth S. King, “Two Jerusalems, Two Worlds,” May 12, 1957, 12–13ff., New York Times Magazine [hereafter NYTM]; and Gill, “Sometime Holy Land,” 1,158, e.g., “the turmoil that torments the ancient city and the tensions that tear up the very air. You can taste the bitterness even in the sweet breezes, and the clearest of them are stained with hatred.”

50. King, “Two Jerusalems,” 12.

51. Stevenson, “No Peace for Israel,” 43.

52. Israel found a political justification for its claim to the city in the fact that it had been willing to compromise about the city in the past. Israeli officials never tired of recounting that at the time of the U.N. partition proposal, the Jews, although a majority of the city population in 1947, had been willing to accept the internationalization of the city, while the Arabs had rejected the U.N. plan outright. See, for example, Walter Eytan's memoir of Israeli foreign policy, The First Ten Years: A Diplomatic History of Israel (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1958), 69–71.

53. See, for example, King, “Two Jerusalems,” 12; and “Atlantic Report: Jerusalem Issue,” Atlantic Monthly, May 1950, 10.

54. William Green to Truman, September 26, 1949, Official File [hereafter, OF], 204-D, Jewish State 1948–49, box 775, Truman Library. For examples in the press, see King, “Two Jerusalems,” 12 (“The Jewish quarter within the old city was battered into rubble”); and “Israel Is Born in Travail and Hope,” 24.

55. Jordan annexed its half of the city in April 1950; after Israel moved its foreign ministry to Jerusalem, Jordan announced that the city would be its “second capital.” Also in April 1950, in response to pressure from Catholic and Arab (excluding Jordan) states, the U.N. Trusteeship Council approved a corpus separatum statute for the city. But when Jordan failed even to reply to the U.N. invitation to discuss the matter further, support among member nations to impose an unwanted solution on both Jordan and Israel further dissipated.

56. He also noted that the United States would not necessarily recognize Israeli claims to the city, for example, possibly boycotting government events in the city. Acting Secretary of State (Bruce) to Embassy in Israel, November 18, 1952, FRUS, 1952–1954, vol. 9, 1,067.

57. Hertzel Fishman, American Protestantism and a Jewish State (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1973), 123.

58. See, for example, Scholastic, November 29, 1956, 32.

59. For example, the greatest amount of mail to the White House “unfavorable” to Israel (correspondence remained heavy through 1949 and dropped off sharply in 1950) related to the U.N. proposal to internationalize Jerusalem; the 37 percent of the mail favoring internationalization (57 percent opposed it) arrived mainly from non-Jewish, usually Catholic, groups. Memos Andie Knutson to Philleo Nash, July 24, 1951, and August 6, 1951. Examples of letters are filed by subject (Israel), by name (of Jewish organizations), and by year in boxes 1189 and 45, GF, Truman Library.

60. For more on Protestant attitudes toward Israel and Jerusalem, see Fishman, American Protestantism, and Feldman, Dual Destinies. Feldman notes that American Zionists were happy to have the support of fundamentalists, though they “chose to ignore the evangelical motive” (170).

61. The ACPC initially favored the annexation of the new city by Israel and internationalization of the old city and Bethlehem; after the armistice between Israel and Jordan in April 1949, it called for internationalization of the holy sites alone. The ACPC appealed to President Truman in the fall of 1949 not to support complete internationalization since it was opposed by the populations of both sides of the city: “The peace of Zion… cannot be erected upon the discontent and resentment of civilian populations.” Further, the letter called the new city of Jerusalem the “natural and historic capital” of Israel, a national aspiration that was “in no way incompatible” with the “universal interest in Jerusalem.” At the end of 1949, when the U.N. General Assembly was considering the recommendation to internationalize the entire city, fifteen Americans, most of whom were Protestant clergy including Reinhold Niebuhr and only five of whom had signed the earlier appeal to Truman, gave the assembly a plan for the international “curatorship” of the holy places alone. Fishman, American Protestantism, 120–21.

62. For example of anti-Zionist lobbying from a Protestant minister see the letter from one Methodist minister to Dulles and Eisenhower urging the United States to support the Arabs against the Israelis. Rev. John O. Hagans to Dulles, March 28, 1956, and Hagans to Eisenhower, March 28, 1956, Israel Relations 122 (4), GF, White House Central Files, box 817, Eisenhower Library. Anti-Zionist Protestants formed organizations such as the Protestantdominated Committee for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land, launched in February 1948 and lasting for two years. Dr. Henry Sloan Coffin, former president of Union Theological Seminary, one of the editors of Christianity and Crisis, and an officer of the International Missionary Council, is an example of the many Protestants opposed to Zionism. Some Americans (including Jews) remained anti-Zionist because of the theocratic nature of the Jewish state. While this segment of the population was at times vocal, such as in the American Council for Judaism, in the public culture, at least, the image of Israel as a modern progressive democracy predominated; Israel's neighbors were more often depicted as having religiously based governments and cultures. For further discussion of the anti-Zionist position among Jews, see Kolsky, Thomas, Jews against Zionism: The American Council for Judaism, 1942–1948 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990)Google Scholar.

63. As with a number of other issues involving Israel, the American mainstream press often adopted the perspective of or gave the Israeli position a privileged consideration. Press reaction to Catholic support for internationalization was often critical. See for example, “Going to Jerusalem,” Newsweek, December 26, 1949, 26; and Norman Bentwich, “Jerusalem and the United Nations,” Fortnightly, June 1950, 371.

64. Chad Walsh, “Deborah and Barak,” NYTBR, January 2, 1955, 20. According to Stephen Whitfield, 1959 was the first year in a decade when there were not any religious books—either fiction or nonfiction—among the top ten bestsellers. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War, 84. From 1948 to 1960, there were six Hollywood features based on the Old Testament and eight on the New Testament. Campbell, Richard and Pitts, Michael, The Bible on Film: A Checklist, 1897–1980 (Metchuchen, N.J., 1981)Google Scholar. Two comprehensive surveys that trace the image of Jews in American film hardly mention the genre except to say that it was very popular in the 1950s. See Erens, The Jew in American Cinema, and Friedman, Unspeakable Images.

65. The following discussion focuses on the best-selling novels of this genre (as determined by the New York Times) and the major Hollywood productions.

66. Michael Kammen, Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture (New York, 1991), 532–34, 537. Historians Paul Carter and Roy Rosenzweig also write of the increasing popularization of American history and the rise of “American Studies” in the 1950s. Rosenzweig, Roy, “Marketing the Past: American Heritage and Popular History in the United States,” in Presenting the Past: Essays on History and the Public, ed. Benson, Susan Porter, Brier, Stephen, and Rosenzweig, Roy (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986)Google Scholar; and Carter, Another Part of the Fifties, esp. 155–57.

67. Rosenzweig, “Marketing the Past,” 34, 37.

68. Asch, Sholem, Moses (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1951), 12 Google Scholar.

69. For a discussion of Cold War family ideology, see May, Elaine Tyler, Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era (New York: Basic Books, 1988)Google Scholar; and Rosenberg, “‘Foreign Affairs’ after World War II.”

70. NYHTBR, October 10, 1948, 5. The review, along with one in the SRL (October 23, 1948, 14), found a parallel with, not only twentieth-century American history, but also with nineteenth-century America. Both reviews compared the Maccabees with antislavery activist John Brown because of the warriors’ pure motives.

71. Unlike the other novels discussed here, Fast's novel was not a bestseller. Yet, Priscilla Murollo writes that Fast was the “country's most widely read radical novelist” during World War II and, throughout the Popular Front years, wrote novels of heroic, democratic struggles in American history (54). See Murolo, “History in the Fast Lane: Howard Fast and the Historical Novel,” in Presenting the Past, ed. Benson, Brier, and Rosenzweig, 53–64.

72. The political linkages in both The Ten Commandments and Samson and Delilah were deliberate. De Mille was outspoken in his anti-Communist beliefs. For example, the director was one of the active forces behind the Motion Picture Association for the Preservation of American Ideals. He was heard to dismiss criticism of Samson and Delilah as “communist inspired.” In the fall of 1950, de Mille led the campaign in the Screen Directors Guild for all members to sign a loyalty oath with the implicit threat of blacklist if they did not. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War, 127, 130; and Ceplair, Larry and Englund, Steven, The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930–1960 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970, 1983)Google Scholar. For further discussion on McCarthyism in Hollywood, see also Gabler, Neal, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (New York: Crown Publishers, 1988)Google Scholar.

73. “Moses and Ben-Gurion,” Time, May 30, 1960, 43.

74. For further discussion of this aspect of the film, see Kreitzer, Larry, The Old Testament in Fiction and Film: On Reversing the Hermeneutical Flow (Sheffield, Eng.: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), 2227 Google Scholar.

75. P. J. Searles, “A Novel about Isaiah,” NYHTBR, November 6, 1955, 2.

76. Asch, Sholem, The Prophet (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1955), 45 Google Scholar; Asch, Sholem, Mary (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons), 256–58Google Scholar. These two novels are part of a series of five books: The Nazarene (1939), The Apostle (1943), Mary (1949), Moses (1951), The Prophet (1955). Riding the postwar wave of universalism and increased interest in religion in popular culture, Asch's postwar books (as well as the first two books in the series) were bestsellers. Mary stayed on the bestseller list from October 1949 to May 1950, Moses from October 1951 to April 1952, and The Prophet from December 1955 to March 1956.

77. From a Christian perspective, this messianism is linked with an apocalyptic vision, also prominent in American culture. While the apocalyptic vision started to lose its place in mainstream Judaism in the first century C.E., more Christians were embracing it. Some Jews, such as the Lubavitch Hassidim, were also very concerned with the coming messiah. For further discussion of the centrality of this vision in American culture, see Zamora, Lois Parkinson, ed., The Apocalyptic Vision in America: Interdisciplinary Essays on Myth and Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press, 1982)Google Scholar.

78. Bradford Smith, “Life of Isaiah II,” SRL, November 5, 1955, 18. See also Meyer Levin, “Prophet of Return,” NYTBR, November 6, 1955, 4. For further discussion of the millenarian strain in American religion and the selfimage of a chosen people, see Tuveson, Ernest Lee, Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America's Millennial Role (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968)Google Scholar.

79. Asch, Moses, 98.

80. Asch, The Prophet, 322–23.

81. Ibid., 233.

82. Asch, Moses, 162.

83. John Hutchens, “Mr. Asch at 75: Prophet with Honor,” NYHTBR, November 6, 1955, 2.

84. Lewis Nichols, “A Talk With Sholem Asch,” NYTBR, November 6, 1955, 26. See also interview by David Dempsey in “In and Out of Books,” NYTBR, October 9, 1949, 8.

85. Searles, “A Novel about Isaiah,” 2.

86. Ahlstrom, Sidney E., “The Religious Dimensions of American Aspirations,” in An Almost Chosen People: The Moral Aspirations of Americans, ed. Nicgorski, Walter and Weber, Ronald (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1976), 4344 Google Scholar.

87. For example, in the nineteenth century, images of the westward expansion were often interpreted as a fulfillment of ancient Israelites reaching the promised land. Examples of these interpretations can be found in the paintings “The Promised Land” (1850) by William Jewett and “The Emigration of Daniel Boone into Kentucky” (1851) by George Caleb Bingham. Dawn Glanz, “The American West as Millennial Kingdom,” in The Apocalyptic Vision in America, ed. Zamora, 141. For further discussion of American expansion and identification as the chosen people, see Stephanson, Anders, Manifest Destiny: American Expansionism and the Empire of Right (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995)Google Scholar. For recent examples of this religious idea in American politics, see Ronald Reagan's 1981 inaugural speech that refers to the United States as a “city upon a hill” and Democratic presidential nominee Bill Clinton's 1992 convention speech pledging to form a “new covenant” if elected. For a discussion of scriptural reading in modern politics, see Gary Wills, Under God: Religion and American Politics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990).

88. Asch, Moses, 51, 118; Slaughter, Frank G., The Song of Ruth: A Love Story from the Old Testament (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1954), 159 Google Scholar. Examples of other super masculine characters are found in the films David and Bathsheba (Twentieth Century Fox, 1952), The Prodigal (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1955), The Ten Commandments (Paramount/Cecil B. de Mille, 1956), Solomon and Sheba (United Artists/Edward Small, 1959), and Ben Hur (MGM, 1959), and in the novel by Fast, Howard, My Glorious Brothers (Boston: Little, Brown, 1948)Google Scholar. Dwight MacDonald observed that the choice of actors in the biblical epics helped the audience choose with whom to identify. He observed that in the films Ben Hur (1960) and King of Kings (1962) the ancient Romans were played by British actors whereas the Hebrews were played by Americans. Cited in Stephen Whitfield, “Israel as Reel: The Depiction of Israel in Mainstream American Films,” in Gal, Envisioning Israel, 330.

89. The signification of the United States as a male protagonist was common in Cold War cultural discourse. For further discussion, see Rosenberg, “‘Foreign Affairs’ after World War II.” Another look at the connection between sexual and international politics in Cold War America is found in Dean, Robert, Imperial Brotherhood: Gender and the Making of Cold War Foreign Policy (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001)Google Scholar.

90. Ehrenreich, Barbara, The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment (New York: Anchor Books, 1983), 2426 Google Scholar. See also May, Homeward Bound; and D’Emilio, John, Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940–1970 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983)Google Scholar. For an introductory discussion of film genres, see Schatz, Thomas, Hollywood Genres: Formulas, Filmmaking, and the Studio System (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981)Google Scholar. For a discussion of sexual politics in films relevant to 1950s biblical films, see Haskell, Molly, From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in Movies (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1973, 1974), 198 Google Scholar.

91. Slaughter, The Song of Ruth, 236.

92. Many observers have written about the importance of masculinity, individualism, and conquering the wilderness in American culture. Slotkin, Richard, Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth Century America (New York: Harper Perennial, 1992)Google Scholar, discusses these themes in detail in his examination of the frontier myth. For a sociological look at this development, see Wilkinson, Rupert, American Tough: The Tough Guy Tradition and American Character (New York: Harper and Row, 1986)Google Scholar.

93. For further discussion of masculinity and Jews in other fiction and political rhetoric, see Mart, Michelle, “Tough Guys and American Cold War Policy: Images of Israel, 1948–1960,” Diplomatic History 20, no. 3 (Summer 1996): 357–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Breines, Paul, Tough Jews: Political Fantasies and the Moral Dilemma of American Jewry (New York: Basic Books, 1990)Google Scholar.

94. Quoted in Morris, Benny, Israel's Border Wars, 1949–1956 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 156 Google Scholar.

95. Robert Coughlan, “Modern Prophet of Israel,” Life, November 18, 1957, 156, 154ff.; “Moses and Ben Gurion,” 43. See discussion in previous chapter for more examples of these images of Ben Gurion. Speech of Ben Gurion to National Press Club in Washington, May 8, 1951. For similar focus on the ancient history of his people and the moral political values established by the Jews, see two other speeches by Ben Gurion at American universities, one on May 16, 1951, the other on March 9, 1960. All three speeches can be found in Celebration Ben Gurion's 100th Year, Subject File, Ben Gurion Archives, S’de Boker, Israel.

96. Alfred Werner, “Palestine: The Great Metamorphosis,” NYTBR, August 10, 1947, 27; Slaughter, The Song of Ruth, 258. Another example of the fictional parallels between the ancient and modern is found in Asch's Moses; sounding somewhat like an Israeli ambassador, the biblical leader says: “We do not wish to attack anyone…. We only defend ourselves against those who attack us and wish to overcome us…. We want only to take possession of that portion [of land] which God set aside for us” (410).

97. Slaughter, The Song of Ruth, 257. One observer wrote that the “epic pomposity” of The Ten Commandments and others of its ilk did not fit the original stories which were about the triumph of law and spirituality over brute force: “The problem de Mille's film shares with any number of biblical ‘epics’ from the 1950s is that while they try to recreate the myth of the Torah or the Gospels, they do so in terms of a narrative which is really more appropriate to the barbaric warrior-heroism which those sacred stories replace and against which they are structured.” McConnell, Frank, Storytelling and Mythmaking: Images from Film and Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 4849 Google Scholar.

98. Truman, Harry, Memoirs of Harry S. Truman, Vol. 2: Years of Trial and Hope, 1946–1952 (New York: Doubleday, 1956), 214 Google Scholar.

99. Cohen, Michael, Truman and Israel (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 6 Google Scholar.

100. Benson, Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, 32–34.

101. Speech by Truman at National Conference of Christians and Jews, November 11, 1949, Palestine Public Relations, GF, Papers of Eben Ayers, box 9, Truman Library.

102. Clark Clifford with Holbrooke, Richard, Counsel to the President: A Memoir (New York: Random House, 1991), 78 Google Scholar; Benson, Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel, 54.

103. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War, 86–88, 90. The President's political savvy and ability to manipulate his own public image has come to light in a number of studies on Eisenhower. For examples, see Greenstein, Fred, The Hidden Hand Presidency: Eisenhower as Leader (New York: Basic Books, 1982)Google Scholar; Cook, Blanche Weisen, The Declassified Eisenhower: A Divided Legacy (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1981)Google Scholar; and Divine, Robert A., Eisenhower and the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981)Google Scholar.

104. Whitfield, The Culture of the Cold War, 88.

105. Remarks of Eisenhower at the dedication of the Washington Hebrew Congregation Temple, May 6, 1955, Whitman File, Speech Series, box 12, Eisenhower Library.

106. Eisenhower to Monsignor Nott, August 12, 1958, Whitman File, DDE Diary, box 35, Eisenhower Library.

107. Eisenhower speaking on trip to the Middle East, November 27, 1959, Whitman File, Cabinet Series, box 14, Eisenhower Library.

108. Eisenhower at the American Jewish tercentenary dinner.

109. Address by Eisenhower, February 20, 1957, Speech File, Whitman File, box 20, Eisenhower Library.

110. Eisenhower at the opening of Islamic Center, June 28, 1957, Whitman File, Speech Series, box 26, Eisenhower Library.

111. Quoted in Kyle, Keith, Suez (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991), 4546 Google Scholar.

112. Memo from Arthur Dean to Dulles, December 9, 1955, file Herbert Hoover, Jr. (1), Subject Series, Dulles Papers, box 5, Eisenhower Library.

113. Address of John Foster Dulles at the First Presbyterian Church, Watertown, N.Y., October 11, 1953, and Dulles speech at the New York Herald Tribune Forum, October 20, 1953, Dulles Speeches 1953, McCardle Papers, box 6, Eisenhower Library.

114. Dulles at Iowa State College Commencement, June 9, 1956, Secretary's Speeches 1956 (1), McCardle Papers, box 7, Eisenhower Library.

115. Dulles at First Presbyterian Church.

116. Memo of conversation, October 26, 1953, Israel Relations (6), Subject File, Dulles Papers, box 10, Eisenhower Library.

117. He assured his listener that “he would, of course, continue to try” to resolve the dispute. Memo of telephone conversation Secretary of State and Assistant Secretary of State for Policy Planning (Bowie), January 12, 1957, General Telephone Conversations, Dulles Papers, Eisenhower Library.

118. Dulles speech about his trip to the Middle East, June 1, 1953, LM 060 National Archives.

119. Eban, Abba, Abba Eban: An Autobiography (New York: Random House, 1977), 134 Google Scholar.