David Ben-Gurion's 1940 Mission to Rouse the Fighting Spirit of American Jews

As millions of Jews fell under the Nazi yoke, Zionism’s foremost leader came to America with one goal. He didn’t achieve it.

David Ben-Gurion in 1960. Keystone/Getty Images.

David Ben-Gurion in 1960. Keystone/Getty Images.

Observation
Jan. 17 2018
About the author

Rick Richman is an attorney and frequent contributor to Mosaic. He is the author of “What Would Brandeis Do?” (August 4, 2016) and Racing Against History: The 1940 Campaign for a Jewish Army to Fight Hitler (Encounter Books, 2018).


In 1940, as millions of Jews came under Nazi control in the countries conquered by Hitler, and as the route to safety in Palestine remained closed by the British Mandatory power, three of Zionism’s greatest leaders traveled to America. They came at different times, on separate missions, but all three—Chaim Weizmann, the president of the Zionist Organization, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, the leader of the Revisionist Zionist movement, and David Ben-Gurion, the Labor Zionist leader who headed the Jewish Agency in Palestine—shared a single goal: to win support in America for a Jewish army to fight the Nazis alongside the British.

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More about: David Ben-Gurion, History & Ideas, Israel & Zionism