Warren Harding’s Zionism

President Warren Harding is perhaps best known for the Teapot Dome Scandal, in which his secretary of the interior was sent to prison for having accepted bribes. He also appeared largely indifferent or even hostile to American Jewish interests; for example, he spearheaded the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, which sharply limited the number of Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe. Yet, as Saul Jay Singer explains, “his enthusiastic support for the Balfour Declaration . . . established an important precedent for American Zionism and played an important role in the birth of Israel.”

Soon after he succeeded Woodrow Wilson as president, [Harding] made it clear that he would unreservedly support Zionism and its lofty aims; in a July 1, 1921, correspondence, he wrote to the chairman of the Reception Committee of the Zionist Organization of America: “I want to add an expression of my most friendly interest in and for the Zionist movement. It is impossible for one who has studied at all the services of the Hebrew people to avoid the faith that they will one day be restored to their historical national home and then enter on a new and yet greater phase of their contribution to the advance of humanity.”

During an hour-long meeting with Harding at the White House on January 13, 1922, Nahum Sokolow, then the president of the executive committee of the World Zionist Congress, briefed the president on the persecution of East European Jews and updated him on settlement progress in Eretz Yisrael. The president reiterated his sympathy for Zionism and promised the further support of the United States government.

That summer, Harding won the hearts of many American Jews with a Rosh Hashana greeting that read:

The commemoration this year of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year [sic] day of the Jewish people, will mark the end of a year peculiarly notable in Jewish annals. It has seemed the definite assurance to the Jewish people that their long aspiration for re-establishment of Jewish nationality in the homeland of this great people is to be definitely realized. This is an event of notable significance, not only to the Jewish people but to their friends and well-wishers everywhere, among whom the American nation has always been proud to be numbered.

Read more at Jewish Press

More about: American Jewish History, Balfour Declaration, Nahum Sokolow, U.S.-Israel relationship

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion