THE establishment of the State of Israel may be rightly looked upon as the
greatest collective achievement of the Jewish people in the history of the
Diaspora. There is, however, a non-Jewish element hidden in the Restoration of
Israel. The ideal of the Jewish people has in fact for centuries been shared,
cherished and pursued by large sections of the nations amidst whom Jews have
lived. Among them, the British people holds the outstanding place. Nowhere more
than in Britain has the idea of the Restoration of the Jews been developed into
a doctrine and become the object of a movement extending over more than three
centuries. Only in Britain the leading spokesmen of many, generations have been
inspired by the vision of a revived Israel. Only there the creation of a Jewish
National Home has been a serious and almost continuous political issue which was
finally translated into reality.
Today, the British Movement for the Restoration of the Jews has been
clouded by the still fresh memories of the 1939 White Paper and of the many ,
anti-Zionist acts of British Governments which, at a time when millions of Jews
were being exterminated in the Nazi death camps, persisted in closing almost
completely the doors of the Jewish National Home to Jewish refugees and which,
even after the end of the war when the remnants of European Jewry tried to reach
the shores of the Land of Israel, upheld the restrictions of immigration.
The time has come to tell the full story of the British Movement for the
Restoration of the Jews. Only a comprehensive study tracing the Movement from
its origins through all its historical stages and cultural ramifications can
reveal how deeply the idea of Israel's Restoration is rooted in the fundamentals
of the Commonwealth, how inseparable it is from the character and history of
the British nation -in spite of a temporary abandonment. Moreover, only such an
account of the spiritual and political efforts which constitute the Movement
will do justice to a unique, and yet widely unknown, chapter of British history.
In fact, although the Movement for the Restoration of the Jews, extending in an
uninterrupted continuity over more than three centuries, and attracting such
English luminaries as John Milton, Isaac Newton, David Hartley, Joseph
Priestley, Lord Shaftesbury and George Eliot, has left distinct traces in
English history, English historians have paid scant attention to the tradition,
the literary monuments and political implications of the Movement.
Even among those who have taken notice of the Movement there exists a
tendency to belittle its significance by referring to its records as to a
sequence of eccentric theological tracts or isolated political projects. Recent
historians and political writers on modern Jewish history failed to dispel this
misconception. Thirty-six years have passed since Nahum Sokolow made the first
and so far the only attempt to survey the whole tradition of the Restoration
idea in his History of Zionism (1919). He treated, however, the advocates of the
Restoration idea as forerunners of modern Zionism without paying much attention
to the theological implications, the historical background of the authors and
their relations to contemporary spiritual trends. On the other hand, Albert M.
Hyamson in his "British Projects for the Restoration of the Jews" (1917)
concentrated mainly on specific political schemes proposed during the nineteenth
century. Also important subsequent research, particularly by N. M. Gelber and
Cecil Roth, did little to alter the fundamental outlook on the subject. Although
these studies have considerably enlarged our knowledge regarding non-Jewish
pre-Zionist activities, no attempt has been made to collate their results in an
integrated history of the Movement or to exhaust the sources listed in Cecil
Roth's all-embracing Magna Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica. Instead of being viewed as
an independent historical phenomenon, the British Movement for the Restoration
of the Jews continued to be treated as a forerunner of Zionism or to be actually
identified with it.
The present book is an attempt to perform the task, long overdue, of
re-writing the history of the movement as an integral part of British religious,
social and political history forming a parallel, not an annex, of the histories
of Jewish Messianism and Zionism. The British Movement for the Restoration of
Israel is in fact one of the rare instances of the continuous interest shown by
one nation in the destiny of another people. Its specific historical
significance lies in the recognition of Israel's Restoration as an organic part
of British political ideals. An historical study dealing with the subject needs
to show how this recognition has grown from a sectarian theological doctrine to
a vision and a political goal of the leaders of the nation. Whether the Movement
was concerned mainly with propagating the belief in a fulfilment of the Biblical
prophecies related to the national revival of Israel coupled with the
apocalyptic expectations of the Second Advent of Jesus and a miraculous
conversion of the Jewish people, or whether after the abandonment of the
conversionist tendency, it aimed principally at furthering the national
aspirations of the Jewish people-it retained the character of a genuine
religious, humanitarian and political trend within British history.
Neither the purpose nor the scope of this study permitted the inclusion in the
narrative of more than occasional glimpses of similar efforts made by other,
particularly the French and American, nations. The simultaneous Jewish
Messianic, pre-Zionist and Zionist movements have been rather relegated to the
background and presented only in so far as they were related to the Movement as
analogous, often surprisingly parallel, trends, influencing the Movement or
being influenced by it and reacting to the calls of its advocates. Only a clear,
distinction drawn between Zionism and the Restoration Movement can do justice to the parts played by both forces, in the
unique historical drama which preceded the realization of their common vision.
The term Zionism is used in this book only, to designate the modern Jewish
renascence movement. The specific character of the Movement for the Restoration
of the Jews and of the Doctrine which forms its basis can be denoted correctly
by no other than this traditional term. In the pre-sent account, the word
Restoration (with a capital "R") always means: Restoration of the Jews.
Accordingly, the expressions "Restoration Doctrine" and "Restoration Movement"
or simply "Doctrine" and "Movement ", stand for the Doctrine on the Restoration
of the Jews, and the Movement for the Restoration of the Jews, while the
advocacy and the advocates of the Doctrine have been sometimes indicated by "Restorationism"
The present study is, for a considerable part, an abridged and adapted
version of a much more elaborate manuscript completed in London in the years
1941-44 For the promotion of this work I am greatly indebted to Mr. Berl Locker,
Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, Jerusalem, formerly head of the
Information Department of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, London. In the almost
endless task of exploring the hoard of millenarian and kindred literature in the
British Museum and in other libraries, I was fortunate in having the invaluable
assistance of my wife and tireless helpmate, Dora Kohler. I also owe warm thanks
to Mrs. I. V. Slichter for preparing the first translation of the original
German manuscript into English.