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American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs
American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs

American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs


192 Pages, 8.25 x 10.25

Formats: Cloth

Cloth, $44.95 (US $44.95) (CA $53.95)

Publication Date: May 2017

ISBN 9789655242355

Rights: WOR X IL

Urim Publications (May 2017)

Price: $44.95


Although Jewish life in the Holy Land reawakened during the 19th century, photographs of Jews in Palestine and the life they lived there are scarce. Collecting photographs from the archives of the the Library of Congress, the Ottoman Imperial Archives, the New York Public Library, libraries in universities and churches around the world, and in families' albums, Lenny Ben-David provides a unique and visual history of the American fascination and dedication to a Jewish national home in the Holy Land. Photo essays include fascinating stories such as why Lincoln wanted to visit Jerusalem, how the U.S. Navy saved the Jews of Palestine in 1915, why the Chief Rabbi of Palestine visited the White House in 1924, why there was a Ferris wheel on the Holy Mount Zion, where did Mark Twain stay in Jerusalem, and much more.


"I congratulate Lenny Ben-David on the publication of this major work illustrating two centuries of American support for the Jews of the Holy Land. For over 30 years, Lenny and I have cooperated on projects in our respective professional lives. His knowledge and experience dealing with U.S. – Israel relations, Middle East affairs, and Jewish history in Eretz Yisrael is rich and vast." —Amb. Dr. Dore Gold

"From the beginning to the end – U.S. Senators visiting the Western Wall in the 1930's on the cover, to young Bobby Kennedy reporting on the 1948 Israeli Independence war in the last chapter – Lenny Ben-David's essays and collection of 100 photographs portray the special relationship between the United States and the Jewish population of the Holy Land from a unique and memorable perspective. American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs exposes the secrets that would otherwise have been hidden away by history: Chief Rabbi Abraham Kook visiting President Coolidge in the White House, the U.S. Navy's evacuation of 6,000 Jews from Jaffa in 1915 before the Turks could expel them, the visit to a synagogue in the Old City of Jerusalem by Lincoln's Secretary of State William Seward in 1872, and more. I first met Lenny Ben-David 20 years ago when he was an Israeli diplomat in Washington. With this wonderful book, he continues to strengthen the bonds between the United States and Israel." —Senator Joseph I. Lieberman

"Remarkable photos by both travelers and immigrants appear in Lenny Ben-David's American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs from 1840 to 1940. Drawing on collections from New England to New Zealand – some of which languished for years in attics – the author brings together rare images of American and Jewish activity in the land of Israel . . . . this book resembles the best kind of overseas tour, meandering through local streets, picking up fascinating facts, and encountering eccentric natives. Readers will surely want to revisit the era for a deeper engagement." —Elka Weber, Segula Magazine

"... this book is more than a collection of images. It also demonstrates the deep connection that American Christians have felt toward the land of Israel and their abiding sympathy for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland." —Aaron Leibel,

"This fascinating coffee-table size book has large black and white and color photographs of American tourists, government officials, American navy crewmen, and members of the U.S. Congress who visited Palestine before the birth of the state of Israel. Each photograph is accompanied by several pages of explanatory text; many of the pictures are of little-known people and curious events that are part of Israeli history… This book is highly recommended for all libraries." —Ilka Gordon, AJL Reviews

Author Biography

Lenny Ben-David has been involved in the study and enhancement of U.S.-Israel relations for more than 40 years. He served as director of AIPAC's Israel office for 15 years, and is the author of Myths and Facts published in 1985 and 1989. Ben-David served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Israel's Embassy in Washington, D.C for three years, and consulted for foreign governments and other corporations. He has published scores of articles in National Review, Cutting Edge, Weekly Standard, Ha'aretz, The Jerusalem Post, JCPA publications, Near East Report, New York Jewish Week, and more on topics including Israeli defense, American Jewish politics, and terrorism. Ben-David is the Director of Publications at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and publisher of, a site dedicated to photo essays on the Holy Land.