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American Interests in the Holyland Revealed in Early Photographs

From 1840 to 1940

By Lenny Ben-David

American Interests in the Holy Land provides a unique and visual history of the American fascination and dedication to a Jewish national home.

Jewish life in the Holy Land reawakened during the 19th century, but photographs from this period are scarce. Collecting images from the archives of the Library of Congress, the Ottoman Imperial Archives, the NY Public Library, university and church libraries worldwide, and family albums, Lenny Ben-David provides a unique visual history of the American fascination and dedication to a Jewish national home in the Holy Land. Short photo essays include details 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, where Mark Twain stayed in Jerusalem, and much more.

About the Author

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 (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee) for 15 years, and is the author of Myths and Facts. Ben-David was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Israel’s Embassy in Washington, D.C., for three years, and consulted for foreign governments and corporations. He has published scores of articles in National Review, The Cutting Edge, Weekly Standard, Ha’aretz, Jerusalem Post, JCPA publications, Near East Report, and NY Jewish Week, on topics including Israeli defense, American Jewish politics, and terrorism. Ben-David is Director of Publications at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and publisher of, a site dedicated to photo essays on the Holy Land.


Antique Photographs: Silent Witnesses Speak Volumes
1 Two Shining Cities Built on a Hill
2 American “Manifest Destiny” in the Holy Land in 1847
3 The Secret Identity of American Preacher Mendenhall John Dennis (AKA Mendel Diness of Jerusalem)
4 What Lincoln Would Have Seen in Jerusalem
5 The Humbugged American Colony in Jaffa
6 Mark Twain in the Holy Land in 1867 with the “Innocents Abroad”
7 Why is an American Flag on this “Vehicle”?
8 Ulysses S. Grant’s Very Long Voyage to the Holy Land
9 Can’t Sail to the Holy Land – Visit Chautauqua
10 The American Welcoming Committee for Yemenite Jewish Pilgrims to Jerusalem 130 Years Ago
11 Bringing the Holy Land to America, Together with Mark Twain’s Guide
12 Madam Lydia, Diva of the Holy Land
13 Theodore Roosevelt and the Holy Land – “Bully for You!”
14 Celebrating July 4th in the Holy Land 100 Years Ago
15 Waters of the Jordan Flowed to Kentucky in 1906 and Muddied an Anti-Semitic U.S. Diplomat’s Reputation
16 Why an American Flag Flew on a Jerusalem Steamroller 100 Years Ago
17 Americans and Canadians Join the War to Liberate Palestine in 1917
18 Getting to Know the Jewish Legionnaires from 100 Years Ago: David Blick of Brooklyn and Leon Cheifetz of Montreal
19 The U.S. Navy Saved the Jews of the Holy Land 100 Years Ago
20 U.S. Diplomat Saved Jews in 1915 but Opposed the Zionist Idea in 1920
21 Chief Rabbi of Palestine Goes to the White House, 1924
22 Americans Were Outraged by the 1929 Hebron Pogrom and a U.S. Diplomat’s Anti-Semitic Reaction
23 U.S. Congressional Support – before the Holocaust and Israel’s Formation
24 Bonus – Bobby Kennedy’s 1948 Visit to the Palestine Front Lines
25 Preview: World War I in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs from 1914 to 1919
Photograph Caption Endnotes

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~Review by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman
“From the beginning to the end – U.S. Senators visiting the Western Wall in the 1930s 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 more than 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 1871, 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.” (Posted on 5/4/2017)
~Review by Ambassador Dr. Dore Gold
“I congratulate Lenny Ben-David on the publication of this major work illustrating over a century 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.” (Posted on 5/4/2017)

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Additional Info

Additional Info

ISBN 978-965-524-235-5
Pages 183 pages, 100+ photographs
Format Hardcover
SKU urim1514
Publisher Urim Publications