top of page
< Back

Book Notes: With Eyes Towards Zion - II, Moshe Davis (ed.); Americans and the Holy Land through British Eyes 1820-1917, V. D. Lipman (ed.); The Land that became Israel: Studies in Historical Geography, Ruth Kark (ed.)

Aubrey Newman

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Book Notes HOLY LAND STUDIES. IN MEMORIAM VIVIAN LIPMAN With Eyes Towards Zion - II; Themes and Sources in the Archives of the United States, Great Britain, Turkey, and Israel, edited by Moshe Davis (Praeger Publishers, New York 1986) xxvi + 408 pp. 12 pp. of plates. Americans and the Holy Land through British Eyes: 1820-1917. A Documentary History, edited by V. D. Lipman (The Self Publishing Association, Upton-upon-Severn 1989) 320 pp. ?14.95. The Land that became Israel: Studies in Historical Geography, edited by Ruth Kark and translated by Michael Gordon (Yale University Press, 1990) x + 332 pp. 26 pp. of plates. ?22.50. The growth of America-Holy Land studies, sponsored by the Institute of Contemporary Jewry of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem under the guidance of Professor Moshe Davis, has already created an enormous library of new works and reprints. Most of these have, obviously, been of direct relevance to America and American issues, but it has been under the inspiration of Moshe Davis and his team of collaborators that attention has been turned firstly to the ways in which other countries could throw light on American involvement with the Holy Land, and secondly to the ways in which other countries could demonstrate the same level of commitment. In this work Professor Davis found strong support from a small group of historians in Great Britain, prominent among whom was Vivian Lipman. It was at the Second International Scholars Colloquium on America Holy Land Studies that Moshe Davis brought together a group of scholars interested above all in the various lessons which could be drawn from a new dimension in such studies. There were papers on various visitors to Palestine in the nineteenth century, Ottoman perspectives, the meaning of the Holy Land in American religious life and thought, the value of American consular reports and other materials in Israel for an understanding of American attitudes in America; above all, there was a complete session on 'The British Dimension' to America-Holy Land studies with papers by Israel Finestein (early- and mid-19th-century British opinion on the restoration of the Jews: contrasts with America), by Lionel 269</page><page sequence="2">Book Notes Kochan (Jewish restoration to Zion - comparative approach), and by Vivian Lipman on 'America-Holy Land material in British archives, 1820-1930'. This last paper represents a meticulous examination of a wide range of archives, both public and private. In demonstrating the existence of a wealth of materials for such studies Vivian Lipman took the opportunity of pulling out a few plums which had earlier either never been revealed or whose significance had never been fully appreciated. But he was also able to show his mastery of British political and social history in the nineteenth century, indicating how such a knowledge can point very clearly to where such materials can most usefully be found. Some of this work is to be found in the fourth volume of Guide to America Holy Land Studies; Resource Material in British, Israeli and Turkish Repositories, edited by Menahem Kaufman and Mira Levine, in which he reported in much greater detail on the various archives in the United Kingdom. Much more appears in the last volume which he edited before his death, a volume of documents, but of much more besides. The choice of topics for which he sought documentation is in itself a demonstration of his understanding of the subject. He did not restrict himself to archival sources alone, but by including published materials he demonstrated its wide range of aspects. Above all he pointed the way for a set of studies which an audience in Britain would find even more interesting. His purpose was to bring both American and British interests in the Holy land more closely together, to show their parallels and their differences, and to begin to point to the significance of Britain-Holy Land studies. It was in order to develop these particular aspects that he had promoted the conference held under the joint auspices of the Jewish Historical Society of England and the Institute of Jewish Studies at University College, and had hoped to see its proceedings in print. His parallels between British and American religious groups, the archaeological interests of the Palestine Exploration Fund and the American Palestine Exploration Society, above all the various discussions between the British and the American governments over what eventually was to become the Balfour Declaration, indicate very clearly the vital importance of bringing these two sets of relationships more closely together. The third volume under review discusses a number of trends during the century and a half when Palestine was transformed from a neglected backwater of the Ottoman Empire into a focal point of world attention. This is a conspectus of current studies in the historical geography of the Holy Land as represented by current scholarship in Israel. Most valuable within this context, however, must be the work by Yehoshua Ben-Arieh on 270</page><page sequence="3">Book Notes 'Perceptions and Images of the Holy Land', for it was from these perceptions that both American and British interests in that area developed. It is fitting that in a volume dedicated to the memory of Vivian Lipman there should be a review of these studies. They were prominent among his interests in the later years of his life, and illustrate clearly how the many threads of his historical interests came together. His various analyses of Anglo-Jewry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, his meticulous reliance on archival authority, his love of Israel and his intense religious feelings brought him almost inevitably to this work, and it stands in itself as a memorial to him. Aubrey Newman</page></plain_text>

bottom of page