The Israeli historian Michael Oren is on a tour to promote his new book Power, Faith and Fantasy which is about American involvement in the Middle East over the last 300 years.
As part of his narrative, he tells the story of the spiritual intertwinement between the founding Puritans and the Land of Israel:
"This goes back to the time of the Puritans, to the 17th Century. The Puritans had appropriated the biblical narrative. They saw themselves as the new Israel. They had escaped bondage in England, in Egypt, you know? They crossed the Atlantic Ocean, which was their Sinai. They inherited a promised land, which was the New World. They gave one thousand biblical names to their cities and towns. They gave biblical names to their sons and daughters. They made Hebrew a required language at their universities. James Madison was a Hebrew major.
"As a result Americans felt a particular kinship with the old Jews, as though they were sort of cousins. They felt a very strong attachment to the old promised land of Palestine. And they concluded that as good Christians and good Americans it was incumbent on them to help God fulfill his biblical promises to the Jews to rescue them from exile and to restore them to the promised land. This was the notion of Restorationism. It was very common in colonial America well into the 19th Century and even into the 20th Century. And it's the origin of today's Evangelical support for Israel."
Oren points out that the seals of Yale University and Dartmouth College are partly written in Hebrew. The Puritans saw America as the new Zion.
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