Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Contributors to the U.S.-Israel relationship


April 20, 2018

Leon Uris

Leon Uris

(Embassy of Israel in Washington via JNS)-JNS is proud to partner with the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C., to celebrate 70 of the greatest American contributors to the U.S.-Israel relationship in the 70 days leading up to the State of Israel's 70th anniversary.

An American author of historical fiction, Leon Uris was known for his commitment to historical accuracy and extensive research. The people of Israel can be especially grateful that this literary giant brought the early history of Israel to the attention of millions of people throughout the Western world, making them sympathetic to the newly established Jewish state.

He achieved this through his epic 1958 novel "Exodus," which was so successful that it was later made into a film directed by Otto Preminger and starring Paul Newman. It is said to have been the best-selling novel in the United States since Gone with the Wind in 1936. By the mid-1960s, sales exceeded 5 million copies.

Uris's complex plot focused upon the 1947 efforts to take the SS Exodus into harbor in Palestine with its 4,500 refugees on board. Through the travails and romances of his characters, millions learned about the obstacles faced by the Jewish Agency in the 1940s, the oppression of British mandatory rule and the brutal hatred of the Arabs who followed the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Most of all, millions learned about the majestic achievement of Israel's creation.

Uris's novel reflected his astonishing research and his determination to get the smallest details right. To that end, he reportedly conducted more than 2,000 interviews in writing the book, and many of its characters are based on real people. While this was his method of writing for all his novels, Uris's connection with Israel was especially intense and passionate, reflecting his family's history. His father had fled tsarist Russia for Palestine, and though eventually emigrating to the United States, he changed the family name from Yerusalemsky to Uris-a variant of Yerushalemi, in honor of the capital.

Uris wrote other novels that told important Jewish stories, including "QB VII" about the Holocaust, "Mila 18," a depiction of the Warsaw-ghetto uprising, and "The Haj," about a Palestinian Arab family caught up in the area's historic events of the 1920s–1950s.

But "Exodus" remains his greatest work. A fictional portrait based upon true events, David Ben-Gurion held it in high regard, asserting that "it's the greatest thing ever written about Israel."

John Hagee, Christians United for Israel

(Embassy of Israel in Washington via JNS)-John Hagee is an evangelical pastor based in San Antonio, Texas. Having served in the ministry for more than five decades, Hagee leads a church with 20,000-plus active members. He is a Christian Zionist, who believes that the Bible commands all believing Christians to support the State of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland.

As such, Hagee has had a long and generous relationship with the Jewish state. He has visited Israel numerous times and has met with every Israeli prime minister since Menachem Begin. His organization, John Hagee Ministries, has donated tens of millions of dollars towards humanitarian causes in Israel. For example, the ministry group donated millions of dollars earmarked for enabling Jews from the former Soviet Union to immigrate to Israel.

Hagee's spirited advocacy for the Jewish state has been a constant of his career. In 1981, his church hosted its inaugural "Night to Honor Israel"-an annual event held in San Antonio every year since-that celebrates the Jewish state and stresses the importance of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. As a mark of its great success, the 2017 dinner raised more than $2 million for Israeli and Zionist charities and organizations. Since its inception, the "Night to Honor Israel" has raised more than $100 million for Jewish charities and the Jewish state.

John Hagee

In 2006, Hagee founded Christians United for Israel (CUFI) to give political expression to the voices of millions of devout Christians across America who support Israel. A testament to Hagee's commitment and vision, this grassroots organization has rapidly grown and now boasts some 4 million members. CUFI has become the largest pro-Israel Christian group in the United States, and one of Israel's most significant and vital sources of support in America. In addition to helping fund initiatives geared towards supporting Israel, this group also has dedicated significant resources for combating anti-Semitism around the world. As part of his activities for CUFI, Hagee has addressed members of the United States Congress, exhorting them to support Israel in any way they can by using their positions of power within the government.

John Hagee has been a true and devoted friend of Israel. His public and vocal support has been no small factor in solidifying the strong relationship between American evangelical Christians and Israel. In turn, this special relationship has been an important and lasting element in Israel's connection with America, its most crucial ally and friend.


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