In The Weekly Standard, Steven F. Hayward reviews Churchill and the Jews: A Lifelong Friendship, by Martin Gilbert, and Churchill’s Promised Land: Zionism and Statecraft, by Michael Makovsky.
“Churchill’s interest and sympathy for Jews had philosophical and cultural roots. Both Gilbert and Makovsky highlight Churchill’s comment, offered in the fifth volume of his World War II memoirs, that ‘No two cities have counted more with mankind than -Athens and Jerusalem. Their messages in religion, philosophy, and art have been the main guiding lights of modern faith and culture.’ This was not merely a casual one-off but a highly unusual reflection coming from an otherwise unreligious man. The essential harmony of reason and revelation implied in this comment was usually found only among Roman Catholics in the mid-20th century.
Churchill understood that Christians owed this tradition to Judaism; as early as 1921, while visiting Jerusalem, he commented, ‘We owe to the Jews in the Christian revelation a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all other wisdom and learning put together.’ On that system and by that faith there has been built out of the wreck of the Roman Empire the whole of our existing civilization.”