An Honest Broker?: The American Consul in Jerusalem, Otis A. Glazebrook (1914–20)
American consul
First World War
American Colony

U.S. humanitarian activity in Jerusalem, and Palestine as a whole, from the early nineteenth century onward challenges the traditional view that the United States played a relatively marginal role in the region until the end of World War II. This article argues that American aid, initially understood as a religious duty of individuals, was transformed into an organized form of aid that served as a form of soft power in the region. The agency of U.S. consul Otis Glazebrook is under scrutiny in this article and its analysis shows the fundamental role he played in this shift. Individual aid was superseded by institutional help and the shift was embodied in the aid and relief sent to the Jews. Eventually U.S. institutional aid during the war paved the way for formal support for Zionism and the notion that only Jews (and especially American Jews, who thought of themselves as agents of innovation) could lead Palestine into modernity. While Glazebrook was arguably not a supporter of political Zionism, his agency led America and Zionism to meet each other and initiate a lasting relationship.

Author biography: 

Roberto Mazza is lecturer at the University of Limerick. His research focuses on late Ottoman Palestine and the early British Mandate with a special interest in Jerusalem during World War I.

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