BLACKSTONE, WILLIAM E.° (1841–1935), Chicago businessman who became an evangelist, missionary, and ardent supporter of the return of the Jews to Palestine. His "Zionistic" views sprang from his millennarian theology as expressed in his first book Jesus is Coming (1878), which was translated into many languages, including Hebrew. He considered the Jewish restoration to Zion as the fulfillment of biblical prophecies signifying the approach of the second Advent of Jesus. After a visit to Palestine in 1888/89, Blackstone organized meetings of Jews and Christians to promote his Zionist ideas. In 1891 he initiated a memorandum to President Harrison urging the restoration of Palestine to the Jews as a primary solution to the problem of Jewish persecution in Czarist Russia. The petition was signed by 413 outstanding Jewish and Christian personalities in the United States. In 1916 a similar memorandum was sent to President Wilson which may have influenced his positive attitude to the balfour declaration . (Yona Malachy)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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