Western interest in dominating the affairs of geographical Palestine goes back as far as Alexander the Great, followed, of course, by the Romans and the Byzantines. The Crusades (1095-1291) represent an exclusively European Christian attempt to dominate the region.
However, the yearning for a Jewish state with Jerusalem at its political and religious center begins, so Barbara Tuchman argued, with the translation of the Bible into English. Her book, Bible and Sword. New York: Ballantine Books, 1984 (first published in 1956), posits the following points in the development of this yearning:
1. Translation of the Bible into English in the 16th century.
2. The growth of English (and French) mercantile interests in the Far East (by way of the Middle East), 16th – 19th centuries.
3. Puritan interest in the restoration of Palestine to the Jews as the necessary precondition for the coming of the Messiah as foretold by the Old Testament prophets, 17th century onward: see especially such early expressions as that of Joanna and Ebenezer Cartwright, who in 1649, petitioned the British and Dutch governments to become the first and the readiest to transport Izraell’s sons and daughters in their ships to the Land promised by their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for an everlasting Inheritance. Puritans believed that the second coming of the Messiah could occur only after the Jews had been restored to Zion.
4. Patronage of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Seventh Lord of Shaftesbury in 1840. He coined the slogan, “A land without people for a people without land.”
The dream crossed the Atlantic with the Puritan pilgrims and quickly became established in North America. At this point, the best source on the history of the dream is Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present.New York: Norton, 2007.