Philip Steele and Gidon Ariel – May 9 2024

Quick recap
Gidon and Dr. Philip discussed Philip’s experiences with Polish refugee resettlement in Idaho and his later shift in focus to early Zionism and the influence of evangelical Christians on the US-Israel relationship. They also discussed Philip’s upcoming lecture based on his research into Israel and the forthcoming translation of the Hebrew book “Drishat Zion” into Polish

Root Source Introduction and Zionism Discussion
Gidon, the executive director and co-founder of Root Source, introduced his friend Dr. Philip Steele to Root Source viewers. Gidon, an Orthodox Israeli Jew, shared his appreciation for Philip’s work and expressed his belief in the importance of Zionism to both his personal and Root Source’s identity. Philip acknowledged Gidon’s introduction and expressed his well-being in response.

Philip’s Relocation Story From Idaho to Poland
Philip shared with Gidon that he is an American from Idaho who has been living in Poland for the past 30 years. He explained that he became involved with a refugee resettlement agency in Boise during his college years. This experience, particularly his work with Polish refugees, inspired him to move to Poland. Philip also mentioned that he does not have Polish ancestry but has since had Polish children.

Discussing Martial Law and Refugees in Poland
Philip and Gidon discussed the events leading up to and following the lifting of Martial Law in Poland in 1983. Philip, who began working with the program in 1983, explained that the majority of refugees at the time were from Central Europe and the Soviet bloc. He clarified that Martial Law was imposed in 1981 to curb the Solidarity movement and that the Communists took over the state in a coup, suppressing the opposition. The law was only lifted in 1983, allowing people to escape from behind the Iron Curtain.

Philip’s Refugee Resettlement Experience and Brain Drain
Philip shared his experiences working at the Idaho International Institute, a refugee resettlement center that received several thousand Eastern European refugees, mostly Poles, between 1983 and 1986. Gidon, who had a similar experience with Ethiopian Jews in Israel, was fascinated by Philip’s story and the parallels between their experiences. Philip also highlighted the brain drain issue in Poland and other parts of the world, where intelligent people were leaving for better opportunities, making it more challenging for working-class people to stay.

Philip’s Undergraduate Studies and Conversions
Gidon and Philip discussed Philip’s undergraduate studies in history and ancient language at the University of Idaho, where he was a student of Professor Charles Odahl, a prominent historian of Constantine the Great’s reign. Philip shared how he later enrolled at the Polonicum in Poland to study language and culture. In Poland, Philip applied Professor Odahl’s interpretation of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity to Poland’s first conversion.

Philip’s Shift to Zionism Research
Philip discussed his shift from researching medieval Poland to early Zionism, driven by concerns over the misrepresentation of Mitt Romney’s relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu by Polish journalists and experts. He also delved into the historical conversion of rulers to Christianity and its influence on the US-Israel relationship, particularly the role of evangelical Christians. Philip’s focus then turned to Jewish Zionism.

Drishat Zion Translation and Readership Discussion
Philip announced that a new translation of the classic Hebrew work “Drishat Zion” into Polish, by a team of Polish Hebraists, was forthcoming. He also mentioned that the text had not been previously published in English in full, with only fragments available. Gidon, however, argued that there was a significant readership for such works within the Orthodox Jewish community in Israel and the US, particularly those strongly supportive of Zionism.

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