Before Israel, there were other Jewish promised lands, says Colorado professor

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<p>(Photo: Courtesy of Mark Paskowitz)</p>
<p>The central highlands area of Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa, was considered as a potential  Jewish homeland.</p>

Today is Purim, the Jewish holiday that commemorates the time 2,500 years ago when Jews were threatened with annihilation in ancient Persia. They have faced the threat of destruction many times in their history, including during the Holocaust, which led up to the creation of an independent Israel in 1948.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress this week that Jews remain threatened. The recent shootings in Denmark and France, have also led him to voice concerns. He has called on European Jews to immigrate to Israel.

But, if history had taken a different turn, he could have been beckoning them to lands in modern Madagascar, Tasmania, or Suriname. Those unexpected places far from historic Jewish holy lands were all once considered potential places for a Jewish state.

University of Denver professor Adam Rovner explores the strange history of the Jewish search for a modern homeland in his new book, “In the Shadow of Zion: Promised Lands before Israel.