U.S. Policy / Israel

Cockburn, Andrew and Leslie. Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. 416 pages.

Green, Stephen. Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations with a Militant Israel. New York: William Morrow, 1984. 370 pages. Includes an 84-page appendix of declassified documents.

Hersh, Seymour M. The Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy. New York: Random House, 1991. 354 pages.

Ever since Truman's support of the birth of Israel in 1948, U.S. relations have favored its aggressive policies, even at the expense of U.S. interests in the region. Much of this was encouraged in the name of a secure Jewish homeland -- something which few U.S. politicians dared to criticize -- but behind the public facade there existed a world where the CIA became dependent on Mossad for intelligence, Israel's economy became dependent on profits from arms transfers, and policy itself was exercised through proxy wars.

"Dangerous Liaison" takes advantage of the window into the secret Israeli machine that opened briefly in the wake of the Iranian revolution, Iran-contra, and recent Mossad scandals. It is especially helpful in understanding the influence of the Israeli arms industry, which operates on a revolving-door basis with various elements of Israel's intelligence community and has been all too eager to supply many of the world's tyrants. Less a diplomatic history than a study of the dark underside of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, it soon becomes clear that the former provides the rhetoric, but the latter gets all the action.

Green filed 100 FOIA requests with 22 government agencies to fill in his history, but the bulk of "Taking Sides" is described by him as a series of "carefully-selected historical vignettes." These include chapters on U.S. intelligence and the Zionist underground, the 1953 aid cutoff, the Suez War of 1956, Israel's nuclear weapons program, the Six-Day War of 1967, and the USS Liberty incident. He concludes that were it not for U.S. policies that favored the militarists within Israel, particularly from 1964 to 1967, the Palestinian problem might have been solved.

The title of Hersh's book comes from Israel's notion that once they have the Bomb, they are in a position to bring it all down on everyone if ever they feel cornered. It's the ultimate in Israeli security as a nation- state, if not for the security of humankind. Israel used nuclear blackmail to force Kissinger and Nixon to airlift supplies during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and they passed U.S. secrets collected by Jonathan Pollard to the USSR when it served their interests. The Bomb has been a hidden factor in U.S.-Israeli relations ever since the Eisenhower administration, but this is the first book deal with Israeli relations from this perspective.

Findley, Paul. They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 1989. 390 pages.

After 22 years in Congress, Paul Findley (R-IL) was defeated in 1982 following nearly four years of lobbying by Americans who support Israel. He was neither the first nor the last person to be targeted by AIPAC (American- Israel Public Affairs Committee) and ADL (Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith) for the sin of demonstrating an interest in Arab countries. The difference this time was Findley's decision to write a comprehensive book about Israel's lobby in the U.S. This book is reasonable and responsible, containing nearly 1000 end notes, and for nine weeks was on the Washington Post bestseller list. It should have been written years earlier, but many of those in Washington who helped Findley asked not be acknowledged because they were worried about their careers.

The last chapter is titled "America's Intifada," in which Findley recognizes that Israel's lobby has recently lost some of its monopoly on Middle East policy. The Pollard spy case hit the headlines in late 1985 and the intifada began in the West Bank and Gaza in 1987, at the same time that U.S. media coverage was becoming more objective. For those who agree with Findley that U.S. interests should be placed ahead of Israeli interests, this chapter lists several groups that citizens are urged to support.

Friedman, Robert I. Zealots for Zion: Inside Israel's West Bank Settlement Movement. New York: Random House, 1992. 263 pages.

Robert Friedman, an award-winning writer on U.S. Jewish affairs and the radical right in Israel, is currently a staff writer at the Village Voice in New York. This book is mostly about events and personalities in Israel, but also includes substantial material about the U.S. Zionist lobby that supports the Israeli settlement movement. The connection between the two goes beyond financial support, as some of the settlers interviewed by Friedman are American ex-patriots, burnouts from the 1960s who went looking for the simple life of Good vs. Evil that eluded them in America when the counterculture collapsed.

These ex-patriot hippies were given citizenship, massive subsidies, and Uzi machine guns by the Israeli government, and joined with Zionist natives to build their middle-class tract homes in locations designed to frustrate Palestinian dreams of a homeland. It's a hard life in these settlements, where the major activity centers around raising large families in the Jewish tradition. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith (ADL) keep up the pressure. They spy on anyone who dares to believe that Zionism might be less than Holy, and spend huge sums to lobby Congress and denounce their enemies as "anti-Semitic."

Novick, Peter. The Holocaust in American Life. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999. 373 pages.

University of Chicago history professor Peter Novick, himself a Jew, takes on a career-killer of a topic in this book. He makes a strong case that in recent years Jews have milked the holocaust, and the guilt it engenders, for their own political purposes. Novick does not deny the holocaust occurred. Rather, he argues that the historical record has been distorted, perceptions skewed, and emotions manipulated for the greater good of Jewish identity in America, and for the support of Israel.

For example, after all the holocaust hype of the last twenty years, who remembers that Jews accounted for just one-fifth of those liberated from concentration camps in Germany by American troops? (While camps in the East were almost all Jewish, these were either closed by the time the Allies arrived, or were liberated by the Russians.) Yet by now American photographs are invariably associated with Jewish suffering exclusively, even though it didn't start out that way in 1945. And until late 1938 there were few Jews, as Jews, among those in the camps. They were filled with Communists, socialists, trade unionists, and others opposed to Hitler. It's not that the holocaust didn't happen; obviously it did. Novick is simply uncomfortable with the fact that the holocaust has been unfairly appropriated by American Jews as their exclusive preserve.

Raviv, Dan. Melman, Yossi. Friends in Deed: Inside the U.S.-Israel Alliance. New York: Hyperion, 1994. 537 pages.

Yossi Melman, an Israeli journalist, and Dan Raviv, a CBS correspondent formerly based in Tel Aviv and London, have put together this history of U.S.-Israel relations after hundreds of interviews over a three-year period. Their previous book was "Every Spy a Prince," a history of Israel's intelligence community.

This book is rich in detail in some areas, and negligent in others. The formation of Israel, and its support during the early years, was to some extent the result of behind-the-scenes fundraising and political maneuvering by certain key individuals in the U.S. This is described in some detail, although the authors should have expanded more on the Mafia connection. There are several pages on James Angleton's sweetheart relationship with Israel, and a chapter on AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying group that was powerful during the 1980s. But then one finds only two paragraphs on the Anti-Defamation League, and just one sentence on ADL's private intelligence network in the U.S., which was the subject of national headlines in 1993. In the end, the authors spend more ink on personalities and anecdotes, than on a broader socioeconomic or infrastructural analysis. And while they aren't blatant with their sympathies, the pro-Israel players described by them generally come across as moral icons in a hostile world.

NameBase book reviews               CloudFlare Watch