Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict
John B. Judis
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A probing look at one of the most incendiary subjects of our time―the relationship between the United States and Israel
There has been more than half a century of raging conflict between Jews and Arabs―a violent, costly struggle that has had catastrophic repercussions in a critical region of the world. In Genesis, John B. Judis argues that, while Israelis and Palestinians must shoulder much of the blame, the United States has been the principal power outside the region since the end of World War II and as such must account for its repeated failed diplomacy efforts to resolve this enduring strife.
The fatal flaw in American policy, Judis shows, can be traced back to the Truman years. What happened between 1945 and 1949 sealed the fate of the Middle East for the remainder of the century. As a result, understanding that period holds the key to explaining almost everything that follows―right down to George W. Bush's unsuccessful and ill-conceived effort to win peace through holding elections among the Palestinians, and Barack Obama's failed attempt to bring both parties to the negotiating table. A provocative narrative history animated by a strong analytical and moral perspective, and peopled by colorful and outsized personalities and politics, Genesis offers a fresh look at these critical postwar years, arguing that if we can understand how this stalemate originated, we will be better positioned to help end it.
out in the frenetic last week at Geneva when Bunche had to cobble together the proposals. The majority plan for partition was roughly modeled on the Peel Commission’s proposal, but added the Negev to the Jewish state, which the Jewish Agency representatives had pushed hard for. The Zionists’ public rationale was that the Jews alone were equipped to develop the desert into an inhabitable region, but privately they hoped the desert contained valuable minerals and were even more interested in
pointed his finger at “people on the third and fourth levels of the State Department who always wanted to cut my throat.”52 Truman was upset on a personal level that Weizmann would think he had lied and double-crossed him. He lamented to Clifford that Weizmann must think him a “shitass.” He asked Clifford to investigate “how this could have happened.”53 Clifford lent credence to Truman’s view that the State Department had blindsided him. But it was not really true. Clifford’s assistant George
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nation.” But instead of conceding that the Jews should respect Arab rights, they advocated running roughshod over them while accepting the consequences in conflict and in conscience. Jabotinsky warned that the Zionists should not give ground on their contention “that the government should be entirely ours.”11 Wilansky warned against allowing “supreme righteousness and morality” toward the Arabs to dictate Zionist policy. “When you enter into the midst of the Arab nation and do not allow it to
that call for the Jewish conquest of Judea and Samaria, but it’s my view, and it’s the one that informs this history. PART ONE TWO PEOPLES AND ONE LAND How men are to live together and be governed is a spiritual question with far-reaching implications. The fact remains that Palestine is small and is not empty. —Judah L. Magnes 1 THE ORIGINS OF ZIONISM: HERZL, AHAD HA’AM, AND GORDON If you had been alive in the mid-nineteenth century and visited the land that would become Palestine and