Advocating for Israel

Diplomats and Lobbyists from Truman to Nixon

By (author) Natan Aridan

Publication date:

22 August 2017

Length of book:

368 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9781498553773

This study analyzes the unique triangular relationship between Israel’s diplomatic representatives, pro-Israel advocates, and US administrations draws on a wealth of Hebrew and English primary documentation that includes; government archives, surveillance records, wiretappings, personal oral interviews, and diaries of key individuals. Natan Aridan demonstrates how a small new state succeeded in establishing a level of political, economic and military aid that has made for an alliance that is unique in the American experience. Revealed in considerable depth are the dilemmas facing Israeli and US leaders, and pro-Israel organizations and the extent to which individual Jewish leaders maneuvered as conduits between Israeli governments and US administrations, whose senior dramatis personae in turn attempted to influence, moderate, restrain, and change the course of policy decisions and actions. Each administration had multiple voices and international contingencies presented different challenges, all of which had a major impact in fluctuations, and shifts in policies toward Israel. There was nothing inevitable about military and financial support for Israel. It was only by the end of the period that a distinct pattern began to emerge. Eventual qualified US support took a long and complicated path developed over many decades on multidimensional levels. The book refutes insidious allegations that from Israel’s inception Jewish influence and a powerful Israel lobby hijacked US foreign policy to achieve unreserved military and financial support for Israel that undermined the best interests of the US. The author illustrates one of the poorly misunderstood aspects on the subject by demonstrating how Israeli governments were more astute and powerful than previous scholars have realized and that they were in fact pulling the strings far more than AIPAC and wealthy Jews. He also demonstrates that a contributing factor on the decision to aid Israel (understated in previous research) lay in Israel exploiting its ‘nuisance value.’

Aridan (Ben Gurion Univ., Israel) is the coeditor of Britain, Israel, and Anglo-Jewry: 1949–1957 (Routledge, 2004). His new book is an extensive diplomatic history of Israel’s relationship with the US government during the early Cold War period. He brings to bear a wealth of research into historical and archival sources in this work, which explores the triangular relationship between the Israeli state’s foreign services, the US government, and American Jews. He argues that the domestic Israel lobby did not have influential standing during the period. Rather the gradual movement of US policy toward a pro-Israel position reflected the groundwork of both the Israeli foreign service and their partners among American Jews…. [T]he book presents a strong historical narrative. Better editing of the book’s English content would help improve its readability, but it is a unique contribution to the diplomatic history of US-Israel relations. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.