Israel and the American National Interest

In This Review

Israel and the American National Interest

By Cheryl A. Rubenberg
University of Illinois Press, 1986
446 pp. $24.95

The conception of Israel as a strategic asset for the United States, now embedded in the thinking both of the executive branch and the Congress, and the political clout of the pro-Israel lobby have combined to impart a bias to U.S. policy in the Middle East that runs counter to America's own interests. Such is the theme that runs through this book, illustrated by a detailed examination of events from the Palestine war of 1948 through the 1982 Lebanon war and its aftermath. The author makes her case well, although a tendency to overstatement does not help it; moreover, the "conventional wisdom" (read pro-Israel bias) she sets out to expose has had many critics both in public office (eg., J. W. Fulbright, George W. Ball and the maligned "Arabists" in the State Department) and in academia. Her book supports, in rich detail, arguments that they have been making for years. If it stirs up public debate, not on whether America should be pro-Israel or pro-Arab but on what U.S. national interests are and how to pursue them, so much the better.

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