What accounts for the remarkable level of American support for Israel over the years? This question has given rise to an extensive literature, much of it partisan. Essentially the arguments can be boiled down to variations on the following: The United States has supported Israel as part of a grand design for extending its influence into the Middle East (Israel as strategic asset); and the United States has supported Israel because of domestic political factors (the Israeli lobby, Jewish vote, pro-Israeli PACS, shared values). Camille Mansour carefully surveys the record of the past 45 years and concludes that American support for Israel is more rooted in values (culture, ideology) than in anything else. This is not such a surprising conclusion, except that many of Mansour's fellow Arab intellectuals have vociferously defended the alternative explanations of grand conspiracy or powerful lobby. The author could have done without the occasional charts and graphs that are meant to provide a scientific cast to his explanations. They don't. Still, the overall level of analysis is impressive, the sources (mostly secondary) are wide-ranging, and the conclusions seem solid. One implication is that the end of the Cold War and the weakening of the "strategic asset" argument will not necessarily imperil U.S.-Israeli ties.
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