U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton.

AuthorDavidson, Lawrence

If you go to the Social Science Index (the computerized version) and call up alternately U.S. and Israel and U.S. and Palestine you will find 132 citations for the former and 38 for the latter (covering the time period February 1983 to January 1995). Now go to PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service). There you will find 697 citations under U.S. and Israel and only 114 for U.S. and Palestine (covering the time period 1972-1994). In both indices many of the citations in the U.S. and Palestine category are either post-Oslo or contain the term "terrorist" in their titles. What we have here is a statistical manifestation of the disproportionate interest shown in the United States for Israel as against Palestine. Indeed, what these numbers suggest is that in the American consciousness, official and unofficial, there is little awareness of Palestine except insofar as it impolitely intrudes upon our religio-cultural and political love affair with Israel.

The series of eleven essays which Michael Suleiman has edited in U.S. Policy on Palestine from Wilson to Clinton are thus timely and important. And they are written in a consistently clear and comprehensive enough fashion to make the work a good candidate for classroom use. Collectively they trace the history of how the U.S. has coped with the unwanted reality of the Palestinians, bringing together a story, heretofore scattered, about the literature or buried under the greater volume of work on U.S.-Israeli relations. As Professor Suleiman's introduction suggests, it is a story of periodic encounters with facts and occurrences which should remind Americans that, as a consequence of the Israel they so ardently support, there is an on-going effort to destroy the living culture and people of Palestine.

The material is brought together in a chronological fashion basically following the flow of presidential administrations. Thus we are given insight into each president's approach to the question of Palestine. For instance, Fred Lawson's essay on the Truman administration demonstrates an excellent use of the documents to reveal a surprising level of concern for the fate of the Palestinians. This was due to their perceived potential to destabilize the Middle East. According to Lawson it was not so much domestic Zionist pressure that motivated Truman's policy formulation on the Palestinians after the creation of Israel, but rather the need for stability. Stability would minimize Soviet influence and...

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