Vietnam, Jews, and the Middle East
by Judith A. Klinghoffer
New York: St. Martin's, 1999. 232 pp. $45.
Reviewed by Robert O. Freedman
Baltimore Hebrew University
Middle East Quarterly
Klinghoffer offers a very useful resource for anyone interested in how Vietnam affected U.S. Middle East policy in the Johnson era. She draws some interesting and important connections between Vietnam and Israel in Lyndon B. Johnson's administration in her well-researched and well-written study. Vietnam, Jews, and the Middle East makes a very persuasive case that his focus on Vietnam not only brought him into frequent conflict with many Jewish anti-Vietnam activists but also left him with few military and political resources to devote to an increasingly aggressive Soviet Union active in the Middle East.
Klinghoffer criticizes Johnson's policy, especially his rather heavy-handed, even crude statements to get Israeli support for U.S. policy in Vietnam (without success). For example, in a speech to B'nai B'rith in 1966, he sought unconvincingly to show he was not linking the two: "I never said that. I never meant that. I think the United States ought to defend Israel, period . . . I hope you'll help me get off this, because I don't want it thought that my support for Israel is conditioned on their support for Vietnam." Klinghoffer also contends that Johnson, after Israel's victory in the Six-Day war of 1967, was willing to trade off Israeli interests for a settlement in Vietnam favorable to the United States. This is a central theme in the book
The book is accurate, with a few exceptions. The Warsaw Pact was not unified in opposing Israel after the 1967 war, for Rumania conspicuously supported Israel. She also attributes a little too much power and influence to the Soviet Union in the Middle East during the 1965-1967 period.
Related Topics: Jews and Judaism, US policy, US politics | Robert O. Freedman | Winter 2002 MEQ
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