From Jerusalem to the Lion of Judah and Beyond: Israel's Foreign Policy in East Africa.
by Steven Carol
Bloomington, Ind.: iUniverse, Inc., 2012. 499 pp. $29.95, paper.
Reviewed by Jerold S. Auerbach
Author of Against the Grain: A Historian's Journey
Middle East Quarterly
Israel's golden age of diplomacy in the 1950s and 1960s comes to life in this exploration of relations with Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Carol of St. John's University documents that a mix of self-interest and altruism enabled Israel to gain "international recognition and respectability."Beginning in the 1950s, Israel ex-tended agricultural, technological, economic, and military assistance, along with health and medical services, to these poor countries. Shimon Peres, then director general of the Defense Ministry, articulated the Israeli goal: "To surround the belt of [Arab] enmity with a belt of friendship in the new [African] countries" and to create a welcoming African counterweight to hostile Egypt.
But relations weakened after the 1967 Six-Day War and crumbled following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, at which time Israel was increasingly depicted in the international arena as a malevolent imperial and colonial occupying power. Jerusalem's East African friends, with their significant Muslim populations and radical governments, pulled back. By July 1976, Entebbe, Uganda, was the refuge of choice for Palestinian airplane hijackers, and by the 1980s, Africa had been "reduced to minor importance in Israeli policy planning."
Carol describes Israeli policy as a mixture of pragmatic engagement with potential allies and a manifestation of the "most valued [Jewish] traditions of rendering assistance to the less fortunate, grounded on social equality." Exploring this mix, he illuminates an important but distant chapter of Israeli history.
Related Topics: Israel & Zionism | Fall 2014 MEQ
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.