Our Separate Ways: The Struggle for the Future of the U.S.-Israel Alliance
by Dana H. Allin and Steven N. Simon
New York: Public Affairs, 2016. 304 pp. $26.99.
Reviewed by William S. Comanor
Middle East Quarterly
The first sentence sets the tone of Our Separate Ways: "In May 2011 ... the prime minister of Israel arrived at the White House to lecture the president of the United States." The authors imply that the prime minister came not for consultations or discussions but to instruct. Allin is a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London, and editor of the IISS Survival; Simon was an adviser to President Obama in 2009-12.
Their book pursues the theme so blatantly laid down in the opening sentence. From its first day in office, the new administration showed its "serious commitment to the peace process" with "a tougher U.S. stand against Israeli settlements." For this reason, they argue that Israel should be chastised for not removing them since this failure was the major factor responsible for the absence of Israeli-Palestinian peaceful solution.
Strikingly, the authors pay meager attention to Gaza where Israel did precisely what they advocate. As they acknowledge, Israel forcibly withdrew 8,500 Israelis from Gaza in September 2005; however, this led not to peace but to greater conflict. One might conclude that dismantling towns and withdrawing from territory is more likely to lead to violence than to peace; but these authors draw no such conclusion. Removal of Israelis from the West Bank remains their mantra.
As for Gaza, they feebly conclude that "the problem of Gaza and its Hamas government is very often ignored in peace-process discussions, perhaps because it poses such intractable difficulties as to place those discussions in the realm of absurdity." This
statement, perhaps the most accurate of the entire book, applies not just to Gaza but also to the West Bank.
What is apparent, though not acknowledged, is that a Palestinian state already exists situated in Gaza, with agreed-upon boarders, a fixed population, a functioning government, and a population larger than many United Nation states. It only lacks international recognition.
At the heart of the authors' distress over U.S.–Israeli relations is the failure of the parties to reach their ideal solution. The resulting one-sided diatribe richly deserves to be ignored.
Related Topics: Israel & Zionism, US policy | Spring 2017 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.