Eisenhower and Israel: U.S.-Israeli Relations, 1953-1960
by Isaac Alteras
Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993. 387 pp. $44.95 ($19.95, paper).
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
With the passage of time, the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower takes on added interest for understanding U.S. policy in the Middle East. Here was the one case of an American president who seemed to accept the Arabist view that good relations with Israel must harm those with the Arabs. When push came to shove, Eisenhower acted on this belief, compelling the Israelis to evacuate the Sinai Peninsula following the Suez War. Decades later, Arab leaders like Yasir Arafat still dream that another Amercian president might "do what Eisenhower did" and force Israelis from the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
Alteras shows in this thoroughly researched and elegantly presented study that the reality of U.S.-Israel relations in the 1950s differed substantially from their image. True, Eisenhower did minimize relations with Israel, but he did not reduce the U.S. commitment to the existence and survival of Israel. Even more striking, Alteras argues that "if the Eisenhower administration was less free with pro-Israeli declarations [than the Truman administration], it was more forthcoming with pro-Israel deeds" (shades of George Bush!).
Eisenhower and Israel has much else to tell, including the story of how Congress first became involved in a major way in U.S.-Israel relations and how the Israel lobby emerged. In short, Alteras masterfully traces today's American debate over the Arab-Israeli conflict to its origins in the 1950s.
Related Topics: Israel & Zionism, US policy | Daniel Pipes | June 1994 MEQ
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