Review: “US policy towards Jerusalem and the Occupied Arab Territories, 1948 and 1967” by Candace Karp

A pretty dry, academic account of (surprise surprise) US policy towards the Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands in 1948 and 1967 (with a focus on the status of Jerusalem in 1948). It’s a sound summary of the official US documentary record, supported by various memoirs etc. Its main problem is that its key conclusion is simply not supported by its own evidence.The main example of this is how Karp states in several places that US support for Israel was ultimately detrimental to “its own cold war interests” and that it was “largely instrumental in its own undoing”. But the very evidence she cites proves exactly the opposite. In 1948, the US did not want to send its own troops to Palestine, since it was concerned that the USSR would react by doing the same. Karp argues that the US failing to do so undermined it’s own strategic goal of “stability” in the region — yet none of the internal documentation she cites demonstrates this was a genuine regional goal. What is clear from what is cited here is that a central US goal in 1948 was to keep Soviet troops out of the region. By actively undermining the internationalization of Jerusalem (as called for in the November 1947 UN plan), they achieved this.

Keeping to what is revealed by the account of the documentary record, this is a pretty useful summary. One of the most interesting points that comes out is the fact that Israel’s supposed wish for peace with it’s neighbors was always clearly a lie. Something I learned was that Jordan and Egypt offered full recognition of Israel (in return for withdrawal the the 1949 ceasefire lines) as early as November 1967 (p 95) — with nothing for the Palestinians. Also Israel demanded control of Gaza and possibly the West Bank before it would even negotiate over withdrawal. There are other interesting such facts that come out.

But it is a bit of a missed opportunity in that it does not discuss how the Israeli aggression of 1967 led the US to start a massive military aid program to Israel. However it does quote the NSC Planning Board from August 1958: “if we choose to combat radical Arab nationalism and to hold Persian Gulf oil by force if necessary, a logical corollary would be to support Israel as the only strong pro-West power left in the Near East” (p 57). Beyond delusions, this is the key to understanding the last 40 years plus of extreme pro-Israel US foreign policy.

Reviewed 1 July 2008.

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