February 20, 2014

How Writers Question the Legitimacy of Israel

The publication of John B. Judis’ new book, Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict, must be viewed within the context of the new worldwide effort to question the legitimacy of Israel. It is a counterpart to the 2008 book by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, and perhaps not accidentally shares the same publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

It also appears at the same time that the left-wing Nation Books published the virulently anti-Israel screed by journalist Max Blumenthal, a man who compares Israel to Nazi Germany. Despite its extremist views and ultra-polemical tone, Blumenthal presented his book in Washington, DC, to the center/liberal think tank the New America Foundation, and received endorsements from prominent journalists Peter Bergen and James Fallows. One should not doubt that similar US institutions will sponsor and give their endorsement to the politically connected Judis, who is a senior editor of the once pro-Israel publication, The New Republic.
Unlike these two other books, Judis offers the pretense that he writes as a historian, and not as a contemporary journalist. The reality is that he uses history to bolster his belief that US foreign policy in the Middle East should now tilt toward the Arabs and Palestinians rather than Israel. After all, he claims in a New Republic essay summarizing the book’s thesis, Israel itself was created “against the opposition of its neighbors” and always had to play a “destabilizing” role in the region, and hence is a “threat to America’s standing in the region.”

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