Book Review

Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations With A Militant Israel

by Stephen Green. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1984.

Reviewed by Robert Atelier

This excellent, heavily-documented and footnoted book should indeed, as the blurb on the inside dust-jacket promises, "cause major reassessments in the published literature in this field, at least as far as mainstream sources are concerned." Mr. Green has waded through an ocean of official (American) sources -- filing over a hundred Freedom of Information Act requests -- and has been personally responsible for the de-classification of many documents important to historians of the very strange relationship between Israel and the United States 1948-1967. (A companion volume -- hopefully out very soon -- will continue tracing the history of this relationship up to the present day.) The documents reproduced in facsimile and plain text in the appendix to the book are a goldmine in themselves, well worth the price of the book alone.

The text of the book itself, then, can almost be considered a bonus. Stephen Green thoughtfully (but thoroughly) debunks many of the shibboleths of Israeli-American relations, such as the "accidental" nature of the bombing of the United States Ship Liberty, the myth of "Poor defenseless Israel surrounded by her overwhelming enemies," the related "miracle" victory of 1948 (which some religious leaders in the United States have set much stock in), and, perhaps most frightening of all, the blind eye turned by the American government to Israeli attempts to obtain nuclear material and atomic weapons technology. Perhaps none of this is new to the readers of JHR, but Taking Sides is able to shed new light on these matters though its use of formerly-classified sources.

If I have any bones to pick with the author, it is with his attempt to distinguish between the "bad" militaristic wing of the Zionist movement who have been encouraged by the U.S. (despite many a Zionist kick in the teeth to Uncle Sam!), and the "more humanistic" elements in the Israeli government. (Little is said about the non- government underground resistance to Israeli militarism.) Stephen Green's book itself tends to show how the Moshe Sharetts of Israel have tended, willingly or unwillingly, to act as window dressing- ineffective, ignored, and discarded when their criticism or nonco- operation with militaristic plans becomes too inconvenient.

Other than that, a good and thoughtful book, deserving more than the "anti-Semitic" and "Pro-P.L.O." smears which, I suppose (alas!), are inevitable.


From The Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1986 (Vol. 7, No. 3), pages 360-361.