Caught in the Middle East: U.S. Policy toward the Arab Israeli Conflict 1945-1961

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Caught in the Middle East: U.S. Policy Toward the Arab Israeli Conflict 1945-1961, by Peter L. Hahn. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. 398 pp. $45.00.

The product of extensive research in the U.S. and Israeli archives, this book nonetheless misses the mark because of three main problems.

First, the author often repeats verbatim what is in the archives, without making a proper evaluation of what he has written. Second, he approaches his subject with a clear political tilt (pro-Arab and unsympathetic to Israel) which tends to color his work. Finally, in some cases he has ignored some of the primary sources written by participant-observers of the events he has described, which could have added the necessary balance to his book.

There is no question but that the author has done extensive research, ranging from Ben Gurion's Diary and Papers, through the Foreign Relations documents published by the United States government, to the Truman and Eisenhower Libraries.

While he has found a for of interesting material, especially on U.S. policy toward the so-called Alpha plan of the mid-1950s, under which Israel was to cede territory in the Negev in return for peace with its Arab neighbors (a U.S. plan which neither Israel nor the Arab states accepted), on balance, the conclusions he draws from the material tend to be disappointing. Thus, for example, he cites a letter from Dulles to the Israeli government urging it to bring its grievances to the United Nations rather than to use force, but the author neglects to mention that Israel was justified in its reluctance to do so because it had been repeated frustrated in the U. …