Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Palestine and Palestinians: Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Palestine and Palestinians: Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy

Article excerpt

Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy, by Kathleen Christison. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1999. ix + 293 pages. Notes to p. 338. Bibl. to 349. Index to 370. $40.

Until recently, most works on American relations with Israel and the Zionist movement presented an incomplete account-a story of a growing rapport between successive American administrations and the Zionists that often left out the Palestinians. When the Palestinians were mentioned, they were depicted in a negatively stereotypical manner that has no place in scholarship. Nevertheless, this incomplete picture has constituted the "standard" version of the history of these relations. Pushed forward not only by pro-Zionist American scholars and intellectuals, but also journalists, film and TV script writers, novelists and the like, the story that emerged paralleled the celebratory histories produced by the Israelis themselves. Indeed, there are only a few works that diverge from this standard history. Richard Stevens' American Zionism and U.S. Foreign Policy 1942-1947,1 Michael E. Jansen's The United States and the Palestinian People2 and a handful of other scholarly works have been vastly overshadowed by the Zionist interpretation of events.

In recent years, however, several revisionist interpretations of the history of the relationship between the United States and parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict have appeared. One of the first of these was Donald Neffs Fallen Pillars: U.S. Policy Toward Palestine and Israel Since 1945.3 Well documented and cognizant of the role of the Palestinian people, this study set a high standard, paving the way for other revisionist interpretations to gain acceptance and attention. The work produced by Neff and others is paralleled by a number of recent critical reexaminations of Israel's own history by revisionist Israeli scholars. Whatever the reason for this trend in recent scholarship, those interested in unvarnished accounts of American relations with Zionism and Israel, which take into consideration the Palestinians' historical narrative, are the beneficiaries.

The latest contribution to this process of revision appeared in 1999, with the publication of Kathleen Christison's Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy. In this work, the author focuses mainly on the evolution of an American "mind-set," which limited what US policymakers saw and did. …

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