One Nation Under Israel
By Andrew Hurley.
Truth Press, Scottsdale, AZ, 1999, 307 pp.
List: $20; AET: $17 for one, $30 for two.
Reviewed by Richard H. Curtiss
My theory on book reviews is that 99 percent of those who read the review will never read the book, no matter how strongly I recommend it. So it's okay to reprint as many of its salient facts and conclusions as space permits. However author/historian Andrew Hurley has packed so many facts and such sensible, cogently reasoned conclusions into this book's 307 pages that it's impossible to just skim off the top. It's quotable from beginning to end.
Readers are best advised to get their own copy and settle in for what will be a rewarding but not entirely easy read. Hurley was a corporate lawyer for 40 years before he retired and brought out the first edition of this book in 1990, just before the Gulf war rearranged the furniture on the deck of America's sinking 'Israel, right or wrong' Middle East policy. Accordingly, he has laid out each of his 14 chapters almost like legal briefs. He states the facts of each case as he sees them, the opposing arguments where they exist, the counter-arguments, and then what any sensible judge would conclude-unless that judge happened to be running for elective office in the United States, and therefore was scared to death of the Israel lobby.
There are problems to this approach, but before getting into them let's make one thing very clear. You should get this book and read it. If you are well informed about the Middle East, you may or may not learn much that is new. But it is certain you will find in these pages many of those items you remember reading about and later wish you had cut out and saved.
On the other hand, if you are clueless about the Middle East, you may be exactly the kind of person for whom author Hurley wrote the book. If, however, after reading the book, you still feel uncertain about who is in whose space, and who is willing to compromise and who is visibly delaying a peace settlement until there's nothing left over which a compromise can be reached, well, then, you really are clueless.
You also should get your public library to buy it. And if the head librarian pleads budgetary problems, offer to donate a copy.
Then, when the donated copy is stolen, buy the library another one. You can rest assured that, unless the librarian attaches it to a chain, the book will be stolen because this is a very, very subversive document for those who would like the U.S. to go on paying Israeli bills and using the American veto in the United Nations to frustrate Israel's critics (who, Hurley demonstrates, include every other sovereign nation on earth) for a second half-century while Israel's Likud leaders finish committing national suicide (which, in Hurley's opinion, probably won't take anything like that long).
This second, but unchanged, printing has been issued nine years after the first, in the same year that Israeli voters have turned out the Likud for the third time. But otherwise little has changed in Israel, and little of that for the better. Israel has new 'moderate' leadership, which is reluctant to carry out the commitments of the previous 'extremist' leadership, and again Israel's American apologists, whom Hurley blames for much of its folly, are saying, as they always do, 'Give the new man a chance, don't crowd him, or the extremists will come back.'
In fact, however, the significant change since Hurley finished his book nine years before the date of this review is that the moderates did come back for three of those years, from 1992 to 1995, but there still is no peace, and little certainty that new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is prepared to make the territorial withdrawals that will bring one about with the Palestinians.
Hurley clearly documents the futility of the 'peace process,' a term he attributes to Israel's first Likud prime minister, Menachem Begin, who, in this reviewer's opinion, seized upon the 'process' to postpone the 'peace.' Begin's successor, Yitzhak Shamir, put it succinctly: 'What's to negotiate? They think the land is theirs. We think it's ours.' Hurley also cites the prophecy of Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, in a May 31, 1963 letter to Moshe Sharett: 'I have no doubt that Begin's rule will lead to the destruction of the state. In any case, his rule will turn Israel into a monster.'
The reader is left to judge whether the return of a Labor coalition government will halt, or at least slow, what Hurley calls the 'march of folly.' But I can think of few other volumes that would be as helpful to readers for working that out for themselves.
I have to admit that I was presented a copy of the first edition, entitled Holocaust II: Saving Israel From Suicide, nine years ago but was turned off by the title. (Then, as now, I was more worried about saving the U.S. when Israel's seemingly inevitable suicide occurs.) I knew, as Hurley makes abundantly clear, that one thing upon which all Israeli nationalists agree is that if Israel's third brief sway over the Holy Land is to end badly, as did the others in previous millennia, because of internal Jew-versus-Jew dissensions, the Zionist state will not go out 'Masada style' (with the principals jumping off a cliff), but rather via the 'Samson option,' with nuclear-armed Israelis pulling the temple down around themselves and all of their neighbors as well.
I realize now, however, that Hurley, though sincere in his humanitarian desire to prevent unnecessary harm to the Israelis themselves, is as deeply motivated as most of his potential readers by the desire to end the incredible suffering of the Palestinians under Israeli colonialism, and to end the dangerous consequences for Americans of their ever-increasing estrangement-on Israel's behalf-from the rest of the world.
The second thing that put me off was the contents of the first chapter, entitled 'The March of Folly,' whose 14 pages are devoted to the history of biblical Israel. I reluctantly grant the validity of the judgment of many Christians, Muslims and Jews that 'religion has everything to do with the Israel-Palestine problem.' It's been my personal observation, however, that religion has had little to do with finding a solution. But after reading Hurley's book through to the end this time, I realize that his approach is basically secular.
In fact, it's clear that, like a good lawyer, Hurley included that chapter, made up of both biblical references and a factual account of Israel's unhappy history in the ancient world, for a very good reason.
As he points out in the book's final chapters, when rational solutions to the dispute are presented, Israelis of many stripes fall back on selected biblical references to support their case that God has willed otherwise. But not even these fall-back apologetics work if these references are viewed as a whole, as Hurley's book enables even the casual reader to do.
Having progressed beyond my previous annoyances, I was initially surprised at Hurley's insistence on presenting his historical chapters, covering 'the Zionist Movement: 1887-1948,' 'the Arab-Israeli Wars,' and 'the Search for Peace,' spanning events prior to and during the Ford, Carter and Reagan years, almost exclusively through the words of Jewish writers.
This has become possible in recent years with the appearance of such Israeli 'revisionist historians' as Gen. Yehosephat Harkabi and Simha Flapan, from both of whom he quotes extensively, and relatively objective American Jewish journalists such as David Shipler, from whose book Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land Hurley also quotes at length.
For example, Hurley demolishes an over-used Israeli rationale for violating the boundaries of the 1947 United Nations partition plan by keeping Israel's own 53 percent and seizing, in 1948, more than half of the Arabs' 47 percent as well. Afterward, Israelis said, 'We accepted the partition plan. The Arabs didn't.' But Hurley supplies this quote from Flapan's The Birth of Israel, Myths and Realities: 'Acceptance of the U.N. Partition Resolution was an example of Zionist pragmatism par excellance. It was a tactical acceptance, a vital step in the right direction-a springboard for expansion when circumstances proved more judicious.'
Is it really necessary to limit oneself to quoting Jewish sources? Realistically, the answer is yes, as not only Hurley but anyone who has written and spoken publicly on the problem knows. The greatest triumph of 'The Israeli Lobby,' the title of Hurley's next chapter, has been to brand any criticism of Israel, no matter how informed or well-documented, 'anti-Semitic,' and get away with it. A mere discussion of the problem by non-Jewish sources has become 'suspect,' not just to the clueless but to anyone concerned with being duped by bigots or being mistaken for one.
So Hurley has dutifully played by the rules successfully imposed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Israel's potent Washington lobby, which adapts with chameleon-like ease to both 'extremist' and 'moderate' Israeli governments. AIPAC makes pro forma changes in its executive directors, while leaving in place the lobbyists who can manipulate comfortable majorities in both Democratic and Republican Congresses, and who can either formulate the Middle East policies to be followed by U.S. presidents, or inhibit them from carrying out Mideast policies of their own.
As Hurley explains: There is a 'crucial distinction between the Israel lobby and the typical lobby. If one disagrees with or opposes the Farm Lobby, for example, he is free to say so. No such freedom exists in America so far as opposition to Israeli policy or the Israeli Lobby is concerned. It is simply 'taboo.' To do so automatically exposes one to being branded 'anti-Semitic,' a 'Fascist,' a 'Nazi,' or part of the lunatic fringe. Since there is absolutely no defense against the charge of 'anti-Semitism,' most prudent people have long since preferred silence on sensitive issues to the risk of exposing themselves to the accusation of 'anti-Semitism,' with its inevitable 'Hitler' and 'Holocaust' associations.'
The author concludes his chapter on 'The Israeli Lobby' by quoting this complaint by General Harkabi, former chief of Israeli intelligence and adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Begin, from Harkabi's 1988 book, Israel's Fateful Hour: 'I fail to understand why they [American leaders] are so apprehensive of speaking out and saying that the present [Israeli] policy of annexation will miscarry, that it is bound to fail, that it will end in national bankruptcy or that it is suicidal-whatever is their evaluation. By such diffidence Americans do a disservice to Israel and to themselves.'
In his following chapter, 'The Israeli Lobby in Action,' Hurley quotes liberally from comments by former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairmen William Fulbright (D-AR) and Charles Percy (R-IL), and from Sen. Adlai Stevenson III (D-IL), Representatives Paul Findley (R-IL) and Paul N. (Pete) McCloskey (R-CA), for whose political defeats AIPAC takes credit. Hurley also quotes George Ball, President John F. Kennedy's under secretary of state and President Lyndon Johnson's ambassador to the United Nations, who certainly would have been U.S. secretary of state but for the Israel lobby opposition generated by his frank advice on the cost to the United States of its persistent tilt toward Israel.
'Bad Use of a Good Friend'Fulbright, for example, pretty well summarizes the contents of this book in a speech he delivered just before the end of his Senate term: ?Endlessly pressing the U.S. for money and arms-and invariably getting all and more than she asks-Israel makes bad use of a good friend. Israel's supporters in the U.S, by underwriting intransigency, are encouraging a course which must lead toward her destruction-and just possibly ours as well.'
And Ball summarizes the lessons learned by all who have run afoul of Israel's American lobby: 'When leading members of the American Jewish community give [Israel's] government uncritical and unqualified approbation and encouragement for whatever it chooses to do, while striving so far as possible to overwhelm any criticism of its actions in Congress and in the public media, they are, in my view, doing neither themselves nor the U.S. a favor 'They've got one thing going for them. Most people are terribly concerned not to be accused of being anti-Semitic, and the lobby so often equates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. They keep pounding away at that theme, and people are deterred from speaking out.'
In a chapter examining 'Israel and the United States,' Hurley notes Israel's success in preventing any congressional investigation of its 1967 attack on a U.S. Naval ship, the USS Liberty, in which 34 Americans were killed and 171 injured. In partial explanation he quotes former chairman Admiral Thomas Moorer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: 'I've never seen a president-I don't care who he is-stand up to them [the Israelis]. It just boggles your mind. They always get what they want. The Israelis know what is going on all the time. I got to the point where I wasn't writing anything down. If the American people understood what a grip those people have on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens don't have any idea what goes on.'
In his chapter on 'American Jewry and Free Speech,' Hurley quotes the late Philip Klutznik, a former U.S. secretary of commerce and mainstream U.S. Jewish leader who became a virtual non-person in the U.S. Jewish community when he began to speak out against Israeli extremism. Describing the reaction to his outspokenness by individual American Jews, Klutznik reported: 'They say to me, 'You are absolutely right in what you say and do, but I can't. I can't stand up as you do.'
In a 1988 speaking tour, Shulamit Aloni, former leader of Israel's dovish Meretz Party, admonished North American Jewish audiences: 'If you have the right to speak out on human rights in countries all around the world-including Jews in the Soviet Union-you certainly have the right to speak out on human rights in Israel. How wrong does Israel have to be before you speak up?'
Hurley devotes three chapters to the internal stresses within Israel, religious versus secular, extremists versus moderates, that propel Israel steadily toward the goal of the Ariel Sharon wing of the Likud Party-expulsion of all of the Palestinian Arabs from all of Palestine. It is this act, Hurley believes, that will lose Israel its American protection, and thus seal its fate in an era when both Israel and its Arab neighbors will have nuclear weapons and the will to use them.
Then, in lawyerly fashion, he cites the three issues whose solutions could avert this nightmare scenario: the problem of the Palestinian refugees, the return by Israel of the occupied territories, and the establishment of a Palestinian state. This chapter, like his final one, 'A Plan for Peace,' will be of less interest to those familiar with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. On the other hand, for newcomers to the issue who are less interested in its history than its solution, they may be the most valuable 40 pages of the book.
Hurley's work should be on the shelf of every student of the Arab-Israeli dispute. It also is ideal for newcomers to the problem who are sufficiently motivated to read it in its entirety. It is extremely well footnoted, with every quote carefully sourced. To this reviewer, the only weakness of the book is its lack of an index which would enable readers to find, once again, those quotes that are so valuable in getting the attention of the truly perplexed.
This lack is particularly surprising because the book, under two different titles, has had two separate publishers, and has none of the typos, ambiguous sentences or incomplete footnoting that often mar presentations by small publishers. Perhaps in its third printing, and I am sure there will be one when the usefulness of this volume becomes more widely known, its only flaw will be eliminated.
Richard H. Curtiss is the executive editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.