Gen­e­sis: Tru­man, Amer­i­can Jews, and the Ori­gins of the Arab/​Israeli Conflict

John B. Judis
  • Review
By – December 18, 2015

In 1945 US Pres­i­dent Har­ry Tru­man was queried by his country’s press about the sit­u­a­tion of the British Man­date in Pales­tine. I have no desire to send 500,000 Amer­i­can sol­diers there to make peace,” he responded.

In Gen­e­sis, John Jud­is, a senior edi­tor at The New Repub­lic, attempts to wres­tle with how Har­ry Tru­man and the Unit­ed States became entan­gled in a con­flict far away in the Mid­dle East and why it still haunts Amer­i­can pol­i­cy. Although the author admires Tru­man, a gen­uine lib­er­al who had moral qualms with Zion­ism,” and many of the ear­ly Amer­i­can Zion­ists, he wres­tles with how and why they came to sup­port the foun­da­tion of a coun­try so dif­fer­ent than Amer­i­can values.

Jud­is begins by trow­el­ing a well-known nar­ra­tive of the his­to­ry of Zion­ism. He repeats old stereo­types long since dis­abused by his­to­ri­ans, claim­ing that Ottoman Pales­tine was a sleepy lit­tle-noticed back­wa­ter that was part of the decay­ing Ottoman Empire.” From there, the book exam­ines how Tru­man wres­tled with a pro-Israel lob­by and its oppo­nents who saw no rea­son to sup­port the cre­ation of Israel.

This is a well-researched book that explores an inter­est­ing sub­ject, how­ev­er the author allows his over­all bias against Israel and the US-Israel rela­tion­ship to cloud the nar­ra­tive. Although well writ­ten, the book is more about the author’s own rela­tion­ship with the Jew­ish state than about the his­to­ry that is sup­posed to be exposed.

Notes, bib­li­og­ra­phy, index.

Relat­ed Content:

Seth J. Frantz­man received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty of Jerusalem where he cur­rent­ly holds a Post-Doc­tor­al Fel­low­ship. He is a colum­nist for the Jerusalem Post and Fel­low at the Jerusalem Insti­tute of Mar­ket Studies.

Discussion Questions