DESTINATION PEACE: Three Decades of Israeli Foreign Policy by Gideon Rafael

DESTINATION PEACE: Three Decades of Israeli Foreign Policy

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Israeli foreign policy is made by politicians, not diplomats--and here a diplomat gets a chance to call the tune. Rafael served under every Israeli prime minister and in assorted posts; necessarily, much of what he tells is familiar stuff: the machinations of Suez (1956), the '67 War, the diplomatic sorties of Jarring and Rogers, the October War, Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy. Of more interest, reflecting matters in which he was directly involved, are: a short exposition on the inner workings of the Israeli Foreign Ministry; reports on UN confrontations during and after the '67 War, and on the renewal of cordial Israeli-British relations; and, notably, descriptions of the diplomats' constant struggle for influence on the development of policy--a tug-of-war that pitted them against prime ministers aligned with the defense establishment. Through Rafael's eyes, the protagonists are self-willed, intuitive Ben-Gurion; tough, unrelenting Golda Meir; maverick opportunist Dayan; and instant diplomacy expert Rabin--most of them in contrast to sagacious, modest Abba Eban. A contrast is drawn, too, between concern with the local ramifications of policy, and concern with international reaction; between hard-hitting ""hawkishness,"" and quiet circuitous negotiation. Rafael of course advocates the latter of the two approaches--and spells out instances when parochialism and hawkishness delayed peace (and when the dovish Eban was ahead of his time). But even Rafael cannot fully exonerate the Foreign Ministry from surprise at Sadat's ""great surprise""--the October War. A good survey, certainly, though filled with much extraneous peripheral detail.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1981
Publisher: Stein & Day