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Israel and the Arabs

Raymond Tanter

By Michael Brecher
Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1972, Price Not Stated

By Michael Brecher
Yale University Press, London, 1975, Price Not Stated

VOLUME II NUMBER 5 September-October 1977

Is it possible for a scholar to specia­lize in two countries as dissimilar as India and Israel? Perhaps a journalist might achieve fame by writing on many sepa­rate countries but it is rare for area specialists to stray from their own coun­try or region. The authors of 0 Jerusa­lem and Freedom at Midnight exemplify journalists whose popular political histo­ries have been read by those interested in the drama of the independence of Israel and India. As thrilling, yet much more systematic is the writing of Michael Brecher on these two countries. Brecher’s widely acclaimed Nehru: A Political Biography, Boston, Beacon Press, 1961, was honoured with the 1960 Watmull Prize of the American Historical Association. He is the author of eight books dealing with Asian and/or international politics, including The Struggle for Kashmir, The New States of Asia, Succession in India, as well as India and World Politics. In addition to his outstanding research on India, Brecher won the American Political Science Associa­tion Woodrow Wilson Foundation Book Award of 1973, for the best book publi­shed in the U.S.A. during 1972 on government, politics, or international affairs. After successful research on India and Israel, Brecher has initiated a large-scale inquiry to explain the beha­vior of some 30 states under crisis condi­tions from 1938 to 1975. The principal explanatory variable is perception of crisis, as derived from leaders’ images of stimuli from their environments. In particular, there are three perceptions, i.e., of threat; of time pressure; and of the likelihood of war. This research should generate knowledge which is theoretically significant, empirically bas­ed, and policy relevant. Given this brief overview of Brecher’s accomplish­ments and plans, consider now his two books on Israel. The Foreign Policy System of Israel is a breakthrough in the specification of a theoretical framework for the analysis of foreign policy decisions. The key assum­ption of the framew6rk is that images of decision making elites intervene bet­ween stimuli from the environment on the one hand, and decisions on the other hand. For example, many of Israel’s leaders have perceived themselves as being under the threat of extinction as a nation just as the Jewish people were almost eliminated during World War II. In this regard, ‘conciliatory’ actions by the Arab states are perceived as being due to temporary Arab weakness rather than to any basic change in ...

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