Friends in Deed Essay - Critical Essays

Friends in Deed

Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman have credentials that are clearly apparent in FRIENDS IN DEED, their second collaborative effort at writing a book. Journalists both—the former a correspondent for CBS News and the latter a commentator for the Israeli daily HA’ARETZ—they know how to scoop the poop.

Drawing on their established insider contacts, their embroilment in Israeli affairs, and a well-documented list of written resources, they provide agonizing details of a forced, and understandably covert, partnership between visionaries and hawks in both the United States and British mandated Palestine that led to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. From its inception through battle, Israel drew ravenously upon America’s human resources, foreign financial aid, and military arsenal. Israel’s initial survival, the authors verify, owes a large debt to the convincing rhetoric and tenuous—though profitable—personal relationships among key U.S. politicians and the Israeli state-builders. Primarily, the authors explain, the state-builders secured American aid by effectively pulling on American heartstrings over the horror of the Holocaust and the need for a Jewish state as a haven for the world’s persecuted Jews.

Once Israel’s statehood was assured, the United States and Israel’s ties thickened much as a consequence of the American Jewish lobby, but also for reasons of mutual national security and stability. Raviv and Melman explore intricate connections between the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the Israeli Mossad, American mobsters and Israel’s official and unofficial budget, and nuclear arms and a binational spying operation.

Although factual information is abundant and well documented, the book as a whole suffers from poor writing. Drawing on their journalistic training, the authors slighted literary clarity in an apparent rush to publish their account concurrent with the hubbub of Middle East peace accords and worldwide front-page newspaper coverage of Israeli-Arab affairs.