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How to Prepare for Obama's Israel Trip

8:21 AM, Mar 18, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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To prepare for President Obama's trip to Israel this week, it's worth reading Elliott Abrams's book Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

"Tested by Zion is two books in one. In addition to being a candid memoir, it is a meticulous history, peppered with passages from interviews with the key American, European, and Middle Eastern participants in the events. These testimonials alone make this an indispensable source for anyone interested in understanding the evolution of American policy toward the Middle East. But this is no mere chronicle; its heart and soul is a defense of Bush’s departure from the foreign policy “consensus.” As such, it represents the single most cogent statement of the neoconservative analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict," writes Michael S. Doran about Abrams's book in this magazine.

Glenn Kessler's review of the book in the Washington Post states: 

Sometimes the most revealing administration memoirs are not written by the key principals. Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush, merits just seven references in Condoleezza Rice’s memoir, one reference in Bush’s book and none in Vice President Richard Cheney’s account of administration policymaking. Yet Abrams had a front-row seat — and played a critical role — in nearly all eight years of the Bush administration’s efforts to forge peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Less burdened by the need to burnish his image and still seething at what he believes was a misguided lunge at peacemaking glory in the final months of Bush’s presidency, Abrams exposes tensions, mishaps and personality conflicts that had been glossed over in earlier accounts. In particular, he writes of sharp divisions between Rice and Israeli officials that mirror the current conflicts between Israel and the Obama administration.

Some of the details — including excerpts from diplomatic texts — may be too much for some readers, but “Tested by Zion” will be catnip for anyone interested in diplomatic history or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abrams’s account of the difficult choices faced by the administration — and the policy decisions it made — will fuel endless debate for generations of students studying international affairs.

Abrams's book is available on Amazon.com.

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