Why did MLK not condemn Israel’s actions in the twenty years between 1948 and 1968, at a time when Israel stood repeatedly in the dock? And why didn’t he say anything about the Palestinian “plight,” especially as he got a high-level tutorial on the subject during a visit to East Jerusalem in 1959? An exploration of possible influences, from Reinhold Neibuhr to King's own personal experience.
The Netflix series The Crown includes a scene depicting British prime minister Anthony Eden nearly misleading Queen Elizabeth about the role of Israel in the 1956 Suez "collusion." The author considers whether the depiction is accurate.
The two parts of this essay were published in November 2017. Visit the Mosaic Magazine website for responses by Benny Morris, Michael Mandelbaum, and Harvey Klehr. The Russian translation of the first part appeared in Лехаим № 4 (312), апрель 2018.
The author revisits the making of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and demonstrates that the Lloyd George government only issued it after receiving the prior approval of other Allied governments. The role of Zionist diplomat Nahum Sokolow is given particular attention.
The two parts of this essay were published in June 2017. Visit the website of Mosaic Magazine for the responses by Nicholas Rostow, Allan Arkush, and Colin Shindler. The Arabic translation of the first part, by Ahmad M. Jabir, appeared in Al-Hadaf, January 20, 2018.
“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!” Martin Luther King was supposed to have said this at a dinner party in Cambridge, Massachusetts, shortly before his death. Critics claimed he could not have said this because he could not be placed in Cambridge at the time. They thus insinuated that the quote must have been invented by Harvard’s Seymour Martin Lipset, who reported it. The author relies on King’s papers to establish a firm address, host, date, and time for the dinner. But he also bring evidence (from FBI wiretaps) of King’s profound ambivalence about Israel’s 1967 victory. King supported Israel’s right to exist, but he thought Israel would have to disgorge its military conquests.
Amalgamates and revises three posts from Kramer's blog Sandbox.
Kramer, Martin. “The Exodus Conspiracy.” In The War on Error: Israel, Islam, and the Middle East, 245-52. New Brunswick, NJ and London: Transaction Publishers, 2016.Abstract
The author examines the oft-repeated claim that the famous 1958 novel Exodus by Leon Uris was set in motion by a scheming New York advertising man, and not by Uris himself. Through the testimony of witnesses who were there, the author shows that this is untrue.
Conventional wisdom holds that the Israeli-Palestinian status quo is "unsustainable." Yet it has been remarkably resilent in the face of the distruptive changes sweeping the Middle East. This article explains why the status quo has been so durable, and why it is likely to endure in the future.
Israel in its early years built the foundations of its national security in defiance of the United States. Israel's growing dependence on the United States since 1967 has eroded its freedom of action, posing a question of whether it will be able to act decisively should its future leaders wish to do so.
Many believe that the 1916 Anglo-French partition of the Ottoman Empire, known as the Sykes-Picot agreement, was a precursor to the Balfour Declaration. To the contrary: Zionists regarded it as "fatal" to their plans, and they worked to undermine it. The Balfour Declaration negated Sykes-Picot, and superseded it.
In The War on Error, historian and political analyst Martin Kramer presents a series of case studies, some based on pathfinding research and others on provocative analysis, that correct misinformation clouding the public’s understanding of the Middle East. He also offers a forensic exploration of how misinformation arises and becomes “fact.”
The book is divided into five themes: Orientalism and Middle Eastern studies, a prime casualty of the culture wars; Islamism, massively misrepresented by apologists; Arab politics, a generator of disappointing surprises; Israeli history, manipulated by reckless revisionists; and American Jews and Israel, the subject of irrational fantasies. Kramer shows how error permeates the debate over each of these themes, creating distorted images that cause policy failures.
Kramer approaches questions in the spirit of a relentless fact-checker. Did Israeli troops massacre Palestinian Arabs in Lydda in July 1948? Was the bestseller Exodus hatched by an advertising executive? Did Martin Luther King, Jr., describe anti-Zionism as antisemitism? Did a major post-9/11 documentary film deliberately distort the history of Islam? Did Israel push the United States into the Iraq War? Kramer also questions paradigms—the “Arab Spring,” the map of the Middle East, and linkage. Along the way, he amasses new evidence, exposes carelessness, and provides definitive answers.
The author recalls his long friendship with the late Shabtai Teveth, renowned journalist and the biographer of David Ben-Gurion. Teveth, largely unknown to younger readers, may have been the first to challenge the excesses of the “new historians," and his work deserves to be rediscovered.
Much maligned for his truth-telling about Arab political culture, Fouad Ajami became the bête noire of the Middle East studies establishment. Some went so far as to call him “pro-Israel,” even a “Likudnik.” The author knew Ajami from his student days, and often assisted him on his visits to Israel. The article sets the record straight on Israel in Ajami’s worldview.
Martin Kramer's address at the inauguration of the Rubin Center at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel is devoted to a discussion of Barry Rubin's view of U.S. policy in the Middle East, especially under the Obama administration. The relationship between the administration's ideological commitments and more traditional foreign policy realism is explored.
Barry Rubin, analyst of the Middle East, followed an improbable journey, from a radical of the 1960s American left, to a hard-nosed Israeli critic of Arab politics and U.S. policy. Martin Kramer recalls his long friendship with Rubin, and traces the stages in his evolution as an intellect and scholar.
The Israeli documentary film Censored Voices purports to uncover damaging testimonies of war crimes dating back to the June 1967 Six-Day War, massively censored by the Israeli military. Martin Kramer looks critically at the evidence, and finds that the claim is a fabrication.
In a changing Middle East, some argue that Israel should align itself with the region's minorities. Martin Kramer warns against the reliance on the weakest elements in the region, which are more likely to drain Israeli power than enhance it.
Martin Kramer's critique of the chapter "Lydda, 1948" in Ari Shavit's bestselling book My Promised Land, including responses by Efraim Karsh and Benny Morris. The debate focuses on whether there was an Israeli massacre of Palestinian Arabs following the conquest of Lydda in July 1948.
The article includes responses from Efraim Karsh and Benny Morris. It was republished in The War on Error (2016). This entry includes pdfs of the web version (including illustrations and map), and the book chapter version (including footnotes).