The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa

Sasha Polakow-Suransky, Author
Sasha Polakow-Suransky, Author . Pantheon $27.95 (324p) ISBN 978-0-375-42546-2
Reviewed on: 04/19/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-0-307-38850-6
Hardcover - 324 pages - 978-1-77009-840-4
Open Ebook - 246 pages - 978-0-307-37925-2
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During the mid-1950s, the young state of Israel built diplomatic ties to postcolonial African nations on their common histories of oppression. But by 1987, Israel's alliances on the continent had completely changed—despite international sanctions, Israel maintained a close and covert relationship with South Africa; their military trade kept the Israeli economy vital and buttressed the faltering apartheid government. With recently declassified documents, Polakow-Suransky, an editor at Foreign Affairs , offers an important, provocative, and occasionally disturbing analysis of this clandestine alliance. He identifies two wars as decisive turning points in Israeli–South African relations. The 1967 Six-Day War and Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories alienated former friends and won it new enemies; and the 1973 Yom Kippur War left the economy “in shambles,” and created a powerful incentive for Israel to export arms to and cultivate its relations with the South African government. The author concludes his smart and readable study with a charged epilogue in which he writes that, as evinced by its policies towards Palestinians, Israel itself “risks remaking itself in the image of the old apartheid state.” (June)

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