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Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Hardcover – January 14, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Elliott Abrams played a major role in the development of Mid-East policy during the Bush administration. He has written an excellent account that will be an invaluable source for future historians and for all who want to understand one of the most important chapters of that era." - Richard B. Cheney, Former Vice President of the United States

"Elliott Abrams was at the epicenter of President Bush's commitment to forge a sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tested by Zion, Abrams's fascinating new book, takes the reader inside the debates that took place in the Oval Office with the president and his senior advisors on Middle East peace." - Dr. Henry Kissinger, Former United States Secretary of State

"Elliott Abrams has written the definitive insider account of the U.S.-Israeli relationship during the critical years under President George W. Bush. This fascinating, important book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of Israel, the U.S.-Israeli relationship, and the prospects for peace in the Middle East." - Joseph I. Lieberman, United States Senator (Independent-Connecticut)

"Abrams's riveting insider account of the Bush administration's policies and actions with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a must-read. Chock-full of details that are relevant not only to historians but to future policy makers, Tested by Zion is accessible, readable, and brilliantly presented. Although I don't always agree with my former student, Elliott Abrams, I always learn from him and am proud to have been one of his teachers. This book really matters." - Alan M. Dershowitz, Harvard Law School, Author of Trials of Zion (2010)

"Elliott Abrams has written an excellent book on a hitherto neglected aspect of Bush administration foreign policy. Meticulous and yet gripping, Tested by Zion weighs the opportunities for diplomacy against its limitations more convincingly than any other account I've seen of the recent Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Highly recommended." - John Lewis Gaddis, Yale University

"Mr. Abrams's book is the definitive history of the last Republican president's considerable accomplishments in the Levant." -Wall Street Journal

"The book is not only a fascinating yarn for those of us who report on or follow closely the Middle East but also a tour de force of diplomatic history which captures an era and set of characters like few books have done." -Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post

"Israelis, Americans, and others who read Tested by Zion will gain important insights not only into the history and nature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also the inner workings of American foreign policy." - Itamar Rabinovich, Jewish Review of Books

"...[TESTED BY ZION] represents the single most cogent statement of the neoconservative analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict." Michael Doran, The Weekly Standard

"...'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." -Glenn Kessler, Washington Post

"From his experience as a senior adviser on the U.S. National Security Council, Abrams provides an intelligent and astonishingly detailed chronicle of the George W. Bush administration's failed attempts at solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." -John Waterbury, Foreign Affairs

"...Abrams' work constitutes a very important addition to the library of books by American officials on Washington's role in Middle East peacemaking." -Oded Eran, The Israel Journal of Foreign Affair

"...many will find Abrams's pointed criticisms and historical descriptions to be a refreshing departure from some of the more political and popular accounts of the peacemaking process, which tend to be more overtly political and pro-Israel." -Christopher J. Dolan, H-Diplo

"....detailed, frank, and perceptive account of the George W. Bush administration's involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." -Nathan Thrall, New York Review of Books

"This book is a necessary addition to collections with audiences particularly interested in US foreign policy toward the Middle East and US-Israeli relations." -Sanford R. Silverburg, Catawba College, Salisbury, NC

Book Description

This book tells the inside story of America's policy toward Israel and the Palestinians during the Bush years. Elliott Abrams was the deputy national security advisor who handled Middle Eastern affairs. From Bush, Cheney, Powell, and Rice to Arafat, Sharon, and the kings and sheiks of the Arab world, Abrams takes you inside the White House to understand how policy was really made. These matters are touched on in Bush's and Rice's memoirs, but are only fully examined and explained here - sometimes with admiration, sometimes with sharp criticism, always with new insights and new stories about what really happened.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1107031192
  • ISBN-13: 978-1107031197
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #918,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This work by the White House official with the most responsibility for the issues and who was very close to the president does two things well.
First, it explains by means of a well-researched narrative, quotations and anecdotes exactly what happened and why it happened. Because of his many years in government and credibility, Abrams has been able not only to recreate the events by review of his own calendar and note-taking, but also his access to key US, Israeli, Arab and European players in office then and now. Facts and insights provided by the author and his interviewees make the reader feel present in the room or listening in on the phone conversations.
Second, Abrams' narrative again and again helps readers appreciate that not only did President Bush remain engaged and active because both his heart and head were in the issue, but also that the Israelis have yet to have a true negotiating partner in the Palestinian leadership. Some are too weak to be effective; some are too determined to eliminate their opponents. All that is explained convincingly in this book. And perhaps most tragic, Abrams recounts Ariel Sharon's lament delivered with great emotion and clarity, that as long as the Palestinian leaders teach their society to hate Jews and to glorify violence, peace is not possible. Nor, sadly, is democracy, which Abrams makes clear is the only long-term solution to the problems in the Middle East.
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You really need to read quite a bit about the middle east and Israel to fully understand what's going on these days. It's not what you are being told and shown in the media. This book is a good start to the process and he does a good job of documenting the Bush administrations efforts. There's a couple takeways, that aren't really spoilers:
1. The Palestinians have had some really decent offers on the table, and stupidly rejected them.
2. Israels given quite a bit in this process, more than most will knowledge. But they will only go so far.
3. Good lord I miss professionals and adults in charge of these matters.

It's a great view into the Bush years dealings with Israel. Many didn't like the guy, or his staff. But give them props, they understood what was needed, and knew how to negotiate. You may not agree with their viewpoint, but they had a plan and knew what they were doing and knew when to back off. The quotes from the interactions with Sharon and Bush were priceless. Especially Bush's reply when Sharon said we'd never tolerate Mexico lobbing missiles into Texas.
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Reading Tested by Zion was my effort to understand the pro-Israeli view at the White House level a little better. Bush and his team included the author, Elliott Abrams, and they worked mightily to promote a peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. At the end Abrams concludes that "there is hope, but no chance" for peace. Interesting and readable and gives another part of the picture for several key players. like Rice, Sharon, and Abbas. i recommend this book for anyone interested in the Israeli view of the entire situation, compared to the Palestinian Authority position. I was enlightened particularly on why the Israelis are so immoveable on some issues in contention, like "right of return" to Israel for Palestinian refugees, among other things. Read and find out.
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In 2014-2015, relationship between Israel and the American administration reached one of its all time nadirs; Israel's Minister of Defense called the American Secretary of State, John Kerry, ”Messianic and Obsessive”. White House officials called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "a coward” and “chickenshit”.After Netanyahu, in his 2015 reelection campaign, declared his opposition to a two-state solution, the Prime Minister tried to walk back on his opposition, Obama wasn't having any of it. He was, in effect, calling the Prime Minister of Israel a liar.

But US-Israeli relations have been bad before; what was new during the Obama administration was that while the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu worsened, a love affair was blooming between Netanyahu and the Republican party. The most notable aspect of Israeli-American relationship in 2015 so far has been John Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu, extended without the President's knowledge, to speak before the Congress against the impending US deal with Iran. The Speaker and the House and the Prime Minister were plotting to embarrass Obama and to enhance Netanyahu's prospects before the Israeli election. The very public split was just the most public, but not the first, time in which the alliance between the Israeli right wing government and the Republicans manifested itself; Among other things, it is fueled by the resources of Jewish American mogul Sheldon Adelson, who is a main backer of both Netanyahu and the Republican Presidential challengers.

How did Israel become a partisan issue in the US? While this development has many causes, including of course the increasing partisanship of American politics in general, the nexus of the change came during the George W. Bush administration.
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Abrams' book is a bit granular, but he unveils the inner workings of the Bush 43 White House in its relations with Israel and the PA. He confirms that, just like his predecessor, Abu Mazen just can't do a deal that would result in a homeland for Palestinians. He seems to be all or nothing, and neither side is going to get all. What was most fascinating are his reflections on Secretary Rice and her negotiating style. A good read.
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