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The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 25, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
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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“Hugely impressive . . . [Polakow-Suransky] probes in groundbreaking detail the illicit relationship Israel maintained with South Africa.”
—Dan Ephron, Newsweek
“The best-documented, most thorough, and most credible account ever offered of the secret marriage between the apartheid state and Israel . . . Polakow-Suransky is no knee-jerk critic of Israel, and he tells his story more in sorrow than in anger . . . [an] important new book.”
—Glenn Frankel, Foreign Policy
“[I]mportant, provocative, and occasionally disturbing.”
“A meticulously researched book that reads like a spy thriller . . . Polakow Suransky spent seven years on his project, conducting interviews with key players from Israel and South Africa, mining South Africa’s apartheid-era archive and resurrecting documents and articles that the Israeli Foreign Ministry would prefer remained forgotten. Rich with intrigue and shocking details but written without a trace of stridency, The Unspoken Alliance is the most authoritative account to date of Israel’s scandalous dealings with the apartheid regime of South Africa.”
—Max Blumenthal, The Nation
“Sasha Polakow-Suransky does an impressive job uncovering untold elements about the level and details of the South African and Israeli relationship . . . We should read this book, if only to see yet another example of the interconnectedness of our geopolitical affairs.”
—CSIS.org (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
“A deft, pacy and revealing account . . . admirably dispassionate.”
“In this path-breaking book, Sasha Polakow-Suransky traces the evolution of the alliance between Israel with apartheid South Africa from its murky beginning to its inglorious end following the transition to majority rule. The book is based on the most meticulous archival research supplemented by remarkably revealing interviews with decision-makers in several countries. It is a wise, elegantly written, and strikingly fair-minded book which deserves the widest possible readership.”
—Avi Shlaim, Professor of International Relations, Oxford University and author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World
“The Unspoken Alliance is interesting, unique and telling. Its lesson is very clear: Doing the right thing may also be the best political option. It also tells us that sometimes we need others to save us from ourselves.” —Yossi Beilin, former Israeli Minister of Justice and Director General of the Foreign Ministry
“This is a major, long overdue study of the rise and demise of one of the most intriguing alliances of our time, Israel’s hidden partnership with white South Africa. Dr. Polakow-Suransky has written a masterfully researched history that reads like a thriller unraveling the secrets of an alliance between two embattled societies under siege. Weaved into the author’s fascinating narrative lies the disturbing debate about the degree of moral end political congruence that might have existed between the two allies, Israel’s political and defense establishment on the one hand and the Afrikaner ‘master race’ on the other.”
—Shlomo Ben-Ami, Foreign Minister of Israel, 2000-2001
“An intensely observed, eye-opening book.”
Top customer reviews
Great book if you are interested in middle east history. Very well written and very informative with documented evidence and sources. There is much history involving So. Africa, Israel,the US and other western powers with much back-room dealins and dramas involving nuclear weapons and support of evil regimes. I first discovered this book at my local library and enjoyed it so much I decided to add it to my own library. Many events that are happening today in these turbulent times will make more sense after this read. Hard to put this book down. I recommend it, and gave it 4 out of 5 stars.
Definitely recommended to anyone interested in learning more about Israeli foreign policy during the apartheid era.
Apartheid South Africa committed human rights abuses against a majority of it's population. Yet, the regime fell from power and a new majority government runs South Africa today. Was Israel right to cooperate with Apartheid South Africa? How about rephrasing this question was West Germany and France right to cooperate with Iraq's chemical weapons development? Where is the Book on Iraq and Western Europe?
It is clear when it comes to international business and economic affairs strategic concerns will triumph over other issues. it is more so today then in the 1980s-that is how humans have always behaved!
However there is very little new information on the joint nuclear test in the South Atlantic.
This was the pinnacle of the secret relationship and the book is incomplete without a thorough account of it.