Making David into Goliath - Encounter Books

Making David into Goliath

How the World Turned Against Israel

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Publication Details

Hardcover / 296 pages
ISBN: 9781594037351
PUBLISHED: 07/08/2014

Making David into Goliath
How the World Turned Against Israel

During the Six Day War of 1967, polls showed that Americans favored the Israelis over the Arabs by overwhelming margins. In Europe, support for Israel ran even higher. In the United Nations Security Council, a British resolution essentially gave Israel the terms of peace it sought and when the Arabs and their Soviet supporters tried to override the resolution in the General Assembly, they fell short of the necessary votes.

Fast forward 40 years and Israel has become perhaps the most reviled country in the world. Although Americans have remained constant in their sympathy for the Jewish state, almost all of the rest of the world treats Israel as a pariah.

What caused this remarkable turnabout? Making David into Goliath traces the process by which material pressures and intellectual fashions reshaped world opinion of Israel. Initially, terrorism, oil blackmail, and the sheer size of Arab and Muslim populations gave the world powerful inducements to back the Arab cause. Then, a prevalent new paradigm of leftist orthodoxy, in which class struggle was supplanted by the noble struggles of people of color, created a lexicon of rationales for taking sides against Israel. Thus, nations can behave cravenly while striking a high-minded pose in aligning themselves on the Middle East conflict.

About the Author

Joshua Muravchik, a Distinguished Fellow at the World Affairs Institute, is the author of hundreds of articles appearing in all major U.S. newspapers and intellectual magazines, as well as ten previous books including Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism; Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America’s Destiny; Trailblazers of the Arab Spring: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East; and Liberal Oasis: The Truth About Israel.


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Under both wartime presidents the Jews enjoyed popular sympathy, and public opinion supported Zionist aims, insofar as it was aware of them.

The views of America’s military and diplomatic leaders were, however, quite to the contrary. Diplomatic cables revealed to a postwar commission examining the Palestine problem showed that each time the White House had made promises to the Jews the State Department hastened to tell Arab leaders to disregard them. And after one Truman statement supporting further Jewish emigration to Palestine, senior American diplomat Loy Henderson went so far as to apologize to the British ambassador for the department’s inability to control the president.

Needless to say, Truman was a politician, and there were more Jews in America than any other country, especially after most of the others had been killed by Hitler. Undoubtedly Zionists lobbied him hard, to the point that he often expressed irritation. But to ascribe Truman’s actions to political considerations is unconvincing. He had a stronger reputation than any other president in modern times for doing what he thought right rather than expedient. And his support for Zionism began when he represented Missouri, a state where Jewish influence was insignificant.

Throughout his presidency “the State Department and Truman were at loggerheads” on Palestine, write the Radoshes. Uncharacteristically, the third of Truman’s Secretaries of State, General George C. Marshall, began as a visceral Zionist sympathizer with scant knowledge of the issue. But by the time the department’s Middle East experts finished briefing him he reversed his position completely. Once Truman decided to cast the American vote in favor of partition and to recognize Israel, he had to go to lengths to persuade Marshall not to resign in protest and oppose him publicly. This showed the toughness for which Truman was renowned, and which his predecessor did not share. David Niles, a White House aide who served both presidents, later wrote that he doubted Israel would have come into existence had FDR lived out his term.

Passage of the resolution in the General Assembly required a two-thirds majority. The American decision influenced others but was not sufficient to assure the outcome. Surprisingly, the Kremlin, never a friend to Zionism, decided also to support partition, calculating that the departure of the British from Palestine would enhance its own influence. This constituted one of the rare instances when a state’s calculus of realpolitik worked to the Jews’ advantage.