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September 24 , 2007

Decision on Palestine Deferred

America, Britain and Wartime Diplomacy, 1939-1945


Professor Penkower's latest book, Decision on Palestine Deferred, offers the first sustained, documented account of Palestine and the Anglo-American alliance during the Second World War. Firmly grounded in three decades of archival research, his spirited narrative offers a fascinating cast of characters against the backdrop of the larger Middle Eastern context. The latter relates to Jewish and Arab activities during the War, the grave threat of Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps, U.S. interest in Saudi Arabian oil, and the effort to achieve Arab unity. Zionism's shift to viewing the United States as the center of decision making in international affairs, and hence the Archimedean point for forging Jewry's destiny, occurred in these same six years. British anxieties about imperial security, while administering the Palestine mandate by means of a stringent immigration quota, jostled with the first American steps taken to formulate a stance vis-à-vis Palestine, and the region as a whole. The differing approaches of Churchill and Roosevelt to the Palestine imbroglio are also explored, as are the varied avenues that were then championed within the Jewish camp. The impact of the Holocaust, with both governments breathing the very spirit of defeatism and despair, surfaces throughout.

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