Historian John B. Judis Seeks Answers to the Middle East Conflict By Looking Back to the Truman Era


Article and Photo by Kansas City Library

(Kansas City, Missouri) – The last 60 years have seen raging conflict between Jews and Arabs – a violent, costly struggle that has had catastrophic repercussions in a critical region of the world.


How much is the United States to blame for this unhappy situation?


That is the question historian John B. Judis examines in a discussion of his new book Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict on Tuesday, February 25, 2014, at 6:30 p.m. at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.


Judis asserts that while Israelis and Palestinians must shoulder much of the blame, the United States must account for its repeated failed efforts to resolve this enduring strife.


He traces the fatal flaw in American policy to the Truman administration, when President Harry S. Truman endorsed the idea of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine. What happened between 1945 and 1949 sealed the fate of the Middle East for the remainder of the century, Justis maintains. An understanding of that era holds the key to explaining almost everything that follows – including George W. Bush’s unsuccessful effort to win peace through Palestinian elections, and Barack Obama’s failed attempt to bring both parties to the negotiating table.


A provocative narrative history peopled by colorful and outsized personalities, Genesis offers a fresh look at these critical postwar years, arguing that if we can understand how this stalemate originated, we will be better positioned to help end it.


Judis is a senior editor at The New Republic and has also written for GQ, Foreign Affairs, Mother Jones, The New York Times Magazine, and The Washington Post. He is the author of The Folly of Empire and The Emerging Democratic Majority, among other books.


Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th & Baltimore.  RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.


Updated: February 10, 2014 — 2:40 pm
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