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Book Reviews57 Middle East Mission: The Story ofa Major Bidfor Peace in the Time of Nasser and Ben-Gurion. By Elmore Jackson. New York and London, W. W Norton & Co., 1983. 124 pp. $12.95. Among the many efforts to bring peaceful relations between Israel and her Arab neighbors is this one in August and September of 1955, the year before the Suez War. Elmore Jackson, who at that time was director ofQuaker liaison with the United Nations, became one ofthe early practitioners ofshuttle diplomacy, visiting Jerusalem and Cairo three times each within six weeks to try to find the basis for a negotiated settlement. Although the Jackson mission has been known in restricted circles the full story has never before been published. The initiative came from the Egyptians. Ambassador Hussein in Washington, backed by the foreign minister, Dr. Fawzi, and by Prime Minister Nasser, approached the Quakers. A meeting of Hussein with Clarence Pickett and Delbert Replogle led finally to agreement among Friends that Elmore Jackson would take on the assignment. A characteristic of the Quaker mission was the careful preliminary consultation with key United Nations people (Andrew Cordier), State Department officials (George Allen), Israeli diplomats (Abba Eban), and American Jews (Jacob Blaustein). Jackson set out on August 3 . The people in Elmore Jackson's account are as interesting as the problems. On the Israeli side he met with foreign minister Moshe Sharrett, his assistant Gideon Rafael, defense minister David Ben Gurion, and others. In Egypt he talked with Nasser three times as well as with Dr. Fawzi and Meado Zaki and others. Ben Gurion seemed to be enthusiastic about a face-to-face meeting with Nasser. Nasser was genuinely interested in the possibilities. But under the impression of the massive Israeli attack on Gaza of the preceding February and of a renewed attack on Khan Yunis during Jackson's mission Nasser did not find the time exactly right. As it was, Jackson helped to create some little feeling of trust and to defuse a critical situation when the Israelis postponed their Khan Yunis attack, albeit for two days only, and when Nasser canceled a radio address that might have announced mobilization. But there was no Nasser-BenGurion meeting and no settlement. Elmore Jackson believes in the sincerity ofboth sides but he also sees that neither was willing to give quite enough to attract the other to negotiation. Instead the situation, already fragile because of Israel's massive reprisals in reply to fedayeen raids into Israel from the Egyptiancontrolled Gaza strip and because of French arming ofIsrael, caused 58Quaker History Nasser to look to the East block for arms when the United States would not supply them. Jackson thinks that the Egyptian-Czech arms deal of late September 1955 might have been forestalled with a little more urging on his part and on the part of the Washington government . As a totally unofficial conciliator, however, Jackson was not au courant with all American government moves and thinking. The account would be easier to follow with a few more dates in it: some days during the shuttle, mostly through Cyprus but also via Athens and Jordan, seem lost to the reader. It is a little odd to meet Clarence Pickett once or twice as "Mr. Pickett." However, the account is interesting and well written although rather spare. It will take its place with Mike Yarrow's Quaker Experiences in International Conciliation (Yale University Press, 1978) and some older writings on Quaker peace-making efforts. It shows the value of a "concerned but independent third party," as Elmore Jackson puts it. George Washington UniversityRoderic H. Davison ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 57-58
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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