The birth of the US/Israel alliance

By Ted Belman

“What kind of an Israel do you want the Arabs to live with, and what kind of an Israel do you want the American people to support?”

In the aftermath of the Six Day War in which the US declared a neutral position but in fact helped the Arabs, PM Levi Eskol lead a delegation to President Johnson, cap in hand, asking for American Phantom planes.

Yehuda Avner, who was on the staff of five prime ministers, including Levi Eshkol, recounts the fascinating discussion in On the seventh day

Evidently, despite the glorious victory six months earlier, the Soviets were resupplying the Arabs at an enormous clip and Israel was weaker vis a vis the Arabs than before the war. France who had been Israel’s arms supplier had announced an arms embargo and Israel had no one to turn to but the previously neutral, if not hostile, US.

“That’s as may be, but I regret that your visit here is so closely tied to this matter of the Phantoms. Planes won’t radically change your realities. Your big problem is how two-and-a-half million Jews [Israel’s population at the time] can live in a sea of Arabs.

Secretary of state Dean Rusk, a solid and benevolent sort, chimed in to say in a reasonable and persuasive tone, “Mr. Prime Minister, in all honesty, whatever efforts Israel makes in the field of military build-up, the Arabs will better you every time. If the Arabs see an Israel they cannot live with, one that is intolerable to them, they won’t back away from an arms race. On the contrary, they will turn increasingly to the Soviets, to the detriment of the American interest. So what we would like to hear from you today is, what kind of an Israel do you want the Arabs to live with, and what kind of an Israel do you want the American people to support? The answer, surely, is not to be found in military hardware.”

The rest is history.

June 6, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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  1. a note for the record: israel is either the 3rd or 4th largest supplier of weapons and weapon systems in the world. because of our umbillical cord with American weapons especially aircraft Israel is being held back from being totally self sufficient in weapons and systems it needs to prevent the next reginal war. America and Dov Sakheim killed the lavie project due not so much as it burdening israls economy which then was patially true but because the project jeopradized American industrial hegemony of weapons, america supplies israel with weapons so it has leverage over Israel and gives it fig leaf cover for supplying Israels enemies and neighbors with same weapons, ergo It is in american american national interest to supply Israel. If israel were to bite the short term economic hardship and go for broke in trying to produce all it needs at home it would give a lot more political wiggle room with american pressure. it would provide tens of thousands of high pay skilled and technical human talent of which muvh would need to be imported from outside of Israel Thus it would increase quality aliya, enable Israel to sell to whom it pleased, and to have normal relationships with our allies and friends not as a suplicant and a burden. Problem with lavi project was the wings and engines were made in america which could alway be shut down if the Americans so chose, negating the idnependence of the project. My proposal was the have all made blue and white and then export a version to freindly countries to off set costs.Aircraft is big bottleneck for israeli economic and political independence.
    Aparently: Israel sold plans and know how to chinese who now produce a version of the plane to americas chigrin. Part of reason they killed our AWACS sale to china. which had a potential of reaching 6 billion dollars just from awacs to one country.

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