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Part II – In The Shadow of the Six Day War

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Tremendous victories were achieved by Israel in the 1967 War. Israelis called it a miracle. 

It slowly unravelled. 

The first unravelling was the "War of Attrition," which in essence was the attempt by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), particularly the artillery and air, to prevent Egypt from rebuilding its military forces – the war machine it had built up before 1967 with immense Soviet aid.  While primarily costly in matériel, the real cost of this war forced Israel into dependency on American military aid. Prior to the Six Day War, Israel's leaders had done what they could not to openly rely too heavily on the United States for arms, though it had received heavy tanks from the States via aid to West Germany.

The main foreign supplier of arms to the IDF was France. When the French decided to side with the Arabs in 1967 this began to change. The political atmosphere in the States was favorable to the Israelis, and American Jews gloried in seeking to get aid for the nation that had given them a renewed sense of pride. Thus, almost unnoticed, Israeli sovereignty began to slip from the fingers of her leaders. The most fortunate event that occurred during this period was when the Israelis "acquired" nuclear material to make missiles. It was the one really good thing that Shim'ón Peres did in the service of his country.

The Beginning of Arab Terror

The second strand of the unravelling of the miracle was the beginning of Arab terror against Israeli civilians. The terror campaign had the initial effect of making the Arabs look evil and vicious – they blew up a school in Ma'alót, planted pencil bombs that would blow up in the hands of little children, and similar acts. Innocents were usually targeted. But this was accompanied with a well funded propaganda campaign to reverse the roles of the combatants, constantly referring to the Israeli "Goliath" overshadowing the Arab (and later, "Palestinian") "David."

The turning point in this campaign of terror – revealing the success of the Arab propaganda effort – was the reaction to the murder of the Israeli Olympic athletes in the 1972 Munich games by the Arab terror organization, Black September. As wrong as the terror attack might have been, the distribution of Olympic medals was far more important in the eyes of the corporate world than a terror organization bringing dishonor to the international games.  

The shedding of human blood, particularly of Jewish blood, did not matter if it got in the way of the great publicity machine hustling the Olympics. The murder of the Israeli athletes was turned as much as possible into another form of entertainment for the hungry masses. In addition, the Arabs were able to get a certain amount of sympathetic coverage, with the line "poor Palestinians driven to terror" being capitalized upon constantly. The Arab propaganda planted in the late '60's and early '70's has echoed through three and a half decades of murderous terror attacks, always being used as the excuse to cover them and give them legitimacy.

The Yom Kippur War

The next strand in the unravelling was the co-ordinated Arab attack on Israel on 10 Tishrei, 5734 – the Yom Kippur War. That the "empire would strike back" was inevitable. But many other things were not.

Israel's leaders, now dependent on U.S. arms, quailed before American bullying – something that they did not do in 1967 – and waited for an Arab attack when they could have struck pre-emptively. They relied on America to fulfill promises of arms replenishment – which the Americans did not keep until the Secretary of Defense informed Richard Nixon, then president, of the duplicity of his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, in holding up arms resupply.

More important was the cold enmity towards Israelis around the world. In 1967, for example, blacks would drive through New York with huge flags of Israel on their cars to show their sympathy. Six years later, blacks in New York, now influenced by Arab propaganda, were cool at best and often openly hostile. I remember one black man telling me that "Israel was not a natural country". The Arab campaign of disinformation and lies – backed by the United States State Department – was succeeding.

Nation after nation broke ties with this country, even nations that had received aid from it. The breaking of ties by foreign nations, the American duplicity, the hostility of the world reflected at the United Nations, ought to have been a signal to the nation's leadership that it was time to assert the true character of the people of Israel, and act as and view itself as a nation reckoned alone. Indeed in 1973, it was. But the desire of the Zionists to be just like all the other nations overruled this impulse, and like a girl desperate for a lover, Israel began to chase for friends. This meant that her leaders caved in to foreign demands when they should have told the foreigners to go to hell.

History will not be kind to Golda Meir, z"l, in spite of all that she did to build this country. But it will be even less kind to Moshe Dayan. During the war, the one Israeli tactic that succeeded – the audacious attack on Egyptian tank lines that broke them by General Ariel Sharon – was fought tooth and nail by Security Minister Moshe Dayan, his superior.

If the enmity of the world, contempt of much of the world's press, and American duplicity weren't enough to signal that something was very wrong, the cease fire agreement reached at Tent 101 should have.

The IDF drove the Syrians off the Heights of Golan entirely and were advancing east northeast towards Damascus. It had invaded Egypt proper (in Africa) and had surrounded its vaunted 3rd Army while forces advanced on Cairo. The IDF, at the cost of over 2,500 dead in about three weeks (the equivalent of 135,000 American dead in a similar type of battle for survival), had repulsed a co-ordinated attack that could have destroyed the country, and had routed its enemies entirely.

At Tent 101, where negotiations were conducted, Israel was forced to give up land!

Israel was forced to withdraw to the status quo ante (4 October 1973) and surrender to the Syrians control of the city of El Quneitra. In the Sinai, Israel was forced to withdraw 10 kilometers east of the Suez Canal and withdraw from Africa entirely. A diplomatic defeat was dealt out to the victors in war by the American Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. The bitterness of that defeat acted like a poison that embittered the body politic here for years.

"Zionism is Racism"

The next unravelling was the appearance before the General Assembly of the late Yasser Arafat, a murdering terrorist, who broke the laws of the City and State of New York by carrying a holstered pistol to the meeting without a license. In that speech, he told the delegates that in one hand he had a pistol and in the other he had on olive branch. In truth, he never held an olive branch, but he put on a good enough show to fool millions of people. To top all this was the recognition of the PLO, a terrorist umbrella organization, as the "legitimate representative of the Palestinian people," which created a people out of a non-people on the strength of the lies of the Husseini clan, and a further resolution that condemned Zionism, the movement that built the State of Israel, as racism.

This was the signal for a strong Israeli leadership to expel United Nations personnel from Israel permanently and to take over direct control of the Arab refugee camps in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The United Nations had just declared war on Israel and did not deserve – as it does not deserve now – one square meter of land here, not to mention a presence in the most strategic spot in Jerusalem, Armon haNetziv. But the weak-kneed YitzHak Rabin, z"l, did not understand this and did not do it at all. In 1977, when his wife Leah was caught with her fingers in the cookie jar – it really was a penny ante scandal compared to the thefts of Olmert, Martin Schlaf and the late Yossi Ginosar – the anger was such that Rabin and the leftists were driven from office by a true nationalist, MenaHem Begin, z"l.

How Peace and War Both Further Unravelled the Miracle

The miracle further unravelled with two events – the "peace" treaty with Egypt and the invasion of Lebanon. Both occurred on Begin's watch.

The peace treaty appeared to be a good thing – except that Israel was forced to give up all of the Sinai Peninsula. A Pentagon study had shown years earlier that the minimum that Israel required for her security needs was control of Sharm es Sheikh (Yamit) in the south, and control of parts of the northern and central Sinai. Giving up all of the Sinai did not allow Israel her minimum requirements for security.

This was the first problem. The second problem was that by giving up the entire Sinai, it created a "little" Israel, instead of the spacious mini-empire that control of the Sinai gave. The third problem was that Israel would have to give up oil holdings – the Arabs and the Americans controlling the oil industry had used the Yom Kippur War as a cover to triple oil prices in 1973, which now meant that oil was a valuable asset. But all of these problems were dwarfed by something that the Israelis did not realize at all.  

When the late Anwar al Sadat was able to win back the Sinai from the Israelis without firing a shot, he injected a tremendous amount of hope into the Arabs living under Israeli rule in Gaza, Judea and Samaria that they could eject the Israelis entirely. This hope was to result in the creation of large terrorist bases in refugee camps and Arab towns, and in the intifada of the late 1980's. This then leapfrogged into the development of Hamas and later HizbAllah.

The second event that occurred was the Lebanon War – the first Lebanon War. The original "Peace in Galilee" campaign was to advance to the Litani River and to stop, driving the El Fatah terrorists from the territory, and occupying it, thus preventing further terrorist attacks from Lebanon. But Security Minister Ariel Sharon turned the campaign into a full-scale invasion of Lebanon, as far as Beirut. This was the first time that the Jewish state had gone to war in a situation that was not an issue of self-defense against attack, and it appeared to many that an unspoken covenant had been broken, particularly after Security Minister Sharon ordered the IDF to advance beyond the Litani River.

The nature of the poison that had spilled into Israeli political life began to show itself at the Battle of Sultan Yakub, where a tank division of largely religious soldiers was allowed to advance into an ambush by their commanders, Colonel Ehud Barak and Amram Mitzna, both secular Jews and later major figures in the Labor Party. Twenty three soldiers were killed in that ambush and three soldiers went missing, including Zechariah Baumel (whose father, Yona, is on the board of the Root & Branch Association, Ltd. in Jerusalem).

But the real problem with Sharon's invasion of Lebanon was that his goal –  the destruction of El Fatah as fighting force – thwarted by the United States government, which arranged for Arafat, along with people like Mahmoud Abbas, to live, and to leave for Tunis. This rendered the Israeli invasion worthless and created, for the first time, a real element of questioning the validity of the actions of the IDF among Israelis. This led to an acceptance among some of the elites here of something called "post-Zionism", which revises the history of the country to present it as though we Jews who have sought to re-settle our home as a people are colonial villains with no rights, while the Arabs, many of whom immigrated here from Iraq or Syria during the period of British rule with their encouragement, had rights that extended centuries back.

The event that was decisive in changing the nature of the invasion was a massacre of "Palestinian" Arab refugees at the Sabra and Shatila camps by a Christian Lebanese militia force, known as the Phalangists.

The fact that thousands of Lebanese Christians had been killed during the Lebanese civil war by "Palestinian" Arabs was ignored by the world's press; so was the fact that five thousand "Palestinian" rebels had been killed by General Zia ul Haq in Jordan in 1970. The fact that Security Minister Sharon was supposed to watch over the Phalangist forces for possible abuses was focused in on like a laser.

In the end, Israeli forces withdrew to the Litani and a zone south of it to prevent Arabs from firing missiles into Israel. But not before major internal damage had been done to the country's political structures and the trust that Israelis placed in the IDF.

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About Ruvy

Hi!! Thanks for coming to my article! I was raised in Brooklyn, was graduated from the City University of New York in 1978 with a BA in political science and public administration there. I lived in Minnesota for a number of years. There I managed restaurants and wrote stories. We moved with our children family to Israel where we now reside. My work can be found at Ruvy's Roost, Jewish Indy,, and on Facebook under my full name, Reuven Kossover
  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    This reminiscence by Yehuda Avner, in the Jerusalem Post, shows what happened because Israel had not taken prompt advantage of its new position by allowing Arabs to leave and cementing their hold on the Temple Mount with a synagogue. Both acts would have told the Arabs that Israel was not interested in peace, but in security, and did not place its trust in arms, but in the G-d Who commanded us here. As long as the Arabs felt they had a potential victim, a neighbor always pining for peace, they could afford not to care about peace.

    Avner reached an erroneous conclusion from this reminiscence of his. The “special” relationship with America was to turn sour and provide the Americans with the tool to dominate and finally begin to dismantle the country, the process that began when Golda Meier quailed in fear in 1973. Avner could not know that in 1968 when his boss, Levi Eshcol, was pleading for his country’s fate like a beggar. But thirty nine years on, he should be willing to understand that and state it openly.

    The inability to openly state cold facts and hard realities has always crippled the Israeli leadership.