When Did American Jewish support for Israel Solidify?

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Sun Mar 9 13:17:38 MST 2003


At 1:45 PM -0600 3/9/03, LouPaulsen wrote:
>  > I am interested in knowing whether the 1967 war was the catalyst for
>>  unquestioning support of Israel within the American Jewish community, as
>>  N. Finklestein has argued, or whether it was something else.
>
>N. Finklestein is a smart guy.  I think this is a hard question to
>answer, because I think that before 1967 there was unquestioning
>support of Israel among BOTH the American Jewish community AND among
>all sectors of the US population except the anti-Semitic right.

Not so.  See the three sources that I've already posted here
(including from CNN and www.us-israel.org!), and here's another one:

*****   5-27-02: History Q & A

When Did the U.S. and Israel Become Allies? (Hint: Trick Question)

Mr. Cristol is the author of the forthcoming The Liberty Incident.

...When the concept of Zionism and establishment of a homeland for
the Jewish people was developing in Europe at the end of the 19th
century, the idea was not initially popular with the majority of
American Jews.

Following World War I, the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917
was a product of efforts by President Woodrow Wilson at the urging of
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. At that time, support for a
Jewish state by the United States and American Jews was not popular.

Following World War II and the Holocaust, the United Nations General
Assembly passed Resolution 181 on November 29, 1947, which devised a
plan to partition the British mandate of Palestine. The Jewish
community of Palestine accepted the plan, but the Arabs rejected it.
Britain withdrew from mandatory Palestine on May 14, 1948, and Israel
declared itself a State. Upon Israel's declaration of statehood, both
the United States and the Soviet Union immediately recognized the
state of Israel....

Although the United States immediately recognized Israel, it also
strictly enforced the Neutrality Act which prohibited the sale or
transfer of any military weapons to Israel. The 1948 War of
Independence established the state of Israel. No official assistance
was provided by the United States. For the first 17 years of its
existence, Israel did not receive any military or economic aid from
the United States government. In 1948, individual U.S. citizens
attempted to send arms to Israel in violation of the Neutrality Act.
Some efforts were successful. Some efforts failed and individuals
were prosecuted in federal courts. Some were treated sternly, and
others were treated more sympathetically. (The first U.S. military
weapons sold to Israel by the U.S. government were a few defensive
Hawk antiaircraft missile batteries in 1964.)

Still, in the late 1940s, the majority of American Jews were not in
favor of a Jewish state in Palestine. Israel shopped for arms around
the world and acquired a varied inventory of military hardware.
During this time frame, France was fighting Arabs in Algeria and
thus, according to the ancient Middle East adage, "The enemy of my
enemy is my friend," France became Israel's friend and primary
supplier of military hardware.

Israel bought jet fighters from France. First the Ouragan, then
Mysteres, Vatours, Super Mysteres, and finally, the Mirage IIIC,
which the French manufacturer Desault developed in cooperation with
Israel and with the loan of Israel's chief test pilot, Colonel Danny
Shapira.

In 1956, President Nasser of Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal and
closed the Strait of Tiran. Israel joined England and France in
operation Musketeer, a military action which swiftly captured the
Sinai and the Suez Canal.

Following their military success, England, France, and Israel were
coerced to withdraw from the canal and the Sinai by the United States
under the policy of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Secretary of
State John Foster Dulles.

At this point, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel became
strained and cold.

The Israelis continued to rely on their French military arms supplier
until the 1960s, when Charles de Gaulle came to power. De Gaulle made
peace with the Arabs and gave up the French claim to Algeria.
DeGaulle then began to mend fences with the Arabs and the first
victim of this new reality was the French-Israel connection.

By 1966, Israel had purchased and taken delivery of 76 Mirage IIIC
jet aircraft and had purchased and paid for 50 more. DeGaulle refused
to deliver the 50 additional jets and he also refused to refund the
purchase price, which Israel had paid in full. France also
constructed some missile boats for Israel at the Port of Cherbourg
for which Israel had also paid in full. DeGaulle refused to deliver
the boats but they ultimately found their way to Israel by way of an
incredible Israeli intelligence caper. (That fascinating story is
told in The Boats of Cherbourg by Abraham Rabinovich.)...

While the official U.S.-Israeli relationship had been first
indifferent from 1948 until 1956, and then cold from 1956 into the
1960s, one slender strand of cooperation had remained intact. During
World War II, Palestinian Jews had cooperated with the Office of
Strategic Services (OSS) in the fight against Nazi Germany. Following
WWII, the OSS became the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The U.S.
Chief of Counter Intelligence, James Jesus Angelton, developed,
maintained, and nurtured a symbiotic relationship between the CIA and
those Palestinian Jews who evolved into the Israeli Mossad....

Following...[Israel] turning over of the MiG-21 [that an Iraqi jet
fighter pilot flew from Iraq to Israel], President Johnson invited
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol to his ranch in Texas and Eshkol arrived
with a long shopping list. He left with promises of future U.S.
military supplies, including A-4 attack aircraft. Although the U.S.
military hardware did not arrive in time for the 1967 war, it
ultimately replaced the French source for military hardware and the
U.S.-Israel special relationship became closer and warmer.

In 1967, Israel was threatened with destruction by Egypt, Syria,
Jordan, Iraq, and other Arab countries and the June 1967 war
occurred. An excellent account of this war, commonly called the "Six
Day War," was recently published by Michael Oren - Six Days of War
(Oxford Press, 2002). Prior to the Six Day War, the continued
existence of Israel was in doubt. The U.S. relationship was becoming
warmer but at best the U.S. was a friendly neutral. Dean Rusk said
that being neutral was not an expression of indifference, but Israel
was not an ally. At the outbreak of the Six Day War, State Department
Spokesman Robert McClosky announced on behalf of the United States:
"Our position [on the war] is neutral in thought, word, and deed."

Following Israel's stunning victory in the Six Day War, a euphoria
set in around the world and strong support for the state of Israel
developed in the United States. American public opinion swung
dramatically in favor of Israel and for the first time in history, a
majority of American Jews became Zionists, that is they supported the
concept of a Jewish state....

<http://hnn.us/articles/751.html>   *****

The idea is that, only _after_ Israel decisively demonstrated its
military prowess, i.e., its capacity to become a strategic asset
rather than a strategic liability in the predominantly Arab region,
did the USG begin its "special relationship" with Israel, which in
turn belatedly warmed US public opinions, including US Jewish public
opinions, toward it.

One tendency in the pro-Palestinian US left that I think doesn't
serve the Palestinian cause at all is the tendency to _radically
overestimate_ the _strength and continuity_ of Zionist sentiments in
the US public in general and among US Jews in particular.  Even
today, only a minority of Jews are Zionists, and even Zionist ones
tend not to be rabidly so.  Rabid Zionists, of whom Jewish Zionists
are a tiny minority, are indeed _very vocal_, to be sure, but rabid
Jewish Zionists are hardly representative of Jewish opinions, and we
have to point out the fact that they are a tiny minority among Jews
_at every opportunity_.  As for Americans in general, they _hate_
foreign aid in general, and they have no particular love for aid to
Israel either.  This hatred of foreign aid we must exploit, giving it
a class-struggle and anti-imperialist spin.
--
Yoshie

* Calendar of Events in Columbus:
<http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/calendar.html>
* Student International Forum: <http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
* Solidarity: <http://solidarity.igc.org/>

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