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Image of Mine! The never-ending fight over Palestine

Obama is currently getting criticized because of his recent speech asserting that the US government officially supports a two-state solution based on Israel's pre-1967 borders along with negotiated land swaps.

The US government continues to be very active in Middle East affairs. In fact, Israel is the largest total recipient of direct economic and military assistance from the US. But this wasn't always the case. The governments of the US and Israel have not always had such a close relationship. It is primarily since 1967 that the US and Israel's relationship grew.

For example, although the US was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948, the US did not supply arms or financial support to Israel for approximately the first 15 years of the country's existence. It wasn't until 1962 that the US government sold the first major weapons system to Israel. (The justification being that the Egyptian president was buying long-range bombers from the Soviet Union.) Before that, France had supplied a majority of weapons to Israel, thinking Israel's cooperation might be helpful fighting the Algerian War against the FLN independence movement.

In 1966, the US sold its first jet bombers to Israel. With its US weapons and support, in 1967, Israel launched a surprise attack during the Six Day War. As a result, Israel seized the remainder of Palestine (i.e., the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem). Israel also seized Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Syria's Golan Heights.

For over a century, Muslims and Jews have fought over Palestine, both making theological and historical claims. Jews make claim to the land based upon four premises: "1) God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham; 2) the Jewish people settled and developed the land; 3) the international community granted political sovereignty in Palestine to the Jewish people and 4) the territory was captured in defensive wars." Muslims make claim to Jerusalem based upon it being one of their ancestral holy cities, mentioned implicitly and explicitly in the Muslims' holy book - the Qur'an - and the Hadith.

To understand all of the fighting around Israel, it's useful to understand the history. Although the religious claims and disagreements go back thousands of years, we'll start with World War I.

Based on historical imperialistic policies in Europe, between 1914 and 1918, the Allies fought against the Central Powers in World War I. The Allies defeated the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. Resulting from the war, the previously Turkish-owned Ottoman Empire (which includes modern-day Israel) was partitioned and the League of Nations was formed in the hope of preventing another such conflict.

(As an aside, in 1795, Immanuel Kant wrote Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch which outlined an idea for a "league of nations" to create "a law of nations" for controlling conflict and promoting peace. Perhaps Kant's idea wasn't very good as, when implemented, the League of Nations clearly failed in its mission. World War II began a short 21 years after it was established.)

To administer parts of the defunct Ottoman Empire, the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations) granted sovereign authority of Palestine to Britain for 25 years - from 1923 to 1948. This was called the Palestine Mandate.

In 1947, as Britain was getting to withdraw from Palestine, the United Nations passed a resolution called the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine. The idea was to divide British Palestine into two states: one Jewish and one Arab. When Britain withdrew in 1948, Israel unilaterally established itself even though the parties did not yet agree on the terms.

Israel's Declaration of Independence led to the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The Palestinians never did get their own state and remain in a political limbo primarily within the West Bank and Gaza. The two parties continue fighting.

Why is it that the US became much more supportive of Israel? Do you think Obama's speech will make any difference in the Middle East? Do you agree with the position of a two-state solution based on Israel's pre-1967 borders and negotiated land swaps? What do you think should be done to resolve this problem? Is religion a proper basis for property rights? Is it possible for Israel to be safe and/or defend itself with pre-1967 borders? Should the US be sticking its nose into other people's business? Is it possible that Israel will allow the Palestinians their own state if the Palestinians switch to non-violent protests? Do you think we will ever see peace in the Middle East?

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...

At this point in the mid-1960s, an interesting event occurred. The Israeli Mossad sent an American female agent to Iraq where she cultivated a romance with Munir Redfa, an Iraqi jet fighter pilot who had been trained both in the United States and the Soviet Union. The pilot, a Christian Arab, was married and had two children. The agent lured him to Paris. When they arrived, the eager prospective lover was told, "This is not about sex. If you would like a handsome sum of money and your family out of Iraq, take this ticket and false passport and fly to Tel Aviv. Otherwise, you may fly back to Iraq."

The Iraqi pilot made the trip to Tel Aviv and ultimately his family left Iraq. Then, on a lovely clear day, he flew an Iraqi Air Force MiG-21 to Israel, where the family was reunited and he got his handsome amount of dollars.

In 1966, the MiG-21 was the Soviet first line jet fighter and no Western country had been able to get near one.

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.

The Israelis assigned Colonel Danny Shapira to study the MiG-21 and after a short time, they turned it over to the United States Central Intelligence Agency. (Danny Shapira trained a U.S. Air Force F-111 Test Pilot, Lt. Joe Jordan to fly it and the MiG-21 was sent to the United States where it spent a lot of time in an Aggressor Squadron at a U.S. Air Force Base in Nevada.)

Needless to say, the CIA and the U.S. Air Force were delighted with access to the Soviet's first line fighter and the chill of the Eisenhower/Dulles years began to thaw.

Following the turning over of the MiG-21, 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... 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.

From 1967 forward, the special relationship between the United States and Israel developed and grew. It has had its ups and downs on the political level as U.S. national interests, especially the need for oil, make it expedient for the U.S. Government to court favor with various Arab states, but the relationship remained relatively constant and strong at both the military and intelligence levels.

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


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Jun 1, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=568

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