Henry Kissinger was not bad for Israel –

dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

Henry Kissinger is not a popular choice among supporters of the Jewish State.

Some American Jews are upset at Kissinger’s alleged support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War or his comments about fellow Jews that were captured on Nixon’s Oval Office tapes. Some Israelis hate Kissinger’s pressure on Israel to surrender territory in Sinai and the Golan.

Yet Kissinger, now 98, was no enemy of Israel, but a skilled statesman whose diplomatic strategy helped Israel in fundamental ways. An extensive historical analysis of thousands of documents declassified in Israeli and American archives from Kissinger’s time as a government official reveals that he was not able to undermine the fledgling Jewish state. He did however much to ensure its survival.

Kissinger was raised in Furth, a small Bavarian town near Nuremberg. He was an Orthodox Jew. In 1938, at age 15, he fled the Nazis with his family, migrating to the United States. Treisiest of his relatives, as well as most of his classmates, perished during the Holocaust. He denies that the Holocaust influenced his political development but he freely admits that it helped him feel an emotional connection with Israel.

He gave up his religious practice in America but maintained his Jewish identity. As a Harvard professor in the 1960s, he made six trips to Israel, which impressed upon him the fragility of the Jewish state’s existence in a sea of Arab hostility.

As national security adviser to President Nixon in the 1970s, Kissinger served a president who harbored antisemitic prejudices and taunted Kissinger about his Jewish identity. Kissinger was made aware by the president that he didn’t trust him to deal in Israel. He also tried to exclude him from the Middle East.

Time and again Nixon would complain to his staff, to Arab foreign ministry ministers and even to the Soviet ambassador about Kissinger’s pro-Israel biases and the role he played protecting the Jewish state against American pressure.

Kissinger had to hide his sympathies for Israel. He even joined in with the antisemitic jibes, and even cooperated in the wiretappings of his Jewish colleagues and journalists friends.

Yet, Kissinger promoted Israel as a strategic partnership of the United States in Middle East. This dramatically increased the country’s capacity to defend itself and created a peace process to address the psychological and political vulnerabilities that Yom Kippur War had revealed.

Kissinger, together with Yitzhak Rabin, Golda Meir’s ambassador in Washington, was the original architect of the U.S.–Israel strategic alliance that is a keystone of Israel’s strength. Nixon convinced that Israel should be able to stop the Arab states resorting to force by taking advantage of the war of attrition in Egypt between Israel and Israel, and the civil war in Jordan 1970, Kissinger.

He also shielded Israel’s nuclear program from American pressure and forging a U.S.–Israel understanding of Israel’s nuclear ambiguity policy, which is still in effect.

Despite Israel’s efforts to deter terrorist acts, it was not enough to stop Egypt and Syria from attacking the country on Yom Kippur 1973, Kissinger was sworn in as secretary-of-state to create a stable, American-dominated Middle East.

In the span of 22 days, Kissinger skillfully maneuvered to ensure Israel’s victory over Soviet-backed Egyptian and Syrian forces, to prevent a humiliating defeat of the Egyptian army and to sideline the Soviet Union in the subsequent peace diplomacy by demonstrating to the Arab nations that only the United States could deliver results at the negotiating table. Kissinger believed that they were not necessary to allow Israel to launch counter-offensives, which would in turn benefit his diplomatic efforts by forcing Egypt to cease firing.

The Yom Kippur War had notwithstanding shown that Kissinger could not rely solely on Israel’s deterrent powers to defeat Soviet-backed radical Arab countries. Kissinger decided to change Egypt’s status from radical to moderate by addressing its territorial disputes. The American-led Arab-Israeli peace negotiations were his mechanism. This would have ended the conflict between Egypt and Israel, making it impossible for other Arab countries to consider another war.

Nixon would prefer to work with Moscow to force a settlement between the warring parties. This would include urging Israel to withdraw from the 1967 borders. Kissinger believed that the Arabs were not ready to make peace with Israel. He feared that an imposed peace would endanger Israel’s survival. Kissinger instead introduced step-by-step diplomacy. This was a gradual and incremental process of peacemaking. It aimed to ease the conflict, not end it, and required smaller, more digestible Israeli territorial withdrawals.

However, Israel’s leaders, Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan as well as Yitzhak Rabin and Yigal Allon, were reluctant to trade tangible territories for intangible Arab commitments not to use force. They insisted that if Israel wanted to trade territory it must be for peace.

Kissinger was influenced by the appeasement that had led to World War II and had a distorted view of peace. He was afraid that too much enthusiasm for peace would compromise the stability that his order was meant to create. For Kissinger, peace was not a solution but a problem. It was necessary to manipulate the desire for peace to create something more stable in a volatile area of the world.

A skeptical of peace, Kissinger tried to persuade Israel’s leaders to trade pieces of occupied territories to buy time. This would allow Israel to overcome the trauma from the Yom Kippur War and reduce Soviet influence in the area. It would also enable Israel to build its military, economic, and military strength. A generous American patron helped to exhaust the Arabs and make them accept Israel.

By that time, Kissinger believed that Israel would be strong enough to consider taking all the risks associated with a complete withdrawal from the 1967 lines.

It was difficult to get the Labor Party leaders in Israel on board. In 1975, Kissinger withheld arms sales to Israel for four consecutive months in an attempt to persuade Rabin and Peres that they would give up the strategic passes and oil fields at Sinai.

In the end, Kissinger won so many arguments with Israel’s leaders, that the principle of territory-for-time became Israel’s foundational principle in negotiating with its Arab neighbors and with the Palestinians. He negotiated two interim agreements between Egypt and Israel in 1974, and 1975,. This was five years before Israel had to consider a full withdrawal from Sinai. The interim agreement with Syria on the Golan Heights in 1974 bought Israel some 40 years of quiet there. And the 1993 Oslo Accords, with their phased withdrawals and undefined endpoints, enabled Israel to cede only 40% of the West Bank, retaining the Jordan Valley and the strategic high ground. Prime Minister Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza bought Israel another 25 years with which to consolidate its hold on East Jerusalem and the West Bank even though it resulted in periodic rocket attacks on other parts of Israel.

Israel built its military, technological, and economic capabilities simultaneously with American support to become the most powerful country in the Middle East. Israel is not the fragile, small state Kissinger was worried about. As Kissinger predicted, the Arab states grew tired of the conflict, and they accepted Israel in the 1979, 1994,, and most recently, in the 2020 Abraham Peace Treaties.

There is however a cruel irony. Kissinger believed that Israel would use territory to buy time to increase its sense of security, and thus its ability to surrender occupied territory. It also strengthened Israel’s control over the remaining territory, as settlers used this time to expand their communities in West Bank and Golan with Israeli government support.

When Kissinger left office in 1977, there were 1,900 settlers in the West Bank; today there are almost 500,000. It has been so difficult politically to give up the territory, it is almost impossible.

That was not Kissinger’s intention. To this day, he believes that Israel must continue to yield West Bank territory to maintain stability in Israel’s vicinity. However, it should do so in incremental, gradual steps. He fears that the Jewish state will lose its moral substance if it tried to rely on .”

for its existence.

Today, few people in Israel and among its many American allies feel the need for Palestinian territorial aspirations. They believe that the status quo can be sustained and that small economic steps can be taken to alleviate the Israeli military occupation. They should listen to the advice of a wise friend. This was inspired by Kissinger’s Yom Kippur 1973, experience when he believed that Israel’s deterrent power had created a stable order. However, it collapsed due to the failure of Arab territorial grievances. It could happen again.

To contact the author, email editorial@forward.com.

dWeb.NewsRead More

Similar Posts