.. hanged form being a respected and helpful nation, to becoming distrusted and hated. I have always had a deep feeling of sympathy for Israel and his people, gallantly building and defending a modern nation against great odds and against the tragic back round of the Jewish experience-Lyndon Johnson. (Lenczowski, page 105) This passage taken from his memories, stands as a backdrop, and shows that he was sympathetic to the Jewish people. But does not excuse the moves he made in dealing with the Israelis.
The Johnson years marked a major change in the American position in the Middle East. His policies were geared towards keeping his and his partys domestic opinion in good standing. While in office Johnson blessed America by gaining a reputation in the Middle East as a nation whose loyalties lied first with Israel. Johnson gave high tech weapons to Israel, during a regional arms embargo. He covered up a vicious and unwarranted Israeli attack on an American naval vessel, where 34 were killed, and 171 wounded. Also on many occasions excused the unadvised use of force. The Johnson Administration saw many opportunities in Israel.
The change begins with one of the first foreign policy steps taken by Johnson. In 1964, to receive the Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. The two developed an intimate relationship, different than previous relations between American Presidents, and Israeli Prime Ministers. (Lenczowski, page 105) The Next change comes in the form of aid. Originally America was supplying Israel with a moderate supply of defensive arms, with a 12.9 million-dollar military aid.
In 1963 this figure rose with the supply of sky hawk missiles to 44.2 million. In 1966, Israels military aid changed highly sophisticated arms for offensive purposes, with a $90 million aid. By 1968 Israel was receiving 995.3 million. This more than doubled the cumulative amount of aid from all the years Israel existed. (Lesch, page 180) These actions were common in the Johnson years.
The offensive arms included A-1 Skyhawk attack aircraft, the F-4 Phantom jet fighters, and the Patton M-48 tanks, highly lethal weapons at the time, superior to anything the soviets could offer their clients. (Lenczowski page 106) In the mid 1960s, Israel planed to divert a portion of the Jordan River to serve their water needs. When the Arab frontline states learned of the Israeli plan, that responded by beginning their own diversion plan. Israel was not pleased by this action, and retaliated. America was opposed to the use of force. This did not stop the Israelis form directing shellfire at the men working on the project. At no time did any member of the Johnson administration attempt to stop the use of force.
(Lenczowski, page 106) The real change in the American position came with the outbreak of the 1967 war. During the course of the war two major changes took place. The regional opinion of the United States changed. As a result of the war, the Soviet position was strengthened. Six Arab nations, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, and Sudan broke diplomatic relations with the United States. These breaks were caused by assertions made by Nasser that American planes participated in the attacks on Egypt.
(Lenczowski, page 112) The second change is between America and Israel. The Americans were giving us support such as we have never known before. (Lenczowski page 113) Once the fighting started Johnson shower a clear and lasting bias in favor of Israel and a disregard for the public commitments he and his administration had made to oppose form any quarter. Richard Parker. (Lesch, page 195) After the war Johnson adapted a policy of unquestioning support for Israel The Israeli victory created new conditions that the U.
S. government should move to exploit. Walt Rostow (Lesch 195) an analysis of the war will show how far Johnson took American support of Israel. On May 16, 1967, Nasser demanded that the UN peacekeeping force leave Egyptian Israeli borders. This is the same force stationed there after the Suez Canal crisis.
On May 17, UN secretary general U Thant ordered the entire force to leave all Egyptian territory. Placing control of the disputed waterways back in Egyptian hands. (Lenczowski, page 107) May 22, 1967, Nasser proclaimed a blockade of Israeli shipping through the Strait of Tiran. Nasser did not physically blockade the strait and had no intention of waging war. Israel did not see the move in the same light as the Egyptians, and took it as an act of aggression. Their response was first to demand the right to use the waterway. Many of Israels military leaders saw this move as an opportunity to launch an attack against Egypt, and a general mobilization order was given.
At this time the Israeli cabinet became divided. Some wanted to launch a full attack, while others looked at how an attack would effect Israels international standing. Before launching an attack, Prime Minister Eshkol wanted to gain the support of the United Stated and Its western Allies. Foreign Minister Abba Eban was dispatched to Paris, London, and Washington. When Eban and Johnson met they discussed Arab intentions, and how such a move would effect Israel.
Cabinet members to exercise caution and restraint first advised him. While secretly Johnson favored the use of force acknowledging Americas commitment to keep the strait of Tiran open. Johnson proposed to organize an international naval fleet, to patrol through the strait, and challenge Nassers blockade. (Lenczowski, page 108) Johnson felt that Israel should not be the first to fire. He urged Eban to give him time to implement his plans and see their effect.
Israel will not be alone unless it decides to go alone(Lenczowski, page 108) Johnson also portrayed his thoughts directly to Prime Minister Eshkol. These talks had no impact on Israel. On June 5, 1967, Israel launched an unadvised attack on Egypt, crippling them in a matter of days. Soon after they attacked Jordan and Syria. In six days, the Israel amounted victorious, taking from Jordan, the Entire West Bank, from Syria, the Golan Heights and from Egypt, The Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Peninsula. Israel also nearly destroyed all of the Arab air forces.
The UN response was to arrange a cease-fire, and a return of all forces to the original borders. This was not at all the victory expected by the United States. The U.S expressed no anger. Only more support was given. Johnson instructed the American delegation the United Nations to support Israel.
The American delegation opposed the proposal for the return to the original borders, and sided with the Israelis in their refusal. Johnson, felt that going back to the agreements of 1957 were not conducive to peace. Peace can not be obtained by going back to the fragile and often violated armistice(Lenczowski, page 110) He felt that Israel should only give back conquered territories in exchange for peace. In this conflict the Johnson never once condemned the Israeli decision to launch a un advised offensive. Although Johnson opposed the Israeli attack, he never did much to persuade them not to.
This is where the conflict comes into play. It is here at the outbreak of the war that Johnson showed his true colors. After advising Eban against firing the first shot, Johnson made a rather peculiar move. May 23, 1967 Johnson authorized the secret delivery of arms to Israel. (Lenczowski, page 110) Publicly he had imposed an arms embargo on any weapons destined for the Middle East.
The weapons arrived one day before Israel launched their offensive. During the course of the 1967 war Israel made a sudden crazy move. On June 8th the IDF attacked the USS Liberty an American navel ship stationed off the coast of Israel. The mission of this vessel was to intercept radio transmissions made by Israel, and the other nations involved in the war. Israel attacked by air and by sea.
When lifeboats were lowered, gunshots were fired at the crewmembers entering them. (Lenczowski page 110) Obviously know one was meant to survive. During the course, calls for help were sent. The aircraft carrier America dispatched planes. On Washingtons these planes were recalled before ever reaching the Liberty.
The attack took the lives of 34 men, and wounded 171. (Lenczowski, page 110) Johnsons response to the attack was obscene. All survivors were ordered not to discuss the attack with anyone. A navel court of inquiry was formed and conducted in a way as to earn the name cover-up. Israel claimed the attack was an error, even though an American flag was flying on the ship’s deck. Johnson accepted the Israeli explanation We learned that the ship had been attacked in error by Israeli gunboats and planes.
Ten men of the liberty crew were killed and 100 were wounded. This heart breaking episode grieved the Israelis deeply, as it did us-Lyndon Johnson (Lenczowski, page 111) Not only did Johnson excuse the Israeli slaying of American sailors, but also he downplayed the incident, publicly lowering the number of casualties. (Lenczowski, page 111) It seems Johnson was more interested in avoiding a conflict with the Soviet Union, then punishing Israel. Russia had a long history of relations with both Syria and Egypt; both nations used Russian supplied arms. The Liberty was stationed off the shore of Egypt collecting radio transmissions. Had the Russians been aware of this, they surly would have objected.
After the war came to an end, American support continued. On July 4th 1967 the UN held a vote to condemn Israel, for its quick annexation of the recently captured Arab portion of Jerusalem, which before the war was considered an international city. The American delegation claimed that the holy city should not be divided, changing their previous position, for the internationalization of the city. Subsequently, the U.S. obtained from the vote.
(Lenczowski, page 114) With the Israel being in a new position of power, Johnson saw this as an opportunity, to seek peace. Members of his staff felt that the Israeli victory over Soviet influenced states could be used to take big steps in the region. They saw the displayed superiority of American weapons and the humiliating loss of Egypt and Syria as an open door to take back the political stronghold in the Middle East. In a June 19th Radio address announced his Five Principals for an Arab Israeli settlement. 1.
The removal of threats against any nation in the region 2. Freedom of navigation 3. Justice for the refugees 4. An end to the arms race 5. Respect for political independence and territorial integrity for the states in the area The principals were observed by Arabs to be pro Israel.(Fraser, page, 87) Throughout the conflict, Johnson and Russian President Alexi Kosygin stayed in close contact. Neither of the two were looking for a confrontation, although at times it came very close. The Israeli invasion of Syria almost led to a clash of the two super powers.
Israel advancing fast into Syrian territory, threatening their national security. The Soviets wanted the Israels to stop their invasion. They threatened to intervene. To which Johnson responded, by sending the Sixth fleet, close to the Syrian coastline. At this point in time, neither the U.S.
nor the Soviets wanted to collide. As a result Johnson advised Israel to fall back, stating that soviet intervention was eminent. As a result, the Israeli army ceased fire, and withdrew keeping the Golan Heights. The two leaders met in a conference after the conclusion of the war to discuss a joint peace effort. Kosygin was interested in peace, but was eager to see a return to the 1956 borders.
Johnson sticking to his pro Israeli convictions argued a cease-fire without the removal of troops. Israel has received more u.s. foreign aid that any other nation. Between 1949 and 1981 the total amount of Us aid to Israel numbered 28.1 billion, of which 14.6 billion were outright grants. If you add the export-import loans and contributions from private individuals, institutions and Israel bonds the total number amounts to 43.2 billion.
(Lesch page 180) The special relationship between America and Israel was fortified during the Johnson years. As stated before, if not for Johnson America and Israel would not share the special relationship that they do today. The actions taken are shown to be different than those of any of his predecessors. Although Kennedy took steps in the pro Israeli direction, policy did not take a full turn until the Johnson years. The reasons for the change were obvious.
Israel had historically aligned itself with the western powers, France, England, and the United States. Nations opposing Israel aligned with the Soviet Union. America had to support a democratic Ali. The cold war was a major factor in all American foreign policy. Until Johnson came to power, Israel relied of France for its arms.
This changed during the Johnson years. The Johnson years also marked a shift in regional power, with Israel emerging as the strongest nation in the Middle East. After the 1967 war, Israel was regarded as a strategic asset to the United States, and in post Johnson administrations was thus treated accordingly. I have always had a deep feeling of sympathy for Israel and his people, gallantly building and defending a modern nation against great odds and against the tragic back round of the Jewish experience-Lyndon Johnson Political Science.