A G-d Bless Israel Handshake

According to the late General Alexander Haig, U.S. Secretary of State and Supreme Commander of NATO: “Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier, which does not require a single US aircraft or boot on board; cannot be sunk; and is deployed in a vital area for critical US commercial and military interests. Without a Jewish state in the eastern flank of the Mediterranean, then the US would have to deploy additional aircraft carriers and tens of thousands of US soldiers to the Mediterranean. It would have cost the American taxpayers some $15BN annually, which is spared by a viable Jewish state.”

In my office I have a photograph of a tall, burly man shaking hands with me as we exchange smiles. I learned much about him after unexpectedly receiving the photograph. I got a call from a friend at the Federation inviting me to a private reception before the man’s first post-retirement public speaking event. As my friend and I entered the private room at the hotel, only a few dozen people were gathered. When the others had finished talking with him, my friend and I introduced ourselves. Never one to shy away from asking a provocative question, my opening line was, “It’s too bad you didn’t finish the job.” To which he responded diplomatically, “That wasn’t the mission.” And I replied, “Bullshit! The Saudis wouldn’t let you wipe your ass without asking ‘Mother may I!’ ” Chuckling in agreement, he growled, “You’re damn right. It’s not what I would have done.” And then I asked how he would have felt leading his troops into Iraq if the Israelis hadn’t bombed the nuclear reactors at Osirak in 1981. He answered with a broad smile, “Those Israelis are really something. If the reactors were still there, I don’t know what I would’ve done—maybe even retired.” As we shook hands, he uttered words I’ll never forget: “G-d bless Israel!” When people ask me about the photo, I tell them that’s my ‘G-d Bless Israel’ photo of me with General Norman Schwarzkopf z”l. I jokingly told him to drop the “kopf” and he could become a member of the tribe! Yes, those Israelis are really something.

You may recall that one of the first countries to condemn Israel’s bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactors was the U.S. under President Ronald Reagan and his Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Prime Minister Menachem Begin had not consulted the U.S. before ordering the bombing and only informed them as the Israeli planes were returning to Israel. Reagan, Weinberger and the State Department went ballistic, and the relationship took a serious turn for the worse. The Saudis, who had just fought for the AWAC surveillance aircraft, accused Weinberger not only of being a Jew, but of intentionally programming the aircraft to disable it from detecting the Israeli planes.

From the book First Strike by Shlomo Nakdimon:

During the afternoon of June 10, 1981 (after the strike), Israeli Ambassador Evron was summoned to (Secretary of State) Haig’s office. “In a few hours…the State Department spokesman will officially announce the President’s decision to suspend delivery of the four F- 16s.” Evron responded, “We (the Israeli government) take a grave view of the suspension. It is offensive and unjust, and it will encourage Israel’s enemies. … The United States will set a dangerous precedent.” (p. 246) … The following day, June 11, Haig sent an official letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Charles Percy “providing…information pursuant to section 3 (c) (2) of the Arms Export Control Act. …

Sales to Israel under the Foreign Military Sales program are governed by a Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement…which provides in pertinent part: “The Government of Israel assures the United States Government that such equipment…as may be acquired from the United States…are required for and will be used solely to maintain its internal security, its legitimate self-defense, or to permit it to participate in the defense of the area of which it is a part…and that it will not undertake any acts of aggression against any other state. (p. 247)

Other disagreements arose during 1981; and finally on December 20, in an unprecedented move, Prime Minister Begin summoned the U.S. Ambassador to Israel and read to him the following statement:

Three times during the past six months, the U.S. Government has “punished” Israel. On June 7 we destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor “Osirak” near Baghdad. I don’t want to mention to you today from whom we received the final information that this reactor was going to produce atomic bombs. We had no doubt about that: therefore, our action was an act of national self-defense. We saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians, including tens of thousands of children. Nonetheless, you announced that you were punishing us. Not long after, in a defensive act – after a slaughter was committed against our people leaving three dead (including an Auschwitz survivor) and 29 were injured – we bombed the PLO headquarters in Beirut. [Again the U.S. complained that civilians were killed in the Israeli attack.]

You have no moral right to preach to us about civilian casualties. We have read the history of World War II and we know what happened to civilians when you took action against an enemy. We have also read the history of the Vietnam War and your expression “body count.” We always make efforts to avoid hitting civilian populations, but sometimes it is unavoidable – as was the case in our bombing of the PLO headquarters. We sometimes risk the lives of our soldier to avoid civilian casualties. Nonetheless, you punished us: you suspended delivery of F-15 planes.

A week ago, at the instance of the Government, the Knesset passed on all
three readings by an overwhelming majority of two-thirds, the “Golan Heights Law.” Now you once again declare that you are punishing Israel. What kind of expression is this – “punishing Israel”? Are we a vassal state of yours? Are we a banana republic? Let me tell you who this government is composed of. It is composed of people whose lives were spent in resistance, in fighting and in suffering. You will not frighten us with “punishments.” He who threatens us will find us deaf to his threats and I protest at the very use of this term.

You have announced that you are suspending consultations on the implementation of the memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation, and that your return to these consultations in the future will depend on progress achieved in the autonomy talks and on the situation in Lebanon. You want to make Israel a hostage of the memorandum of understanding. I regard your announcement suspending the consultations on the memorandum as the abrogation (by you) of the memorandum. No “sword of Damocles” is going to hang over our head. So we duly take note of the fact that you have abrogated the memorandum of understanding.

The people of Israel have lived 3,700 years without a memorandum of understanding with America – and it will continue to live for another 3,700. … We will not agree that you should demand of us to allow the Arabs of East Jerusalem to take part in the autonomy elections – and threaten us that if we don’t consent you will suspend the memorandum. You have (thereby) violated the word of the President. When Secretary Haig was here he read from a written document the words of President Reagan that you would purchase 200 million dollars’ worth of Israeli arms and other equipment. Now you say it will not be so. This is, therefore, a violation of the President’s word. …

What did you want to do – “hit us in our pocket?” In 1946 there lived in this house a British general by the name of Barker. Today I live here. When we fought him, you called us “terrorists” and we carried on fighting. After we attacked his headquarters in the requisitioned building of the King David Hotel, Barker said: “This race will only be influenced by being hit in the pocket” and he ordered his soldiers to stop patronizing Jewish cafes. To hit us in the pocket – this is the philosophy of Barker. Now I understand why the whole great effort in the Senate to obtain a majority for the arms deal with Saudi Arabia was accompanied by an ugly campaign of anti-Semitism.

First, the slogan was sounded, “Begin or Reagan?” And that meant that whoever opposes the deal is supporting a foreign prime minister and is not loyal to the President of the United States. And thus senators like Jackson, Kennedy, Packwood, and of course Boschwitz are not loyal citizens.

Then the slogan was sounded, “We should not let the Jews determine the foreign policy of the United States.” What was the meaning of this slogan? The Greek minority in the U.S. did much to determine the

Senate decision to withhold weapons from Turkey after it invaded Cyprus. No one will frighten the great and free Jewish community of the U.S. … They will stand by our side. This is the land of their forefathers – and they have a right and a duty to support it. (Sadly, how things have changed!)

Some say we must “rescind” the law passed by the Knesset. “Rescind” is a concept from the days of the Inquisition. Our forefathers went to the stake rather than “rescind” their faith. We are not going to the stake. Thank G-d, we have have enough strength to defend our independence and our rights. Please be kind enough to inform the Secretary of State that the Golan Heights Law will remain valid. There is no force on earth that can bring about its rescission.

When Israel first began purchasing military aid from a reluctant United States, Asst. Secretary of State Joseph Sisco admitted to an Israeli diplomat, “I want to assure you that if we were not getting full value for our U.S. dollar, you [Israel] would not get a cent from us.” The U.S. has always been pragmatic in its relationship with Israel. Common values are as ludicrous as the common values America shares with Saudi Arabia. It’s all about common interests.

I was reminded of Stormin’ Norman as Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress (minus about 55 “stunt-minded” Obamacrats). As we now know, the Israeli Prime Minister was speaking not just to the U.S. Congress but also to much of the world, including (ironically) the Saudi government that demanded that Obama listen to the Prime Minister.

Bruno Bettelheim once noted, “All people, Jews or gentiles, who dare not defend themselves when they know they are in the right, who submit to punishment and loss of equal freedoms of sovereignty not because of what they have done but because of who they are, are already dead by their own decision; and whether or not they survive physically depends on chance. If circumstances are not favorable, they end up in the gas chambers.”

And so, to Congresswomen Nancy “the phony whiner” Pelosi, Dianne “pompously humiliated” Goldman-Feinstein and Jan “the J Street babbler” Schakowsky, as well as half the members of the Congressional Black Caucus who pulled their ever-ready race card: Your boycotting “stunt” was an embarrassment to yourselves, belying your empty claims of that “unbreakable, unshakable” bond you’ve been selling to the all too gullible Jewish community. But the good news is that the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians were riveted on every word. In reality, you didn’t just betray Israel; you lost the confidence of every Arab ally in the region. This incompetent, feckless American administration has created its own climate change, where “America’s allies don’t trust us, and our enemies don’t fear us.” I smile at the photo of our handshake. General Schwarzkopf had it right: “G-d bless Israel!”

About the Author
Educated as an architect with a Masters in Architectural History, Jack Yehoshua Berger became a practicing architect and real estate developer. In his late 30's he met a Rabbi who turned him on to the miracle of Israel and he began learning how the amazing country, against all odds, came to be the miracle of the modern world.
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