What Those Calling for Ceasefires Fail to Hear

As a growing group of radicals across the United States marches across college campuses demanding Intifadas and ceasefires, I would like to highlight a historic instance from the United States foreign policy towards Israel and the Middle East from the 1970s that the “Ceasefire Now” caucus either overlooks or intentionally ignores due to its capability to deflate their arguments.

In 1970, three years after Israel captured the entirety of the Sinai desert from Egypt during the Six Day War, the two countries engaged in a series of clashes over control of the Suez Canal’s straits, with Egypt making numerous attempts to disrupt the shipping network and reclaim control from Israel. At the time, Egypt’s ability to continue these efforts was bolstered by heavy backing from the Soviet Union in the form of Surface to Air Missiles (SAM Missiles). While Israel received both monetary and military aid from the United States, it was not at the level seen today nor close to what it would become during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Locked in a lone power struggle against both Egypt and the Soviets, with tepid support at best from the United States, Israel agreed to a ceasefire in August 1970, as the United States sought to avoid a wider conflict that could potentially lead to a direct clash with the Soviets. However, following the ceasefire agreement, the Soviets began covertly smuggling weapons to Egypt, which were later used against Israel in the Yom Kippur War, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Israelis. This event marked a turning point, leading to significantly increased U.S. involvement in the Middle East conflict and ultimately culminating in the permanent peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979.

Those advocating for immediate ceasefires, as well as the powerbrokers and decision-makers involved in negotiating such deals, must grasp the lesson from the conflict of 1970: if ceasefire agreements made with rational state actors can sometimes hold no validity and may haunt even the most well-intentioned individuals in the future, what cause is there to believe that a ceasefire agreement with an axis comprised of a terrorist organization like Hamas, backed by a rogue terrorist state such as Iran and their Middle East proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon will ever be legitimate? It is astonishing that individuals with decades of foreign policy experience fail to recognize that placing numerous conditions on aid to Israel could potentially result in the United States becoming a Stromboli-esque puppet master, tightly holding Israel’s strings while Hamas regroups with new weapons provided by Iran, all the while acting as Pinocchio did when he sang, “I’ve got no strings on me.”

The naivety displayed by these radicalized student protestors and the international community at large is reminiscent of the blindness that led to Neville Chamberlain’s infamous “Peace in Our Times” remarks and ultimately to the largest genocide of world Jewry prior to October 7th. If the lessons from both the 1930s and the 1970s are not heeded, the global community will continue to bear the stain of Jewish blood on its hands, repeating the mantra of “Never Again” only to allow history to repeat itself.

About the Author
Josh Leichter, living in New York, is a writer whose interests span history, politics, and the rich tapestry of Jewish life.
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