As President Trump now visits Israel it is time to reflect on our military engagement with the Jewish state. Hopes for middle east peace are now being raised on one hand even as an appalling act of ISIS terrorism strikes the United Kingdom with the Manchester concert bombing.
How have Americans interacted with Israel over the course of history?
This is what we had to say in the Israel chapter of America Invades (www.americainvades.com) ...
"Due to religious, cultural, and ethnic links, America has long had a strong, deep, and lasting commitment to this land.
American Invader (Tourist)?
And for a long time, Americans have been going there. On an 1867 visit to the Holy Land, Mark Twain and a group of American tourists were shown some of the holy sites: “We visited the places where Jesus worked for fifteen years as a carpenter, and where he attempted to teach in the synagogue and was driven out by a mob. Catholic chapels stand upon these sites and protect the little fragments of the ancient walls which remain.”
Most pilgrims feel blessed just to experience the sanctity and beauty of such sites, but some of Twain’s pilgrims on that occasion went too far with their enthusiasm. “Our pilgrims broke off specimens ... Our pilgrims would have liked very well to get out their lampblack and stencil-plates and paint their names on that rock, together with the name of the village they hail from in America, but the priests permit nothing of that kind.”
But it was during World War II that our forces first arrived there. US air crews used the RAF based at Lydda (which later became Lod Airport and eventually Ben Gurion International Airport) for air transport and air- ferrying missions. And during the fighting between Rommel and British/ Commonwealth troops in nearby Egypt to the west, American bombers were based at a number of locations in the Palestine Mandate with, for instance, B-17s at Lydda and B-24s at Ramat David.
|Truman recognized Israel 11 minutes in|
Foreign volunteers, or Machal, came from a wide range of countries to help Israel, and American volunteers played a role in that war as they have done in other wars involving Israel. Most were veterans of World War II, including the famous Micky Marcus, a colonel in the US Army who went to Israel, became a brigadier general, and helped break the Siege of Jerusalem in 1948.
We had some official US involvement as well. In June 1948 when the US consul general was killed by sniper fire, a marine force from the USS Kearsarge was ordered to Jerusalem. And on July 23, flying a UN flag, the USS Putnam evacuated UN team members from the Israeli port of Haifa.
By 1949, Israel had joined the United Nations.
The Holocaust had created massive American sympathy of the concept of a Jewish homeland. American arms and financial support began flowing to Israel during the Truman administration. A tradition of shared training and military exchange between the United States and Israel was established.
Grosvenor Square, London
During the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel delivered a preemptive strike on the Egyptian air force destroying most of its Soviet-made aircraft while they were still on the ground. The conflict more than doubled the amount of territory under Israel’s direct control, including the addition of the Sinai Peninsula. On June 8, 1967, units of the Israeli air force and navy attacked the USS Liberty—an intelligence-gathering ship, which was cruising in international waters off the coast of the Sinai Peninsula. Thirty-four Americans were killed. The Israeli government apologized for the tragic mistake and paid thirteen million dollars in compensation.
In the 1973 Yom Kippur War (October 6‒24), Israel was attacked by Egyptian forces near the Suez Canal and by Syrian forces near the Golan Heights. After recovering from the initial surprise, Israeli forces managed to counterattack across the Suez Canal and were soon driving towards Cairo itself. The Nixon administration, though crippled by the Watergate scandal, flew over twenty-two thousand tons of supplies to Israel in Operation Nickel Grass. The Soviets resupplied the Arab forces. On October 24, Moscow announced the mobilization of seven airborne divisions for possible deployment to Egypt. The next day, US armed forces were moved to DEFCON 3—planes ready to launch in fifteen minutes. Yuri Andropov, KGB chief, declared, “We are not going to start the Third World War.” Egypt withdrew its request for Soviet troops, and a UN truce was soon agreed to.
American shuttle diplomacy eventually helped to secure the Camp David accord of 1978, which significantly reduced Middle East tensions when a “land for peace” agreement was hammered out between Egypt and Israel. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt, and Sadat broke decisively with his former Soviet ally. Billions in US aid soon began flowing to Egypt, as well as to Israel.
During the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein launched Scud missile attacks on Israel, which killed two and wounded hundreds. He was desperately trying to drive a wedge between coalition forces by prodding a neutral Israel into a military response.
Prior to the start of the 1991 Gulf War, the Israeli government agreed to allow a US Army Patriot unit into Israel—the first time that foreign troops had ever been stationed in that country. And in the end, Israel did stay out of the conflict.
More diplomatic action followed the Gulf War, again with extensive US involvement. In 1994, President Clinton was there when a peace deal between Israel and Jordan was signed, and in 1995, the Oslo II agreement was signed between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority.
In 2006, war broke out in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah, and the United States offered Israel extra fuel and munitions.
Today, the search for a complete end to the Arab-Israeli conflict continues, and so does the search for a solution to problems over Iran’s nuclear research. In the desert in southwest Israel is located a small US military installation operated by US personnel with hugely powerful radar watching what goes on in the region.
In the context of all the uncertainties about the future in the Middle East, America’s partnership with Israel on a wide range of exercises, training, planning, supply, development, intelligence, and other military matters remains a central part of our strategy."
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America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil
will be published in 2017!
will be published in 2017!