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The Ben Gurion Legacy: Independent National Security Policy

The Ben Gurion legacy contradicts conventional wisdom. It rejects the assumption that a White House “green light” is a prerequisite for the application of Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (West Bank).

Ben Gurion’s May 14, 1948 Declaration of Independence was not preconditioned upon a “green light” from President Truman. Ben Gurion demonstrated independence of national security action in defiance of the US State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Furthermore, President Truman was irresolute until the day of the declaration, while the US Mission to the UN was preoccupied with rounding up votes for a UN Trusteeship in Palestine (instead of an independent Jewish State).

Moreover, Ben Gurion applied Israeli law to areas in the Galilee, coastal plain, the Negev and Jerusalem – which were acquired during Israel’s War of Independence, expanding Israel’s land by 30% – in defiance of a glaring “red light” from the White House and the entire foreign policy and national security establishment in Washington, DC.

According to James McDonald, the first US Ambassador to Israel: “[Ben Gurion] warned President Truman and the US Department of State that they would be gravely mistaken if they assumed that the threat, or even the use of sanctions, would force Israel to yield on issues considered vital to its independence and security…. Much as Israel desired friendship with the US, there were limits beyond which it could not go.  Israel could not yield at any point which, in its judgement, would threaten its independence or its security.  The very fact that Israel was a small state made more necessary the scrupulous defense of its own interests; otherwise, it would be lost (My Mission in Israel 1948-1951, Simon and Schuster, p. 49)….

Ambassador McDonald wrote (Ibid., p. 84) that Ben Gurion was facing a powerful antagonistic coalition led by Secretary of State General George Marshall, Defense Secretary James Forrestal and the State Department “wise men,” including Undersecretary Robert Lovett, special counselor Charles Bohlen, Policy Planning Chief George Kennan, former Secretary Dean Acheson, Head of the UN Division Dean Rusk and Head of the Near East and Asia Bureau Loy Henderson. Initially, they opposed the establishment of the Jewish State, and then called for “a smaller Israel… cutting most of the Negev off from Israel, to be absorbed by Abdullah’s kingdom of Jordan, in exchange for western Galilee (which Israel had already occupied); demilitarization and internationalization of Jerusalem; permission by Israel for the return of Arab refugees and compensation by Israel to them for property loss…. Israel would be brought before the tribunal of the UN as a defendant….”

Ben Gurion applied Israeli law despite severe US pressure to retreat to the suicidal November 29, 1947 Partition Plan lines.  He rejected the immoral formula of “land-for-peace,” which would reward and refuel Arab aggression (aiming to annihilate the Jewish State) and punish the intended victim.

Ben Gurion’s response to US pressure was unflinching: “What Israel has won on the battlefield, it is determined not to yield at the council table (Ibid., p. 86)….”

Notwithstanding the sustained brutal pressure on Israel, Ambassador McDonald noted: “At the spring session of the UN General Assembly in Flushing Meadows, Israel was formally admitted [to the United Nations] – an interesting bit of evidence of the growth of respect for Israel (Ibid., p. 110)….”

President Truman’s pressure – joined by Britain and the UN – was endured, as recorded by Ambassador McDonald: “A very strong note [from] Truman to Ben Gurion…. It expressed deep disappointment at the failure to make any of the desired concessions on refugees or boundaries; interpreted Israel’s attitude as dangerous to peace and disregard of the UN resolutions of November 29, 1947 [borders] and December 11, 1949 [refugees and internationalization of Jerusalem]…. The operative part of the note was the implied threat that the US would reconsider its attitude toward Israel….

“Ben Gurion said shortly: ‘This will have to be answered.  It is very serious and very stiff….’ In effect, Ben Gurion said the note was unrealistic and unjust.  It ignored the facts that the UN Partition Resolution was no longer applicable, since its basic conditions had been destroyed by Arab aggression [military invasion], which the Jews successfully resisted…. The United States is a powerful country; Israel is a small and a weak one.  We can be crushed, but we will not commit suicide….”

“The State Department’s reply [to  Ben Gurion]… abandoned its stern tone…. Fists and knuckles were unclenched…. The United States was appreciative of Israel’s friendship for the US Government and people (Ibid., p. 181-184)….”

While Ben Gurion’s defiance caused occasional short-term tension, which undermined Israel’s popularity, he earned long-term respect for himself and for his country as documented by Ambassador McDonald: “[Ben Gurion was] small in stature, but big in spirit…. He has unfaltering faith in the future of Israel…. The Prime Minister had no fear.… Ben Gurion had the unusual courage to resist the popular clamor, when he was convinced that the public was mistaken…. The more I studied the manner in which he met the burdens placed upon him, the more convinced I became that he was one of the few great statesmen of our day.  He was frequently compared to the wartime figure of Winston Churchill; the comparison did not exaggerate the Prime Minister’s qualities of leadership (Ibid., p. 241-248)….”

The Ben Gurion legacy highlights the realization that:

*There are no free lunches in the pursuit of bolstered national security;

*Experiencing – and defiance of – brutal pressure is an integral feature of Jewish history;

*The cost of fending off severe pressure is a prerequisite for the fulfillment of a long-term vision;

*Indecisiveness, hesitation and retreat erodes one’s posture of deterrence, undermines one’s role as a strategic ally, and invites more pressure;

*Defiance of pressure yields strategic respect among allies, while deterring enemies.


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US-sponsored anti-Israel UN Security Council statement – acumen

*The US’ co-sponsorship of an anti-Israel UN Security Council Statement reflects the return of the State Department’s worldview to the center stage of US foreign policy-making. This was the first time, in six years, that the US enabled the UN Security Council to act against Israel.

*This is not merely a worldview, which is highly critical of Israel, as has been the case since 1948, when Foggy Bottom led the charge against the re-establishment of the Jewish State.

This worldview has systematically undermined US interests, by subordinating the unilateral, independent US national security policy (on Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian issue, etc.) to a multilateral common denominator with the anti-US and anti-Israel UN and international organizations, as well as the vacillating and terrorists-appeasing Europe.

*It has sacrificed Middle East reality on the altar of wishful-thinking, assuming that the establishment of a Palestinian state would fulfill Palestinian aspirations, advance the cause of peace, reduce terrorism and regional instability; thus, enhancing US interests.

*However, the reality of the Middle East and Jordan and the rogue Palestinian track record lend credence to the assumption that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River, yielding traumatic ripple effects, regionally and globally:

^Replace the relatively-moderate Hashemite regime with either a rogue Palestinian regime, a Muslim Brotherhood regime, or other rogue regimes;
^Transform Jordan into a chaotic state, similar to Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, which would be leveraged by Iran’s Ayatollahs to intensify their encirclement of the pro-US Saudi regime;
^Convert Jordan into a major arena of regional and global Islamic terrorism;
^Trigger a domino scenario into the Arabian Peninsula, which could topple all pro-US, oil-producing Arab regimes;
^Imperil the supply of Persian Gulf oil, which would be held hostage by anti-US entities, catapulting the price at the pump;
^Jeopardize major naval routes of global trade between Asia and Europe through the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal;
^Intensify epicenters of regional and global terrorism and drug trafficking;
^Generate a robust tailwind to US’ adversaries (Russia and China) and enemies (Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS) and a powerful headwind to US economic and national security interests.

*The State Department assumes that Palestinian terrorism – just like Islamic terrorism – is driven by despair, ignoring the fact that Palestinian terrorism has been driven (for the last 100 years) by the vision to erase the “infidel” Jewish entity from “the abode of Islam,” as stated by the charters of Fatah (1959) and the PLO (1964), 8 and 3 years before the Jewish State reunited Jerusalem and reasserted itself in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

*Aspiring for a Palestinian state, and viewing Israel’s control of Judea and Samaria as an obstacle to peace, ignores the Arab view of the Palestinians as a role model of intra-Arab subversion, terrorism, corruption and treachery. Moreover, the State Department has held the view that the Palestinian issue is the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict and a central to Arab interests, which has been refuted by the Abraham Accords. The latter ignored the State Department, sidestepped the Palestinian issue and therefore came to fruition.

*The State Department overlooks the centrality of the Palestinian Authority’s hate education, which has become the most effective production-line of terrorists, and the most authentic reflection of the Palestinian Authority’s worldview and vision.

*The State Department has also taken lightly the Palestinian Authority’s mosque incitement, public glorification of terrorists and monthly allowances to families of terrorists, which have documented its rogue and terroristic nature (walk), notwithstanding its peaceful diplomatic rhetoric (talk).

*The State Department’s eagerness to welcome the Palestinian issue in a “red carpet” manner – contrary to the “shabby doormat” extended to Palestinians by Arabs – and its determination to promote the establishment of a Palestinian state, along with its embrace of Iran’s Ayatollahs and the Muslim Brotherhood, have been interpreted by rogue regimes and organizations as weakness.

Experience suggests that weakness invites the wolves, including wolves which aim to bring “The Great Satan” to submission throughout the world as well as the US mainland.

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