May 25, 2009

“The Longest Night”

By Jim Fletcher

Michael Oren’s masterful book on the Six Day War (Six Days of War) tracks the fascinating lead-up to that lightning Israeli victory over her vicious neighbors, June 4-10, 1967.

There are some striking parallels between then and now. In late May, 1967, as international diplomats hurried from meeting to meeting, the whole tense affair was described as “the longest night.”

In those days, diplomacy was every bit the sickness it is now. The UN was toothless and immoral. The Russians, Canadians, Danes, and virtually every other member of the international community were obsessed with solving the Israeli-Arab crisis. American diplomats loved to drink brandy and smoke cigars and “mediate” between the two sides. The president was surrounded by folks who really didn’t like Israel, although several key advisors to Lyndon Johnson were Jews.

Of course, Barack Obama is also surrounded by anti-Israel advisors, including, ironically, Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. The political knuckle-breaker from Chicago served in the IDF!

But sometimes we look back too fondly on the past. In the case of American support during May-June, 1967, we see an ambivalent America, mired in Vietnam. Johnson himself was surprisingly pro Israel, but in his meetings with Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, Johnson would famously say that “Israel will not be alone unless she goes it alone.” The message was clear: Israel should rely on “backing” from the international community.

We all know how that has held up over the years. Had Israel taken this advice/threat, she would have ceased to exist.

Which is why it is so instructive for us today to pay attention to the real decision-makers in a climate of war. Then and now, we should ignore the diplomats and politicians. The real question is, what do the military guys say?

In 1967, American Gen. Earl Wheeler and Defense Secretary Robert “Vietnam” McNamara were convinced Israel would win decisively if it came to war: two weeks if she didn’t fire the first shot, one week if she did. That, my friends, is amazing forecasting.

The diplomats, of course, were wrong. There was no Armageddon, no destruction of Israel (how kind of them to even bring up the possibility; I suppose phony sympathy is in some ways better than none. Then again, maybe not.), and Johnson also let the Soviet Union know that Israel was not to be messed with.

Today, on the heels of Benjamin Netanyahu’s first visit with the hapless Obama, we are hearing that Bibi didn’t achieve his goals and was talked down to by the new president. Here is my take on the matter: Netanyahu has seen quite a bit of combat in defending his homeland and is a decorated commando. Obama is an attorney from Illinois.

My money is on Netanyahu. And when the time comes to hit Iran, he’ll do it. Iran is the new ’67 War. Then, Israel was faced with possible destruction by Syria and Egypt (and the quaking Jordanian King Hussein joined in to avoid assassination by his Arab cousins; he lost the biblical heartland as a result).

Now, Iran is shaking nukes in Israel’s direction. So when you hear the diplomats and politicians utter their inane platitudes that Go Nowhere, forget them. Listen to the military guys. Israel’s planners know full-well the stakes. They also understand very well what their military is capable of.

Forty summers ago, Earl Wheeler and his bosses at the Pentagon knew exactly what Israel was capable of. They know it today, too.

A humble prediction: Israel will hit Iran’s nuclear facilities and save not only themselves but by extension their homicidal cousins in the region. Israel will be condemned by the international community, as she was after the 1981 strike on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor at Osirak. Only this time, there is no friendly Texan in the White House. There is an immoral coward whose narcissism makes Johnson’s look like genuine modesty.

It was revealed by David Dolan in an issue of Israel My Glory magazine that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was under intense international pressure to complete the Gaza pullout in 2005. He was threatened with severe economic sanctions unless he carried-out an expulsion of Jews from Gaza. He no doubt thought there was a chance that America would back him.

The problem with this hope is that it never materialized in the first place — Israel is blamed for everything from Lincoln’s murder to the price of tomatoes in California. Further, the folly of placing your hope in a “pro Israel” American president is seen in the subsequent years: George Bush is now playing golf in Highland Park, and his successor gets his jollies from squeezing the Israelis and groping the Arabs like a love-sick teenager.

I think it is quite plausible to imagine that Obama applied behind-the-scenes pressure on Netanyahu, the likes of which an Israeli premier has never seen. No doubt the clownish Joe Biden was used to apply pressure on lower levels, as well. The only quibble I have with Netanyahu’s recent performance is that I wish he would refrain from calling Obama a great friend of Israel. In point of fact, he is every bit the enemy that Jimmy Carter was/is.

Yet, as I do radio interviews now to promote my new book, I am compelled to remind listeners that it is not Israel which is primed for destruction — if we read and believe our Bibles. In order to properly navigate through our terminal world, we must balance our worldview between the Bible and what we see around us.

The ones on the gallows, in reality, are those who have bullied, threatened, and hunted the Jews for centuries.

In other words, the rest of us.