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November 05, 1982 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1982-11-05

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64 friday, November 5, 1982


Herzog's 'Arab-Israeli Wars': History on Highest Level


Israel has been at war
with her Arab neighbors
five times, and continues for
a sixth in the current
Lebanese involvement. The
lessons learned from these
wars, the agonies entailed,
the history recorded, now
have a chronicler of such ex-
cellent merit that the re-
corded experiences are to be
credited to a master histo-
The newly-recorded his-
tory is "Tlie Arab-Israeli
Wars," (Random House).
The author, Chaim Herzog,
gives an explanatory subti-
tle to the book: "War and
Peace in the Middle East
From the War of Indepen-
dence through Lebanon."
That's what makes this
book so remarkable, that its
printing was held up to in-
clude the Lebanese occur-
authorship is impressively
evident in the Herzog vol-
ume. He has had a role in all
of the wars. A native of Ire-
land who came to Israel
with his parents at an early
age, he was in the Hagana
Israel defense force as early
as the age of 16. His father,
the late Dr. Isaac Herzog,
was the leading rabbi of Ire-
land and was brought to Is-
rael to assume the Chief
Rabbinate of the Jewish
state. Through the years of
his Israeli activities, Chaim
Herzog, a lawyer, became
one of his country's major
diplomats. He has served in
the Foreign Ministry and
gained wide recognition for
statesmenship as Israel's
chief delegate to the United
He knew, in many in-
stances intimately, the
leading personalities of
his country. Their views
and his reflections are
echoed in this volume.
That the war in Lebanon
should have been recorded
in "The Arab-Israeli Wars"
is a particular tribute to
author Herzog. Here he
emerges as historian as well
as statesman and military
expert. The portion devoted
to Lebanon does not include
the last tragedy which
caused the formation of a
commission of inquiry into
the Beirut massacre result-
ing from the Christian-
Moslem fratricides. The
basic evaluations contrib-
ute immensely to an under-
standing of the events, the
Israeli invasion into Leba-
non which was a result of
almost total unanimity
endorsing the action on the
part of Israel's population.
A vitally important com-
ment on these events in the
Herzog volume includes
these assertions:
"The inevitable weaken-
ing of the PLO leadership in

Beirut could, well open up
prospects for dialogue with
the Palestinian Arabs in the
West Bank and the Gaza
Strip with a view to seeking
a solution to the Palestinian
Arab problem.
"Palestinians have never
been able to achieve any
solution because the PLO
leadership has resisted any
form of compromise, and
has not brooked any opposi-
tion to its extreme position,
stilling any dissension by
assassination. The removal
of the threat of the assas-
sin's bullet from the Pales-
tinian Arabs in the West
Bank and in Gaza could well
open up prospects for a fruit-
ful dialogue leading to a
solution of the +Palestinian
"Just as, in the
perspective of time, the
1973 Yom Kippur War
created the necessary
climate and conditions
which initiated a process
leading to the Israeli-
Egyptian peace treaty, so
the Lebanese operations,
when examined in its his-
toric perspective and
against the background
of seven years of civil
war, which had de-
stroyed the only demo-
cratic Arab society in the
Middle East, may prove
to have created the con-
ditions which will lead to
a reinstitution of
Lebanese government
and democracy and the
creation of yet another
peaceful border between
Israel and an Arab
What about the peace ef-
forts that were initiated
after the Yom Kippur War
and the role of Egypt? Does
the Soviet intrusion remain
a threat, and what was the
effect of Israel's abandon-
ment of Sinai on the current
situation? Is there hope for
an Arab-Israeli accord? Are
the Arabs continuing their
joint efforts against Israel?
There is much to the issues
which are given a collective
review in the Herzog vol-
While the PLO failed to
secure aid from any of the
Arab nations, the continu-
ing attitude of antagonism,
contrasted by Israel's role in
the search for peace, re-
ceives this comment by
Herzog, and its historic
background that merits
"Arabs and Jews, how-
ever, are but two of the ele-
ments at work in the politi-
cal arena of the Middle
East. President Nasser was
armed by the Soviet Union
and the Soviet Union had a
hand in bringing on the
Six-Day War.
"The Israeli victory,
which completely trans-

formed Israel's strategic
position, opened prospects
for dialogue with the Arab
world: a population of over a
million Palestinian Arabs
came under Israeli control,
and the 'open bridges' pol-
icy, which allowed freedom
of movement between Jor-
dan and the West Bank,
created prospects of an
understanding between Is-
rael and the Arab world.
"However, the Soviet
Union dissuaded any


tendency by the Arabs to
move towards negotia-
tion with Israel. Ten days
after the war, the Israeli.
Cabinet voted unanim-
ously to return the Sinai
to Egypt and the Golan
Heights to Syria in return
for peace and demilitari-
zation. It was the Soviet
Union who blocked this
move. Her subsequent
actions and policy
encouraged the Arab
Summit Conference held
at Khartoum in Sep-
tember 1967 to reject the
Israeli overtures with
`the 'three noes' resolu-
tion' — no negotiation
with Israel, no recogni-
tion of Israel, no peace
with Israel.
"Once again, the stage
was set for renewed conflict
in the Middle East. In the
years that followed, the
Soviet Union was afforded
the opportunity to test
much of the strategy and
theory of modern air de-
fense; Soviet strength in
Egypt grew to some 20,000
troops, and her air force as-
sumed responsibility for
part of the air defense of
"When President Sadat
came to power in 1970,
while deciding that he must
go to war in order to break
the political log-jam with
Israel, he also decided to
change Egypt's orientation
from a pro-Soviet one to one
supporting the Americans.
In a move characteristic of
the imagination - and deci-
siveness of Sadat, he or-
dered the Russians out of
Egypt in July 1972 — and
then prepared for war
against Israel with Russian
support and possibly conni-

Is the mere lip service by
Arabs to the PLO suggest-
ing a possible anticipation
for a better relationship?
Here is a summary by Her-
zog that cannot be ignored
in the treatment of the
tragic situations affecting
the Middle East:
"In reality, the Arab
world pays but lip service
to the PLO. Its activities
in Arab countries such as
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia
are closely watched and
limited; it is not allowed
to operate in Egypt; it is
forbidden as a movement
in Jordan. It is kept
under the strictest con-
trol in Syria, which spon-
sors a constituent group
within the PLO known as
`A Saika.'
"And King Hussein is op-
posed to a movement whose
aims include a takeover in
Jordan (one attempt having
been made in 1970). Arafat
is 'chairman' rather than
leader of an organization
whose constituents he does
not control. Developments
between Israel and the Arab
world will be decided by Is-
rael and sovereign Arab
states such as Egypt, Syria
or Jordan, none of whom
(their lip service not-
withstanding) will pursue
aims other than those they
See to be in their respective
national interest.
"In no case does this in-
clude allowing the PLO to
become a major element on
their borders. The situation
in the Judea and Samaria
districts of the West Bank
and in the Gaza district
could ultimately develop
along the Algerian model,
with the local leadership in
these territories asserting
itself against the leadership
of the movement in Beirut.
The inherent hd built-in
inflexibility of the PLO pre-
clud, s any meaningful role
on the part of this organiza-
tion in achieving a peaceful
solution to the Israel-Arab
"So Israel is a country
that remains dependent for
its survival on military abil-
ity. Yet it is a country that
rejects militarism. This
fact, and the open and free
discussion that char-
acterizes Israeli democracy,
have been imprortant fac-
tors in Israel's inherent
"The Israeli Army is
not an army for parades:
it is an army that rejects
the trappings and for-
malities normally associ-
ated with the military,
and adheres to the uni-
form worn in battle, be-
cause the armed forces
are seen as a necessary
evil with the sole purpose
of defending the nation's
"Israel is defended today
by the most experienced
army in the world. From a
professional point of view, it
has had the opportunity to
test itself in battle again
and again. There are few, if
any, armies in the world
today that have such an ac-
cumulation of experience in
its ranks as do the Israel De-
fense Forces.

"The Israeli armed fdrces
participated in the first
missile battles in history.
Thus, from a purely profes-
sional military point of
view, the military history of
such an army must be of the
greatest importance and
"The military develop-
ments in the Arab world,
particularly in the field of
armament, have been im-
pressive and of great con-
cern to Israel. Several of the
Arab armies are large ar-
mies by world standards.
Syria disposes of some 4,000
of the most modern Soviet
tanks; Jordan is being
supplied not only by the
United States and West
European countries but also
by the Soviet Union; Saudi
Arabia is to he supplied by
the United States with F-15
fighter-bombers with long-
range capabilities, and Air-
born Warning and Control
Systems (AWACS).
"These three armies
together with Iraq dis-
pose of more equipment
than do the forces of
NATO in Europe. The
Jordanian and Syrian
armies have maintained
the standards they have
shown in past wars, al-,
though in air encounters
the Israelis have been
more than a match for the
Syrians. In the Iraqi-
Iranian war, the per-
formance of both armies
and their air forces has
been indifferent.
"The Middle East has
achieved a peace treaty be-
tween Israel and the princi-
pal Arab country, Egypt.
The Camp David Agree-
ment, which paved the way
for the Israel-Egypt Peace
Treaty, can lead to further
positive developments
given the imagination and
courage displayed initially
by President Sadat and also
by Prime Minister Begin
which led to the signing of
the accord.
"It would not have been
concluded had it not been
for direct United States in-
volvement in the process
and in the detailed negotia-
tions. Thus, only a firm U.S.
commitment to the con-
tinuation of the Camp
David process and its rejec-
tion of attempts on the part
of certain West European
and Arab countries to derail
this process can ensure that
Camp David will lead to
further successes.
"The Middle East has,
thanks to President Sadat's
initiative, undergone a
revolution. The area in most
cases has moved away from
a total rejection of Israel, to
a debate on substantive is-
"Israel has a peaceful
border with Egypt. 'Semi
peace' reigns along the
Israeli border with Jor-
dan, with over a million
travelers a year crossing
the Jordan in both direc-
tions in addition to tens of
millions of dollars worth
of trade annually.
"Israel's border with
southern Lebanon is open at
the so-called "Good Fence.'
If the process that has been

developing will continue
and the agreements reached
at Camp David will be hon-
ored, Israel and its
neighbors will move for-
ward slowly but inexorably
towards peace. Should this
process be halted, the tragic
bloodletting of the past
could well resume.
"The Arab countries are
convulsed today by the im-
pact of the 20th Century on
medieval societies that
have achieved untold
wealth almost overnight.
"The Middle East is the
scene of strife, revolution
and unrest in Afghanistan,
in Iran, on the Iranian/Iraqi
border, in Syria, in the civil
and inter-Arab war in
Lebanon on the Oman/
South Yemen border, in the
struggle between Yemen
and South Yemen, in the
Horn of Africa, in Chad, in
the Western Sahara. Across
it sweeps the spectre of Is-
lamic fundamentalism,
which seeks to subvert and
overthrow many regimes.
"To this unrest is now
added limitless military
technology acquired by oil
wealth and the probable ac-
quisition of military nu-
clear potential, initially by
Pakistan and later by Iraq.
The outlook is both sobering
and alarming.
"It is against this back-
ground that Israel must be
viewed. From a political,
historical and human point
of view, the struggle of the
state of Israel to survive
over its years of existence,
while creating a healthy,
free, democratic society,
must be one of the more in-
triguing, imaginative and
encouraging stories of mod-
em times."
There is a measure of
hope for the future, yet this
excellent summation serves
a special purpose. It is an
emphasis on a responsibil-
ity, on Israel's duty to build
a strong defensive army.
Yet charges continue to be
leveled at Israel that she is
building an arsenal state,
and an enemy spirit is being
developed on the basis that
the Jewish state is a mili-
tary ethnicity and because
Israel is so strong militarily
enemies are building hat-
reds on that basis.
Dr. Herzog could not pos-
sibly have developed a bet-
ter case for Israel than in
this lengthy explanatory
portion of his truly great
work on militarism as it af-
fected the Middle East and
continues to affect it-as a
self-protective obligation on
Israel's part.
Wars" has another great
merit — the revealing
facts about Israel's lead-
ership. No one knew or
knows them as did and
does Chaim Herzog.
Therefore his big book
also is a - magnificent
study of leadership and
Such is the combined task
accomplished by historian -
diplomat - military expert
Chaim Herzog. "The Arab-
Israeli Wars" is a great

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