|According to Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, reality testing is the ability to see a situation for what it really is, rather than what one hopes or fears it might be.
The Ben Gurion doctrine
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, pressures Israel to refrain from sharing with the co-equal US Congress its own concerns about the adverse impact of the US policy toward Iran on the national security of the US and Israel.
Secretary Blinken is, also, pressuring Israel to refrain from acting unilaterally, in order to avert the regional and global wrath of a nuclear Iran.
In addition, the chief architect of President Biden’s foreign and national security policy is pressuring Israel to freeze Jewish construction – while encouraging Arab construction – in Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem, re-divide Jerusalem and to withdraw to the pre-1967 ceasefire lines, which were defined as “The Auschwitz Lines” by Abba Eban, Israel’s former Foreign Minister, who was a leading Dove.
Israel’s Prime Minister is advised to follow in the footsteps of Israel’s Founding Fathers – from Prime Minister David Ben Gurion through Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir – who considered the defiance of US pressure to make reckless concessions as a central factor in their national security policy. While it triggered short term confrontations, it produced strategic long term US respect for Israel. The US appreciates principle-driven allies, who do not sacrifice their national security and cradle of history on the altar of diplomatic and economic convenience, even when it entails defiance of US pressure.
In 1948/49, the US, Britain and the UN threatened Israel with severe economic and diplomatic sanctions, to coerce the newly-born Jewish State to end “occupation” of areas in the Galilee, coastal plain, the Negev and West Jerusalem; and to absorb Arab refugees, who joined in the failed intra-Arab military attempt to annihilate Israel. Prime Minister Ben Gurion fended off the overwhelming pressure, even though Israel only had a population of 650,000 Jews with hardly any military and economic infrastructure.
According to James McDonald, the first US Ambassador to Israel, Ben Gurion responded to the US pressure in the following manner (My Mission in Israel, 1948-1951, pp. 49, 55, 182, 241, 242, 247):
“The United States is a powerful country; Israel is a small and weak one. We can be crushed, but we will not commit suicide….
“Ben Gurion warned President Truman and the Department of State that they would be gravely mistaken if they assumed that the threat or even the use of UN sanctions would force Israel to yield on issues considered vital to its independence and security…. If tiny Israel were convinced that its independence or national security were at stake it would resist a UN decision even if that resistance threatened to bring down overwhelming economic sanctions….
“Much as Israel desired friendship with the United States and full cooperation with it and the UN, there were limits beyond which it could not go. Israel could not yield at any point which, in its judgment, 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….
“The more I studied and observed the manner in which he [Ben Gurion] met the burdens placed upon him, the more convinced I became that he was one of the few great statesmen of our day…. The comparison [to Winston Churchill] did not exaggerate the Israel Prime Minister’s natural qualities of leadership…. Small in stature [5 feet], he was big in spirit…. He had unfaltering faith in the future of Israel…. The Prime Minister had no fear….”
Reality testing of US pressure on Israel
Israel’s Prime Minister should be aware that notwithstanding the systematic US pressure in 1948-2017, US-Israel strategic cooperation was enhanced dramatically during that period, due to the principle-driven conduct of Israel’s Prime Ministers, Israel’s unique technological and military capabilities, and as a result of Israel’s growing contribution to the US economy and national security.
These Israeli Prime Ministers demonstrated that historic and national security concerns superseded diplomatic convenience. They realized the difference between popularity and strategic respect. The latter required defiance of the odds and pressure.
They recognized the fact that repelling US pressure was an integral part of US-Israel relations, which tested Israel’s effectiveness as a strategic partner.
They knew that there are no free lunches; that a failure to fend off US pressure would generate intensified pressure, coupled with eroded strategic respect, a reduced posture of deterrence, and emboldened enemies.
They were aware that simultaneously with pressure by the Executive, Israel has enjoyed – since 1948 – the support of the co-equal and co-determining Legislature and most of the US constituency, which plays a key role in the US Federalist system of government. They concluded that succumbing to pressure would severely injure Israel’s stature among its allies on Capitol Hill and the US population.
Defiance of US pressure – milestones
The methodical US pressure from 1948-2017 reflected the worldview of the State Department establishment, which has been systematically wrong on the Middle East: brutal opposition to the establishment of the Jewish State; the embrace of Ayatollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, the “Muslim Brotherhood,” Hamas and the Palestinian Authority; the pressure on Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates; etc.
1948 – Prime Minister Ben Gurion declared independence in defiance of a brutal campaign by the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, the New York Times and the Washington Post, while President Truman was hesitant until the last minute.
1949 – Prime Minister Ben Gurion rebuffed US and global pressure to withdraw to the suicidal 1947 “Partition Plan.”
1967-1974 – Prime Ministers Eshkol and Golda Meir repulsed US pressure to desist from construction of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.
1981 – Prime Minister Begin ordered the bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in defiance of the most brutal pressure (followed by severe punishment) by the US.
1981 – Prime Minister Begin applied Israeli law to the Golan Heights, notwithstanding severe threats by the US Administration.
1982 – Prime Minister Begin rejected the “Reagan Plan,” which stipulated Israel’s withdrawal to the pre-1967 ceasefire lines. He sent the following message to President Reagan:
”….What some call the “West Bank” is Judea and Samaria; and this simple historic truth will never change. There are cynics who deride history. They may continue their derision as they wish, but I will stand by the truth…. The matter of security is of paramount importance. Geography and history have ordained that Judea and Samaria be a mountainous country and that two-thirds of our population dwell in the coastal plain dominated by those mountains. From them you can hit every city, every town, each township and village and, last but not least, our principal airport in the plain below…. Under no circumstances shall we accept such a possibility [returning to the pre-1967 lines] ever arising, which would endanger our very existence…. A friend does not weaken his friend, an ally does not put his ally in jeopardy. This would be the inevitable consequence were the ‘positions’ transmitted to me on August 31, 1982, to become reality. I believe they won’t. ‘For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest’ (Isaiah, 62).”
1983-1992 – Prime Minister Shamir substantially expanded construction in Judea and Samaria Jewish communities, irrespective of vehement opposition by the US Executive.
The aforementioned well-documented facts illustrate that defiance of pressure enhances Israel’s posture of deterrence, minimizes regional instability, reduces the prospects of war, and bolsters the US strategic respect toward Israel.
This column was originally published at The Ettinger Report