Another Tack: Galling like de Gaulle
To those among us with some historical memory, these tense days might be reminiscent of days no less tense on the eve of the Six Day War. Then too Israel was beset by existential threat.
Egypt had blockaded the Tiran Straits, kicked out UN forces from Sinai and filled our airwaves with bellicose bluster about annihilating the Jewish state, a.k.a. the loathsome “Zionist entity.” Four and a half decades later, we are threatened by Iranian nukes and all around us is regurgitated the bellicose bluster about annihilating Israel, a.k.a. the loathsome “Zionist entity.” To those of us who still remember, the vehement vows to obliterate us sound eerily similar.
But the comparables hardly end here. Our nervous systems are today mercilessly put through the wringer – but not for the first time. Yesteryear too, our very existence seemed to equally hang in the balance during a protracted waiting period of uncertainly, compounded by the realization that somewhere, behind closed doors, life-and-death decisions are being weighed by pressured individuals tugged in contradictory directions and bearing unenviable burdens. We didn’t know back then, in 1967, about Yitzhak Rabin’s breakdown but plenty of us felt at the end of our own tether.
And as our white-knuckle ride on history’s roller coaster tumbled and tossed us 45 years ago, the world watched with apathetic aplomb. Our grueling anxiety was no skin off assorted foreign noses. It was our misfortune and none of their own. Just as now.
Already back in 1967 what concerned the august statesmen of fellow democracies was hardly our welfare and survival. What they feared most was an Israeli preemptive strike. That, they warned sternly, would grievously upset the international apple cart.
What they counseled was that we just learn to live with the very potent threats to our continued presence on the face of this planet. We should embrace our endangered species status and count on their diplomats to powwow as per polite protocol. Perhaps they can win us a smidgen of extra time, but only on condition that we don’t fly off the handle.
Sound familiar? It should.
What US President Barack Obama fears most, as he campaigns for reelection, is not the Iranian bomb but Israeli action against that bomb – especially if the dreaded Israeli preemption occurs before the race for the White House concludes. That would really be a political killjoy. And so Obama and his diverse mouthpieces – some in uniform – issue severe and unsympathetic admonitions against Israeli adventurism.
They prefer us diminished, demoralized, dependent on their good will, and, most of all, no trouble during a close electoral showdown. While we compliantly cower in our assigned corner, they could lay it on real thick and announce that they’re our devoted friends. Our fate and future must be entrusted to their superior judgment because Obama knows best. He often tells us so.
This bears uncanny resemblance to the attitude of another omniscient friend – French president Charles de Gaulle. Indisputably, Obama appears the more likable of the two but his policy bottom line is just as galling as de Gaulle’s.
Back in 1967 many of us still convinced ourselves, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, that de Gaulle was our best bud. There was no American aid back then but France occupied a warm spot in Israeli hearts. In its earliest days Israel came to regard France as an ally, which it literally was during the 1956 Sinai Campaign, but it also offered military and scientific collaboration (which begot our nuclear reactor in Dimona). France was Israel’s premier weapons retailer. Israel’s first modern fighter jets were the French Mirages.