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(JEWS and ARABS from WW2 to 1967 – continued)

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JEWS and ARABS from WW2 to 1967 (8 of 10)

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Raids against Israelis and the Suez Crisis of 1957

Since 1949, Palestinian guerrillas had been making raids against Israel – the raiders calling themselves self-sacrificers (fida'iyyun). By 1953 Egypt was supporting these raids – in part, at least, a concession to Arab public opinion, which remained passionately devoted to the elimination of Israel. With fellow Muslims, Egypt was agreeing that another try should be made at eliminating the existence of Israel, while secretly promoting talks with Israel. Israel's prime minister, Ben-Gurion, saw such talks as an attempt to anesthetize Israel before slaughtering it.

Between 1949 and 1956, the raids killed 1300 Israeli civilians. The Israelis tried to create a disincentive for such attacks, with the idea that if "you hit us we will hit back twice as hard." And Palestinians described Israeli retaliations as terror.

Ben-Gurion, decided on a showdown against Nasser and was pleased to have allies in doing so. Egypt was getting arms from the Soviet Union, which by now was employing a Cold War strategy in the Middle East. Israel needed weapons and was being denied by the United States and Britain. Israel found an ally in France, who was opposed to Nasser because of his support for the Algerians. In 1956, Israel joined Britain and France in attacking Egypt – Britain opposed to Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal. The world community was opposed to the military attacks on Egypt, the UN Assembly voting 65 to 5 for a cease fire. Eisenhower spoke against the attacks, labeling them violations of international law. Eisenhower was opposed to military actions by Britain and France in Iran or Egypt, believing that problems between these countries should be adjudicated in the United Nations. The Eisenhower administration did not want the U.S. associated with Britain's colonial heritage. The Soviet Union, supporting Egypt, joined in the demand for a cease fire. Israel, Britain and France were forced to withdraw, and the United Nations put troops from India between the Israelis and Egyptians.

In February, 1957, President Eisenhower invited King Saud (the second King Saud, 1953-64) to Washington, Eisenhower appreciating a Cold War asset. He wanted to renew the lease on the airbase at Dhahran. King Saud agreed, and this agreement was to remain the basis for a continuing U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia.

For a decade after the Suez crisis, Israel's border with Egypt was quiet, while Arab hostilities against Israel continued along the Syrian and Jordanian borders. From their positions on the Golan Heights, the Syrians shelled Israeli settlements, attacked fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee and fired on agricultural workers in the demilitarized zones along the frontier.

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Copyright © 1998-2014 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.