The Intervention

Palestine, Zionism, and Empire, Pt. 10: Black Septembers

January 16, 2024 Episode 83
The Intervention
Palestine, Zionism, and Empire, Pt. 10: Black Septembers
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode begins with the War of Attrition beginning 1967 through the fallout of the 1972 attack by the Black September Group on the Munich Olympics.

Pan-Arabism transitioned to more localized struggles in which the Soviet Union and the United States emerged as major, opposed, forces. As a benefactor of nobody, a stateless people, Palestinian invisibility and hostility, even among former Arab state allies, began to harden.  In this context, the Jordanian Crown kicked off a vicious onslaught to eradicate the PLO from their own borders. Within a year all PLO operations moved from Jordan to Lebanon - a chilling blow against Palestinian self-liberation.

A small number of Palestinian “terrorist attacks” committed by radical splinter groups outside of the Palestine-First ideology only encouraged the west to embrace Israel even harder. The Palestinian, when acknowledged at all, became an embodiment of “homicidal hatred” and not a people with a history.

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In the previous episode we detailed the early transformation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as an Arab State designed entity beholden to Pan-Arabism into a “Palestine-First” spearhead. This episode will show how Pan-Arabism transitioned to more localised struggles in which the Soviet Union and the United States respectively emerged as major, opposed, forces. This is not to say either dictated the agency of their allies but rather both proved influential as instigators and limitations on the power of their respective benefactors. As a benefactor of nobody, a stateless people, the Palestinians continued as an ‘other,’ struggling to assert their own agency in a world of superpowers and client states.

The PLO transformed from an administrative body of a limited number of Arab leaders to a political movement with deepening roots among the Palestinian people. This movement occurred gradually but the delegitimation of Pan-Arabism in the Third Arab-Israeli War of 1967 and the legitimation of Palestinian armed struggle in the Battle of Karameh laid the ground for the Fatah’s takeover of the PLO. Its development into an administrative body provided an internationally recognized mouthpiece for Palestinian liberation - a government of sorts in exile for the State of Palestine. At the same time, the Fatah’s five points legitimised the PLO as a representation of Palestinian self-organisation and armed conflict with cooperation (not dictation) from Arab and international allies. The Fatah needed the PLO’s international structure while the PLO needed Fatah’s popular legitimacy.

Nasser and the Arab States, disabused of the U.N. to overcome Israeli hubris, capitulated to the new PLO by waging a localised War of Attrition in an attempt to reclaim the Suez Canal and Sinai Peninsula. Egypt, militarily shattered, faced near-term economic collapse without access to the Canal. The Egyptian aggression miscalculated Israeli military might with newfound American assistance and resulted in an expedited collapse of the Egyptian economy. Among other contingencies, the intervention of the Soviet Union helped save Egypt from American financed Israeli decimation.

Just as the Soviets aided the rebuilding of Egypt, the Jordanian Ko ing sought his own international assistance in building up the sovereignty of the Crown in an event which came to be known as Black September. Beginning in September 1970, the Jordanian government (within a larger Civil War which deserves its own episode) kicked off a vicious onslaught to eradicate the PLO from the state. With a timely intervention from Israel on behalf of the United States, Jordan repelled a Syrian attempt to protect the Palestinian liberation movement. Within a year all PLO operations moved from Jordan to Lebanon - a chilling blow against Palestinian self-liberation.

By 1972 the Palestinian people faced a limited horizon and hardened public opinion in the West. This period marks yet another depth in the ongoing struggle for liberation. Throughout, a status quo of Palestinian invisibility and hostility even among former Arab state allies began to form. A small number of “terrorist attacks” committed by radical splinter groups outside of the Palestine-First ideology only encouraged the west to embrace Israel even harder. The Palestinian, when acknowledged at all, became an embodiment of “homicidal hatred” and not a people with a material history. The options for the Palestinian future between 1968 and 1973 became blinkered just as Israel flexed its muscles on the world stage as an American asset with all the benefits of western media sympathy that afforded.

PLO Meetings - the Fateh Takes Over (Jan. 17-18, 1968, July 1-17,1968 (Charter), February, 1969) 

We’ve detailed how the Third Arab-Israeli War sent the Pan-Arabist states of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan reeling, but it also marked a transition in the PLO. The Palestinian National Charter contained sections accepting the legitimacy of Jordanian and Egyptian occupation of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and The West Bank. The new reality of Israeli occupation reconfigured this relationship and provided the impetus for the consolidation of Palestinian popular support behind the PLO. This portion gets a little dense, but I do think it’s important to understand this period as a bureaucratic transition.

On January 17-20, 1968, the Fatah organised a meeting of activist and guerrilla organisations to meet in Cairo, Egypt. Though invited, the PLO boycotted the meeting as they understood it as a means to create a rival bureaucratic structure to their own. The meeting resulted in the creation of a unified “Permanent Bureau” including eight of the organisations in attendance. The overwhelming bulk of these members belonged to the Fatah. 

In March 1968, in the leadup to the Battle of Karameh, the PLO made major concessions to the guerrillas. After the Third Arab-Israeli War, Yahya Hammouda replaced the disgraced pan-Arabist Ahmad Shuqary as chairman of the PLO. Hammouda struggled to bridge the difference between the now outmoded structure of the PLO and the new leading spirit of Palestinian-first armed struggle. The PLO agreed to hold a meeting met with the Fatah (representing the Permanent Bureau) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a PLO allied Guerrilla group, to discuss the role of the so-called “commandos'' in the future of the PLO.

The more bureaucratic, top heavy PLO aimed to absorb the energy and popular legitimacy of the commandos, while the commandos aimed to gain international legitimacy for their organisations through an association with the governing body of the Palestine people - the PLO. The guerrillas agreed to coordinate their armed resistance with the PLO while the PLO agreed the guerrillas could hold a full half of the positions in the new 100-seat National Council, a body empowered to make decisions on pressing business and the future of the PLO in an upcoming meeting planned for that July. After this meeting adjourned, as detailed in the previous episode, the Palestinian Liberation Army and the PFLP fought alongside the Fatah at the Battle of Karameh. The charismatic Yassir Arafat of Fatah captured popular and media attention which he leveraged to discredit the PFLP to the benefit of Fatah’s power in the Permanent Bureau.

From July 1-17 representatives of the PLO met to amend the Charter. Sources refer to this charter as the “revised,” “amended,” or just the “new” charter. The most significant changes relate to the embrace of Palestinian armed self-organisation for the liberation of the State of Palestine as defined by the borders of British Mandate Palestine. A close consideration of articles nine and ten and the redaction of clause 24 will be enough to understand the overall changes in the document for the sake of this episode.

Whereas the previous constitution argued for the tertiary position of the “Palestine-First” cause this redrafting positioned the primacy of Palestinians-First as a means to create Palestinian sovereignty - not a trans-Arab state. To this effect, Article nine read:

Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it . They also assert their right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty over it.

To this point, the charter removed all deferential references to outside Arab military actions and Arab State occupation within the borders of former Mandate Palestine. The new charter thus removed Clause 24 which formerly stated, “This Organization does not exercise any regional sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or the Himmah Area.” In effect, the PLO rejected Arab state claims to regain sovereignty over Palestinian peoples. Israel’s complete lack of interest in negotiations to return the occupied territories to Arab control made it a rather moot point, but this might have emerged as a conflict if Egypt or Jordan ever came close to regaining control over these lands.

After imbibing the Palestine-first ideology, article ten sought to consume the guerrilla fighters under the international legitimacy the PLO garnered since its 1964 inception. Article ten read:

Commando action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution. It also requires the achieving of unity for the national (watani) struggle among the different groupings of the Palestinian people, and between the Palestinian people and the Arab masses, so as to secure the continuation of the revolution, its escalation, and victory.

Coming as it did after staking out the centrality of Palestinian self-organisation and struggle, the elevation of the commando guerrilla organisations provided the foundation of the state in exile rather than an arm organisation subsumed under PLO bureaucracy.

The first meeting of the (now) Guerrilla dominated National Convention occurred on July 16 in Cairo to make the changes to the PLO which crafted the structure and function of the organisation through the Oslo Accords. Of note, the convention subsumed the diluted power of the chairman over the PLO to an executive committee, subjected their appointment to the vote of the Convention, created a council to coordinate the Palestinian Liberation Army with the guerrillas, rejected U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, and called for the new Executive Committee to elect a new Chairman…Listeners, there’s no need to write any of this down but it was a very important meeting…

At the next meeting in February of 1969, Yassir Arafat, A founder of Fatah, one time rival of the Pan-Arabist movement and despised figure within the original PLO, became this bodies chairman – this completed the Palestine-First guerilla takeover and signaled the splintering of regional conflicts from one with ideological pan-Arab coherence into localised guerrilla skirmishes.

War of Attrition (June 9, 1967|March 8, 1969 - August 7, 1970)

The War of Attrition (and this is opposed to the lower-case “war of attrition” as a concept), in Israeli history, has become a forgotten war - a war between the wars. Yezid Sayigh titled his review of the first major academic work on the conflict, “A Neglected War.”

Egypt sought to reopen the Suez Canal and reoccupy the Sinai while Israel sought to maintain their control over the territory while undermining Egypt through consistent military pressure. The war concluded with a ceasefire which, at first glance - over three years and costing over 10,000 souls - only affirmed the status quo. Only with the benefit of hindsight, it’s now possible to understand the war as the first example of a Cold War proxy conflict between a Soviet armed Egypt and an American armed Israel. It also marked the entrenchment of Israeli hubris that the so-called “peace” won in the Third Arab-Israeli war could ever last, growing on the ends of bayonets rather than humane diplomacy.

The War of Attrition began within a month after the ceasefire which ended the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. A war of attrition (here I’m talking about the lower-case concept), at its core, represents a struggle of wills. Gamal Abdel Nasser appointed his successor and retired on June 9th, 1967. He assumed his legacy lay among the twisted wreckage of the Egyption military and the pan-Arab ideology. To his shock, massive demonstrations took to the streets demanding he return to the presidential palace. Though the military lay in ruin, the will of the Egyptian people remained unbroken and they continued to believe in a secular, modern, self-possessed Egypt. Nasser wagered the will of the Egyptian people to reject the new status quo, to reclaim both the Suez Canal and the Sinai, outpaced Israel’s will to occupy both. The first shelling of Israeli positions began along the Suez Canal on July 1.

In these early days before Egypt made an official declaration of war in March, 1969, Egypt’s artillery fire proved only to fortify Israel’s position. A heavy barrage on October 26th killed fifteen Israeli troops and injured a further thirty five. Within the week, Israel executed a surgical commando attack against a power station deep in Egypt near the town of Nag Hammadi. Israel executed the sabotage to make clear that an attack on border of Israeli occupied Sinai might result in the loss of life anywhere in Egypt. Israel also mobilized more troops along the Canal in what came to be known as the “Bar-Lev Line.” This setback in particular came in direct contradiction to Egypt’s stated aims of breaking the status quo.

On March 8, 1969 Egypt, with the assistance of Soviet aid and training, felt their military reached at least parity with Israel and begin major bombardments of the Bar-Lev Line. In the first week alone, Zeev Shif estimated Egypt expended 40,000 artillery shells. Acting on bad intel, Nasser announced in May that the Bar-Lev Line lost near 60 percent of its strength and began crossing Egyptian commandos over the Suez Canal to sabotage the Israeli military on the front lines. In reality, Israel anticipated the bombardments and lost minimal effectiveness. Israel refortified and retaliated: artillery bombarded Egyptian civilian, economic, and military targets causing considerable death and destruction in Egypt. The conflict escalated with the first airborne clash in July.  Egypt claimed to shoot down seventeen Israeli crafts (Israel claimed the loss of two) while Israel claimed to shoot down five. While Egyptian losses always outpaced those of Israel, losses on the Israeli side did begin to intensify.

In September, Israel received their first major shipment of state of the art weapons of mass destruction from Uncle Sam: the F-4 Phantom jets. This marked a turning point in the war - the untying of Israel’s hands by way of unrivalled air superiority. After six weeks of non-stop air and artillery bombardment, Egypt lost all air defence systems and all radar sites.

Facing internal devastation and near economic collapse, Egypt turned to their allies for a lifeline. Nasser himself led a secret meeting with Moscow in January, ‘69 at which the Soviets promised direct assistance, but such aid couldn’t be brought in overnight. Though not well coordinated, Syria, Jordan, and the PLO opened an eastern front by making targeted raids and attacks on Israel. Syria (with the small though notable aid of Cuba) committed battalions of artillery and tanks forcing Israel to split their attention to bombard Syrian positions with their Phantom jets. This may have provided enough breathing room in Egypt for the Soviets to deliver on their promise.

As Israeli penetration into Egypt became deeper and targeted civilians, the international community decried American bombs falling on Egyptian children. Israel killed 70 and injured over 100 civilians in a February bombardment of Abu Za'bal. The next month on, April 8th, Israel bombed a school in Bahr al-Baqr killing 30 and injuring 40 children. When pressed for comment by the International Herald Tribune the day after the event, defence minister Moshe Dayan stated, “Perhaps the Egyptians leave children in [their] military installations.” The international press decried the death of innocent children for “Israeli security.” This disgust is worth mentioning, though it’s hard to imagine this bothered a White House dropping hundreds of millions of bombs on Laos and set to invade Cambodia within the year.

International disgust, the opening of an eastern front, and the realisation of massive Soviet aid forced Israel to stop all penetrative air raids on April 13th. According to breakdowns of the war by historian Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov (corrected of propagandic perspectives by reviewer Yezid Sayigh) Soviet support reshuffled the stakes and the outcome of the war. By Spring, the USSR sent over 1,500 advisors, the cutting edge in Surface to Air Missile sites (SAM sites), a contingent of pilots, and the newest military support tech - including radar.

Egypt and their Arab allies, in spite of constant quantitative and penetrative increases in Israeli attacks, never relented in their own bombardments of Israeli targets. With Soviet assistance, Syria downed the first Phantom Jet on April 2nd. Though the United States supported regime change, and even if the death of children weighed not at all on President Richard Nixon or Henry Kissinger’s mind, the United States did not want to become bogged down in another Vietnam - at least not one with Soviet defensive parity.

The war dragged on with escalating direct Soviet involvement until an American brokered cease-fire. In May, as Israel increased their bombardment of the west  coast of the Canal; they reported the loss of seven aircrafts to Soviet SAM sites. At the end of June, the United States demanded a cease-fire. By July, the Soviets committed no less than 15,000 advisors; 100 pilots; 8,000 missile experts; 45 SAM sites; 120 Mig fighter jets; and 6 whole airfields. Citing this rapid escalation in Soviet aid as strengthening their position, Egypt announced their acceptance of a ceasefire. Israel, unbeknownst to Egypt, neared complete depletion of their bombardment munitions after a month and a half of daily attacks on Arab military targets. America, it seemed, just couldn’t get the munitions there fast enough - more on this later. Israel accepted the ceasefire on August 1st, 1970.

Both Egypt and Israel spent September building up their respective positions in blatant violation of the terms of the ceasefire. The Soviets continued sending aid and developed over eighty additional air defence systems along the Canal zone. Israel, which decimated Egypts’ ability to mount any air defence only nine months earlier, cried foul to the U.S. State Department. According to a 1973 history, “The United States was obviously unwilling to sabotage the new cease-fire agreement by adopting a frankly pro-Israel attitude,” so the Israel State Department pulled out of all peace talks. In response, The U.S. announced their knowledge of Israel’s violations of the agreement and threatened to withhold all military support. The Israeli military returned to the talks, post-haste.

On September 28th, 1970 Nasser died of a sudden heart attack. Vice president Anwar el-Sadat took over as interim president, but Nasser’s death threw the balance of powers within the Egyptian government into total disarray. Without clear leadership to change the direction of state, Egypt drifted toward renewing the ceasefire in November effectively ending the war.

Though both sides claimed victory, and popular history considers the event a wash, Egypt and their Arab allies came out of the conflict in a superior position thanks to the U.S.S.R. Compared to 1967, direct Soviet assistance not only rebuilt the Egyptian military into a viable force but equipped the Canal and interior with defensive capabilities second to none. Israel, on the other hand, found their American ally willing to withhold aid for the sake of larger geopolitical machinations. The State of Israel, their weapons stock made whole again during the cease-fire and suffering a comparable few casualties, declared victory.

Black September (September 8, 1970 – July 17, 1971)

Shifting focus, the Jordanian Civil War, known by Palestinans as Aylūl al-ʾAswad or “Black September,” began just as the War of Attrition came to an end. The portion of the larger Civil War most relevant to this series, represented a deep fissure in the long roiling rivalry between Jordanian and Palestinian sovereignty. The conflict destroyed the overt political and military presence of the PLO in the Kingdom of Jordan with the intervention of Israel and the United States. Due to the aforementioned guerrilla structure, the PLO successfully moved to Lebanon but left in its wake a festering hopelessness among Palestinians in Jordan and the Israeli occupied West Bank. An open sore which manifested as desperate attacks of civilians  by Palestinian splinter organisations to gain even basic recognition of Palestinian suffering from an uncaring world.

King Hussein, not much more than two years prior, when speaking of the Battle of Karameh announced, “The day may come when we are all fedayeen.” Fedayeen being a term of endearment for the guerrilla fighters. By September 1970 the Crown began a scorched earth approach to eradicate the PLO from his kingdom as a threat to his sovereignty in Jordan and the state’s aim to reclaim the Israeli occupied West Bank. 

To explain what appeared to be a selfish, turncoat approach of the Jordanian Crown it’s important to realise that (although we may be guilty of it ourselves in this condensed narrative) the guerrilla movement did not represent a unified, singular block.

In a previous episode we mentioned that the Fatah over the course of the 1960s built their organisation to adhere to an ideological commitment of non-intervention in the Arab states surrounding Palestine - Jordan included. We will return to cover the “1969 Cairo Agreement” in a future episode on Lebanon, but, suffice to say, maintaining a semi-autonomous, liberatory, revolutionary Palestinian state within a state - especially within a Kingdom already insecure in its relationship to neighbouring Arab republics, causes instability within that state. This is not to excuse the State of Jordan, but rather to argue the Crown faced real material pressures.

The sudden explosion of Fatah membership in 1968 stressed the educational capacity of the organisation to a breaking point. According to Fatah founder Khaled al-Hassan, speaking from 1982:

After Karameh, people started to join Fateh by thousands. So they were not brought up, accultured, according to Fateh ideology in a condensed manner. After Karameh, we were forced to make our mobilisation and ideological education to the people in the camps by masses, by lectures, not by cells: and there is a big difference in both ways. There we deal with an individual; here we deal with the masses, with 100 at one time... You can’t explain everything; you have no time to explain everything, because it needs one year to make a real member...

This is not even speaking to the reality that Fatah, while by far the largest, acted in concert with and in opposition to other popular guerrilla groups. Jordan, with its long history of British and Zionist cooperation, with antagonistic relations with the anti-Monarchic Egyptian pan-Arabism and Syrian socialism, and an antagonistic relationship with the Palestinian people and refugees, attracted resistance movements of all sorts. It may be worth revisiting this period to untangle this web, but suffice to say the crown weighed heavy on King Hussein’s head: he feared his kingdom’s collapse.

The Jordanian King became a prime target for the rage and crosshairs of guerillas not committed to Fatah’s pledge to non-intervention. The PFLP made up the second largest group within the PLO and clashed with the Fatah because of their continued pan-Arab sympathies. After a failed assassination attempt in June 1970, King Hussein took personal command of the military and reached out to Washington for assistance. On September 6th, the PFLP hijacked five international airliners (four bound for the US and one for the UK), landed three at a Jordanian desert airstrip, and took the 56 ethno-Jews on board as hostages, released the remaining 254 to Amman (Jordan’s Capital), and detonated the empty planes.

In response the American State Department prepared two plans, to which the Israeli government proved themselves a valuable asset in the eventual execution of one. The first plan, the progeny of Kissinger, differed to Jordan to take care of returning the American hostages and solving the guerrilla problem while empowering Israel to prevent regional mobilisation to aid the PLO. The second plan, from the mind of Nixon, called for the direct intervention of American troops to prop up the King, rescue the hostages, and repel Arab intervention. Both included an increase in European military drills to intimidate the Soviets away from their own intervention.

Hussein resolved to declare martial law and execute a scorched earth attack with strategic American assistance against every Palestinian guerrilla on September 16. Jordan made an appeal to all Arab states in the region to assist in his crusade against the PLO, but no state agreed to commit troops. Iraq, Syria, and Algeria, in fact, argued for the support of the  Palestinian cause. Because of their own Palestinian ethnicity or deep sympathies with the Palestinian cause, a significant number of highly trained Jordanian troops refused to carry out orders and defected to the PLO’s Palestinian Liberation Army. Worth note, though they claimed support of the Palestinian cause and retained 17,000 troops in Jordan since 1967, Iraq (in spite of their calls for Jordan to back down) refused to assist the PLO. Of all the Arab states, only Syria came to Palestine’s aid.

The United States learned of Syria’s tanks crossing the northern border from Israeli intelligence by way of Jordan. In a turn of events which further cemented Israel as a regional asset, Jordan informed the United States it could not repel the Syrian invasion without significant military assistance. Kissinger called Israel’s ambassador to America, Yitzhak Rabin. According to journalists Marvin and Bernard Kalb, Kissinger asked in a tense, anxious voice if Israel might provide air support to Jordan, the state which only a few years prior invaded Israeli territory. Israel’s bombardment of Syrian positions (with American planes and munitions) and the mobilizations of tank division to the northern Israeli border of Jordan proved the United States could count on Israel to enforce American interests in the Middle East. Within three days, the Soviets informed the United States of their own effective pressure on Syria to withdraw.

Their hands untied, Jordan proceeded with their eradication of the PLO. The Crown, in brutal urban warfare, pushed the guerrilla forces out of Amman into the surrounding woods and hills of the northern countryside. During the summer of 1971, Jordan mopped up these remaining pockets of resistance. Remaining PLO forces retreated to Lebanon where the Lebanese government had signed the nonaggression “Cairo Agreement” with the Palestinian authority in 1969. The PLO went from an ascendant organisation in 1967 demanding the respect of international actors on behalf of the Palestinian people, into a shadow organisation struggling to maintain its own existence in 1972.

Conclusion (1972: The Munich Massacre and “King Hussein’s Gamble”)

Writing in 1973, with sympathy for the Palestinian people, journalist John K. Cooley mourned the death of the guerrilla movement:

With Jordan lost to the guerrillas and apparently headed in the direction of a separate peace with Israel, and future operations from Lebanon and Syria contraindicated by the very real possibility of massive Israeli retaliation and perhaps permanent occupation, the burden was on Arafat, still in command of the larger part of the remaining resistance movement, to find the means to survive and somehow to resume the struggle against Israel. The odds against him looked overwhelming.

Jordanian, American, and Israeli forces combined - pummeled the guerrillas into a weak position near incapable of organising a sustained movement for Palestine-first self-liberation.

Less than five years prior, the guerrillas rose to prominence after the crumbling of pan-Arab legitimacy empowered their critique of the PLO’s leadership’s subservience to the action of other Arab states in favor of self-liberation. Now the Fatah, running the PLO, operated at the largess of Lebanon and struggled to justify its diminished position. The sensational though desperate actions of the PFLP gained some popular support among Palestinians because they at least forced the world to acknowledge their existence. The most famous of these being the Munich Massacre of September 1972.

‘The Black September Organisation,’ arose (according to Salah Khalaf) as a spontaneous reaction to the bloodshed in Black September and a desire to make the Israeli’s feel the pain of their repression. The Palestinian group seized 11 athletes representing Israel at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, West Germany. After killing one athlete who resisted capture, the remaining 10 and 5 of the 8 guerrillas, died in the explosions and hail of German Police and Black September Organization crossfire at the airport. An estimated 900 million people watched the crisis unfold live on broadcast television and radio.

The next morning the New York Time captured the west’s outrage:

Yesterday's murderous assault in Munich plumbed new depths of criminality. By choosing the Olympic Games as the occasion for their bloody foray, the Arab terrorists made it plain that their real target was civilized conduct among nations, not merely Israel or the Israeli athletes captured and killed yesterday. If the Olympic Games could provide a setting for release of their homicidal hatreds, then the same threat would hang over every United Nations meeting and all other international gatherings called to promote peace and friendship among nations.

The IDF launched air raids and an invasion of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon killing 39 civilians, 19 Lebanese troops, and an unreported number of PLO guerillas. In the following days over 200 men, women, and children fell to Israeli firepower in Lebanon and Syria. Except for the hijackings and similar acts previously noted, it marked the first time a truly global audience engaged with the Palestinian cause. Nixon and Kissinger applauded Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism while western media agreed.

On March 15th, 1972 the Jordanian Crown announced what Cooley called “King Hussien’s Gamble.” The King made a public outline of a plan, with the assistance of the State of Israel, to federate the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Jordan as the new United Arab Kingdom. Hussienp argued, after this initial federation, Gaza might be included in future arrangements. Black September proved Palestinians held no self-determination under Jordanian rule, and King Hussein gambled he might increase his reach over the erstwhile Palestinian territories.

Palestinians thus found themselves looking down the barrel of three guns in 1972. The PLO’s illusory promise of a free Palestine fought for through sustained, brutal, and bloody guerrilla warfare; the oppressive yoke of the Jordanian bastardization of pan-Arabism by way of monarchial cultural repression; or the uncertainty of an (at best) cold, indifferent, and exploitative or (at worst) brutal and genocidal State of Israel. None of these options held much appeal, but the events of this bleak period offered few alternatives.

Meanwhile. Israel with a newfound steadfast American ally, in spite of a few rough patches here and there, came to believe in the inevitability of their ascendence on the world stage.

Chatter Introduction
PLO Meetings - the Fateh Takes Over (Jan. 17-18, 1968, July 1-17,1968 (Charter), February, 1969)
War of Attrition (June 9, 1967|March 8, 1969 - August 7, 1970)
Black September (September 8, 1970 – July 17, 1971)
Conclusion (1972: The Munich Massacre and “King Hussein’s Gamble”)