The Intervention

Palestine, Zionism, and Empire, Pt. 11: The Fourth Arab-Israeli War or The Rise of Likud

February 13, 2024 Episode 88
The Intervention
Palestine, Zionism, and Empire, Pt. 11: The Fourth Arab-Israeli War or The Rise of Likud
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The episode details the events of the Fourth Arab-Israeli War of 1973 (also known as the Yom Kippur War, the Ramadan War, and the October War) and the aftermath in Israels domestic affairs. The sizable amount of Israeli blood spilled provided an opening for what would become the Likud front to articulate a wedding of their revisionist Zionism with the religious Zionism embodied by the organization Gush Emunim.

As we’ve maintained, these ideologies existed among Zionists even before the Mandate period, but here the long line of contingencies led to their ascension. This episode goes a long way to describe the “rise of the right” in Israel and narrates the birth of the modern Likud party of Benjamin Netanyahu.

We mentioned the following recommended listening: Panic at the Border w/ Alex Aviña on The East is a Podcast

Resources:
Answer Coalition
The Anti-Imperialist Archive
Jewish Voices for Peace
Middle East Children's Alliance
The Palestine Children's Relief Fund
Palestinian Youth Movement

The Intervention Podcast:
Twitter: @intervenepod
Instagram: @intervention_pod
Email: interventionpod@gmail.com

Levi Levi:
Twitter: @levi0levi
Instagram: @levi0levi0levi
Email: levi0levi@duck.com

Big thanks to Plasmid for the music for the show: Instagram - @plasmidband. Listen / follow on Spotify

Intro


As detailed in the previous episode, labour Zionism maintained an aimless middling space in relation to the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and West Bank: occupation without annexation, negotiation without compromise, and development without support. These represented a core contradiction of their ideology: stuck at the impasse between a pragmatic appeal to co-existence with Palestinians and the belligerent violence of not recognizing their right to autonomy because of a desire to (slowly and diplomatically) take the remainder of Mandate Palestine (and beyond). An overwhelming sense of Israeli superiority to the Arab people, steady economic growth, a strong social state, and a reliable American ally allowed the inter-war State of Israel to paper over these contradictions and leave the position vis-a-vie settlements unresolved.

The Fourth Arab-Israeli War upended all of this and moved this contradiction from the periphery of the Israeli political psyche into a core ideological issue. One by one, the labour government, who maintained control after the election of 1973 thanks to a rally-round-the-flag effect of the war, made decisions which eroded each of the pillars which propped up the labour Zionist approach dominant since Mandate Palestine. While an erosion of the social state and economic stagnation caused a portion of the public to take their chances on the neo-liberal free market promises of the revisionist Zionist front, religious Zionists found more in common with the revisionists as labour lost their ‘steady hand’ legitimacy.

The labour Zionists sought to reclaim legitimacy by engaging in a diplomatic front with the leadership of both Egypt and Syria. Israel agreed to Security Council Resolution 338 which implemented a ceasefire and promised negotiations to implement Security Council Resolution 242 - the resolution which called for Israel to return the territories occupied in the Third Arab-Israeli War of 1967 - thus ending the occupation. “The Egyptian - Israeli Agreement on Disengagement of Forces in Pursuance of the Geneva Peace Conference” (which came to be known as Sinai I) and the “Interim Agreement between Israel and Egypt” (which came to be known as Sinai II) set the stage for Egypt’s leadership’s transition from Soviet backed pan-Arabism to United States funded co-existence. At the same time, “The Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria” appeared to begin the process of the same for Syria - if not in the same Cold War framing. While these actions gained fawning coverage in western media, both those sympathetic with the Palestinian cause and those with growing sympathy with the revisionists, looked on these developments with deep suspicion.

Their coalition partner since the Mandate, the religious Zionists, found the belligerent self-righteousness of revisionist Zionism preferable to ‘pragmatic’ labour Zionism. The revisionist Zionists, tracing their lineage back to Ze’ev Jabotinsky and the Irgun, embraced their history of anti-Palestinian violence (they might say anti-Arab violence as they never recognized the existence of the Palestinian people) to bolster their claims to territorial maximisation. Though secular, the revisionist belief in the superiority of the ethno-Jews worked hand in glove with the religious Zionists’ messianic belief in the Jewish people’s right to the lands of Israel based on the Abrahamic covenant. The growth and development of the vigilante settler-terrorist organisation Gush Emunim provide evidence of the converging mission of both religious and revisionist Zionists.

All of this is to argue, as we have in many places throughout this podcast, that the rise of neoliberalism, settler violence, justifications for genocide, ethno-shovinism, and accursed messianic extremism are not an abrasion or recent development in the history of Israel. All of these trends existed from the beginning and first exerted their influence on a Labour Party government - not under Likud. That said, as the election of 1977 approached, the newly formed revisionist Zionist front (not yet an official party), the Likud, found a public primed to embrace the extreme.

Fourth Arab-Israeli War (6–25 October 1973)


The Fourth Arab-Israeli War punctured the Israeli State’s certainty in its own smug pride and superiority in the region. Egypt and Syria launched the attack on October 6th, 1973 with the mission of demanding recognition from Israel and respect on the world stage. With those limited aims in mind, this was the only war not interested in destroying the State of Israel, the Arab armies won. The PLO and guerrilla organisations fought valiantly on the side of the Arabs even as they recognized these limited aims did not provide them relief from occupation. At this junction, the PLO set aside their liberation in hopes of cementing the respect of their Arab allies, the respect of the Palestinian people as their champion and, inversely, the respect of the State of Israel as a real threat. The Arab victory in this war can be understood in relation to the lessons learned from the previous three wars.

Unlike the First Arab-Israeli War, the Arab militaries coordinated their invasion with expert precision. Egyptian divisions crossed the canal in force overrunning the Israeli Bar Lev Line. At the same time, Syria swooped in penetrating the northern line with heavy armoured battalions. No secret diplomatic convoys from Europe or Israel undermined the effectiveness of Arab coordination. Instead, the nations of Algeria, Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the German Democratic Republic, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and, of course, the Palestinian people all synchronised their attack.

Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt, brought the PLO on board early and understood the Palestinian people as essential to his vision of a successful limited war. A month before the war, PLO leadership met with Egypt to go over, in detail, the plans for invasion and the imagined postwar peace conference. The Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA) organised infantry units within Egypt to execute orders from Sadat. These PLA officers and troops embeded within Kuwaiti troops at the Deversoir Lake within the Canal Zone. In addition, PLA units fought with Syrians to capture Kuneitra in the Golan Heights in the first push of the offensive. From their base in Lebanon, PLO guerrillas shelled Kibbutzim near the border and helped execute a general strike which kept upwards of 70,000 Palestinian workers from working in Israeli businesses. The King of Jordan, after his bloody victory in Black September, prevented guerrillas from using Jordanian lands to launch any attacks.

Unlike the Second Arab-Israeli War, both the Syrians and Egyptians received material and intelligence support from the Soviet Union. On July 18, 1972, Egypt sent home all Russian military advisors in what the New York Times reported, “is probably the most severe defeat the Soviet Union has suffered since it began to buy friends and influence nationals in the non-Communist Third World.” In reality, according to recent scholarship, a contingency of Soviet military advisors actually stayed behind to maintain and prepare the communication systems developed since the 1970 end of the War of Attrition.

The Egyptian government choreographed the so called, “Soviet expulsion,” in one possible explanation, to ensure the impending invasion could not be dismissed as mere Soviet dictation. Even setting aside these cunning diplomatic manoeuvres, the Soviets armed and trained the Egyptians and Syrians with up-to-date tech including arms, communication, and anti-air defence systems.

Unlike the Third Arab-Israeli War, the Arab nations got the jump on Israel and so finally put a version of their “lightening war” strategy into practice. Israeli intelligence and the west writ large knew Sedat, a weak and ineffectual president-by-accident after the death of Nasser, would never make the mistake of invading Israel. The “expulsion” of Soviet advisors made these politicians all the more confident. The war began, as its Israeli name indicates, on the night of Yom Kippur, among the highest holidays in the Jewish calendar. The military, caught off guard, slowly recalled all soldiers on leave and in reserve to the front lines.

A number of straight forward aims justified and motivated the execution of the war on the Arab side. Once Egyptian forces crossed over to the Eastern shore of the Suez Canal and gained complete control of the fortified Bar-Lev Line, Sedat spoke of the limited aims of the war: he called for the forceful implementation of U.N. Resolution 242.

And here it’s worth revisiting the body of this resolution:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict [meaning the Third Arab-Israeli War of 1967];

(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

As mentioned a couple episodes back, this resolution represented a compromise, a position negating the tenants of both pan-Arabism and Palestinian Liberation. The PLO, its worth repeating, rejected this resolution at the time while America and the Soviet Union supported it. In short, Egypt initiated the war as a means to implement international demands on the State of Israel - not the destruction of the State of Israel.

These aims, though modest, called for the extreme measures of war because of Israel’s hubris and utter disrespect of the Arab states. Periodically, as a flex of power, Israel used their control of the East Bank of the Suez to block the canal and incur massive economic penalties on Egypt. The western rules based order allowed Israel this privilege so long as it didn’t disrupt the flow of resources and commodities out of the region destined to the west.

Egypt, since the destruction of its military in 1967, struggled to get out from under the pariah status the west imposed on it since the rise of Nasser. The Egyptian government believed a war with notable Arab victories (if not outright victory) might force Israel to fear and respect Egypt which might in turn garner greater respect in the west. This helps explain the staged “expulsion” of the Soviet advisors in order to aid the return of Egypt’s international position as a member of the non-aligned movement (if no longer a moral centre of that movement).

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) entered the war on the backfoot. It restricted all communication with the frontline to the public, as it had during the Third Arab-Israeli War. The Israeli press responded with alarm and anger, but also, without any reliable information to go off of, assured their readers of a rapid Arab defeat. They logged reports on the dominance of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) across the skies and the IDF on the ground. Ze’ev Shiff, reporting as state propaganda, wrote in Haaretz on the second day of the war:

At the time of writing these lines…signs of victory, which will occur in the second and third stages, are becoming clear. And as always under such circumstances, the problem is the price of the Israeli victory. No less important is the price that the Egyptians and Syrians will have to pay for what they have done.

By the third day, as real information crept into the heartland from the frontlines, the press stopped pretending Israeli dominance and Arab cowardice made this conflict another forgone conclusion. Instead, they reported on the accumulating Israeli dead and wounded. First, just few, then a hundred, then over a thousand. The numbers climbed beyond any loss of life experienced by the IDF in any previous conflict. Public confidence in the military collapsed. Local papers ran stories of citizens suffering mental breakdowns throughout the cities and across countryside.

After the Syrians and Egyptians racked modest military achievements, the Soviets and United States gathered together to propose a ceasefire meant to satisfy Sadat’s limited war aims. Both Israel and Egypt, to the ire of the United States, denied the proposal. The Syrians, in hindsight, took back the most of the Golan Heights they would by the third day of the war. The Soviets, not wanting to get involved on the ground as they had in the War of Attrition, offered instead to keep the Syrian and Egyptian forces well supplied. This allowed the Syrians to contain the counter-invading Israeli forces on October 12th, which maintained through the final ceasefire.

At first, Moshe Dayan, the Minister of Defense, resisted calling Washington for aid. Though a commander within all previous Israeli wars, perhaps he bought into the propaganda that Israel won them all without assistance. By the fourth day, Israel ran through most of its munitions stockpile.

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who at this point made decisions within the Nixon White House with near unilateral power, approved the shipment of ammunition - yet he did so after an intentional, protracted delay. The message from the State Department: Israel followed Washington’s orders, not the other way around. Without any other options, the IDF fired bullets straight from the pallets overnighted by Uncle Sam on October 14th - supplies that might be cut off at any moment, at the sole discretion of Kissinger.

The American intervention proved to be a turning point of the war. After gaining the greatest incursion in the Sinai Peninsula on October 14th, Israel began a successful counter-offensive on October 15th, crossing the Canal by way of the PLA fortified Deversoir Lake on the 16th. Egypt held the East Coast of the Canal as Israeli forces surrounded the Egyptian position - cutting them off from supplies. As Israeli tanks set their sights on Cairo, the White House stepped in to end the war. Israel, Egypt, and Syria agreed to a Ceasefire on October 25th.

Post-War Desires and Prediction


The United States, valuing the “calm” in the region more than the wellbeing of any single state actor, wanted Israel to feel pain in order to deflate their hubris and bring them to the negotiating table. Ending the war where it ended, Egypt and Syria claimed victory by taking thousands of Israeli souls while Egypt held onto the East Bank of the Suez Canal. Israel, taking thousands of souls themselves, claimed victory for having broached the Egyptian and Syrian line. At the same time, Israeli society felt the sting of mass death, unequivocally for, the first time in its short existence.

An overwhelming sense of fear replaced the hubris which dominated the period between the wars. In an editorial statement, HaTzofe, a daily newspaper associated with the religious Zionist Mafdal party, reflected on October, 19th:

The War of Yom Kippur rendered many political and military concepts which we acquired after the Six Day War [which we’ve been calling the Third Arab Israeli War of 1967] false, and brought us back to the critical period. That is to say, we returned to the feeling of fear for the very existence of the state.

Outside Israel, nations across the globe sympathised to one degree or another with the Arab cause and applauded the limited execution of the war because they believed this might lead to a calm stabilising the region (and the oil trade).

As noted, the Soviet Union and the United States manipulated the course of the war to help ensure Israeli restraint and force Arab legitimacy in the peace. In Great Britain, home of the largest number of Zionists outside the U.S. (and Israel itself) the Labour parliament (with support from the Conservatives, including our favourite Margaret Thatcher) voted in favour of an arms embargo on both sides of the conflict. Even in France, the former arms supplier of Israel, Gaullist president Georges Pompidou, according to the New York Times, “envision[ed] progress based primarily on trading nonmilitary goods for petroleum and finding new markets for French industry and technology.” The allies of the Soviets, the Americans, and the Palestinians all agreed to one degree or another, Israel needed to respect its neighbours if stability might ever be fostered in the region.

Writing in 1974, historian Sabri Jiryis argued the war forced the Israeli masses to awaken to this reality. He concluded they would do well to respect their Arab neighbours: “this war has, to some extent at least, brought the Israelis to their senses and forced them to take the Arab attitude into account in the future.” Jiryis concluded this statement on a curious note, “as they once did in the past.”

The west wanted this stability to ensure commodities (especially petroliuml) flowed easily from the east and through the Suez Canal. The Soviets, similarly, wanted stability to ensure a developing detente with the United States. The PLO and the Palestinian people fought the limited war not for Palestinian liberation, which neither Egypt nor Syria declared, but for a calm which might lead to their own respect - and the support of the Arab states in the future.

Speculating about the future, Jiryis concluded, “This will lead to a weakening of their spirit of adventurism and to increasing mass pressure on the authorities to prevent them from adopting extremist attitude.” Israel tracked an opposite path: rather than moving towards anything like integration and peace (if possible under any flavour of State Zionism) pushed the extremist elements of revisionist and religious Zionist together and closer to power.

Gush Emunim (the Bloc of the Faithful) (1974)


There are a lot of ways to understand the rise of religious Zionism during this period. Ian D. Lustick in For the Land and the Lord argued, “the same fundamentalist phenomenon” which motivated “Muslim fundamentalism” led fundamentalist Jews to commit “actions that Americans and even most Isralis might consider "crazy" must be understood for the profoundly political acts they represent.” While this direct comparison, written in 1993, might be a bit too cute, it does point to an important truth: the revisionist and religious Zionists needed each other to legitimate eachother’s extreme behaviour.

The religious needed the secular extremism of territorial maximisation and the ethno-Jewish superiority of revisionism to justify their settlement project. The revisionists needed the rich religious history of the Jewish messianic movement to legitimate their own use of blood curdling violence against the Palestinian people. All the same, this union didn’t happen overnight. Instead, the destabilisation of the immediate post-Fourth War period marked the growth of religious Zionism from a political minority into a full blown movement embodied in the group Gush Emunim. At the same time, the Labour government sought to placate these extremist views by looking the other way rather than taking any kind of principled position. This period, in hindsight, marked the courting processes between Gush Emunim and Likud before the marriage of 1977.

Up to this point, I’ve avoided talking about electoral politics throughout this history in part because it oft distracts from the material history, but this case might be an exception. As mentioned in an early episode, religious Zionism existed from the very beginning of Mandate Palestine, but only as a vocal minority.

Rav Abraham Isaac Kook emigrated to Palestine in 1904, became chief Rabbi of Jaffa, and then the chief Rabbi of Mandate Palestine. He argued, against the overwhelming opinion of religious Jews around the world: the Herzl Zionist (in spite of being secular) embrace of auto-emancipation represented the beginning of a messianic age.

Kook’s philosophy never held dominance among the by-and-large secular Zionists, but it did represent a potent minority force within Israeli politics. In 1949, the labour Zionist Mapai formed a coalition with the third largest front, the religious Zionist Hazit Datit Meuhedet (also known as the United Religious Front), rather than the other (second largest) labour Zionist Mapam front.

To give an idea of how these fronts lined up against each other in the election of 1949: Mapai held 46 seats, Mapam held 19, the Religious Front held 16, while the largest revisionist Herut party (led by Menachin Begin) held 14. The remaining parties and fronts held less than 10 of the 120 seats.

Within the United Religious Front, the Hapoel HaMizrachi represented the largest party and filled three ministerial seats and lobbied for concessions for their religious cause. Thus, religious Zionism developed the guiding policy for the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Immigration from the state’s founding. This is a major reason why Jewish religious law continues to undergird Israeli civil courts, Jewish public education, and allows for the exclusion of the ulta-Orthodox Haredi from conscription to the IDF to this day. In return, the religious Zionists agreed to leave the labour Zionists in charge. This arrangement continued as Hapoel HaMizrachi merged to form the Miflaga Datit Leumit (the National Religious Party) better known by the Hebrew acronym: Mafdal.

The form of religious Zionism which took hold in the State of Israel, as a brief review, combined the Hertzl notion of auto-emancipation with the religious conception of the land of Canaan described in the Abraham Covenant. Unlike either labour or revisionist Zionism, the religious practice of Judaism on the land of the covenant held central importance to the religious Zionists. As noted in a previous episode, the religious character of the State only emerged as a major structure in the early 1960s with the rise of Holocaust memorialization and the concept of the State representing the so called “collective Jew.” In this atmosphere religious Zionism gained purchase even within the ranks of labour Zionism’s imagination of the State.

The massive land expansion of the Third Arab-Israeli War revealed tensions in the governing ideologies. Unlike previous iterations of the State, the post-1967 Israel occupation of the entire Mandate Palestine caused rifts. Since the IDF (hereafter referred to derisively as the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)) governed the West Bank and Gaza as occupied territories, the labour government resisted religious Zionist calls within the Ministry of the Interior to seize the lands outright as a fulfilment of the Abraham Covenant.

The number of religious Harardi Askenazi grew in this period to complement the more practising Mizrahi and Sephardi ethno-Jews. The term “occupied territory,” used in international and Israeli media, frustrated many religious Zionists, but the popularity of labour Zionism only grew with the war’s victory. This popularity plummeted after the Fourth Arab-Israeli War.

Elections are never perfect markers of political changes in a society, as is the case in the Knesset elections of 1973. The war postponed the election by two months so Israelis went to the polls under the waning effects of wartime support of the sitting government. The labor Zionist front garnered 51 seats, the revisionist Zionism front garnered 39 seats, while religious Zionism garnered 1. Although the revisionists gained as labor fell, the swing did not represent a realignment quite yet. The sixteenth government of Israel emerged, once again, as a coalition of labour and religious Zionist parties.

Students of Tzvi Yehuda HaKohen Kook, the son and close student of Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, founded the activist movement organisation Gush Emunim in 1974 just two months after the election. These students believed, as Kook the younger argued, the occupied Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and West Bank represented a divine plan to restore the entirety of Ca’naan to the Jewish people. Rather than limiting their focus on the creation of the Jewish execution of courts, health, and education as permitted within labour Zionisms pragmatic approach, they embraced the revisionist concept of territorial maximisation as hastening the coming of messianic redemption. The death and shock of the Fourth Arab-Israeli War meant to instil moderation instead instilled extremism.

Although Gush Emunim never numbered above 5,000 members nor did it ever understand itself as a political party, it must be understood as a powerful intellectual-political organisation. Akiva Orr argued Gush Emunim represented, “the moving force behind the Jewish settler movement in the occupied West Bank.” Within ten years, the movement established some 105 settlements; built electric, water, and road networks; and empowered 30,000 Jews to move into the occupied territories. Gush Emunim took extra legal steps to built their new settlements, but without a better justification for the maintenance of the occupied territories, the labour government of Israel provided tacit support for the settlers. 

Rabbi Moshe Levinger 

The case study of Rabbi Moshe Levinger embodied the contradictions in governing labour Zionism the new militant religious Zionism solved by embracing messianic supremacy and territorial maximalization. In 1968, Levinger, a student of Kook, reserved the Park Hotel in the West Bank city of Hebron under the alias of a Swiss tourist. In deliberate disregard for the law drawn up by IOF, Levinger took up residency and began demanding the annexation of the city of Hebron. The IOF, rather than expel him, decided to move Levinger and his followers to an area outside Hebron in Anba where they conducted settlement education - forming a nucleus for the future of Gush Emunim.

The labour government and IOF marshall law both hesitated to embrace Gush Emunim’s brazen policy of annexation. Rather, though fraught with a prejudice and paternalism akin to the American Homestead Act, the military government of the West Bank and Gaza developed infrastructure in attempts to win Palestinian buy-in to their own occupation. At the same time, Deputy Prime Minister Yig'al Allon, a popular representative of the kibbutz-wing of labor Zionism, made a special trip to congratulate Levinger and lobby for the labor leadership to embrace the ascendent principles of religious Zionism and justify a Jewish claim over the occupied territories.

The technocratic labour leadership, though they stonewalled all attempts at Arab negotiation in this period (this being between the Third and Fourth Arab-Israeli Wars), worried an embrace of this position might scuttle the careful balance of antagonism, superiority, and (most important) economic growth maintaining the post Third War calm. After the Fourth war, America’s position as unwavering allie of Israel came under suspicion. The Israeli attempt to develop a weapons manufacturing program, for the first time, chipped away at the social democracy promised by the very first labour government.

The Labour Elections of 1973


With the election of 1973, the labour Zionists believed their government failed the people of Israel and so executed a dramatic reshuffling of leadership and priorities. Never again did Labour want to be caught dependent on American aid and thus American priorities. In addition to massive spending in military preparedness, the State of Israel, for the first time, reconfigured the state economy toward developing weapons manufacturing. In keeping with this attempt at a new calm, the IOF halted the development of Palestinian infrastructure and actually moved to tamp down Gush Emunim’s terroristic assaults on Arab peoples. The Labor government also began to play ball with Egypt and Syria by participating in U.N. and U.S. mediated talks to create diplomatic relations.

All around, the government struggled to secure popular legitimacy in these new priorities. Weapons manufacturing raised questions of morality which alienated the left wing of the labour movement; their attempt to raise taxes alienated the business classes; the lowering of state subsidies for basic benefits and foodstuffs alienated the working classes; and the defensive stance toward the occupied territories and the appearance of compromise with the Arab “enemies” alienated the religious Zionists.

Over the course of 1974 the new Labour government secured three (now considered) “landmark” diplomatic accomplishments. The specifics of the negotiations which led to Sinai I and II with Egypt in January and April, 1974 and the “Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria” in May of 1974 are less important than the broad implications of these agreements. In both cases, Egypt and Syria appeared on track to normalise relations with the State of Israel in exchange for a return of their respective territories occupied since the Third Arab-Israeli War of 1967. Religious and revisionist Zionists, eager to settle those territories, feared that Labour conspired with the U.N. to throw everything away the military won, their birthright as Jews, for the sake of false promises of security from “the Arabs.”

On the Arab side, the leadership of Egypt and Syria struggled with their own popular legitimacy. The peoples of both states feared normalisation with the State of Israel might come at the price of Palestinian liberation and lives. The governments of Egypt and Syria sympathised with the Palestinian people, but they also faced crippling material cost for their continued antagonism with Israel. Egypt stood on the brink of complete economic collapse without control of the Suez Canal. To address this, the Arab states united (at least in rhetoric and appearance) around the PLO and used the U.N. as a platform to amplify their message of Palestinian hope.

Conclusion (Arafat’s November, 1974 Speech)


On November 13, 1974 the Arab League arranged to have Yassir Arafat, head of the PLO. speak before the U.N. General Assembly as the leader of the Palestinian people. In a powerful symbolic victory, Suleiman Franjieh, president of Lebanon (at the behest of Syria) introduced Arafat. Lebanon held impeccable standing within western media as a Middle Eastern democracy with a sizeable American diaspora. Franjieh, as a Christian, visually undermined any claims that the conflict between Palestine and Israel might be boiled down to religion. Arafat’s statement deserves to be read at length:

Let us work together that my dream may be fulfilled, that I may return with my people out of exile…in one democratic State where Christian, Jew and Moslem live in justice, equality, fraternity and progress. Is this not a noble dream worthy of my struggle alongside all lovers of freedom everywhere? For the most admirable dimension of this dream is that it is Palestinian, a dream from out of the land of peace, the land of martyrdom and heroism, and the land of history, too. Let us remember that the Jews of Europe and the United States have been known to lead the struggles for secularism and the separation of Church and State. They have also been known to fight against discrimination on religious grounds. How then can they continue to support the most fanatic, discriminatory and closed of nations in its policy? In my formal capacity as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and leader of the Palestinian revolution I proclaim before you that when we speak of our common hopes for the Palestine of tomorrow we include in our perspective all Jews now living in Palestine who choose to live with us there in peace and without discrimination. In my formal capacity as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and leader of the Palestinian revolution I call upon Jews to turn away one by one from the illusory promises made to them by Zionist ideology and Israeli leadership. They are offering Jews perpetual bloodshed endless war and continuous thraldom.

The U.N. applauded Arafat and criticised Israel for believing in a racist, discriminatory, anti-democratic ideology. Israeli media presented Arafat as a known terrorist and his presence at the U.N. undermined Labour’s so-called “diplomatic accomplishments.”

Likud (or what would become) seized on the failures of the labour Zionists to secure protect the settlers, the so called “successes” of labour Zionist diplomacy with Arab states, the growing respectability of the PLO at the UN, and the flailing economy to gin up the fear and insecurity created by Zionism’s own long history of belligerent and arrogance.

On the question of the occupied territories, government became the problem: the IOF must step aside and let Gush Emunim execute their own bloody conflicts with the Palestinian squatters while ‘defending’ those brave individuals on the frontier. On the question of diplomacy, government became the problem: Israeli beurocrats traded away the hard earned military prises for false promises that only served to strengthen their Arab enemies. On the question of international prestige, government became the problem: the U.N., an immoral world government, would rather see the destruction of the State Israel than applaud this nation’s patriotic, noble, self-defence. In the private sector, government became the problem: high taxes and state control choked growth and prevented the individual consumption and production which would jolt the economy back to life.

Labour’s core contradictions embodied in their self-described pragmatism prevented themselves from presenting much resistance to this political onslaught. They couldn’t attack the positions of Likud, because they held the same positions but dressed them up in the language of moderation rather than spat out like a curse. To borrow from Malcolm X: Likud were the wolves who showed their teeth while Labour, like the fox, pretended to smile. Both, though, sought to drown the Palestinian people in blood.

Chatter Introduction
Introduction/Overview
Fourth Arab-Israeli War (6–25 October 1973
Post-War Desires and Prediction
Gush Emunim (The Bloc of the Faithful)
Rabbi Moshe Levinger
The Labour Elections of 1973
Conclusion (Arafat’s November, 1974 Speech at the UN)
Outroduction