Monday, May 30, 2016

25 - Excerpts from Sharett Remarks, Mapai Political Committee, September 6, 1954

Excerpts from Sharett’s Opening Remarks:

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We are obliged to suppress our desires rather than permit ourselves to unleash them. We sometimes entangle ourselves in contradictions, which one may call tragic contradictions, and which are forced on us by fate. But we should know they are contradictions. In order that our propaganda and argumentation influence and deter the American administration or its official policy, we must create the impression that Israel is a peaceful state, that the Arab countries are aggressive countries, that Israel is threatened by the Arab countries, that the Arab countries are not threatened by the State of Israel. If the man listening to our speeches or receiving our applications reads an article written in this vein, i.e., attempting to prove these assumptions, and then that man reads, the very same day, something presenting the opposite picture in Davar, then he at the very least becomes confused. At best he is confused. At worst he says: these people are not telling the truth. I do not wish to elaborate on this subject. It’s much simpler to say something than to be responsible for one’s actions, because there are all sorts of situations in which we get involved which are forced on us. However, this consideration cannot be ignored by us. We must be aware of it constantly.”
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        We consider our campaign against US policy of unilaterally arming the Arab countries as still being in its early stage. We should conduct this campaign by both public activity and directly confronting the American administration. We deem it necessary that in our public campaign we should put forward mainly negative slogans, i.e., opposing any supply of arms to the Arab countries. The reason for this public policy is that, while we cannot control all speeches, newspapers articles and letters to newspapers, radio commentaries and even appeals by Congressmen or other personalities to the President or to the Secretary of State regarding this issue, we should not include among our contentions, inasmuch as we initiate public expressions, any positive demands such as: “if you supply the Arabs with arms, supply to us as well.” For this will weaken our main positions and diminish their moral power. If we say: “You are plainly wasting arms if you give them to the Arabs and at the same time you are putting Israel under danger,” and in the same breath add: “If you do supply them with arms, supply us too – then the second saying undermines the first. It is better, for the sake of efficiency, to concentrate on the negative. Anyway, if our campaign leads the Administration to offer us compensation, then we will discuss it and accept or refuse according to its merit.
If I am asked what are the chances of our campaign’s success, I will cautiously say that, while the American tendency [to supply arms to the Arabs] is clear, there are still various degrees of its implementation – degrees of quantity and quality of arms to be supplied, and the duration of the supply. Here our campaign may have an impact.
You should realize that as a result of our campaign, especially of the direct contacts we initiated here but mainly in Washington, a certain psychological shift has occurred. I dare say that we have succeeded in impressing American policy makers that we are genuinely worried, that the situation here is indeed serious. For the state of Israel’s mood is, or can soon be, of its being isolated, of its being abandoned politically by those whom it considered to be its friends, and that consequently it can rely on nobody and must rely only on itself. This mood is foreboding, for who knows what can grow out of this seed, and thus it is necessary to mitigate tension and do away with the mood of isolation. I have met recently an American guest who told me that if the Democrats win the election for the Congress, and he believes this is going to happen, it will be mirrored in the Administration’s policy towards Israel.
What are the conclusions that must be drawn by this background? We should, of course, express our appreciation of the American desire to take us into consideration. But at the same time we should forcefully make it clear why pacifying expressions cannot solve the problem, since they cannot serve as counter-weight to the supply of arms to the Arabs.
In this respect we are not facing only Egypt. We are facing Syria, Jordan and Iraq as well, and we must strive to maintain equality between our power of defense and the Arab countries’ power of attack. Will the Americans promise us to guarantee such equality? Even if they do, we will not be able to absorb such a quantity of arms. There is a limit to the absorption capacity of a population of one million and a half people. The solution of this problem is then in not supplying arms to the Arabs; it is in not changing the existing equilibrium.
Our campaign must then continue and, at the same time, we must maintain our freedom to openly oppose and criticize American policy.
Let me now address the second front we are facing, which is the problem of free passage in the Suez Canal. The test here is: Are the Egyptians going to let oil tankers and ships carrying the Israeli flag sail to Israel through the Canal? Usually they let cargo ships sail to Israel, but we cannot agree that oil tankers sailing to Israel will be prevented from passing through the Canal. However, we must take care that the Americans will not pressure Egypt to let oil takers move through the Canal and in return make us compromise on the issue of arms’ supply to the Arabs. We cannot ignore such an eventuality and here there is a need for a diplomatic effort which is not at all simple. Our position in face of the Administration should be: You cannot arm Egypt as long as it is maintaining an aggressive stance toward us; you cannot grant it financial aid as long as it maintains the blockade.
A few days ago I said to an important American Senator, a Republican, that when Washington gave us last $50 million, $10 million out of that sum covered our losses from the Egyptian blockade – and now you are considering granting financial aid to that country, which caused you the wasting of that $10 million! Are you going to tell the Egyptians that since you have already given your word, you will give them $2-5 million, but now, in return, “you must stop the blockade. If you do that, we will go on with the financial grant. If not, you will get nothing more.” Will you tell them that? Will you tell us that you told them so?
The third issue I would like to tackle, which perhaps is the most important, is what we are going to do at home, with ourselves. To put it simply, we are now concerned with two major problems: the arming of the Arab countries and the deterioration of the position of North Africa’s Jewish communities, which means a new wave of immigration from that area. These two problems are completely different in nature, but they have a common denominator as far as the practical conclusions which we must draw from them – which is our need to buttress ourselves on the one hand, and on the other to approach diaspora Jews, especially American Jewry, for a new effort of supporting us on these two fronts.
In this context it should be clear that by no means whatsoever can we give up the American grant-in-aid. I am aware that in closed circles some haverim have suggested that, in view of our clash with the Administration, we should waive the grant. Let me tell you that in these very days the Ministry of Finance, the Foreign Ministry and our Washington Embassy are investing every drop of their energy in an effort to enlarge the American grant by several million. Giving up the grant is no less that us committing economic suicide when we are “drying up our brains” over how much we can channel for the new immigrants’ housing budget to the financing of the new wave of immigration. In these circumstances we must appeal to diaspora Jewry to harness themselves for a new supporting effort. So how can we at the same time give up the $40-50 million of the grant, which means our asking diaspora Jews to raise this sum in addition to what they are asked to raise? Let the internal debate regarding the waiving of the grant cease to engage us.
If we assume that our political campaign vis-à-vis the American administration, including our efforts to influence American public opinion, is of some value, then we must shorten the line of our political front, and this pertains to the mounting of reprisals, to our behavior towards UNTSO, to controlling our impulses. We sometimes become entangled in so-called tragic contradictions, dictated by fate. In order that our contentions achieve their purpose, we must see to it that an impression is created of the state of Israel being a state of peace and that the Arab states are states of aggression, that the Arab states are not threatened by the state of Israel. However, when one who listens to our speeches, or receives our appeals, or reads a newspaper article trying to prove our point, and he reads in his newspaper something different altogether, which pictures Israel as an aggressive power, he is at least perplexed. In the best of cases he is only perplexed. In the worst he says: “These Israelis are not telling the truth!” Indeed, there are in this sphere [of border incidents and IDF reprisals] all kinds of situations in which we find ourselves unwillingly; there are situations which are forced on us. But it is incumbent on us to not ignore the overall consideration [of how Israel is perceived].

Excerpts from Sharett's Closing Remarks at the End of the Debate:

I was asked by one of the haverim what was my intention in saying in my speech at the Knesset that “there will be no peace in this region without us and without taking us into account.” I did not say that. I said “there will be no security and stability in this region without us and without taking us into account.” My intention in those words was that they will be heard, that people in different capitals such as Washington and London will absorb them and start thinking about them and start worrying a bit. They were not said in order that we start mounting impressive operations that will undermine security and stability. On the contrary, they were uttered so that matters would not reach that point.
Why does America maintain a huge army? Answer: so as not to use it. We have at our disposal accurate and authoritative information that the Americans do not want war, not a preventive war and not any war. They maintain a huge army in order that such eventuality will never arise. Their army is their guarantee for their security. And we are saying certain things not for the sake of implementing them, certainly not immediately, but in order that their echo will be heard all over, so that they will impress people and be taken into consideration. It is well known that these are not empty words. Behind them is our ability proved in our struggle with the British, in our War of Independence and in our reprisal operations.
As I see it, if indeed our situation becomes unbearable, if we reach a point of “let me die with the Philistines” [i.e., Samson’s suicide that brought the temple crashing down upon his Philistine captors; Judicum 16:30], “Après moi le déluge” [i.e., Louis XIV’s disdain for what chaos would follow his death or abdication] then we would indeed be capable of carrying out terrible, horrible things. We have the technical and scientific ability, but I pray and believe we shall not reach that point.
As to the question I was asked regarding our practical ties with other countries guaranteeing that they support us in time of trouble, I do not think a defense pact with any state is possible. We maintain contact with France. Our two countries are cooperating in important partnerships. We are purchasing arms there and our soldiers are training there. But the moment you approach France and demand a formal security guarantee, not only would you not get it; you would destroy the delicate fabric of our partnership which we are patiently and slowly building up. For they will feel that, by way of developing these partnerships, we really want to impose an obligation on them.
One of the haverim said that in my Knesset speech I should have used stronger words [regarding American policy towards Israel]. I am of the opinion that if my expressions were understood, they served as a shock treatment to their listeners. Indeed, my Knesset speech caused extreme anger in Washington. Thank Heavens, we have reached a stage when America listens to our speeches, reacting and becoming angered by them. Did it react at all to speeches made in Zionist Congresses? To speeches made at the Va’ad Leumi [National Committee of the Jews of Palestine] during the British Mandate era, or those made at Mapai conferences? But now Washington argues: why did Israel’s Prime Minister said this and that – does he not have faith in us? Does he really believe that we harbor any harm for Israel? Why did he present us as such before his people?
When I sat down to compose my Knesset speech, it took me two nights. I wrote it in one and then I rewrote it. My difficulties arose in view of finding myself on a very narrow path. I did not want to instill fear in the hearts of our people, because this people is not composed by men and women such as those sitting here. And I had to, on the one hand, tell people the truth of the situation, but on the other I had to instill in them a feeling of self-confidence. Doing both of these two was not at all easy.
MK Meir Argov who spoke here expressed frustration at and despair over America. I must tell you: in spite of all your frustration and despair you are not giving up on America. When you open the New York Times or the Herald  Tribune, when you are talking with American Jews, when you have an Ambassador there – this means that you are sharing a life with what is America. This is not the case with the Arab countries. Most of us are aware of their existence and of their being a factor, but are not thinking about them, are not following developments taking place among them, are not taking into consideration their responses to our words and deeds. But there are among us some people who are doing that, and they told me that I had sinned in my Knesset speech by saying that America had abandoned us, that America was arming the Arabs and thus endangering us. In saying this I gave enormous encouragement to the Arab front: The Israelis are weak, they are afraid. We cannot ignore this consideration.
MK Argov also quite nervously announced that the territory of Israel is only hers, that the air above this territory is only hers, that the sea bordering it is only hers and nobody will be allowed to interfere in these spheres. What is the political sense in this alarmism and hysteria? Who is taking your territory out of your hands? Who is taking the air above you? Who is taking away your sea? Such expressions only testify to our political immaturity. They prove that we are overcome by nightmares, and this extremely weakens our position in the eyes of Americans and Europeans, who are wise enough to understand our justified contentions against the one-sided arming of the Arabs but who know that such dangers and such machinations against Israel simply do not exist. We must make them take our words seriously and this they will not do upon hearing such hysterical cries.
It was said here that we should quarrel with America as if there is no American grant-in-aid. Are not we quarreling? What was our answer to the Eleven Points [proposed by the US and the UK for improving frontier security]? Nine of them we dismissed outright. Two we accepted – those on marking the borders, annulling of no-man’s-lands and erecting barriers on the borders on condition that there is cooperation on these between us and the Arabs. We have demanded these right from the beginning.
As to the American grant, I think we must put an end to this debate once and for all and decide: do we or do we not want the grant? Is it crucial to get it, is it needed as we need air to breathe, as bread for the hungry, or are we indifferent regarding it? We must decide and draw our conclusions.
The situation in this respect is not that of the cow wanting to give milk to the calf , but rather the calf wanting the cow’s milk. [- - -] The calf here clearly wants to suck. The cow in our case would have never approached the calf to feed him. The American grant was a result of our own initiative, and this initiative is renewed annually. And this is not a matter of only approaching the State Department directly. There is here an enormous effort, carried out all over the United States, involving dozens of meetings with Congressmen and Senators, campaigns of propaganda,  thousands of cables of directives and consultations. One cannot say here: well, if they give it, all right; if not – never mind. The situation is totally different. If you, MK Argov, are not aware of all this, then you are extremely ignorant politically politically. I don't want to offend you, but such talk about the grant is just proof of lack of maturity or of ignorance. I am saying this to you because you know how much I appreciate your intellect. But if this is so, one has to be courageous and honest enough to say, when an opportune moment arrives: “Thank you very much!” By doing this, an important educational example would be given to the people. This thanking is also important for those who are shouldering the efforts to achieve the grant, and even the State Department people are human beings who appreciate thanking them for what they are doing, and who are hurt when it does not come at an appropriate moment, to say  nothing when they are attacked fiercely, brazenly, in an exaggerated, unjustified manner. It is not just a matter of politeness that when I meet with [Senator Estes] Kefauver [Democrat, Tennessee] I say: “I know what you have done for our sake, I know that you were among the first Americans who clinched the grant, that when the State Department people thought in terms of a few million the sum was increased under pressure to $20 million and then a group of Congressmen raised it to $65 million.
MK Argov contended that the Americans are arming the Arabs. I say that we must do everything possible so that they will not, so that they would not enter defense pacts with the Arabs. But he, MK Argov, is not satisfied with that. He would like to totally defeat them so that not only they would retreat from their position, but would publicly announce their recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, cease demanding return of the refugees, and recognize Israel’s present borders. Is your estimate of our Foreign Ministry so high as to assume it can achieve such aims? Are you not satisfied with their not demanding internationalization of Jerusalem or our getting out of Jerusalem? In fact, they are constantly moving toward us, as Chaim Weizmann’s saying goes: “They are already talking Yiddish, if not yet the holy language...” If Russell refrained from  coming to Jerusalem for months in the past and now he does, if his Embassy people are now frequenting the Foreign Office in Jerusalem, this may not be enough for you, but it does testify to the Americans’ advancing towards us. They are not demanding changes in our borders nor our giving up western Galilee or parts of the Negev; but nevertheless I cannot sleep quietly, I am prepared to fight such demands if they come. But it is not so simple to demand that Americans make a commitment that they will never advance such demands again.
I would like to say one thing more regarding Aubrey Eban. He is not present here and I hope that what I say will not reach his ears. I am aware of the criticism voiced against him from the evening tabloids to Ben-Gurion in Sde Boker. But I know that, only few days ago, when  somebody suggested to Ben-Gurion that it’s about time that Eban, who has been abroad for four and a half years since the establishment of the state and even before that, should be returned home, that same Ben-Gurion was shocked and said such a move was simply impossible. Indeed, this man Eban is one of the most precious gifts the state of Israel has ever received. I always say to myself that when, at the moment Berl Katznelson pointed him out to me in London when Eban was a sixteen-year-old youth, it was “God’s Finger” which directed Katznelson, whose senses never misled him in measuring people, to do that. A person like Eban should be evaluated as anybody else according to his balance sheet. I know any balance sheet has two sides, but the balance is what counts, and his is extremely in the positive. So the unavoidable question is what happens if he leaves Washington? Who is going to replace him there? What if he belongs to that type of our representatives whose striking force is fully exerted when they are manning our front abroad, while their moderation, cool thinking, and ability to explain our complicated situation is weaker when they are facing the people at home? Indeed, there are among us people characterized by the very opposite. Whenever he comes here for a visit we are strengthening him, pouring cement into him and covering him with steel plates; but at the same time we keenly listen to him, for he is our eyes and ears abroad.
Now, as to the problem of arming the Arabs. We are saying to the Americans: no arms to the Arabs! We want every political journalist and every radio commentator, every party leader and all members of the American Congress to pronounce this mantra. But one is not dominating the minds of these individuals. One cannot prevent them from concluding that, if it’s impossible to prevent the arming of the Arabs, then at least Israel should be supplied with arms as well. Who knows, perhaps a miracle will happen and Secretary of State Dulles will see the light and say: “The Israelis are right. I do not know what evil spirit came over me. I am tearing up our pact with Iraq, I will not sign any agreement with Egypt!” However, what happens if such a miracle does not occur? What if Dulles says: “I cannot abrogate my pact with Iraq or go back on our promise to Egypt, but I can diminish our arms’ supply and slow it[s delivery], and at the same time give something to Israel”?
One cannot force America to undergo a fundamental change. One must take America as it is. And this America believes in defense pacts and one cannot tell hem to completely abstain from making regional defense pacts. One cannot tell them that Russia is not threatening to penetrate into certain areas. You will achieve nothing if you take this line.  But if you contend that by making defense pacts with the Arabs you are endangering Israel, you cannot prevent Americans, and first and foremost our friends there, from concluding that if a defense pact is made with the Arabs, it is incumbent on America to make one with Israel. This would be a logical conclusion, for we do not exist outside the planet; and one cannot demand from the Americans to go out of their way. This is how the world operates
Our campaign – which is conducted under the slogans of  “no arms to the Arabs” and “no defense pacts with the Arabs” on the background of the world as it is – must lead to American proposals for arms supplies to us and for guarantees to us. These guarantees can be very negligible, in which case we shall have to turn them down; or they may be quite substantive. If we have an ambassador who foresees such eventualities and makes the public cognizant of them, I think he is fulfilling his task.
Let me now say something about Russia. My dear haverim, we must, after all, be armed with some sense of proportion regarding political principles and political situations. Suppose war erupts and the Arab armies again invade Israel, and America again abandons us as indeed it did in 1947-48, and suppose that in such an eventuality there is a possibility of getting military aid from Russia. Would there be one Israeli patriot who opposes receiving this aid? Is this questionable? The real question is: Is such an eventuality plausible? The question is: Have we given up hope of influencing American public opinion? If, as a means to influence America, MK Argov proposes that we turn our gaze to the side of Russia, then I must tell him that by doing that we are going to put the lid on our campaign in America. You will not find there even one speaker, one voter, one commentator who will listen to you. You can say America is not important as far as you are concerned, but if you think that by turning our gaze to Russia you will win America over to you, you are simply contradicting reality.
There is also a Jewish accounting here. What did I say in my Knesset speech? I said it is impossible to harness American Jewry while at the same time pursuing a policy which cannot but undermine our alliance with that Jewry. You can well say that American Jews must behave differently. Go, then, to America and change them, and when you accomplish that, send me a cable. If you have no trust in the burning love of American Jewry towards Israel, you have no chance of being recognized by them, and if you take for granted this precious asset of American Jewry’s dedication to the state of Israel, you must at the same time take for granted their clinging to their American citizenship, because it is only as American citizens that they are able to support us. And while they can clash with their government for that purpose, there are some basic tenets – one can like them or dislike them – that they will not dare or dream of abandoning, and one of them is fighting vehemently against communism. Indeed, one of the factors curbing our recognition of mainland China is the damaging effect it will have for the state of Israel all over America. Haverim, you are not aware of the painful discussions of this problem at the Foreign Ministry, for it is our intention to take some steps in this direction.
At the same time, when the Soviet Union started to open its gates for trading with us, did we not immediately jump on that opportunity? We are purchasing Soviet oil not only because it’s cheaper; it also makes it possible to export Israeli goods to the Soviet Union. Each Israeli ship reaching the port of Odessa means something special for us, for Israeli oranges eaten by Jewish children all over the Soviet Union bring them a hopeful message from the state of Israel. Improving our relations with the Soviet Union is not undermining our relations with the United States. It is easier to give up hope of Soviet Jews being allowed to immigrate to Israel than to give up hope of succeeding in exerting some influence over America, but we have not given up hope for that immigration.
Moreover, do you, MK Argov, think that the State Department would be frightened if you started turning our gaze toward Russia? The State Department will bless you for doing that, for thereby you will serve its maneuvers against us. The [American (anti-Zionist)] Council for Judaism people and the [anti-Israeli journalist] Dorothy Thompson and their ilk will happy to quote what MK Argov, chairman of the Knesset’s Political and Defense Committee, said about Israel’s need to strive for much more intensive friendship with the Soviet Union. This will be a heaven-sent gift for them.
Several speakers in this discussion raised the question of our policy regarding our water problem [i.e. the Jordan waters]. As your obedient servant I am ready, any day, any night, to thoroughly discuss this subject with you, but here I can only do it for as long as you can stand on one leg. Let me say what is threatening us in this respect. There is here one light threat and one which is rather serious. The light threat would be a clear and decisive Security Council resolution forbidding us from working in the demilitarized zone. Is that work necessary? If we cannot wait, if we hurry and establish facts, then let’s go then and start working there. But, just as when the New Zionist Organization [the Revisionists led by Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky] approached the League of Nations’ [Permanent] Mandates Commission, demanding the establishment of a Jewish state, reaped a clear decision against such establishment, you should realize that there is no sense in starting a campaign with closed eyes against the Security Council. What then? Will you work against the Security Council’s decision? In that case, Syria will fight you backed by such a decision, you will be called “the aggressor” and the world knows how to fight aggressors. The issue of sanctions against us will be tabled on the UN agenda. And would we then be able  to count on the delicate attitude of the Americans? As individuals they can be very liberal, but I wonder whether, when holding power, they can be more brutal. I am not recommending we enter this business with closed eyes. This is for the light threat.
Now to the serious one. It is simply either ignorance or youthful folly to think that the waters are ours. They are not ours. Their sources are not situated within our territory. Quite a long stretch of their flow is not in our territory. And our ownership is very much a complicated issue.
What is the serious threat, then? It is the diverting of two out of the three tributaries of the Jordan – one of which is inside Syria and one in the Lebanon. The diversion is not entirely impossible. And this pertains to the river Yarmuk as well.
What then? If there is no alternative and no chance of arriving at some arrangement, you must do your own arithmetic. But then perhaps you should also make a maximal diplomatic effort in the Security Council. Well, this is the line we took: as long as there is no arrangement, we shall do with what is ours whatever we can, but they [the Arabs] will do so too. We can be patient for half a year, or a year; as long as there are chances of reaching an arrangement we should strive for that. It is possible that these chances will come to naught. However, then your position will be by far stronger, for you have shown a readiness to reach an international agreement and did not take a position, right from the beginning, of an international hooligan who declares: “I am holding this and to hell with all others.” No, you took a position of a civilized member of the international community. There are here complicated problems of several tributaries, problems of the upper Jordan and the lower one, and you have demonstrated understanding and you are agreeing to reach an international arrangement and [have shown a] readiness to cooperate with the United States. If nothing is achieved, then it is not due to your fault – perhaps only a bit due to your fault, since you insisted on your opinion – but, still. In principle you were prepared to meet the other side half way. Then, at this stage, you are more powerful.
I would like to say one thing more to the speaker who claimed that we are losing time, that as time goes by the military gap between us and the Arabs is widening. These assumptions of yours are right, but your conclusions are disastrous. These same assumptions are held by the American High Command vis-à-vis the Soviet Union. The Americans too are convinced that with time Russia’s strength would grow more than theirs and that of their western allies. Nevertheless, they are not thinking in terms of waging a preventive war. They are saying: a preventive war now means an immediate disaster. With no preventive war, Russia would become stronger, but it still fears the atom bomb, and, who knows, it is possible that meanwhile a lull would take place. We shall certainly not let Russia expand. We did not let her do that in Korea. In Indo-China we did not intervene and we shall not intervene there unless we see a threat of a world war. If anybody here is planning a visit to the United States, I recommend that he try to listen to responsible leaders there on this matter. Then his visit would be worthwhile. I heard it clearly from the mouth of a High Priest [CoS Moshe Dayan]. I told him: “Even if you have learned nothing of value [from your visit to America] for the IDF, by hearing the clear position of the American High Command on the question of preventive war alone you have earned all your journey’s expenses.”
It is possible that the military gap between us and the Arab countries is widening, but war now against them means immediate disaster. The speaker I am arguing with did not utter the word “war.” He said: “We need a decisive overpowering” and what he had in mind was putting an end to the Egyptian blockade in the Gulf of Eilat. The facts are that there was not even one instance of a ship sent to Eilat which did not reach its destination. There was not even one instance of a ship sailing out of Eilat which did not reach its destination. I know that there are among us those who are deeply disappointed that the Egyptians did not shell and sink these ships, for then we would have had to bomb the Egyptian guns [at Sharm al-Sheikh]. True, the battle has not ended. We have not yet brought a ship flying the Israeli flag to Eilat. But this battle is a matter of years. You do not send cargo ships to Eilat every week or even every month. It is a costly operation and money is lacking. But we did send one and two and three ships, and the time will come for sending a ship carrying the Israeli flag. It is possible that this will lead to a clash, and I am not able to promise that we shall immediately bomb the Egyptians. They too are able to bomb. They do not necessarily have to shoot at our bombers; they can bomb Eilat or Haifa or Tel Aviv, so the arithmetic is not so simple. I do not know whether as a result of such a development we shall achieve an immediate “decisive overpowering.” How can one be confident of an immediate decisive overpowering?
MK Argov asked me what are we going to do if Iraq unites with Syria. But what if Iraq does not grant you this favor? We are cognizant of such ideas being aired there, and I hinted at such eventuality [in the Knesset speech], albeit in a guarded expression. I wanted to hint that my ears are wide open to absorb what is whispered there, and indeed I noted that there was a response to my remarks. But those were only whispers, nothing concrete. Had I reacted as if this unification is about to happen tomorrow, I would have exposed myself as nervous and fearful. I have no interest in doing so. Why should I uncover all my explosive powder?
Moreover, it must be brought to your attention that the state of Israel is viewed as an entity aspiring for expansion, as looking forward to conquering territory. Everyone abroad is convinced that the IDF General Staff is thinking only about one thing: How to reach the Jordan River in the shortest distance possible and at the most convenient opportunity. The State Department people say that they are confident that unification of Iraq and Syria is not actual, the British Foreign Office says it is not practical; but when they read the declaration by the Chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that if this unification happens, we will occupy the area on our east up to the Jordan River – how are they to understand this? They take it that we are determined to occupy that entire territory by any means possible, and that we are utilizing every superficial rumor, every unfounded whisper, in order to pronounce such a threat. Why is all that necessary? Why, when we are conducting a defensive campaign as victims of aggression against the supply of arms to the aggressor, should we pour oil on the fire at the State Department? Why give ammunition to Egyptian propaganda? You should read to the Arabic press, you should listen Arabic radio and see how they are using it. And read the cables sent us by our London and Washington Embassies as well.