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The Presidential History of US-Israel Relations (Part 2 of 5)
Dr. David Reagan
Since the establishment of Israel in May of 1948, which American political party has shown the most favor to the Jewish state? And, spiritually, what difference does it make?
To answer these questions, I produced a 52-minute message entitled “US-Israel Relations in the End Times.” Though this eye-opening sermon is available in its entirety on DVD, I presented an excerpt on our ministry’s television program Christ in Prophecy, duplicated below.
Let’s continue to delve into the various U.S. administrations to discern their views and treatment of the nation of Israel. I think by the end of this series you will be surprised.
The Kennedy Administration
Democratic President John Kennedy was a very strong supporter of Israel in both word and deed. He called Israel the “Child of Hope” and the “Home of the Brave.” He added, “Israel carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom.”
Kennedy lifted the arms embargo and he extended the first informal security guarantees to Israel in 1962. Beginning in 1963, Kennedy authorized the sale to Israel of advance U.S. weaponry, including surface-to-air hawk missiles.
His brother, Bobby, was also a very strong supporter of Israel. Because of Bobby’s support, he was assassinated by a Palestinian in 1968 while he was running for the Democratic nomination.
The Johnson Administration
Democratic President Lyndon Johnson quickly emerged as one of the greatest friends of Israel among modern-day presidents. During his administration, the U.S. became Israel’s chief diplomatic ally and primary arms supplier. Long before he became president, Johnson had established himself as a friend of the Jewish people.
Most are astonished to learn this, but in 1938, when Johnson was a congressman, he worked covertly to establish a refuge in Texas for European Jews who were fleeing from Nazi Germany. In the process, he helped hundreds of European Jews to enter Texas through Cuba, Mexico, and South America.
In part, Johnson was influenced in his attitude towards the Jews by the religious beliefs of his family, especially his grandfather, Samuel Johnson. Johnson once told reporters that his grandfather had said to him, “Take care of the Jews, God’s chosen people, consider them your friends, and help them in any way you can.”
Johnson strongly supported Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, approving the sale of tanks and fighter planes. And, when asked by Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin why the US supported Israel when there were 80 million Arabs and only 3 million Jews, he replied, “Because it is the right thing to do.”
L.B.J. also closely supervised the crafting of UN Resolution 242 in 1967 which called for Israel to be guaranteed secure and recognized boundaries.
The Nixon Administration
Republican President Richard Nixon is considered today to have been an Anti-Semitic person based upon ugly comments he made about the Jews that are contained on the infamous White House tapes. But, when it came to the nation of Israel, he was a realist on foreign policy, recognizing the importance of the only democratic state in the Middle East.
For example, when Israel suffered a surprise invasion in 1973 in the Yom Kippur War, Nixon responded immediately with overwhelming aid to counter the offensive. He did so despite the fact that he knew it would alienate the Arab world and greatly endanger our relationship with the Soviet Union. In short order, Nixon authorized the supply of $2.2 billion worth of aid that totaled 22,000 tons of equipment that was transported to Israel in 566 round-the-clock flights, and another 90,000 tons arrived by sea. To this day, Nixon is greatly admired by the Israelis as a man who saved Israel.
Golda Meir served as the Israeli Prime Minister at the time of the Yom Kippur War. Her sister wrote her and said, “I don’t know why you speak so highly of Nixon. I hate him!” Her sister lived here in the United States. Meir wrote back to her sister and in the letter she said, “Look, Clara, you live in America, so you don’t like Nixon. I’m an Israeli. I’ll never forget that if it hadn’t been for Nixon we would have been destroyed.”
The Ford and Carter Administrations
In my presentation entitled “US-Israel Relations in the End Times,” I continued to survey US-Israel relations during the presidencies of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, pointing out that both Republican President Ford and Democratic President Carter acted very negatively towards Israel.
The Reagan Administration
Republican President Ronald Reagan, on the other hand, was always very positive in everything he said about Israel. Behind the scenes, though, Reagan often butted heads with the Israeli leaders.
In the third segment of our study of how the various U.S. administrations viewed and treated the nation of Israel, we’ll focus on the Bush Senior administration while surveying the Clinton and Bush Junior administrations.