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January 21, 1991

Cable, Richard Armitage to the White House for Mr. Robert Gates, 'Hussein/Armitage Meeting January 21, 1991'

The President’s special envoy to Jordan, Richard Armitage, updates the White House on a private talk he had just had with King Hussein. The King briefed Armitage on a secret meeting recently held with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

March 18, 1991

The Chancellor’s [Helmut Kohl's] Meeting with Israel‘s Foreign Minister Levy on Thursday, 14 March 1991, 13.15 until 14.15 hours

Kohl and Levy discuss the situation in Iraq, the Palestine question and Israel's request for financial assistance from the Federal Republic of Germany.

November 22, 1990

The Chancellor's [Helmut Kohl's] Breakfast Meeting with President Mitterrand on Wednesday, 21 November 1990 in Paris for the Occasion of the CSCE Summit

Kohl and Mitterrand assess the relevance of the Paris CSCE Summit and the situation in the Gulf, especially UN resolutions on Iraq and the potential use of force under a UN mandate.

September 3, 1963

Undated, unsigned handwritten note, possibly by Minister without Portfolio Galili

Written by an unknown author (possibly Galili) to an unknown recipient, this document dates from September 1963. It points to the fact that Israel saw itself as stricltly in adherance to the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Ben Gurion in his letters to President John F. Kennedy, referred to the note as “B.G letters”. The note consists of a list of short explanatory statements on the nature of these commitments and how Israel interprets them.

 

Editor's note: Because of the unique provenance of this document, it should be treated as unauthenticated and interpreted skeptically. Readers are strongly encouraged to read the associated essay by Or Rabinowitz.

July 18, 1970

Undated, unsigned handwritten note, possibly by Minister without portfolio Israeli Galili discussing the publication of a story on Israel’s nuclear program in the New York Time

Presumably written by by Minister Israel Galili some time in 1970, this note discusses the publication of a story on Israel’s nuclear program in the New York Times. According to the note, the story mentions “the agreement we have with the President,” alluding to the 1969 Richard Nixon-Golda Meir deal on Israel’s nuclear status. The note further attempts to analyze which source within the Nixon administration had approached the paper and leaked assessments on Israel’s nuclear capabilities, underscoring the secrecy and the sensitivity surrounding the 1969 understanding.

Editor's note: Because of the unique provenance of this document, it should be treated as unauthenticated and interpreted skeptically. Readers are strongly encouraged to read the associated essay by Or Rabinowitz.

1969

Undated, unsigned handwritten note, presumably from Minister Yigal Allon to Minister without Portfolio Israel Galili

This handwritten note, presumably from Minister Yigal Allon, most likely circa 1969-1970, demonstrates how Israel adopted the NPT’s nuclear test criteria for its own purposes, allowing the Israeli leadership to maintain that Israel was not a nuclear state. Allon’s adoption of the NPT’s nuclear test criteria mirrored Israel’s official language at the time when discussing the issue with state department officials.

Editor's note: Because of the unique provenance of this document, it should be treated as unauthenticated and interpreted skeptically. Readers are strongly encouraged to read the associated essay by Ori Rabinowitz.

October 27, 2020

Interview with David Ivry

David Ivry was a Major General in the Israeli Defense Forces. He was the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, a commander of the Israeli Air Force, and director of the Israeli National Security Council. He served as the head of the Israeli delegation to ACRS.

June 1, 1971

If We Immigrate to Israel, We Are Bound to Incite the Panthers' Bitterness

For many centuries Jews not only from Europe but also from across all of what we now call the Middle East trickled to Eretz Israel/Palestine, most importantly to Jerusalem. Moreover, in the mid-nineteenth century, the leading proto-Zionist thinker Rabbi Judah Alkalai (1798 [Sarajevo]-1878 [Jerusalem]) was a Sephardi, i.e. a Jew whose family was originally from Sepharad, Spain, and ended up in the Ottoman Empire after being expulsed in the fifteenth century. And when in the later nineteenth century Zionism arose, it found some followers in the Middle East, too.

Despite all the above, Zionism’s political-ideological epicenter was the Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Whether left- or right-wing or liberal, Zionist parties were led by European-born Jews (who were quite diverse, though). And while Jews from Middle Eastern countries continued to arrive in Palestine in the very late Ottoman period (1516/17-1917/18) and the British Mandate (1917/22-1948), most Jewish immigrants were from Europe. This changed only after and due to the Holocaust, in which about two out of three European Jews were killed. In the early postwar Americas and Western Europe, relatively few Jews wished to emigrate, and the Soviet Union, which after World War II replaced Poland as the European country with the largest Jewish population, forbade emigration.

Hence, the government of Prime Minister David Ben Gurion (1886-1968; r. 1948-1954/1955-1963) expanded initiatives—in some cases “helped” by Arab nationalist pressures on domestic Jews—to bring to Israel the ‘edot ha-mizrah, the (Middle) Eastern communities, a plural that would morph into the collective mizrahim. After all, Israel in 1948 counted “only” about 700,000 Jews. While many middle- and upper-class Jews e.g. from Morocco and Egypt left for Europe, a large majority—but far from all—of those Israel-bound emigrants were poor. As if this did not make starting a new life hard enough, the relatively poor newly-found State of Israel was overwhelmed by the ensuing population explosion. Worst, however, was systemic institutional and individual discrimination, analyzed e.g. in Ella Shohat’s classic article “Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the standpoint of its Jewish victims” (1988). Yes: the Palestinians who had remained in Israel after the nakba had it worse, for the Jewish State did not treat them as full citizens, even subjecting them to military rule until 1966. But in the eyes of most Middle Eastern Jewish immigrants, this was cold comfort.

Protests occurred from the 1950s. They took a new turn in February 1971, when poor Jerusalemites, many with a petty criminal record and most from Morocco, founded the Black Panthers (BP), organizing demonstrations and asserting that their communities had “enough of deprivation [and] enough of discrimination.” Although the Panthers would have a limited long-term effect politically—only one, Charlie Bitton (born 1947), would go on to have a lasting political career, as a communist member of parliament—socially, they did. The government reacted not only with repression but also by increasing social services; besides, the Panthers helped bring different Middle Eastern Jewish communities closer. For our purposes most crucial, though, is the Panthers’ choice of name. While they did not too often refer to their US namesakes and never to leaders like Huey Newton (1942-1989), their name reflected the influence on Israel of US developments, as Oz Frankel’s “The Black Panthers of Israel and the Politics of Radical Analogy” (2012) argues. And although the Israeli Panthers shared neither the Americans’ separatist nationalism—they wanted fully in, not out—nor their use of arms nor their support for Palestine, calling themselves Panthers shocked Israel’s Ashkenazi (European) establishment. It presumably harmed Israel’s reputation, also by the hand of Arabs. Moreover, by the late 1960s Israelis and some US Jews believed that most African Americans had become anti-Semitic.

The text featured here, an English translation of a Hebrew article published in the leading daily Yediot Aharonot, reflects some of these intricate international dimensions of the rise of Israel’s Panthers.

July 1963

D.B., 'To the New Comer'

While in 1947 the Indian organizers of the First Asian Relations Conference invited a Yishuvi delegation, eight years later the Bandung Conference organizers did not invite Israel. At the same time, the second half of the 1950s signaled the start of Israel’s long “African Decade,” which would end only when many African states cut their diplomatic ties with the Jewish State after the 1973 October War. The first two countries to establish diplomatic ties with Israel were Ethiopia, in 1956, and Liberia, in 1957; in the 1960s, many others followed, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Thousands of Africans studied in Israel, as illustrated by this document, an anonymous article published in 1963 in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’ African Students journal that provides a glimpse of experiences Africans had, including racism but also feelings of superiority. Moreover, thousands of Israeli engineers, agronomists, architects, geologists and others who had participated in nation-state building in Israel worked often for years in development projects in Africa and also, though less so, in Asia and Latin America. And as Ronen Bergman’s 2007 PhD thesis “Israel and Africa: Military and Intelligence Liaisons” shows, Israel exported weaponry and Israeli officers shared with the militaries of recently decolonized African countries their expertise in warfare and in controlling civilians. After all, Israel blitzed through the Egyptian Sinai in 1956, had won its first war back in 1948-1949, and from then until 1966 kept its own Palestinian citizens under military rule.

In fact, the Israeli Defense Forces and the foreign intelligence agency Mossad were central to Israel’s involvement in Africa. The core reason for Israel’s interest in Africa was political and strategic. Israel needed allies in the United Nations, where postcolonial Asian countries were turning against it. And it wished to minimize the dangers of postcolonial Arab-African alliances and to extend to parts of Africa its “periphery doctrine” of honing relations with Middle Eastern countries that neighbor Arab states, like Iran and Turkey. As it did so, Israel at times shared some contacts and information with the US government; becoming a US asset was a boon to the Israeli government, though it remained fiercely independent-minded.

June 29, 1979

Letter from J.F. MacCulloch (British Embassy, Bonn) to R.J. Alston (Joint Nuclear Unit), 'Israeli Comments on Pakistani and Libyan Nuclear Capability'

This letter, written from Jim MacCulloch at the British Embassy in Bonn to Robert Alston at the FCO's Joint Nuclear Unit, details a recent memorandum sent to West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt by Menachem Begin about the Pakistani nuclear program.

Pagination