Hope for Peace in the Middle East Has Been an Elusive Goal for a Long Time

Israel in 1967 minted a gold medal commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which called for the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

By Jim O’Neal

The Israeli-Palestine issue was back in the news recently as Vice President Joe Biden was visiting. There were also reports that the Obama administration was on the verge of creating another “Peace Talks Structure” to facilitate transition to the next U.S administration and chalk up another legacy achievement.

When Great Britain took control of Palestine after World War I, it promised to create a Jewish state (the Balfour Declaration). However, every wave of Jewish immigration was met with violent resistance from Palestinian Arabs.

Britain reneged on its promise and after World War II, turned the issue over to the United Nations. In 1947, the U.N. partitioned Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. Shortly afterward, Palestinian fighters attacked and the Israeli “War of Independence” began.

In Egypt, President Nasser first drove the British out of the Suez Canal and then joined with Syria to “push the Israelis into the sea.” By 1967, Israel was surrounded by hostile borders and Egypt, Jordan and Syria considered the destruction of Israel “a child’s game that would take four days.” The United Nations pulled out and the Egyptian Navy blockaded the Strait of Tiran.

However, on June 5, 250 Israeli fighter jets (supplied by the French) made a surprise attack on Egyptian airfields and destroyed half of their total Air Force – 200 fighters, bombers and helicopters. They dominated the skies, pushed the Egyptian Army back and then destroyed most of the Jordanian air power.

The Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan began calling it “The Six-Day War,” echoing the Book of Genesis. God made the world in six days, and Israel asserted itself as a nation in the same time.

The big difference was that God rested on the seventh day, but the Israelis have continued on the defensive every day since, even defeating Egypt and Syria in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the Palestinians in the 1987-93 First Intifada.

Hope for peace in this tiny place on earth has been an elusive goal for a very long time.

Jim O'NielIntelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].