History of Israel: Part Three (1973-2000)
The Yom Kippur War of 1973
In 1972 Syria, Egypt and Jordan again vowed total destruction of Israel and began planning a new offensive. The Soviets provided massive shipments of military equipment and satellite intelligence of Israeli defenses. The attack came in 1973 on the most Holy Day of the Jewish calendar: Yom Kippur.
This time the Muslims were ready. They amassed 750,000 men—more than three times the size of the Israeli Army—and had the latest Soviet technology. The Jews fought with outdated weapons again. The Arabs had superiority in war planes 860 to 480; tanks 3200 to 1700; artillery 3300 to 800. And they caught the Jews off guard and unprepared.
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat said he would sacrifice 1,000,000 men to extinguish the Jews. It did not go as planned.
Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir asked for help. The United States rushed military hardware to Israel—after they were attacked—to save them from destruction (Arab nations retaliated by raising oil prices to America by 2000% in the 1970s Oil Embargo).
The Jews smoked the Syrian Army—again. They marched to within 22 miles of Damascus and could have flattened the city—but did not lob one bomb at it. Syria would have surely flattened Tel Aviv had they the opportunity. In the air battles of the Yom Kippur War the Arabs lost 498 aircraft—the Jews 4.
To say the Jews made better pilots would be the understatement of the century. In the Sinai, the Jews slaughtered the Egyptian Army—destroying over 300 tanks while losing none. The Jews taken as prisoners-of-war by Muslims were executed; Arab prisoners-of-war were well fed and well treated by the Jews.
This would be the last time Muslim nations fought Jews like men. They had learned their lesson after four humiliating defeats in a row by a tiny nation. From now on, they would murder Jewish women and children; and then run hide behind their women and children. Muslims turned to terror and hijacking airliners, primarily through the PLO, which was armed to the teeth.
In 1974, Yasser Arafat, the greatest of these murderers, was invited by the United Nations to address that assembly. American Leftists applauded as he said there is no place for Israel in this world. The U.N. was now dominated by Third World Communists and Totalitarian regimes, having lost its way as a force for good in the world.
It could be said the U.N. has a mission to destroy Israel. Only the United States still stood up with the Jews consistently. Many countries turned their back on them because Arabs supplied 1/3 of the world's oil. No Arab government offered Israel peace or recognized its right to exist.
Palestinian Liberation Organization
Arabs living in Jerusalem soon found their standard-of-living (and city services) much improved under the Israelis, and enjoyed religious and educational freedom. But the Islamic World was outraged that Jews could now pray at the Western Wall and burial sites of the Jewish Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This allowed the rise of Yasser Arafat, an Egyptian committed to the violent ideas of Franz Fanon. Arafat led terrorists, the PLO, who were trained and armed by Syria but based in Jordan. Arafat's public pledge was the destruction of Israel. He promised a generation of revenge on Jews for daring to establish a Homeland in ancient Israel. In 1971 the PLO was forced out of Jordan and fled to Lebanon.
Meanwhile, the Gross Domestic Product of the West Bank improved 80% in six years after the Six-Day War. Many residents owned refrigerators and televisions for the first time. Few who actually lived there wanted to be terrorists against the Israelis—their lives had dramatically improved to a higher standard-of-living than any Arabs living anywhere on Earth. But the 100,000 living in refugee camps in Lebanon provided fertile ground for PLO recruits.
The PLO forged a new national identity for Palestinians, refused to accept the presence of Jews in the Middle East, and had as its stated goal the elimination of the Israeli State. The PLO massacred Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.
In the 1970s the PLO tried a new tack: the cultivation of perception that they were victims of the Jews—which of course, was swallowed by the American and European Left.
The PLO demanded all land surrendered in war by Arabs be returned and the right for unlimited numbers of Arabs to move inside Israel; while continuing to publicly preach the annihilation of all Jews and refusing to negotiate with or recognize Israel as a state. All conquered lands were not only part of the original Holy Lands of Israel; they had been used repeatedly as staging areas to terrorize Jews, so it is understandable that Israel refused.
ISRAEL IN THE 1970s
By 1975 Israel boasted one of the most educated populations in the world—in stark contrast to the illiteracy in the surrounding Muslim nations. It became a nuclear power. Orthodox Judaism flourished (30% of the people), as did archaeology, music and literature. After the 1970s religion waned and Secular Humanists came to the fore, creating a great question: What is a Jew?
New Jewish immigrants arrived from America, Canada and South Africa. Americans admired Israelis as courageous, industrious people with the only successful democracy in the Middle East. In the 1976 raid on Entebbe, the Israelis showed the cowards of the world how to deal with terrorists. The few Jews remaining in Arab lands were routinely persecuted.
In 1979 Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin signed a peace treaty brokered by Jimmy Carter, as Egypt became the first Arab country to recognize Israel. In the agreement Israel gave up the Sinai and got navigational rights in return. The Arab World (and the USSR) was outraged! Sadat was assassinated in 1981.
ISRAEL HISTORY: THE 1980s
In 1980 Israel declared Jerusalem its indivisible capital—thus provoking more Arab hysterics. The Holy City had flowered spectacularly under Jewish rule, with community centers, parks, playgrounds, theaters, gardens—and that's in the Muslim neighborhoods.
The next year, the Jews pulled off an incredible strike against Iraq's nuclear program, which had been made possible by French and Soviet technology and material.
By 1982, those in Lebanese refugee camps numbered 300,000 and many were recruited as terrorists. For a few years Muslims had lobbed bombs over the border into northern Israel. The Israelis grew tired of this and attacked under war hero Ariel Sharon.
15,000 PLO fighters ran away to Beirut where they could hide among 500,000 Muslim civilians, 600 of whom were accidentally killed during the battles. The Liberal Press in the United States and Europe incredibly equated these deaths with the 6,000,000 dead Jews in the Holocaust.
Many American and European Jews—no longer observant— became turned off by Israel. A Syrian backed Muslim assassinated the Lebanese President, Bashir Gemayel, and the PLO relocated to Tunis. Muslims had destroyed Lebanon, once the flower of the Mediterranean and the only democracy besides Israel in the Middle East.
The 1980s saw a new Israel, loaded with impressive talent in architecture, engineering and science. There were spectacular achievements in farming; hydrological technology; aviation; communications; software; military equipment; and solar energy (now in 2/3 of Israeli homes).
Israel's relationships with Jordan and Egypt improved greatly. In 1988, King Hussein of Jordan separated the West Bank from his kingdom, as per the request of the PLO.
By this time, 750,000 Arabs lived there and 500,000 in Gaza. There can be no question that their lives had improved drastically regarding economics and health, after 20 years of Israeli rule. The Jews—who had largely created this wealth—were surely richer than they were. But they could see for themselves that their standard-of-living was better than in Arab lands.
ISRAEL IN THE 1990s
The collapse of the Soviet Union allowed 500,000 Jews immigrate to Israel. Meanwhile, there was the First Intifada. This Palestinian uprising would involve 4,300 attacks upon Israeli citizens—because of a car accident.
The Gulf War in 1991 was a disaster for Arabs in the Holy Land. 200,000 of them had worked in Kuwait and remitted most of their earnings to their families. 60% of the Arab wheat harvest rotted. Half of all Arabs in Israel, who worked for Jews, lost their jobs after throngs of them were shown on television ululated, singing and dancing in the streets in joyous revelry when Israel was shelled by Saddam Hussein.
In 1991 and 1992 there were peace talks with Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestinians—which ended when the Palestinians insisted that Jerusalem be their new capital city and that they be allowed a standing army right on Israel's border with the express intent of killing all Jews.
The Oslo Accords in 1993 were the result of the first face-to-face negotiations between Israel and the PLO. In the West Bank, except in Jewish settlements, the PLO took over education; health & social services; policing; utilities; tourism; and taxation. The World Bank loaned Arafat $2B, and Israel loaned him $60M, to fund his new administration. But the terrorism against Israeli civilians did not stop.
From 1948 to 1992 Eastern European Jews (Ashkenazi) held most prominent positions in Israel. All Prime Ministers except Rabin were born in Russia or Poland. The Sephardic Jews—from Spain, Portugal and Arab countries—were of lower economic and social status, which created some tension as their percentage of the population gradually grew. By 1980 Sephardic Jews reached 50% of the populace and their circumstances improved.
In 1994 Israel and Jordan established normal relations. In 1995 Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. After all these years of war and terrorism, 500,000 Jews had given up on the country and moved away by the end of the 1990s. Among these, some of the 360,000 who immigrated to America were among the best and brightest Israelis.
Jerusalem is the most Holy City on Earth. Its name appears 622 times in the Torah (Hebrew Bible or Christian Old Testament) and 155 times in the Christian New Testament. It is never mentioned in the Quran.
Muslims claim it as a Holy City, though their holy cities are actually Mecca and Medina.
Israel sits on 8,000 square miles. The Arabs have 6,145,389 square miles of land. Muslim children are taught in school that Jews kill children to drink their blood.
Today, the turnout for elections in Israel is 90%: the highest in the world. By 2000, 20% of the populace was Israeli Arab citizens (1,000,000 people).
Tel Aviv, a city with a Central European ambiance early on, is now a sundrenched seaside metropolis, pulsing with beaches, cafes, and nightlife. On the Jewish Sabbath, public transportation ceases, businesses and airlines are closed. Kosher dietary laws are observed. Religious courts (100% Orthodox) have jurisdiction of family matters.
All Jews serve in the military—3 years mandatory for men and 2 years for women (plus service in active reserves until about age 40).
The State funds both secular and religious schools—the parents choose.
The Leftist Labor government ruled from 1948 to 1977 when the first Conservative government was elected (largely because of support from Sephardic Jews who remember their treatment by Arabs).
Since the founding of Israel, Muslims, surrounding it on three sides, have been obsessed with destroying it. This incredible democracy—under siege since day one of its existence—has survived despite constant fear of terrorism, rockets, and invasions.
The History of Israel
This is part three of a three part series on The History of Israel.
The previous episode covered the modern State of Israel from its founding in 1948, up to where this article begins in 1973. You may read it by clicking here.
The first segment is about the History of the Holy Land from ancient times up to 1948. You may read it by clicking here.