Johnson, Israel and the Cold War
Testing the Memorandum of Understanding (1965–67)
in The United States, the Soviet Union and the Arab– Israeli conflict, 1948– 67
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The Memorandum of Understanding was not as clear-cut commitment. America was still trying to limit its political and military implications by conditioning the supply of tanks and jetfighters on an Israeli promise not to be the first to be the aggressor or introduce nuclear weapons into the region. Israel had no difficulty in agreeing to jses demands, but the dynamics of the Arab-Israel conflict could not allow it to become subservient to American patronage without a security guarantee. The PLO terrorist acts, the rise of the neo-Ba'ath in Syria, and Nasser's growing offensive in the Arab states and Africa signified a new era which required strengthening Israel's deterrence. That could not be ignored by the US, and the supply of Skyhawk jets and Patton tanks was ensured. The Vietnam war created a dilemma for the US in its relations with Israel, since American Jews did not support Johnson on the Vietnam issue, but did support Israel. Israel however had to be careful and not side with America in view of Israel's delicate relations with the Third World, and the need not to irritate the USSR while hoping for a change in the fate of Soviet Jews.

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