As a young boy growing up, Richard Nixon's Christian (and a Quaker) mother told him that one day he would be in a powerful position, and a situation would arise where Israel and the Jews needed his help. When it did, he was to help them.
It is reported that Nixon said he heard the voice of his mother saying these words to him when he responded to the call and plea for help from Golda Meir at 3 a.m. in October of 1973 during what is called the Yom Kippur War.
Israel becoming a nation once more in May of 1948 after almost 2,000 years of the Jewish people being scattered among many nations and President Harry S. Truman officially recognizing Israel as a nation was the topic of the first blog in this series. The Yom Kippur War of October, 1973, Golda Meir and Richard Nixon will be the focus of this blog.
Land was set aside by the United Nations to establish the State of Israel in 1948. This, of course, was just part of the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants that would be God's chosen people's land forever. After the re-establishment of Israel in 1948, a series of regional and ideological conflicts, often including violent fighting, has broken out between Israel and the Arab States. The Six Day War of 1967 was one of them and it resulted in a decisive Israeli victory, gaining new boundaries for Israel.
Syria and Egypt, two leading nations in the Arab world, in a summit after this The Six Day War declared there would be "no peace, no recognition, and no negotiation with Israel." Egyptian President Anwar Sadat publicly decried the Jewish state. With this pronouncement Israel began a military buildup and attempted to heavily fortify its borders.
Then came the attacks on October 6, 1973-a coordinated surprise attack on Yom Kipper, the holiest of days in the Jewish calendar and a time when the entire nation comes to a virtual standstill. Even non-observant Jews honor this holyday by fasting, staying home or going to synagogue, and refraining from the use of fire, electricity, and communications systems. Israel could not have been more vulnerable. There had been concern about possible attacks, but until just shortly before the attacks began, "Israeli intelligence was not able to determine conclusively that an attack was imminent."
To demonstrate how much Israel was up against: 180 Israeli tanks faced over 1400 Syrian tanks; closer to the Suez Canal, a mere 436 Israeli infantry were poised to fight over 80,000 Egyptian soldiers. The attacks by Egypt and Syria were backed by nine Arab states, as well as the Soviet Union.
By the second day, the slaughtering of Israeli troops and destruction of their equipment had been such a blow, Moshe Dayan the minister of Defense, who had been a hero in the Six Day War, started talk about pulling back and even possible surrender. Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel, resisted this, but she did have an aid secure lethal pills from her doctor; just in case her Arab enemies prevailed, Meir would take her own life.
Golda Meir was known for her stalwartness, her iron will and inflexible nature. Israel did not surrender. The reserve troops approached the front lines and the tide slowly began to turn in Israel's favor, but, arms and ammunition supplies were dangerously low. The Arab threats of an oil embargo and trade boycott had effectively halted European munitions re-supply, so Meir turned her attention to the United States and the Nixon administration.
U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Meir's relationship was to say the least a bit rocky. When assistance was requested from him, Kissinger's reported response was to let Israel 'bleed a little.' So, at 3 a.m. Golda Meir picked up the phone and called President Richard M. Nison and asked for help. It is reported that Nixon heard the prophetic word and the voice of his mother as he listened to Meir. By the time she hung up, Golda Meir had the weapons help her country needed that swung the pendulum to Israel's favor and to bring an end to the Yom Kippur War. America's resupply included 815 total sorties, bringing Israel 56 combat aircraft and 27,900 tons of munitions and supplies.
Nixon knew that the only way to end the crisis and push out the Communist influence was to provide American arms to the Israelis in order to defeat Russian arms in the hands of the Syrians and Egyptians. Both Secretary of State Kissinger and President Nixon wanted to conduct the airlift, but according to the CIA director, "Nixon gave it the greater sense of urgency. He said. 'You get the stuff to Israel. Now. Now.'"
To this day, Richard Nixon is highly regarded in Israel. Prime Minister Golda Meir and Nixon kept in frequent touch throughout the ordeal. For the rest of Meir's life, she referred to Nixon as "my president," and said, "For generations to come, all will be told of the miracle of the immense planes from the United States bringing in the material that meant life to our people."
Information Used from Bill McKay's docudrama Against All Odds: In Search of A Miracle and Jiimmy Byron's The New Nixon - How Richard Nixon Saved Israel (October 8, 2010)
Link to first blog in series: God Uses US Presidents for His Purpose: Israel and Truman
Next blog in series will be about G.W. Bush and Iraq (Middle East)