Cite: Stauber, The Impact of the Sinai Campaign on Relations between Israel and West Germany

Stauber, Roni. “The Impact of the Sinai Campaign on Relations between Israel and West Germany.” Modern Judaism 33.3 (2013): 235-59.

 

URL: http://mj.oxfordjournals.org/content/33/3/235.extract.html

 

Extract

Following the military campaign that Israel waged in the Sinai Peninsula in the fall of 1956, it found itself, at the beginning of 1957, involved in a political controversy over the international demand that it retreat from captured areas. Both the military and diplomatic campaigns were to have a significant influence on the development of the special political relationship and ensuing security rapport between Israel and the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany). It was during these months of military confrontation and political tensions that the particular and distinct ties of trust and understanding also began to crystallize between Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. These were based on a similarity of views held by these statesmen regarding the inter-bloc confrontation, but, in particular, on Ben-Gurion’s full realization of Adenauer’s commitment to the existence, security and prosperity of the State of Israel. Following the Sinai Campaign a change also occurred among leading FRG politicians, who now began to see Israel as a strategic asset in the Cold War.

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It can therefore be concluded that at the end of 1956 and beginning of 1957, both in Bonn and in Jerusalem, policy makers began to think in new terms of the relationship between Israel and the FRG, even if the issues were not yet being discussed in depth in either of the capitals. In Bonn, the chancellor and those close to him, as well as the foreign minister and the new defense minister, were deeply impressed by the military campaign that Israel conducted and showed their understanding, without letting this be known publicly, of its security needs.

Based on various statements made by Adenauer, it appears that in complete opposition to the stance of the U.S. government, he accepted Israel’s declared position that defined the attack on Sinai as an act of self-defense. More than anything else, Israel began to be seen in the minds of the FRG leadership as a Western stronghold against Soviet expansion. At the same time, an understanding in Jerusalem developed that Bonn was likely to help Israel not only because of its “historic debt” but also on account of political considerations that were connected to the inter-bloc confrontation in the international arena, and specifically to NATO and the U.S.