This article marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Israel. It is divided into two parts, assessing the status of this unique relationship in 2015 and in 1965, respectively. Angela Merkel’s recent criticism of Benjamin Netanyahu’s stance on the peace process with the Palestinians and the heavy protests that took place in Germany in the wake of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in summer 2014 have cast doubt on the strength of the bilateral partnership fifty years after the first exchange of ambassadors between the two countries. However, by examining the state of German–Israeli cooperation in a number of areas (security, commerce and knowledge exchange, among others), the first part of the article challenges popular interpretations of contemporary German–Israeli relations as being ‘at a nadir’. Fifty years ago, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard proposed to his Israeli counterpart Levi Eshkol the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries amid a severe political crisis in Bonn, following a visit of the East German leader Walter Ulbricht to Gamal Abdel Nasser. While much has changed since then, the second part of the article argues that looking at the momentous events of 1965 can provide useful reference points for understanding the current state of relations between Germany and Israel.
Arnon Lammfromm’s book presents the politics of Levi Eshkol (1895-1969), one of the founding figures of modern Israel, who led its economic growth as its Minister of the Treasury (1952-1963). As Prime Minister (1963-1969) he led the country while facing complex challenges, such as overcoming the Arab threat which reached its peak in the Six Day War, as well as adjusting the economy to changing needs through the steps of austerity. Eshkol had to step into the big shoes of Ben-Gurion, confront and overcome him. He also succeeded, for the first time in Israeli history, to sign a formal and secret memorandum with the United States which served as one of the foundations of the military victory in 1967.
Lammfromm’s main argument is that Eshkol built his career as a “bureaucratic” leader who specializes in many areas, but not as a “charismatic” leader (drawing on Max Weber’s terminology), since his rhetorical abilities were limited. As long as he made use of his capabilities as a bureaucratic leader he was able to compensate for his charismatic weaknesses. But since 1966 he diminished his use of his bureaucratic abilities, increasing his political weakness, and eventually costing him the defense ministry on the eve of the Six Day War.
On the eve of the Six Day War 1967, a sharp rift developed between Israel’s military high command and the Government, especially with Prime Minister Levi Eshkol. The officers demanded a preemptive strike against the Egyptian forces in the Sinai but Eshkol. In two stormy meeting the prime minister and some of his ministers held with IDF’s generals on May 28 and June 2, 1967. Many commentators referred to what happened during these meetings as a “Putsh“ or revolt, implying that the general’s pressure exerted by the general crossed the line and were illegitimate.
This article will examine the back ground and proceeding of these meetings and revaluate the confrontation and it impact on the decision making of the government to go to war on 5 June 1967.
The article deals with Golda Meir, who was a prominent leader of Israel and the Prime Minister during the Yom Kippur War (1973). Its main points are: Her road towards the national leadership during the “Yishuv” period. Her political role under David Ben-Gurion and Levi Eshkol as Minister of Labor (1949-1956) and Minister of Foreign Affairs (1956-1966) Meir as political leader: the way she lead her party and how she was a symbol of the national agreement Meir as diplomatic leader: her attitude during the negotiation attempt with Egypt (The Secretary of the State’s Plan – 1970 ; Moshe Dayan’s intention to open the Suez Canal – 1971) Meir as social leader: the strengthening of the welfare – state Meir during the Yom Kippur War: The War as a result of her policy; Her leadership during the crisis.