New Book: Herf, Undeclared Wars with Israel

Herf, Jeffrey. Undeclared Wars with Israel. East Germany and the West German Far Left, 1967–1989. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016.



Undeclared Wars with Israel examines a spectrum of antagonism by the East German government and West German radical leftist organizations – ranging from hostile propaganda and diplomacy to military support for Israel’s Arab armed adversaries – from 1967 to the end of the Cold War in 1989. This period encompasses the Six-Day War (1967), the Yom Kippur War (1973), Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and an ongoing campaign of terrorism waged by the Palestine Liberation Organization against Israeli civilians. This book provides new insights into the West German radicals who collaborated in ‘actions’ with Palestinian terrorist groups, and confirms that East Germany, along with others in the Soviet Bloc, had a much greater impact on the conflict in the Middle East than has been generally known. A historian who has written extensively on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, Jeffrey Herf now offers a new chapter in this long, sad history.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. East Germany and the Six-Day War of June 1967
3. An anti-Israel left emerges in West Germany: the conjuncture of June 1967
4. Diplomatic breakthrough to military alliance: East Germany, the Arab states, and the PLO 1969–73
5. Palestinian terrorism in 1972: Lod airport, the Munich Olympics, and responses
6. Formalizing the East German alliance with the PLO and the Arab states: 1973
7. Political warfare at the United Nations during the Yom Kippur War of 1973
8. 1974: Palestinian terrorist attacks on Kiryat Shmona and Maalot and responses in East Germany, West Germany, Israel, the United States, and the United Nations
9. The UN ‘Zionism is racism’ revolution of November 10, 1975
10. The Entebbe hijacking and ‘selection’ and the West German ‘revolutionary cells’
11. An alliance deepens: East Germany, the Arab states, and the PLO: 1978–82
12. Terrorism from Lebanon to Israel’s ‘operation peace for Galilee’: 1977–82
13. Loyal friends in defeat: 1983–9 and after
14. Conclusion.


JEFFREY HERFis a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland, College Park. His publications on modern German history include Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (Cambridge, 1984); Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys (1997), winner of the American Historical Association’s George Lewis Beer Prize; The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust (2006), winner of the National Jewish Book Award; Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (2009), winner of the bi-annual Sybil Halpern Milton Prize of the German Studies Association in 2011 for work on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. He has also published essays and reviews on history and politics in Partisan Review, The New Republic, The Times of Israel, and The American Interest.




Reviews: Jones & Petersen, eds., Israel’s Clandestine Diplomacies

Jones, Clive and Tore T. Petersen, eds. Israel’s Clandestine Diplomacies. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.





  • Eran, Oded. “Review.” Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs 8.2 (2014): 103-105.
  • Rodman, David. “Review.” Israel Affairs 20.3 (2014): 442-444.
  • Inbar, Efraim. “Review.” Diplomacy & Statecraft 26.1 (2015): 201-202.


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.





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.


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.