In 1961 President Kennedy demanded that Ben-Gurion end Israel’s nuclear deterrent program.
History shows that some issues are so critical that even the President of the United States cannot force Israel’s hand. The sharpest example took place almost fifty years ago, when in 1961 President Kennedy demanded that Ben-Gurion end Israel’s nuclear deterrent program.
But for the Israeli leader, the overriding objective was to gain the tools necessary to insure Jewish survival in a very hostile world. Before 1967, Israel was far more isolated and vulnerable than is the case today.
Ben-Gurion did not refuse Kennedy’s requests – he avoided saying no by dancing around them for two years. Finally, Kennedy warned in a letter dated May 18, 1963, that unless American inspectors were allowed into Israel’s Dimona facility, Israel would find itself totally isolated.
Rather than answering, Ben-Gurion abruptly resigned. In 1969, Nixon and Kissinger made one more effort to force Israel to relinquish the deterrent option, and when Golda Meir refused, the U.S. and Israel agreed to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise that has served both countries well for over forty years.
While Dimona was a bilateral issue, in the peace process, the Palestinians are a crucial third party. There is no sense in pressuring Israel if Palestinians continue terror and incitement, and reject the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty. The writer is professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University.
Source: NGO monitor and Jerusalem Post.
Israel has since 1948 been living under the threat of destruction. When JFK wanted to stop Israel from developing a nuclear bomb, the state of Israel had to put their own security first.
In a similar way, the state of Israel has to overcome pressure from President Obama. The commander in chief in the White House put the Jewish state in danger by demanding a return of East Jerusalem back under Islamic occupation.