The 1967 War and its Influence on the Soviet Union's Relations with Israel
Since the mid-1960s, there has been a gradual shift in the policy of the Soviet Union towards the issue of the migration of Jews. In the first half of this
Translator: Davood Salehan
Since the mid-1960s, there has been a gradual shift in the policy of the Soviet Union towards the issue of the migration of Jews. In the first half of this decade, the family unity policy was taken into consideration. Hundreds of Jewish families were allowed to immigrate to Israel. But the six-day war between the Arabs and Israel caused the growing destruction of the Soviet-Israeli relations. A wave of anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli attacks took place in the mass media of the Soviet Union. Widespread measures against Israel and its objectives have been expanded in radical statements and oral attacks. The Israeli government and its racist policies were condemned by the Russian authorities; Zionism, as the enemy of mankind, was subjected to the most severe attacks. The extension of these behaviors strengthened anti-Jewish tendencies in Russia. On the other hand, the strengthening of Jewish nationalist tendencies and the desire to immigrate to Israel also appeared. Tens of thousands of Russian Jews wanted to immigrate to Israel, but only a small number of them came to their destination. Many Jewish youth began writing letters to the Soviet authorities in protest of their disagreement with their immigration. They soon avoided mixed marriages that prevented them from migrating.
The authorities of the Soviet Union did a lot of effort to control the Zionist tendencies. Creating financial restrictions and some economic restrictions for immigrants are worth noting in this regard. Even the arrests of Zionist activists in the Soviet Union took place which failed to prevent the expansion of the interest in immigrating to Israel. Thus, the rapid and decisive victory of Israel in the 1967 war with the Arabs strengthened the Jewish tendencies of the Soviet Union to immigrate to Israel. Discrimination against them in the Soviet Union, which was applied to all peoples and nations in favor of Russian, was effective in strengthening this process. The Russian nationalism that existed from the Tsar Era, and Stalin had strengthened it hurt all non-Russian nationalities and the practice of discrimination against them. The authorities of the Soviet Union blamed the Jews for the uprising against the Communist Party in Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1968, as well as in Poland and Hungary during the last decade.
Anyway, Russian authorities were resisting against the tendency of the Jews to emigrate. In December 1970, a group of Jews, mostly from Estonia, were tried at Leningrad Court for planning to steal a Soviet aircraft. Heavy punishments were considered for all of them. This led to global protests from various parliaments and authorities around the world. Zionist and Jewish institutions played a serious role in organizing it. Some Soviet Jews also called for emigration to Israel by means of protests. During the 1960s, Jewish organizations organized many efforts to protest the Jewish situation in the Soviet Union. There was a lot of literature in this field. A conference was held in Paris in 1960 to defend the right of immigration of the Jews of the Soviet Union. About fifty writers, poets, artists and scholars and representatives from 16 West and African countries took part in it. The prominent figures from the world's celebrities sent the message for opening. Other conferences were held in Latin America, France, Scandinavia, Italy, and the United Kingdom and the United States. Jews, in particular the Zionist organizations, instigating global public opinion against the Soviet anti-Jewish policies, essentially put the same pressure on national integration for all peoples and nations and followers of the religions, and this was not specific to the Jews. Perusing Jewish issues also addressed to the United Nations.
At the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Protection of the Rights of Minorities, the debate on the conditions of the Soviet Jews was raised in the UN General Assembly's social committee. During the visit of Khrushchev to the Scandinavian countries in 1964 also the problem of the Jews of the Soviet Union was raised. A massive wave of protest against the Soviet Union began with the issue of the Jews. The protest against the Soviet Union about its policies to Jews and Jews only, not followers of other religions, such as Muslims and Christians was extended. In 1964, the International Jurisprudence Council in Geneva also published its research on economic crimes in the Soviet Union. During this report, the anti-Jewish nature of Soviet policy was condemned. However, none of the mentioned institutions spoke about the violation of Palestinian rights by the Israeli government. Zionist organizations through the use of their facilities used mass media around the world against the Soviet Union. In order to understand the hostility between the Soviet Union and Israel after the war of June 1917 between Arabs and Israel, it was necessary to pay attention to years of 1963-1967. During this period, relations between the two countries improved slightly.
Lwei Eshkol was replaced by Israeli Prime Minister, Ben Gurion, and he called for the expansion of ties with the Soviet Union. He was moderate and pragmatic. Eshkol condemned the Cold War, and questioned the gap between free countries and communism. His foreign minister, Aba Aban also called for improve of relations with the Soviet Union. In the mid-1960s, the relationship reached its highest level again. The ties between the two countries declined due to influence by the process of Arab-Israeli conflicts. The Soviet Union has always wanted Israel to stop moves for the Jews of the country and reduce its dependence on the West. But the developments in the Middle East and the racial interests of the Jewish state in Tel Aviv prevented the fulfillment of the Soviet Union's demand. However, since the mid-1960s, the destruction of relations between the two countries became more intense by pretending Zionism and racism the same. The Soviet Union failed to isolate the Jewish question from the issue of relations between the two countries. The nature of the Israeli government did not basically allow such a separation. In 1965, the first secretary of the Israeli embassy was charged with sabotage among Georgian Jews. In August 1966, the second secretary of the Israeli embassy was expelled from Union for espionage. Many Israelis, who had gone to Moscow to participate in the Agricultural Equipment Exhibition in 1966, were expelled.
It was so clear to the Soviet authorities that Israel is trying to take advantage of the political space available to advance its goals for the Jews of that country. Relations with Egypt were the cornerstone of the Middle East policy of the Soviet Union since the 1950s, and the Soviet Union was determined to play a more active role in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Soviet Union, while equipping Egypt, was unwilling to get the country involved in the war with Israel. The supply of weapons by the Soviet Union to Arab countries can be analyzed mostly in the context of the competition of two superpowers, rather than encouraging the Arabs to attack Israel. The goals of the Soviet Union were understandable in the framework of the bipolar system and its global considerations against the United States. The issue related to Genie Gottenmann, the reappearance of West Germany, the balance of power in the Mediterranean, and the activities of Israel in Third World countries affected the Soviet-Israeli relations. America's involvement in the Vietnam War for Soviet leaders meant an attempt to destroy socialism at a weaker point in the camp of socialism.
Israel was not willing to condemn the US policy in Vietnam to mean the Soviet's demand. The sale of advanced planes by the Johnson government to Israel was intensifier of the Cold War in the Middle East for the Soviet Union. The expansion of Israeli-West relations was not acceptable to the Soviet authorities. The memoirs of the Second World War and the murder of the Jews made it unimaginable. But West German military aid to Israel expanded. The United States encouraged the development of these relationships. Since 1965, the official political relations between the two countries began. The balance of power in the Middle East was linked to Western actions in Israel and Syria considering weakness of the Soviet navy in the Cuban missile crisis. The Soviet Union looked at strengthening its navy in the Mediterranean and was looking for port facilities. In 1967, Brezhnev called for the transfer of the Sixth Fleet to the United States and called it as a threat for the countries of the region. Another aspect of the conflicts between the Soviet Union and Israel was the Third World countries. The Soviet Union sought to expand its influence, and Israel acted in opposition to its interests in securing the interests of the West.