Wall Street Journal Clarifies Its Stand on U.S. Policy Toward Israel

Letters of criticism by numerous readers of the Wall Street Journal of an editorial, published by the newspaper August 12, which was interpreted to imply that it was a mistake to recognize Israel, today produced a second editorial in the Wall Street Journal outlining what it thinks the American policy toward Israel and the Arab countries should be.

Declaring that one of the difficulties, in so far as American policy is concerned, is that any discussion of the Arab-Israel problem seems to arouse almost as many passions in the United States as in the Middle East, today’s editorial states:

“Yet the danger of that explosion is not going to disappear by being ignored. If we are going to have any successful policy in that area of the world it must deal realistically with the Arab-Israeli dispute. Moreover, any discussion of that dispute that hopes to be reasonably dispassionate must begin, it seems to us, with a recognition of a few basic considerations.”

“The first of these Is that Israel exists. Whatever the controversies over Its origin, Israel today is an established country with a stable government, a progressing economy and a loyal citizenry. It is not going to go away, and if its Arab neighbor try to push It Into the sea they will have to make war on a determined foe.”

“The second is that the thing called variously Arab nationalism or Pan Arabism also exists. It is, to be sure, somewhat difficult to define because its binder is neither a common government, a common race nor a common religion. Yet though its form be intangible, the evidence is overwhelming that there is a powerful common feeling among these people. Whether the world likes it, the world must deal with it. And for Israel this means that in any attempt to take more territory it would have to make war against the whole Arab area.”

“From these two basic considerations, there follows another. Israel and the Arab world must either mutually recognize the existence of the other or the danger of war will be ever-present. The maintenance of peace does not require that they be friends. It does require that they accept the realities, one of which is that a war might not remain just a war between them and that they themselves would be engulfed in a general war.”

“Now obviously the first hope is that Israel and the Arab countries come to this mutual acceptance voluntarily. Perhaps this is not so vain a hope as it may appear. There are signs the expansionist segment in Israel is not as strong politically as it seems; Israel has made a number of overtures for diplomatic exchanges with Mr. Nasser. There is also some evidence that the war-whoops of Mr. Nasser and his cronies are not really as full of fury as they sound. There are, we may be sure, hard-headed realists on both sides of the Israeli-Arab borders.”


“But it is equally obvious that this hope, all alone, is not a very reliable one,” the editorial continues. “Certainly it is not enough for the United States, or the United Nations, to rely only upon it to preserve the peace between these enemy camps. So the question is: What attitude should the United States adopt toward both Israel and the Arab world with regard to the hostility between them?

“It seems to us that the answer must flow from those same basic considerations. The U. S, must accept the reality of the Arab movement as well as the reality of Israel. We must also recognize that an Arab-Israeli war is most likely to occur if either side gets the idea that it does not risk disapproval of the West if it is aggressive, or, conversely, that in the face of a hostile West the only way it can protect itself from the other is by war.”

“Then at least the aim of U.S. policy can be clear. We should seek to make it clear that we are neither ‘anti-Arab’ and “pro-Israel” nor “anti-Israel” and “pro-Arab” when it comes to aggression by either of them against the other. We extend friendship to both but we do not extend friendship to the point of countenancing aggression by either.”

“Admittedly this policy is easier to state than to carry out. Heretofore our friendship for Israel has been clearer than our sympathy for Arab aspirations; for one reason or another we have unquestionably given the Arabs an excuse to charge us with being both “pro-Israel” and “anti-Arab.” Hence our efforts to rectify this balance may leave the impression that we are over-weighting the Arab side; this could cause political misinterpretations both abroad and here at home.”

“But the more pressing thing now is to balance the scale. This Is clearly what President Eisenhower was attempting to do in his speech to the United Nations. Somehow, and by every diplomatic means, we must convince the Arab peoples that we are not out to block their legitimate aspirations, that we are not giving aid and comfort to any imagined expansion plans of Israel–but neither will we sanction Arab acts to drive the Israelis into the sea.”