Israel’s military actions in the early 1980s greatly unsettled Ronald
Reagan, diary entries by the late U.S. president revealed.Vanity Fair
published excerpts this week of a daily journal in which Reagan mused on everything from Hollywood films to Washington’s foreign
policy. The tactics of then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin
appear to have been especially unsettling for Reagan, a devout
“Got word of Israel bombing of Iraq – nuclear reactor,” he
wrote in response to the 1981 airstrike on Osirak. “I swear I believe
Armageddon is near.” But he added, “We are not turning on Israel – that
would be an invitation for the Arabs to attack.”
A year later, Reagan called
Begin to complain about Israel’s war on Palestinian terrorists in
Lebanon and the civilian toll it exacted.
“I was angry – I told him it had
to stop or our entire future relationship was endangered,” Reagan wrote.
“I used the word holocaust deliberately and said the symbol of war was
becoming a picture of a 7-month-old baby with its arms blown off.”
Reagan is remembered as one of Israel’s closest friends in Washington.