POLICY BACKGR UND
THE ATTACK AT ZURICH -- WHERE IT FITS IN
THE EMBASSY OF ISRAEL
February 20, 1969
THE ATTACK AT ZURICH -- WHERE IT FITS IN
1. The terrorist group calling itself The Popular Front, in a state-
ment from Amman, Jordan, claimed responsibility for the attack on the
El Al plane at Zurich airport, February 18. Six persons were reported
injured when Arab terrorists raked the aircraft with automatic fire
and threw grenades and a bomb. That the plane did not explode was
accident, not design.
2. The terror attack at Zurich is the third assault against El Al
planes in recent months. In July 1968, an El Al plane and its pas-
sengers were hijacked to Algiers. In December 1968, an El Al plane
was attacked at Athens airport resulting in the death of one passen-
ger and the wounding of another. Responsibility for all three inci-
dents has been claimed by the same Popular Front.
3. Israel has made it plain that it cannot stand idly by in the face
of murderous assaults which have the clear purpose of wrecking its
national airline. For Israel, a country surrounded on every border
by enemies foresworneto its destruction, the national airline is a
vital link to the world outside. It will not reconcile itself to a
situation in which Israeli civil aircraft are subject to attack while
Arab aircraft are permitted to fly with impunity.
Part of a Pattern
4. The assaults that have taken place on Israeli planes in foreign
airports are part of a general Arab terror pattern. .Its outstanding
hallmark is indiscriminate murder through attacks on innocent civil-
ian targets -- a bomb in a Jerusalem marketplace on a Sabbath eve, a
miniature mine in a school yard, grenades in a Tel Aviv bus station.
The successes of these criminal attacks have been mercifully few,
thanks to the alertness of the Israeli security authorities in track-
ing down the perpetrators and to the general unwillingness of the
inhabitants of the administered areas to lend them their aid.
5. Arab terror against Israel is not new. It was a phenomenon of
the pre-State era when the extremist fringe of the Arab nationalist
movement imposed its will on the more moderate elements. A terror
campaign served as the overture to the invasion of the Arab armies
in 1948. It was tried by Egypt in the 1950's and again by Syria in
the early 1960's.
6. Israel is capable of living with the terror phenomenon now,
unpleasant though it may be. Militarily, it is of peripheral sig-
nificance. It has neither the power nor the dimension to influence
or change strategic or military facts. Because of the failure of
the terrorist groups to establish bases in the administered areas,
eighty per cent of the terror actions are restricted to shelling
February 20, 1969
assaults from across the cease-fire lines. Ninety per cent of the
crossings over the lines are intercepted.
7. It is not Israel that is threatened by the excesses of Arab ter-
rorism. The real victim is the cause of peace in the region. Arab
Governments have it in their power to restrain the terrorist groups.
They do the opposite because they see them as military and psycho-
logical instruments of their own policies. Terrorism is represented
as the continued warfare of Arab States which consider their regular
armies incapable of resuming the fight at this stage. A double-
barreled policy is pursued in attempting to disclaim legal respon-
sibility for terror activities while praising,arming, financing
training and supplying bases to the terrorists.
Nasser Statements A Parity of Aims
Day by day, the terrorist groups state that what they seek to
achieve ultimately, is the destruction of Israel and of its people,
hence, their adoption of methods that know no restraint. "The impor-
tant thing is that Jews are being killed," stated an El Fatah commun-
ique following the bomb explosion at the Mahaneh Yehuda market in
Jerusalem on November 22, 1968. An El Fatah statement over Radio
Cairo, October 19, 1968, declared:
"All peace solutions produced in the forum of the UN, the
resolution of the Security Council, and Jarring's mission,
are but bargaining for the rights of the Palestine people.
We reject and oppose them with all our might since they con-
stitute an attempt at peaceful coexistence with the Zionist
existence... The problem is the liberation of the whole
country and not the eradication of the results of the aggression."
8. Arab Governments led by President Nasser give their blessing to
this cause because it is an expression of their own long-term plan.
On two occasions in recent weeks, the Egyptian leader has echoed the
terrorist organizations' philosophy. On January 20, 1969, he told
the UAR National Assembly:
"In talking about the forces of the Arab struggle, I must
stress the glorious actions carried out by the Palestinian
resistance forces... They fulfill a vital task in sapping
the enemy's strength and spilling its blood... In pursuance
of this policy, the UAR places all its resources at the dis-
posal of these organizations without condition or reservation."
President Nasser went on to say that Egypt has accepted the Secur-
ity Council resolution of November 22, 1967, since it may be useful
in compelling Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.
However, this is but a first stage. The ultimate aim, that of elim-
inating Israel, cannot be satisfied by the Council resolution. This
is how he put it: "They (the Palestine organizations) are entitled
to reject this resolution, which may serve the purpose of eliminating
the consequences of the aggression carried out in June 1967, but is
inadequate for determining the Palestinian fate."
POLICY BACKGROUND -3- February 20, 1969
On February 1, 1969, the Egyptian President again reiterated his
sanction of the terrorist organizations and their aims: He told the
opening session of the Palestine National Council:
"By their active operations, the organizations have inflicted
considerable losses on the enemy. Most important of these is
the enemy's loss of feeling of security which he thought he
secured by his cheap military victory in June 1967... The UAR
appreciates the resistance organizations' stand in rejobtihg
the 22 November 1967 Security Council resolution which the UAR
has accepted. It is the Palestinian organizations' right to
reject this resolution. This resolution may be adequate to
eliminate the consequences of-the June 1967 aggression but it
is inadequate to fulfill the Palestinian destiny."
9 Thus, the parity of purpose between the Egyptian President's pol-
icy and that of the terrorist groups: the Security Council resolution
of November 22, 1967, is important to the extent that it can be used
to bring about an Israeli withdrawal. The bombs at Zurich and in a
Jerusalem marketplace are likewise important because they express the
Arab Governments' determination to work towards and facilitate Israel's
destruction. This is the two-stage thrust of Egyptian policy --
Israeli withdrawal to the old, insecure armistice lines, to be followed
by the ultimate goal of Israel's total destruction to be launched from
the retrieved bridgeheads.
War Atmosphere Artificially Generated for Western Capitals
. Everything Egypt has said and done since June 1967 has been con-
sistent with this attitude. It is reflected at this very time in the
news emanating from Arab capitals. Western newsmen and visitors are
being subjected to a calculated propaganda campaign designed to in-
culcate the view that a full-scale war is imminent. An atmosphere
of immediate war (the propaganda organs of the Soviet Union are help-
ing it along) is being artificially generated.
The intended audience of this particular exercise are Western
capitals, Washington in particular. The purpose is to create a cli-
mate of impending all-out hostilities preparatory to the planned
four-power discussions on the Middle East. What President Nasser
and his Communist allies hope to achieve is to panic the U.S. Govern-
ment into a hasty and precipitative action in support of an imposed
Mideast plan, one that would accept the Arab-Soviet dictate of a
political arrangement, not a peace settlement. The aim is an Israeli
withdrawal without peace. The raucous voices and gun-fire from across
the Middle East cease-fire lines, the renewed Egyptian provocations
along the Suez Canal, the belligerent declarations of Soviet commen-
tators, the urgent communiques directed at Western newsmen, and the
murderous attack at Zurich are all instruments of this Arab-Soviet
POLICY BACKGROUND -4- February 20, 1969
j]. Full-scale war is not imminent in the Middle East. P-esident
Nasser is the only one in the area potentially capable of..launching
such a war and there is much to indicate that he is not ready for
broad military action at this stage. There is also reason to believe
that the Soviet Union is anxious to avert a major military confronta-
tion now for fear that the Egyptians would again lose. What.is hope
and intended is that a measured heightened crescendo will provide a
background to the preliminary exchanges now taking place between the
four powers, assertive enough to quell the advocacy of a genuine peacc
settlement, directly negotiated and contracted. It is the Israel vie-.
that this war of nerves has to be appraised first for its motive, and
only then for its content. For its part, Israel recognizes the exer-
cise for what it is.