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This Day In History: 03/26/1979 - Israel-Egyptian Peace

This Day In History: 03/26/1979 - Israel-Egyptian Peace

On this day a peace treaty was signed that ended three decades of war between Egypt and Israel. Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the treaty, and both won a Nobel Peace Prize. Robert Frost the famous American poet was born in San Francisco on this day, and Vladimir Putin was elected the president of Russia. Also, Jonas Salk announced that he had successfully tested a vaccine against Polio.


Israel as an imperialist power today

The weakened position of the United States on the global stage has been demonstrated emphatically by its diminishing role in the Syrian crisis over the past six years. Only a decade ago the American government felt itself in a position to police the whole of the Middle East, making war in Afghanistan and Iraq under the pretext of averting a global terror threat before making antagonistic noises towards Iran. When the Syrian Revolution began during the Arab Spring in 2011, the American intelligence services saw a further opportunity for the US to gain a foothold in the region and undermine powers who opposed them. The CIA, along with Saudi Arabia, helped to arm and finance all manner of reactionary Islamist groupings fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

This is one factor which in no small part helped the revolution to descend so quickly into the carnage we have seen since. Another is the disastrous results of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which far from averting a terror threat have helped to create a much greater one. And of all the powers jostling to contain the situation in Syria, it is the Russian army and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who have made the difference. This has forced the United States not only to back down from its singular position as world policeman but also to work with a regime in Iran which it had only several years ago been aiming to undermine and even overthrow.

Such a change in America’s position has had an impact on its oldest and most reliable ally in the region – Israel. The regime in Iran formally refuses to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Israeli state and has for a long time used hostilities with Israel to make demagogic displays of strength. Israel, likewise, considers Iran its biggest military threat. Therefore, the coalition of US and Iranian forces in Syria undermined Israel’s reliance on the United States for military and diplomatic support. The deal in 2015 between the global powers and Iran to allow the country nuclear capabilities and to open up trade with the West dealt a huge blow to Israel.

Clear divisions have now opened up between United States and Israeli interests in the Middle East. This much was already clear back in 2014 when under public pressure then-President Obama condemned the Israeli bombing of a school in Gaza, and later called for a two-state solution. Several heated exchanges have since taken place between the dog and its master, in particular over the Iranian nuclear deal. One commentator in late 2014 described the relationship as “now the worst it’s ever been”. Superficial observers in Israel like to assume that the good old days of US-Israeli relations have returned with the election of President Donald Trump. And it goes without saying that all the strong words haven’t prevented the US from continuing to provide enormous military and financial backing to the Israeli state. But it is telling that before he visited Israel, Trump’s first foreign visit since his election was to Saudi Arabia to agree a $350bn arms deal.

Israel needs the United States but the need is no longer mutual to the same extent. There may come a time again where Israel is restored to its prior position as an invaluable asset to the United States in the Middle East. For now, however, the shrinking stature of the US on a world scale has meant accommodating some of the very powers against whom Israel was supposed to be acting as a buffer.


Post-2013 military coup

Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi did not participate in any war against Israel. He graduated from the Military Academy in 1977. Some believe that he was keen on removing all military commanders that participated in the October War from the Military Council. Also, the word “enemy” – in reference to Israel – has never been mentioned by al-Sisi in any of his speeches since he was ministry of defense until now. Even the military statements from July 3, 2013, up to now have never described Israel as “enemy”. During the Israeli war on Gaza in 2014 – one month after Al-Sisi took office – he made no comments on the aggression. Moreover, Israel announced at the time that the head of Egyptian intelligence service had been to Tel Aviv one day before the attack and Al-Sisi maintained the closure of the Rafah crossing, except for a few hours when it was opened for special cases.

Israeli leaders repeatedly praised Al-Sisi, expressed their admiration of the policy that he follows – particularly against Hamas – and described him as an important ally of Israel. [Israeli Army Gaza Division Commander said that “What Egypt is doing is impressive to everyone,” commenting on the Egyptian army attack on Gaza-Sinai tunnels.]

In October 2017, the Greek Defense Minister announced that the Greek Air Force had conducted a joint military exercise with Cyprus, Israel and Egypt. This exercise was the first of its kind that to be “declared” about joint military exercises including units of the Egyptian army with units of the Israeli army. According to the common training doctrine within armies, joint military exercises are joined by friendly and allied armies, to unify their military concepts and plans, and reinforce coordination between them.

In early February 2018, The New York Times reported that “For more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have carried out a covert air campaign conducting more than 100 airstrikes inside Egypt – frequently more than one a week – and all with the approval of Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi.” This is a clear evidence on the transformation of the army’s doctrine.

Through the memoirs of the commanders of the Egyptian army, it seems that the peace treaty with Israel did not change the military doctrine toward Israel. Instead, they considered that Egypt is in a stage of temporary and unstable peace which will, sooner or later, be followed by other wars. Undoubtedly, the most prominent shift in the doctrine of the Egyptian army started with the access of Al-Sisi to power – to the extent that both countries conducted joint military operations in Sinai!

On the other hand, the military exercises and parades showed another serious shift in the Egyptian army, i.e. training on how to engage in guerrilla warfare – which had been previously rejected by Field Marshal Tantawi when he was defense minister. This came during the “Defenders of friendship” exercises that brought together Egyptian forces with Russian troops (2016-2017). Also, the Bright Star military exercises with the US – to counter the insurgency in northern Sinai – were resumed in 2017, after being suspended by the US for eight years.

It is inconceivable that these great and dangerous shifts in the army’s doctrine – from hostility towards Israel to considering “terrorism” and “political Islam” its new enemy. Moreover, the war against the new enemy is undertaken in partnership and alliance with the old enemy – which can never be viewed within the framework of mere response to the internal challenges facing the Al-Sisi regime.

Since July 2013, Al-Sisi has presented himself to the international community as the only one that can make major shifts in the military and political relations with Israel in return for remaining in office.

However, there have been no voices so far within the Egyptian army that expressed opposition to this dangerous shift. We do not know if this is the final position of the Egyptian army, or that there are still some military commanders who are more loyal to the old doctrine – that was expressed by Al-Gamasy, Abu-Ghazala and Al-Shazli. Is it likely to find someone from within the army that could seek to reform what Al-Sisi has already destroyed, particularly the Egyptian army’s doctrine?!


The Trail

In one of the most significant speeches of the Cold War, Secretary of State George C. Marshall calls on the United States to assist in the economic recovery of postwar Europe. His speech provided the impetus for the so-called Marshall Plan, under which the United States sent billions of dollars to Western Europe to rebuild the war-torn countries.

In 1946 and into 1947, economic disaster loomed for Western Europe. World War II had done immense damage, and the crippled economies of Great Britain and France could not reinvigorate the region’s economic activity. Germany, once the industrial dynamo of Western Europe, lay in ruins. Unemployment, homelessness, and even starvation were commonplace. For the United States, the situation was of special concern on two counts. First, the economic chaos of Western Europe was providing a prime breeding ground for the growth of communism. Second, the U.S. economy, which was quickly returning to a civilian state after several years of war, needed the markets of Western Europe in order to sustain itself.

On June 5, 1947, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, speaking at Harvard University, outlined the dire situation in Western Europe and pleaded for U.S. assistance to the nations of that region. “The truth of the matter,” the secretary claimed, “is that Europe’s requirements for the next three or four years of foreign food and other essential products–principally from America–are so much greater than her present ability to pay that she must have substantial additional help or face economic, social, and political deterioration of a very grave character.” Marshall declared, “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.” In a thinly veiled reference to the communist threat, he promised “governments, political parties, or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States.”

In March 1948, the United States Congress passed the Economic Cooperation Act (more popularly known as the Marshall Plan), which set aside $4 billion in aid for Western Europe. By the time the program ended nearly four years later, the United States had provided over $12 billion for European economic recovery. British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin likened the Marshall Plan to a “lifeline to sinking men.”

George Marshall calls for aid to Europe [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2689 [Accessed 5 Jun 2009].

1637 – American settlers in New England massacred a Pequot Indian village.

1752 – Benjamin Franklin flew a kite for the first time to demonstrate that lightning was a form of electricity.

1884 – U.S. Civil War General William T. Sherman refused the Republican presidential nomination, saying, “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”

1933 – President Roosevelt signed the bill that took the U.S. off of the gold standard.

1968 – U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was mortally shot in Los Angeles by Sirhan Sirhan. Kennedy died early the next morning.

Six-Day War begins

Israel responds to an ominous build-up of Arab forces along its borders by launching simultaneous attacks against Egypt and Syria. Jordan subsequently entered the fray, but the Arab coalition was no match for Israel’s proficient armed forces. In six days of fighting, Israel occupied the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the Golan Heights of Syria, and the West Bank and Arab sector of East Jerusalem, both previously under Jordanian rule. By the time the United Nations cease-fire took effect on June 11, Israel had more than doubled its size. The true fruits of victory came in claiming the Old City of Jerusalem from Jordan. Many wept while bent in prayer at the Western Wall of the Second Temple.

The U.N. Security Council called for a withdrawal from all the occupied regions, but Israel declined, permanently annexing East Jerusalem and setting up military administrations in the occupied territories. Israel let it be known that Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai would be returned in exchange for Arab recognition of the right of Israel to exist and guarantees against future attack. Arab leaders, stinging from their defeat, met in August to discuss the future of the Middle East. They decided upon a policy of no peace, no negotiations, and no recognition of Israel, and made plans to defend zealously the rights of Palestinian Arabs in the occupied territories.

Egypt, however, would eventually negotiate and make peace with Israel, and in 1982 the Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in exchange for full diplomatic recognition of Israel. Egypt and Jordan later gave up their respective claims to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinians, who opened “land for peace” talks with Israel beginning in the 1990s. A permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement remains elusive, as does an agreement with Syria to return the Golan Heights.

Six-Day War begins [Internet]. 2009. The History Channel website. Available from : http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5066 [Accessed 5 Jun 2009].

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On This Day, May 15: Airman Levitow Awarded Medal of Honor

Air Force sergeant awarded Medal of Honor

At the White House, President Richard Nixon presents Sgt. John L. Levitow with the Medal of Honor for heroic action performed on February 24, 1969, over Long Binh Army Post in South Vietnam. Then an Airman 1st Class, Levitow was the loadmaster on a Douglas AC-47 gunship. His aircraft had been supporting several Army units that were engaged in battle with North Vietnamese troops when an enemy mortar hit the aircraft’s right wing, exploding in the wing frame. Thousands of pieces of shrapnel ripped through the plane’s thin skin, wounding four of the crew. Levitow was struck forty times in his right side although bleeding heavily from these wounds, he threw himself on an activated, smoking magnesium flare, dragged himself and the flare to the open cargo door, and tossed the flare out of the aircraft just before it ignited. For saving his fellow crewmembers and the gunship, Airman Levitow was nominated for the nation’s highest award for valor in combat. He was one of only two enlisted airmen to win the Medal of Honor for service in Vietnam and was one of only five enlisted airmen ever to win the medal, the first since World War II.

“Air Force sergeant awarded Medal of Honor,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=tdihArticleCategory&id=1879 [accessed May 15, 2009]

1618 – Johannes Kepler discovered his harmonics law.

1768 – Under the Treaty of Versailles, France purchased Corsica from Genoa.

1795 – Napoleon entered the Lombardian capital of Milan.

1856 – Lyman Frank Baum, author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” was born.

1862 – The U.S. Congress created the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

1926 – Roald Amundsen and Lincoln Ellsworth were forced down in Alaska after a four-day flight over an icecap. Ice had begun to form on the dirigible Norge.

1942 – Gasoline rationing began in the U.S. The limit was 3 gallons a week for nonessential vehicles.

1948 – Israel was attacked by Transjordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon only hours after declaring its independence.

1957 – Britain dropped its first hydrogen bomb on Christmas Island in the Pacific Ocean.

1958 – Sputnik III, the first space laboratory, was launched in the Soviet Union.

1963 – The last Project Mercury space flight was launched.

1970 – Phillip Lafayette Gibbs and James Earl Green, two black students at Jackson State University in Mississippi, were killed when police opened fire during student protests.

1972 – Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace was shot by Arthur Bremer in Laurel, MD while campaigning for the U.S. presidency. Wallace was paralyzed by the shot.

1997 – The Space shuttle Atlantis blasted off on a mission to deliver urgently needed repair equipment and a fresh American astronaut to Russia’s orbiting Mir station.

Ronald Reagan applies for transfer to Army Air Force

On this day in 1942, Lieutenant Ronald Reagan, a cavalry officer, applies for reassignment to the Army Air Force, where he would eventually put his thespian background to use on World War II propaganda films.

The transfer was approved on June 9, 1942, and Reagan was given a job as a public relations officer for the First Motion Picture Unit. The First Motion Picture Unit (FMPU)–its acronym was pronounced “fum-poo”–produced military training, morale and propaganda films to aid the war effort. FMPU released Frank Capra’s Why We Fight series and a documentary of the bomber Memphis Belle, the crew of which completed a standard-setting 35 bombing missions in Europe. The films were screened on domestic training grounds and in troop camps overseas as well as in movie theaters at home.

Another film, Air Force, which was later renamed Beyond the Line of Duty, conveyed the true story of the heroic feats of aviator “Shorty” Wheliss and his crew, featuring narration by Ronald Reagan. The documentary, originally intended to promote investment in war bonds, won an Academy Award® in 1943 for best short subject. Reagan went on to narrate or star in three more shorts for FMPU including For God and Country, Cadet Classification and the The Rear Gunner. Reagan also appeared as “Johnny Jones” in the 1943 full-length musical film This is the Army.

“Ronald Reagan applies for transfer to Army Air Force,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=528 [accessed May 15, 2009]

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On This Day, May 14: The Constitutional Convention

Constitutional Convention delegates begin to assemble

On this day in 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention begin to assemble in Philadelphia to confront a daunting task: the peaceful overthrow of the new American government as defined by the Article of Confederation. Although the convention was originally supposed to begin on May 14, James Madison reported that “a small number only had assembled.” Meetings had to be pushed back until May 25, when a sufficient quorum of the participating states–Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia—had arrived..

As the new United States descended into economic crisis and inter-state quarrels, the new nation’s leaders had become increasingly frustrated with their limited power. When in 1785, Maryland and Virginia could not agree on their rights to the Potomac River, George Washington called a conference to settle the matter at Mt. Vernon. James Madison then convinced the Virginia legislature to call a convention of all the states to discuss such sticky trade-related issues at Annapolis, Maryland. The Annapolis Convention of September 1786 in turn called the Philadelphia Convention, “to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union.”

Between Madison’s initial call for the states to send delegates to Annapolis and the presentation of Madison’s Virginia plan for a new government to the convention in Philadelphia, a fundamental shift in the aims of the convention process had taken place. No longer were the delegates gathered with the aim of tweaking trade agreements. A significant number of the men present were now determined to overhaul the new American government as a whole, without a single ballot being cast by the voting public.

“Constitutional Convention delegates begin to assemble,” The History Channel website, 2009, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=622 [accessed May 14, 2009]

1643 – Louis XIV became King of France at age 4 upon the death of his father, Louis XIII.

1804 – William Clark set off the famous expedition from Camp Dubois. A few days later, in St. Louis, Meriwether Lewis joined the group. The group was known as the “Corps of Discovery.”

1811 – Paraguay gained independence from Spain.

1897 – Guglielmo Marconi made the first communication by wireless telegraph.

1940 – The Netherlands surrendered to Nazi Germany.

1942 – “Lincoln Portrait” by Aaron Copland was performed for the first time by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

1948 – Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the independent State of Israel as British rule in Palestine came to an end.

1961 – A bus carrying Freedom Riders was bombed and burned in Alabama.

1973 – Skylab One was launched into orbit around Earth as the first U.S. manned space station.

1975 – U.S. forces raided the Cambodian island of Koh Tang and recaptured the American merchant ship Mayaguez. All 40 crew members were released safely by Cambodia. About 40 U.S. servicemen were killed in the military operation.

The Warsaw Pact is formed

The Soviet Union and seven of its European satellites sign a treaty establishing the Warsaw Pact, a mutual defense organization that put the Soviets in command of the armed forces of the member states.

The Warsaw Pact, so named because the treaty was signed in Warsaw, included the Soviet Union, Albania, Poland, Romania, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria as members. The treaty called on the member states to come to the defense of any member attacked by an outside force and it set up a unified military command under Marshal Ivan S. Konev of the Soviet Union. The introduction to the treaty establishing the Warsaw Pact indicated the reason for its existence. This revolved around “Western Germany, which is being remilitarized, and her inclusion in the North Atlantic bloc, which increases the danger of a new war and creates a threat to the national security of peace-loving states.” This passage referred to the decision by the United States and the other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on May 9, 1955 to make West Germany a member of NATO and allow that nation to remilitarize. The Soviets obviously saw this as a direct threat and responded with the Warsaw Pact.

The Warsaw Pact remained intact until 1991. Albania was expelled in 1962 because, believing that Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev was deviating too much from strict Marxist orthodoxy, the country turned to communist China for aid and trade. In 1990, East Germany left the Pact and reunited with West Germany the reunified Germany then became a member of NATO. The rise of non-communist governments in other eastern bloc nations, such as Poland and Czechoslovakia, throughout 1990 and 1991 marked an effective end of the power of the Warsaw Pact. In March 1991, the military alliance component of the pact was dissolved and in July 1991, the last meeting of the political consultative body took place.

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On This Day, March 26: Camp David

Israel-Egyptian peace agreement signed

In a ceremony at the White House, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin sign a historic peace agreement, ending three decades of hostilities between Egypt and Israel and establishing diplomatic and commercial ties.

Less than two years earlier, in an unprecedented move for an Arab leader, Sadat traveled to Jerusalem, Israel, to seek a permanent peace settlement with Egypt’s Jewish neighbor after decades of conflict. Sadat’s visit, in which he met with Begin and spoke before Israel’s parliament, was met with outrage in most of the Arab world. Despite criticism from Egypt’s regional allies, Sadat continued to pursue peace with Begin, and in September 1978 the two leaders met again in the United States, where they negotiated an agreement with U.S. President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Maryland. The Camp David Accords, the first peace agreement between the state of Israel and one of its Arab neighbors, laid the groundwork for diplomatic and commercial relations. Seven months later, a formal peace treaty was signed.

For their achievement, Sadat and Begin were jointly awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize for Peace. Sadat’s peace efforts were not so highly acclaimed in the Arab world–Egypt was suspended from the Arab League, and on October 6, 1981, Muslim extremists assassinated Sadat in Cairo. Nevertheless, the peace process continued without Sadat, and in 1982 Egypt formally established diplomatic relations with Israel.

1793 – The Holy Roman Emperor formally declared war on France.

1804 – The U.S. Congress ordered the removal of Indians east of the Mississippi to Louisiana.

1804 – The Louisiana Purchase was divided into the District of Louisiana and the Territory of Orleans.

1885 – Eastman Kodak (Eastman Dry Plate and Film Co.) produced the first commercial motion picture film in Rochester, NY.

1910 – The U.S. Congress passed an amendment to the 1907 Immigration Act that barred criminals, paupers, anarchists and carriers of disease from settling in the U.S.

1937 – Spinach growers in Crystal City, TX, erected a statue of Popeye.

1938 – Herman Goering warned all Jews to leave Austria.

1942 – The Germans began sending Jews to Auschwitz in Poland.

1945 – The battle of Iwo Jima ended.

1951 – The U.S. Air Force flag was approved. The flag included the coat of arms, 13 white stars and the Air Force seal on a blue background.

1958 – The U.S. Army launched America’s third successful satellite, Explorer III.

1973 – Egyptian President Anwar Sadat took over the premiership and said “the stage of total confrontation (with Israel) has become inevitable.”

1973 – Women were allowed on the floor of the London Stock Exchange for the first time.

1982 – Ground breaking ceremonies were held in Washington, DC, for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

1989 – The first free elections took place in the Soviet Union. Boris Yeltsin was elected.

Salk announces polio vaccine

On March 26, 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announces on a national radio show that he has successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes the crippling disease of polio. In 1952–an epidemic year for polio–there were 58,000 new cases reported in the United States, and more than 3,000 died from the disease. For promising eventually to eradicate the disease, which is known as “infant paralysis” because it mainly affects children, Dr. Salk was celebrated as the great doctor-benefactor of his time.

Polio, a disease that has affected humanity throughout recorded history, attacks the nervous system and can cause varying degrees of paralysis. Since the virus is easily transmitted, epidemics were commonplace in the first decades of the 20th century. The first major polio epidemic in the United States occurred in Vermont in the summer of 1894, and by the 20th century thousands were affected every year. In the first decades of the 20th century, treatments were limited to quarantines and the infamous “iron lung,” a metal coffin-like contraption that aided respiration. Although children, and especially infants, were among the worst affected, adults were also often afflicted, including future president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1921 was stricken with polio at the age of 39 and was left partially paralyzed. Roosevelt later transformed his estate in Warm Springs, Georgia, into a recovery retreat for polio victims and was instrumental in raising funds for polio-related research and the treatment of polio patients.

Salk, born in New York City in 1914, first conducted research on viruses in the 1930s when he was a medical student at New York University, and during World War II helped develop flu vaccines. In 1947, he became head of a research laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh and in 1948 was awarded a grant to study the polio virus and develop a possible vaccine. By 1950, he had an early version of his polio vaccine.

Salk’s procedure, first attempted unsuccessfully by American Maurice Brodie in the 1930s, was to kill several strains of the virus and then inject the benign viruses into a healthy person’s bloodstream. The person’s immune system would then create antibodies designed to resist future exposure to poliomyelitis. Salk conducted the first human trials on former polio patients and on himself and his family, and by 1953 was ready to announce his findings. This occurred on the CBS national radio network on the evening of March 25 and two days later in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Salk became an immediate celebrity.

In 1954, clinical trials using the Salk vaccine and a placebo began on nearly two million American schoolchildren. In April 1955, it was announced that the vaccine was effective and safe, and a nationwide inoculation campaign began. New polio cases dropped to under 6,000 in 1957, the first year after the vaccine was widely available. In 1962, an oral vaccine developed by Polish-American researcher Albert Sabin became available, greatly facilitating distribution of the polio vaccine. Today, there are just a handful of polio cases in the United States every year, and most of these are “imported” by Americans from developing nations where polio is still a problem. Among other honors, Jonas Salk was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977. He died in La Jolla, California, in 1995.


Egypt–Israel peace treaty

The Egypt–Israel peace treaty (Arabic: معاهدة السلام المصرية الإسرائيلية ‎, Mu`āhadat as-Salām al-Misrīyah al-'Isrā'īlīyah Hebrew: הסכם השלום בין ישראל למצרים ‎, Heskem HaShalom Bein Yisrael LeMitzrayim) was signed in Washington, D.C., United States on 26 March 1979, following the 1978 Camp David Accords. The Egypt–Israel treaty was signed by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, and witnessed by United States president Jimmy Carter. [1]


Contents

The peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed 16 months after Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel in 1977, after intense negotiations. The main features of the treaty were mutual recognition, cessation of the state of war that had existed since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, normalization of relations and the withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. Egypt agreed to leave the Sinai Peninsula demilitarized. The agreement provided for free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal, and recognition of the Strait of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways. The agreement also called for an end to Israeli military rule over the Israeli-occupied territories and the establishment of full autonomy for the Palestinian inhabitants of the territories, terms that were not implemented but which became the basis for the Oslo Accords.

The agreement notably made Egypt the first Arab state to officially recognize Israel. [1]

Normalization

The normalization of relations between Israel and Egypt went into effect in January 1980. Ambassadors were exchanged in February. The boycott laws were repealed by Egypt's parliament the same month, and some trade began to develop, albeit less than Israel had hoped for. In March 1980 regular airline flights were inaugurated. Egypt also began supplying Israel with crude oil. [2]

Demilitarization of Sinai

On 18 May 1981, the President of the UN Security Council indicated that the United Nations would be unable to provide an observation force, due to the threat of a veto of the motion by the Soviet Union. As a result of the impasse, Egypt, Israel and the United States opened negotiations to set up a peacekeeping organization outside the framework of the UN. On 3 August 1981, the Protocol to the Treaty of Peace was signed, establishing the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO). [3] This observation force monitors both parties to ensure compliance with the treaty.

Agreed Activities Mechanism

The peace treaty includes a stipulation, called the Agreed Activities Mechanism, that allows Egypt and Israel to jointly alter the arrangements of Egyptian troops in the Sinai without having to officially review the treaty itself. Israel has allowed Egypt to deploy forces to central and eastern Sinai out of mutual security concerns, such as the presence of jihadi militant groups in these areas. These alterations are coordinated through the MFO. [4]

In January 2011, during widespread protests by Egyptians against their government, Israel agreed to allow Egypt to move several hundred troops into the Sinai Peninsula for the first time since the peace treaty was signed. [5] With Israel's agreement, Egypt moved two battalions, about 800 soldiers, into the Sharm el-Sheikh area on Sinai's southern tip, far from Israel. [5]

In August 2012, Israel agreed that Egypt could deploy additional forces, including attack helicopters, in the northern Sinai to combat militants who had carried out an attack on Egyptian border guards that left 16 dead. [6] [7] Later that month, Egypt moved additional heavy weaponry into the demilitarized zone without Israeli approval, in violation of the peace treaty terms. [7] [8] Egypt said that the deployment of these troops and weapons was in keeping with agreements reached with Israel in 2011. [8] Israel reportedly asked the United States to mediate this dispute. [8] Shortly thereafter, Egyptian defense minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi reportedly assured his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, that Egypt was committed to maintaining the 1979 Camp David peace treaty with Israel. [9]

In July 2013, after a number of violent incidents in the Sinai Peninsula, Israel agreed to the deployment of additional Egyptian troops. [10]

This treaty was received with enormous controversy across the Arab world, where it was condemned and considered a stab in the back. The sense of outrage was particularly strong amongst Palestinians, with the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat, stating: "Let them sign what they like. False peace will not last". [11] On the other hand, the treaty led both Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin to share the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for bringing peace between the two states. However, as a result of the treaty, Egypt was suspended from the Arab League in 1979–1989, [12] and Sadat was assassinated on 6 October 1981 by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. [13]

Syrian President Hafez al-Assad severed all relations with Egypt after the signing of the peace deal, and diplomatic relations were not re-established until 2005, when Egypt once again enjoyed warm relations with Syria under the rule of Bashar al-Assad.

The peace between Egypt and Israel has lasted since the treaty went into effect, and Egypt has become an important strategic partner of Israel. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former Israeli defense minister known for his close ties to Egyptian officials, has stated that "Egypt is not only our closest friend in the region, the co-operation between us goes beyond the strategic." [14]

As part of the agreement, the U.S. began economic and military aid to Egypt, and political backing for its subsequent governments. From the Camp David peace accords in 1978 until 2000, the United States has subsidized Egypt's armed forces with over $38 billion worth of aid. Egypt receives about $1.3 billion annually. [15]

Nevertheless, the peace is often described as a "cold peace", [14] with many in Egypt skeptical about its effectiveness. [16] [17] The Arab-Israeli conflict has kept relations cool. [18]

The Egyptian revolution of 2011 led to fears in Israel about the future of the treaty, [19] although the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he expected any new Egyptian government to keep the peace treaty with Israel, as it has served both countries well. [20] After the Egyptian Army took power on 11 February 2011, it announced that Egypt would continue to abide by all its international and regional treaties. [21] However, Ayman Nour, an influential Egyptian opposition figure and likely presidential candidate called for Cairo's peace treaty with Israel to be "reassessed". [22] On 15 September 2011, the then Egyptian prime minister Essam Sharaf said that "A peace deal with Israel was not sacred". [23] Rashad al-Bayumi, the deputy chief of Egypt's largest party, the Muslim Brotherhood, said that they would not recognize Israel and that the treaty could be put to a referendum, emphasizing that while they respected all of their international agreements, they "had the right to review the peace deal" and that the Egyptian people "have yet to speak their mind". Representatives of the group had told U.S. diplomats that they did not intend to revoke the treaty. [24]

Addressing Israeli concerns on 31 July 2014, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pledged to continue the peace with Israel. [25]


On this day in 1979, Egypt and Israel, after having fought four wars since 1948, concluded a formal peace treaty. It was signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and witnessed by President Jimmy Carter at a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.

The accord came 16 months after Sadat had traveled to Jerusalem — in an unprecedented move by an Arab leader that angered much of the Muslim world — to meet with Begin and to address the Israeli parliament. In September 1978, the two leaders met again under Carter’s auspices in the United States, where they negotiated a framework deal known as the Camp David Accords.

The 1979 treaty called for normalization of relations between the two states and the full withdrawal by Israel of its armed forces and civilians from the Sinai Peninsula, which Israel had captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. Egypt agreed to turn the Sinai into a demilitarized zone. It also provided for the free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal and recognition of the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways.

Sadat and Begin were jointly awarded the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts even as the Arab League suspended Egypt from membership in the Arab League until 1989. On Oct. 6, 1981, Islamist military officers assassinated Sadat as he watched a victory parade in Cairo held to commemorate the anniversary of Egypt’s crossing of the Suez Canal during the 1973 war with Israel.

The peace process nevertheless continued without Sadat, leading in 1982 to the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two former adversaries. That step made Egypt the sole Arab state to officially recognize Israel. It remained so until 1994, when Jordan followed suit.


The Trail

In a ceremony at the White House, Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin sign a historic peace agreement, ending three decades of hostilities between Egypt and Israel and establishing diplomatic and commercial ties.

Less than two years earlier, in an unprecedented move for an Arab leader, Sadat traveled to Jerusalem, Israel, to seek a permanent peace settlement with Egypt’s Jewish neighbor after decades of conflict. Sadat’s visit, in which he met with Begin and spoke before Israel’s parliament, was met with outrage in most of the Arab world. Despite criticism from Egypt’s regional allies, Sadat continued to pursue peace with Begin, and in September 1978 the two leaders met again in the United States, where they negotiated an agreement with U.S. President Jimmy Carter at Camp David, Maryland. The Camp David Accords, the first peace agreement between the state of Israel and one of its Arab neighbors, laid the groundwork for diplomatic and commercial relations. Seven months later, a formal peace treaty was signed.

For their achievement, Sadat and Begin were jointly awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize for Peace. Sadat’s peace efforts were not so highly acclaimed in the Arab world–Egypt was suspended from the Arab League, and on October 6, 1981, Muslim extremists assassinated Sadat in Cairo. Nevertheless, the peace process continued without Sadat, and in 1982 Egypt formally established diplomatic relations with Israel.

1793 – The Holy Roman Emperor formally declared war on France.

1804 – The U.S. Congress ordered the removal of Indians east of the Mississippi to Louisiana.

1804 – The Louisiana Purchase was divided into the District of Louisiana and the Territory of Orleans.

1885 – Eastman Kodak (Eastman Dry Plate and Film Co.) produced the first commercial motion picture film in Rochester, NY.

1910 – The U.S. Congress passed an amendment to the 1907 Immigration Act that barred criminals, paupers, anarchists and carriers of disease from settling in the U.S.

1937 – Spinach growers in Crystal City, TX, erected a statue of Popeye.

1938 – Herman Goering warned all Jews to leave Austria.

1942 – The Germans began sending Jews to Auschwitz in Poland.

1945 – The battle of Iwo Jima ended.

1951 – The U.S. Air Force flag was approved. The flag included the coat of arms, 13 white stars and the Air Force seal on a blue background.

1958 – The U.S. Army launched America’s third successful satellite, Explorer III.

1973 – Egyptian President Anwar Sadat took over the premiership and said “the stage of total confrontation (with Israel) has become inevitable.”

1973 – Women were allowed on the floor of the London Stock Exchange for the first time.

1982 – Ground breaking ceremonies were held in Washington, DC, for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

1989 – The first free elections took place in the Soviet Union. Boris Yeltsin was elected.

Salk announces polio vaccine

On March 26, 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announces on a national radio show that he has successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that causes the crippling disease of polio. In 1952–an epidemic year for polio–there were 58,000 new cases reported in the United States, and more than 3,000 died from the disease. For promising eventually to eradicate the disease, which is known as “infant paralysis” because it mainly affects children, Dr. Salk was celebrated as the great doctor-benefactor of his time.

Polio, a disease that has affected humanity throughout recorded history, attacks the nervous system and can cause varying degrees of paralysis. Since the virus is easily transmitted, epidemics were commonplace in the first decades of the 20th century. The first major polio epidemic in the United States occurred in Vermont in the summer of 1894, and by the 20th century thousands were affected every year. In the first decades of the 20th century, treatments were limited to quarantines and the infamous “iron lung,” a metal coffin-like contraption that aided respiration. Although children, and especially infants, were among the worst affected, adults were also often afflicted, including future president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1921 was stricken with polio at the age of 39 and was left partially paralyzed. Roosevelt later transformed his estate in Warm Springs, Georgia, into a recovery retreat for polio victims and was instrumental in raising funds for polio-related research and the treatment of polio patients.

Salk, born in New York City in 1914, first conducted research on viruses in the 1930s when he was a medical student at New York University, and during World War II helped develop flu vaccines. In 1947, he became head of a research laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh and in 1948 was awarded a grant to study the polio virus and develop a possible vaccine. By 1950, he had an early version of his polio vaccine.

Salk’s procedure, first attempted unsuccessfully by American Maurice Brodie in the 1930s, was to kill several strains of the virus and then inject the benign viruses into a healthy person’s bloodstream. The person’s immune system would then create antibodies designed to resist future exposure to poliomyelitis. Salk conducted the first human trials on former polio patients and on himself and his family, and by 1953 was ready to announce his findings. This occurred on the CBS national radio network on the evening of March 25 and two days later in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Salk became an immediate celebrity.

In 1954, clinical trials using the Salk vaccine and a placebo began on nearly two million American schoolchildren. In April 1955, it was announced that the vaccine was effective and safe, and a nationwide inoculation campaign began. New polio cases dropped to under 6,000 in 1957, the first year after the vaccine was widely available. In 1962, an oral vaccine developed by Polish-American researcher Albert Sabin became available, greatly facilitating distribution of the polio vaccine. Today, there are just a handful of polio cases in the United States every year, and most of these are “imported” by Americans from developing nations where polio is still a problem. Among other honors, Jonas Salk was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977. He died in La Jolla, California, in 1995.


ROBERT PECK - TYPED LETTER SIGNED 03/26/1979 - HFSID 201582

ROBERT NEWTON PECK
The successful children's author discusses poem in long letter, signs name in black ink
Typed letter signed: "Bob Peck" in black ink. 1 page, 8½x11. March 26, 1979. Addressed to a Mr. John Norbutt. In full: "I am sorry that I have been slow in answering your letter, but I have been finishing a new book of poems, and have had to fall behind a little on other obligations. I admire the work you are doing, for without the efforts of people like yourself, there will be little hope for our society. I am delighted that you have been able to evoke such interest in poetry with your kids. With some of them, that will be a source of pleasure for the rest of their lives. Bless you! I'll try to answer your questions as directly as I can. What makes a work "lastingly important," I believe, is that it concerns itself with human issues in such a way that a good reader, in any place or any time, can feel its relevance and importance. Also, the work will be so organized - all the parts will belong together and work together - that the reader will enjoy thinking about the poem. The poem will have its own integrity because the artist will have created it with serious care. Somehow that loving care of the poem's creation will be experience by the reader. Many people are "born" with the ability to become poets, but patience and the ability to learn (through study, reading and experimenting) are the qualities that enable the potential poet to become a real poet. I hope that these thoughts will be of some help and interest to you and your kids. Believe me, I wish you well! Your brother". Robert Newton Peck (b. 1928) is an American author who writes young adult novels. His first novel A Day No Pigs Would Die (1972), and would go on to publish fifty-five novels, six nonfiction works, thirty-five songs, three television specials and over a hundred poems. Peck was notoriously sued in 1984 by Mary Jo Wardlaw, an Erskine College student after his slanderous remarks during her convocation, of which he was a guest speaker. He was good friends with Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, who was Peck's best man and godfather to his children. Normal mailing folds. Lightly toned. Corners creased. Slightly soiled. Pencil notes on verso in unknown hand. Otherwise, fine condition.

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The Breakthrough: How Israel and Egypt Made Peace in 1979

Though the Egyptian-Israeli peace deal of 1979 only led to a “cold peace,” it’s one of the most important events in the recent history of the Middle East.

The Israeli-Egyptian peace deal changed the entire geopolitical landscape of the region, has likely saved countless lives, and has held to this day — a minor miracle given the turmoil so prevalent in the Middle East.

For Israel, the advantage was clear: By removing the state of war with the most powerful Arab country, the threat of a combined Arab attack on multiple borders dissipated. Furthermore, it proved that peace between Israel and Arab states was and is possible, thus putting paid to the description of Israel as a warmongering nation that seeks conflict. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence includes the following paragraph:

We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East.

After ignoring Israel’s call for peace and launching four major attempts to destroy Israel militarily in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973 (alongside constant terror attacks), Egypt became the first country to accept Israel’s standing offer for peace.

Geographic Background

Some geographic background is necessary to understand the story.

The Sinai Peninsula, a huge land mass of approximately 60,000 kilometers (23,000 square miles) sits between the Mediterranean Sea to the North and the Red Sea to the South. It served as the launching pad for Egyptian attacks against Israel between 1948 and 1967. Israel took control of the Sinai during the Six Day War of 1967 and held onto it despite suffering significant losses during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

While Israel’s offer to make peace with its neighbors was longstanding, the conditions that led Egypt to reciprocate came about for a number of reasons. Firstly, while Egypt and the Arab states were unable to defeat Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Arab leaders were able to claim that the surprise attack and the significant casualties inflicted on the Israelis had restored a sense of honor that had been so damaged by the humiliation of the Six Day War.

Secondly, in the context of the Cold War, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat wished to break away from the orbit of the Soviet Union. Making peace with Israel would bring Egypt the benefits, particularly economic, of being part of the US-led western nations.

Israel had constructed settlements in the Sinai, including Yamit, which was home to 2,500 Israelis with plans to develop it into a city of 200,000 residents. Egypt accepted peace with Israel after Israel agreed to leave the Sinai, including uprooting all Israeli settlements in the Peninsula – an agreement which was formalized when Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty on the White House lawn on March 26, 1979.

Sixteen months earlier on November 20, 1977, Sadat came to Israel, the first Arab leader to do so, and spoke to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. While some Israelis were suspicious of Sadat’s motives, ultimately this brave gesture was greeted with enthusiasm by an Israeli public desperate for peace. Sadat’s visit was a significant psychological breakthrough for Israelis who had previously treated Egypt as their biggest enemy. This paved the way for negotiations between the two countries at Camp David, the US presidential retreat in September 1978.

Camp David Accords

The negotiations were difficult and it was only US President Jimmy Carter’s personal intervention and mediation that prevented the collapse of the talks as both sides threatened to walk out. Nonetheless, nearly two weeks of intense work led to the signing of the Camp David Accords. In essence, the Camp David Accords were an agreement to sign an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty within three months that would include:

  • Egyptian recognition of the State of Israel
  • Egyptian allowance for Israeli ships to pass freely through the Suez Canal
  • Israeli military and civilian withdrawal from the Sinai alongside an Egyptian agreement to keep the Sinai demilitarized
  • Cessation of State of War.

The Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty includes the “Agreed Activities Mechanism,” which allows the two sides to make changes to the prohibition of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai. Israel has allowed Egyptian troops into the Sinai out of the mutual security concern of radical Islamic terrorist groups creating a presence in that region.

The issue of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was also dealt with in part of the Accords known as “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East.” This proposed talks between Egypt, Israel, Jordan and representatives of the Palestinians with the aim of autonomy for the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This Framework became rendered irrelevant after the UN rejected it because it had not been agreed upon under UN auspices with PLO involvement and because it did not include a Palestinian right of return or national sovereignty.

The United States agreed to provide Egypt with $1.3 billion in annual aid, a factor which certainly encouraged Egypt to make peace and has also played a role in ensuring that Egypt keeps to the peace.

Normalization

The official “normalization” of relations between the two countries took place in January 1980 followed by each country sending ambassadors to the other and Egypt repealing its boycott laws against Israel in February, and flights between the two countries beginning in March. This was, however, a cold peace between governments and not the peoples of the two states, particularly ordinary Egyptians, many of whom still harbor negative feelings towards Israel. Thus, normal activities between friendly states involving trade, tourism and people-to-people relations are still awkward.

Israel fulfilled its obligation under the peace agreement to evacuate all Israelis from the Sinai – including removing people from their homes. Many left on their own and accepted compensation from the state. The largest of the Sinai’s many settlements, Yamit, was evacuated despite some of its residents and right-wing activists barricading themselves on rooftops on April 23, 1982.

Israeli soldiers attempt to evacuate Jewish residents from Yamit. (Photo by David Rubinger/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The rest of the Arab world was furious with Egypt for making peace with Israel. Syrian President Hafez al-Assad cut off all ties with Egypt. (They were restored in 2005 under the rule of Bashar al-Asaad.) Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat went as far as saying: “Let them sign what they like. False peace will not last.” The Arab League suspended Egypt, a move which lasted until 1989, and moved its headquarters from Cairo to Tunis. Most Arab countries recalled their ambassadors and cut off diplomatic ties with Egypt. And worst of all, on October 6, 1981, Sadat was assassinated by extremist Muslims for making peace with Israel.

The Treaty’s Legacy

The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has endured through significant upheaval in Egypt, including a brief takeover by the radical Muslim Brotherhood in what most call a “cold peace.” Both countries have used the other as strategic partners and there have been no military battles between the two sides. Israel and Egypt have cooperated militarily in trying to prevent the takeover of Sinai by Islamist terror organizations while this mutual opposition to Islamist organizations has maintained the blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza by both Egypt and Israel.

The stability of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty has demonstrated to other Arab nations that Israel can be a reliable and credible partner for peace rather than a military threat. It also demonstrated that the Palestinian issue need not be a barrier or precondition for better ties between Israel and the Arab world. This was crucial in paving the way for a peace agreement with Jordan in 1994.

Since its inception, Israel has expressed its willingness to make peace with its Arab neighbors and to make great sacrifices, while insuring it own security, to do so. The Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty demonstrates this reality and gives hope that some day Israel and all of its neighbors can live side by side in peace.


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