LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Israel entered Suez War for several reasons

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I have two clarifications to John R. Coyne Jr.’s interesting and timely book review (“How Ike eased Middle East strife,” March 29).

The review notes that Israel’s incentive for joining England and France to attack Egypt in 1956 was President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s “stated promises to wipe it from the face of the earth.” Nasser’s threats of annihilation weighed heavily, but they were not the only or even immediate incentives for Israel to go to war.

Egyptian-sponsored terrorism by Arab fedayeen infiltrating the Jewish state had killed 101 Israelis and wounded 364 others in violation of the 1949 armistice. More than a quarter of those deaths and a third of the woundings took place in 1956 alone.

Also, even before angering the British and French by nationalizing the Suez Canal, Nasser had blockaded Israeli shipping through the canal and the Straits of Tiran into the Red Sea - more violations of the 1949 armistice.

Mr. Coyne notes that then-Secretary of State John Foster Dulles advised then-Vice President Richard Nixon, out on the 1956 campaign trail, not to “single out the Israelis because ‘they may have been used.’ ” Perhaps more to the point in a book about Dwight D. Eisenhower’s statecraft was the former president’s observation in 1965. Speaking to Max M. Fisher, who became a major Republican Party supporter, Eisenhower said: “You know, Max, looking back at Suez, I regret what I did. I never should have pressured Israel to evacuate the Sinai.”

ERIC ROZENMAN

Washington director

Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)

Washington

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