On Tuesday night, former U.S. secretary of State Henry Kissinger received Israel’s presidential award from President Shimon Peres. Peres called Kissinger a “brother,” hailing “the tremendous effort you made to help us on every occasion as a great statesman and as a great Jew.”
On the morning of Yom Kippur, 1973, after Prime Minister Golda Meir had met with US ambassador Kenneth Keating and asked that US efforts be directed at preventing war, a message arrived from United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger saying, “Don’t preempt.”
The result was an Egyptian attack, with 32,000 infantry crossing the Suez canal in twelve waves at five separate crossing areas. Despite fierce resistance, the Israeli reserve brigade along the Bar-Lev line was overwhelmed. Israeli posts were captured as Egyptian forces advanced several kilometers into the Sinai. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers were killed and many taken prisoner.
Documents show that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger delayed telling President Richard Nixon about the start of the War in 1973, to keep him from interfering. One week later, under Nixon’s direction, and against Kissinger’s opposition, the US military conducted the largest military airlift in history to replenish Israel’s depleted supplies, on October 12, 1973.
Later, after Israel had regained the territory it lost in the early fighting and captured new territories from Syria and Egypt, including land in Syria east of the previously captured Golan Heights, and on the western bank of the Suez Canal, Kissinger pressured Israel to cede those territories back to its enemies.
“It is unusual for an 89-year-old man to say that I wish my parents could be here,” Kissinger said upon receiving the medal. “They would be more proud of this distinction than any of the other honors that have come my way.”
As the peace he helped engineer with Egypt is on the verge of complete collapse, Kissinger acknowledged that the Arabs must also offer concessions when it comes to peace with Israel.
“Everybody knows the sacrifices that Israel has made and is prepared to make for peace, but the other side has to give some content toward what a peaceful world would look like,” he said. “There has to be a quid pro quo on the other side. It is a peculiarity of the Arab-Israeli negotiations that one side considers recognition of the other state as sufficient for recognition of peace. But recognition of a state is the beginning of peace, it is not the end of peace.”