Ford had ambivalent relationship with Israel during presidency

Historian Michael Oren says former president tried to establish US as an even-handed mediator.

gerald ford 88 (photo credit: )
gerald ford 88
(photo credit: )
The death of former US president Gerald R. Ford, may have brought back memories of a US leader who was hostile towards Israel, but historian and writer Michael Oren believes Ford was certainly not an enemy. "We have to establish a scale," Oren told the Post. "I wouldn't say he was as friendly to Israel as Johnson, Nixon, George W. Bush or Clinton but, at the same time, I wouldn't say he was as cool towards Israel as Eisenhower or Carter." While noting the "head on collision" Ford had with the Rabin government over Israel's disengagement from the Sinai, Oren emphasized that Ford was trying to establish the United States as an honest broker and an even-handed mediator between Israel and the Arabs. Oren noted that during Ford's term, 1974-1977, the United States was going through the period of "reassessment" - a term used for its Middle East policy reevaluation. "The US was working to build bridges that had been burned down during the Six-Day War." "Ford was supporting the policy work of the then US secretary of state Henry Kissinger," stated Oren, stressing that it was actually Kissinger who was the primary force behind this policy. Oren added that, in his view, Ford had a long-lasting effect on the Middle East, pointing out that he achieved the Second Sinai Agreement on September 1, 1975, in which Egypt and Israel agreed on the second disengagement of troops from the Sinai Peninsula, which "opened the way for the Camp David accord four years later." Nevertheless, said Oren, Ford was not altogether successful in implementing the change in policy towards Israel, failing to surmount the growing influence on the US government from the Israel lobby, noting that during Ford's term AIPAC took on the establishment over its threats to withhold aid from Israel - and won.