The IDF soldier who Influenced Foggy Bottom
According to the Hebrew calendar, this week is the 47th year anniversary of the Six Day War; and the reunification of Jerusalem is celebrated in Israel on Wednesday. The Six Day War was a huge victory for Israel, and there were many heroic stories from the battlefields. Among them is the story of Joseph Levy, short and seemingly uneventful, yet whose influence had a significant effect on future U.S.-Israel relations.
Before replacing Alexander Haig as secretary of state, George Schultz was an executive at Bechtel -- an oil company associated with various Arab countries -- and thus it seemed Israel would be at odds with the State Department. However, George Schultz turned out to be a good friend of Israel.
Many people recall events in their lives which significantly impacted who they are and how they think. Sometimes these events can change a person’s opinion from one extreme to the other extreme. George Schultz, during an event at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in 2007, told a story about a young Israeli soldier who had a deep influence on him; exemplifying how one man’s actions can influence a country’s policy.
“Here I am in 1967 dean at the University of Chicago. As dean, after the end of each quarter, I held a party at my house for students who were at the top that made the dean’s list, they could bring their girlfriends or wives. And always there was a young man there named Joseph Levy; he was on the dean’s list all the time. He wasn’t just smart, he was savvy; you could just see that this young man had it all, just had a way about him, wonderful!
“And I had hardly heard that the Six Day War started when I heard that Joseph Levy had been killed. He had somehow understood what was happening; he went right back to Israel, he was a tank commander and he was killed. I remember it so well and it made a deep impact on me, because I said to myself what kind of a country must this be that can command that kind of loyalty from such a talented young man. I think probably a lot of people in the U.S. had experiences at that time, and they stay with you and have an impact on your feelings.”
Some try to influence events and processes through speaking, writing and various types of activism. However, sometimes the greatest influence is by the person who is faithful to his ideals and values.