Moshe Sharett was critical of the sequence of events that led to the 1956 War. “If we are to ‘act crazy’ the world will perceive us as lunatics and treat us accordingly,” he noted in his diary. Sharett was highly sensitive to reactions of the outer world towards Israel’s militaristic behavior. He saw the moral stature of Israel as a first-rate strategic asset. During a Knesset debate following an IDF action that was a clear breach of international law, he coined what became probably his most famous saying: “Is Israel to be a state of law, or of license?” However, while Sharett endeavored towards a de-escalation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and consequently opposed the mounting of large-scale military operations against Israel’s Arab neighbors, his stronger rivals PM Ben-Gurion and Chief of Staff Dayan favored a strong-hand policy and implemented it, and he ultimately concluded that a preventive war against Nasser’s Egypt was of vital necessity.


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