Telephone Call: Nasser & Hussein fabricate U.S. & British participation in Six Day War
June 8. 1967
During the Six Day War, following the destruction of the Egyptian air force, Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser claimed that it was actually the Americans and British who had brought about the Israeli victory. On June 6, Nasser wrote to Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin, claiming that the 6th Fleet, together with U.S. bases in the region, was aiding the Israelis. Unless Moscow supplied help to Egypt, the Jews would reap a great victory, he complained.
The story was improved as it progressed through the Arab world. "British bombers, taking off in endless waves from Cyprus, are aiding and supplying the Israelis," claimed Damascus radio. The Syrians declared that Canberra bombers were bombing their forward positions. Jordanian radio insisted that three American aircraft carriers were operating off Israel's coast.
Nasser ordered American and British diplomats out of Egypt, as mobs attacked American embassies throughout the Middle East and north Africa. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain imposed an embargo on oil shipments to the US and Britain. (Oren, Michael, Six Days of War, Oxford University Press, 2002, pp 217-218)
On the same day, Israel intercepted a telephone call between King Hussein of Jordan and Gamal Abdel Nasser, and published it on June 8.
The United States was furious at Nasser. The bald faced lie and the revelation of the telephone call helped to distract American anger from the accidental Israeli attack on the U.S. spy ship, Liberty, as well as American frustration over the fact that Israel had won the war without American weapons. In the Arab world, the fake story of the interception was repeated and believed. Nasser himself repeated it in his "resignation" speech.
The false claim had several purposes. It gave Nasser a lever to use in begging for Soviet aid. It provided, in the popular eyes, an excuse for the ignominious defeat: Egypt was fighting the great imperialist powers, and not only the miserable Jews. It deflected anger from Egyptian leadership to the "colonialist" powers that were the bogeymen of pan-Arab rhetoric, and helped recruit Arab world solidarity with Nasser. and his regime. Six Arab countries broke off diplomatic relations with the United States and Lebanon withdrew its Ambassador.
Outside of the Arab world, the story of American and British military intervention was generally believed. Britain, the U.S. and Israel denied the allegations and the Soviet Union hasted to inform the Egyptians that their intelligence did not show any indications of US participation in the war. They were interested in countering Nasser's pressure for arms supplies.
Even long after Israel and Egypt had signed a peace treaty and was getting copious US aid, all post-1967 Egyptian history textbooks continued to claim that Israel launched the war with the support of Britain and the United States. They linked the 1967 war to former imperialist attempts to control the Arab world, thus portraying Israel as an imperialist stooge, and obfuscating the fact that Egypt had started the war by closing the straits of Tiran. This recent example is from the textbook ‘Abdallah Ahmad Hamid al-Qusi, Al-Wisam fi at-Ta'rikh (Cairo: Al-Mu'asasa al-‘Arabiya al-Haditha, 1999), p. 284.
Independent voice print analysis verified that the voices are those of Nasser and Hussein:
The connection was very poor as Hussein notes, and the bugging equipment was primitive. so that the signal quality was not good. For whatever reasons, several different versions of this conversation have been published, and each seem to give a different part of the conversation. The New York Times version seems to begin at the earliest point in the conversation, while the version quoted in Stacy Perman's book begins at a later point but continues past the Times version quotes. A third version that is apparently a "condensation" was taken from Bregman, Ahron and Jihan El Tahri, "Israel and the Arabs," TV Books, 2000, p 107-108.
There is no doubt that the conversation is genuine. The different versions are given here to provide as complete a picture as possible, and to illustrate the caution with which secondary accounts of primary sources should be treated.
Transcript of Nasser- Hussein Telephone Conversation, June 6, 1967
Source: The New York Times, June 9, 1967, p. 17, excerpt quoted in Wikipedia.
Source: Perman, Stacy, Spies, Inc. Prentice-Hall, 2004. On the Web at http://www.ftpress.com/articles/article.aspx?p=397654
Source: Bregman, Ahron and Jihan El Tahri, "Israel and the Arabs," TV Books, 2000, p 107-108. It is attributed by the authors to the IDF recording provided by Meir Amit, former head of the Mossad:
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