1967 Israeli-Arab Six Day war:

Senator Symington on the Es-Samu incident

January 11, 1967

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1967 Israeli-Arab Six Day war:

Senator Symington on the Es-Samu incident


On November 13, 1966, Israel retaliated for a road mine that killed three soldiers by raiding the nearby village of Es-Samu (Samu, Samoa) in the West Bank, then in Jordan. The mine was apparently placed there by Fatah terrorists. The Israeli raid killed kill 15 Jordanian soldiers and 3 civilians, and the Israelis dynamited 125 houses. The deaths were apparently due to the unexpected presence of a Jordanian patrol.

The US was greatly disturbed by this incident, which was discussed by Senator Symington at the beginning of 1967 in his report to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Symington was a friend of Israel, but was alarmed by the possibility that Israel could be destabilizing Jordan. Rightly or wrongly, the Americans seems to have believed that Israel was attacking Jordan, which was supported by the US, knowing that the US would restrain the Jordanians, rather than attacking Egypt or Syria, which were Soviet clients:

``The Israelis attacked Jordan because they knew Jordan was a friend of the U.S., but they did not attack Syria or UAR, especially Syria, because they felt they were friends of the Soviets,''

That is a peculiar idea to say the least. The mine was planted near the Jordanian border. It would have been absurd for Israel to retaliate against Syria for that incident. Nobody in the committee challenged this idea.

This attitude was probably communicated to the Israelis, and may account for the subsequent focus on Syria rather than Jordan. The excerpt below is taken from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearings of January 11, 1967.

Ami Isserof.


The introduction above is copyright 2007 by Ami Isseroff. The document below is in the public domain. It was declassified by the United States government under the Freedom of Information act and is posted at:  http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2007_hr/1967executive.html.Please cite the sources.

Wednesday, January 11, 1967

U.S. Senate,
Committee on Foreign Relations,
Washington, DC.



One other point; just before I left, Doug MacArthur came down to see me, and he was very upset about the Middle East. That is the little subcommittee I happen to be the chairman of, and he told me all about it and he said he felt that the Israelis made a very serious mistake.


Well, I came back from the Far East last week through the Middle East, and putting it mildly, in my opinion, they sure did make a serious mistake. I spent a couple of days with Luke Battle in Cairo, who is a very bright fellow and seemed to be fully up on it, and has an excellent staff and then I went up and had a long talk with Hussein in Jordan, who in my opinion fully expects to be assassinated. He is our one great friend we have out there.

I talked to Levi Eshkol and I did not pull any punches, and I said, ``This is going to hurt you a lot more than anything you have done since the state was formed in 1948.''

I talked to Abba Eban, I talked to General Moshe Dayan who is out, the military hero.

I then stopped to talk in Athens--I spent a good many hours with Walworth Barbour, the ambassador to Israel.

I went to Athens, and I had another break. In Athens is an ambassador, a seasoned fellow who was formerly an assistant secretary of state. Phil Talbot, our ambassador, and I spent a good many hours with him, and he said, ``You see, the story going around the Middle East and based on my experience is just plain murder,'' he said. ``The Israelis attacked Jordan because they knew Jordan was a friend of the U.S., but they did not attack Syria or UAR, especially Syria, because they felt they were friends of the Soviets,'' and also my impression was very definitely that the UAR is moving quietly but definitely into, further into, the Soviet bloc.

Well, these things are the kind of things, just thinking out loud, if you could have some hearings on and just to get information, because I noticed since I have got back that everything that I did in Israel was very well covered by the press, pictures in my own home town paper and that kind of stuff, whereas there was none of it, you might say, on the Arab side.

I am not choosing up sides. I do think they made a bad mistake on this and their arguments are very specious as to why they did it. I do think if we have any friend in the Arab world, it is Hussein, and I do think he is in very serious trouble.

So these are the kinds of things that if you held some hearings, I think you could bring out and get a better grasp of.

Just like I would sure like to see Albert get into this disarmament thing and have some hearings about this situation, because actually, without violating any security or anything, the hearing that you, Bourke, and I went to the other day, I was impressed with the fact that the information we got was not coordinated or was not the same as the information released recently by the Secretary of Defense to the American people on that particular subject.

So you just have a lot of information floating around, and if you do not fragment this committee into subcommittees with some authority and some staff, always subject to the approval of you and the full committee, I just do not think you can do the job the way the world is today.

End of statement.


S. Prt. 110-20





first session
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Relations
31-436 PDF WASHINGTON : 2007


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