Telephone Call: Nasser & Hussein fabricate U.S. & British participation in Six Day War

June 8. 1967

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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.

The United States' role: Israel was not alone in the war. Hundreds of volunteers, pilots, and military officers with American scientific spying equipment of the most advanced type,  photographed the Egyptian posts for it,  jammed the Egyptian defense equipment, and transmitted to it the orders of the Egyptian command.

Independent voice print analysis verified that the voices are those of Nasser and Hussein:

London's Daily Telegraph submitted a recorded tape of the Nasser-Hussein talk to U.S. Physicist Lawrence Kersta, president of Voice-print Laboratories, Inc., in Somerville, N.J. Along with the tape went a two-year-old CBS News recording of what was known to be Nasser's voice.

"100% Sure." After running the Israeli tape through an electronic filtering process to eliminate static, Kersta chose 25 basic phonetic elements from the voice believed to be Nasser's, and the same elements from the CBS recording. These "phonemes," as they are called, included such sounds as ah, ee, eye, o and yeh, which are common to both English and Arabic. Words from the tapes containing the phonemes were then fed into a spectrograph, which electronically translated them into signals that activated a stylus.

Moving rapidly over a strip of paper on a slowly revolving drum, the stylus traced out distinctive patterns, or voiceprints, that were determined by the frequencies, loudness and duration of each of the phonemes. Finally, after a night in which he painstakingly compared the patterns produced by phonemes from the two tapes, Kersta concluded that they had all been uttered by the same person. He reported to the Telegraph that he was "100% sure" that the voice on the Israeli tape was that of President Nasser. (Source: Time Magazine )

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.

Ami Isseroff


Transcript of Nasser- Hussein Telephone Conversation, June 6, 1967

Version 1:

Source: The New York Times, June 9, 1967,   p. 17, excerpt quoted in Wikipedia.

Nasser: ...Shall we include also the United States? Do you know of this, shall we announce that the U.S. is cooperating with Israel?

Hussein: Hello. I do not hear, the connection is the worst - the line between you and the palace of the King from which the King is speaking is bad.

Nasser: Hello, will we say the U.S. and England or just the U.S.?

Hussein: The U.S. and England.

Nasser: Does Britain have aircraft carriers? (Version 2 starts here)

Hussein: (Answer unintelligible).

Nasser: Good. King Hussein will make an announcement and I will make an announcement. Thank you... Will his Majesty make an announcement on the participation of Americans and the British?

Hussein: (Answer not intelligible).

Nasser: By God, I say that I will make an announcement and you will make an announcement and we will see to it that the Syrians will make an announcement that American and British airplanes are taking part against us from aircraft carriers. We will issue an announcement, we will stress the matter and we will drive the point home.

 

Version 2:

Source: Perman, Stacy, Spies, Inc. Prentice-Hall, 2004. On the Web at http://www.ftpress.com/articles/article.aspx?p=397654

Nasser: Does Britain have aircraft carriers?

Hussein: (Unclear)

Nasser: Very well. So King Hussein will publish and we shall publish an announcement.

Hussein: Thank you.

Nasser: Yes, Yes.

Nasser: Hello, good morning my brother, be strong. (Version 3 seems to begin here, but the text differs somewhat.)

Hussein: Mr. President, if you have any request or idea…at any time.

Nasser: We are fighting with all our forces. The fighting goes on all fronts. All the night, and if there was anything at the beginning, never mind, we shall overcome and Allah will be with us. Will his Highness publish an announcement concerning British and American participation?

Hussein: (Answer not clear)

Nasser: I swear to Allah that we shall publish an announcement, and you will publish and we shall see to it that the Syrians will publish an announcement that American and British aircraft are participating against us from aircraft carriers. We shall announce it and emphasize it. (Version 1 ends here.)

Hussein: OK.

Nasser: Your Highness, do you agree?

Hussein: (Answer not clear)

Nasser: Thousands of thanks, be strong, we are with you with all our heart. Our aircraft are over Israel all [day] long today, our aircraft are pounding the Israeli airbases since this morning.

Hussein: Thousand thanks, good bye.

Version 3:

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:

Nasser: Hello? Good morning my brother.

Hussein: Yes, I can hear you.

Nasser: We are fighting with all our might on all fronts. We had some initial problems, but they are of no importance now. We shall overcome and God shall be with us. Will your Highness publish an announcement concerning the British and American participation? We will make sure the Syrians publish it as well.

Hussein: Okay, okay.

Nasser: A thousand thanks. Be strong. We are with you with all our heart. Today we have sent all our airplanes against Israel. Since early morning our air force has been bombing the Israeli air force.

Hussein: Thousands of congratulations. Be strong!

 

This document is at Zionism and Israel Information Center - Historical Documents and References

General History of Zionism - Zionism and the Creation of Israel


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