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
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.
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
Committee on Foreign Relations,
THE DISARMAMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
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.
VISIT TO THE MIDDLE EAST
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
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
So these are the kinds of things that if you held some
hearings, I think you could bring out and get a better grasp
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
EXECUTIVE SESSIONS OF THE
SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
TOGETHER WITH JOINT SESSIONS WITH THE
SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
MADE PUBLIC 2007
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Relations
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
31-436 PDF WASHINGTON : 2007
This document is at
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