Tick-Tock to Apocalypse: June 6 1967



On the morning of June 6 1967 Sawt Al ‘Arab, the United Arab Republic propaganda station broke its regularly scheduled hysteria to announce that Moshe Dayan has fled Israel in advance of the approaching Egyptian army. This was the one and only such announcement and was never repeated. The station went back to its steady diet of claims of various battles inside Israel and of assertions of eventual victory. By mid morning the station began a virulent attack on the US and Britain, asserting that they are helping Israel. The station made the charge that Israeli planes were taking off from American carriers. A mob in Alexandria sacked the consulate. The situation was alarming enough to warrant a special brief to the White House before dawn in Washington. The assault on imperialism went on all day, with confident predictions of victory over its forces in short order. Uncle Thabet, the irrepressible commentator next door, made the observation that we seem to be winning against those not actually fighting us.

Later that evening the US Ambassador Richard Nolte was called to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. Among US diplomats few have harbored more sympathetic and understanding views toward the Arab cause than Nolte. It was his luck to have been sent on his mission barely 3 weeks before the outbreak of hostilities. Later that night, an adult was heard by children to claim that when Nolte came back to the embassy he smiled at the Egyptian staff and shrugged “Khalas!”. This is the text of his dispatch home.

Cairo, June 6, 1967, 1640Z.
8618 1. Called at 6:30 this evening to FonMin for meeting with El Feki. 
He announced “withdrawal of recognition” by UARG of USG. 
No time limit put on exodus, continuation of administrative section 
under friendly power permitted. 
Nes and Bartos will pursue details with Chief of Protocol 
later this evening.

2. Basis of withdrawal is US air support for Israel in 
current hostilities, not only initially, but “replacing Israeli 
losses as they occur” according to Cairo Radio.

3. Thus endeth my meteoric mission to Cairo.

4. Request designation of protecting power immediately.

The embassy closed in name only. More than a year after these events it was handing out immigration visas.

— Maged Atiya




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