Egypt Premier Sees No Hope
Of Compromise With Israel
By Paul Sann
New York Post Corp
Cairo, Oct. 14, 1955
Here from his own lips is Premier Gamal Abdel Nasser’s first full and frank statement on the crisis in the Middle East:
He believes he is fighting not Israel alone, but international Jewry and the wealth of the Jews.
He sees himself as a man whose mission is to save the Arab world from domination and ruin at the hands of a “Zionist conspiracy” which, he says, is rooted in the U.S. but has some support in Britain and France.
He concedes that Arab loathing for the Jews is so great (“You don’t know how much hatred is directed against Israel”) that any talk of peace is idle.
He says he cannot see a single point of compromise, however small, between the Arabs and Israel.
The young Egyptian strongarm man, a husky bruiser in gray slacks and brown sandals and a white shirt open at the neck, talked to me for 2-1/2 hours in his five-room house in the Abbasiya army compound. We were alone except for Nasser’s tiger-striped tomcat and a servant who occasionally padded in with soft drinks. The entire interview was on the record. The Premier said he was telling me things which he had never before discussed for publication. He said he would be surprised if the New York Post printed them because he believed the Jews so dominated the American press, as well as radio and TV, that “Arab opinion has no chance against Israel.”
The interview began along now familiar lines. The Premier, whose wavy black hair is turning pepper gray at the temples at 37, repeated in slow, halting English, his standing charge that Israel is about to invade and occupy Egypt and that he must arm his nation to defend itself.
He said he made his arms deal with the Czechs, much as he abhors communism, only because he couldn’t get help from the U.S.
“All the Arabs,” Nasser said, “are feeling that America is under the guidance and domination of strong Zionist organizations to help Israel against us. The Jewish influence in the United States is an obstacle between the Arabs and the Americans. It is the feeling of everyone in the Arab countries that all our efforts in the United States will be in vain because of the Jews. We can try and try in the United States, but it win be useless. Nobody will pay attention. I am convinced of that.”
This, he said, was because American elected officials “have to think of the Jews. They must think of 5,000,000 votes or the Middle East. In the political parties, they are looking to the Jewish vote. Everyone is trying to have the Jews on their side and the Arab world is suffering from this competition for the Jewish vote.
“The Zionists,” Nasser went on, “are very influential and now they are becoming more influential as the elections come near. I am convinced that America cannot do anything for the Arab people.”
I asked him whether he had ever said as much to American diplomats. He said he had discussed his views on the “Zionist conspiracy” with special Ambassador George Allen when the latter was rushed here from Washington last week after the Czech-Egypt arms deal was announced.
Nasser would not say how Allen responded.Nor would he say whether or not Allen had offered him American arms to counter the Soviet bloc’s coup here.
He said even if he could get weapons from the U.S. now–a fat contract fell through last June because Washington wanted cash and Nasser said he couldn’t spare it–he would go through with his Czech contracts. The Czechs are taking Egyptian cotton and rice for tanks, MIG fighters and other big items Nasser says he must have to defend himself against Israel.
I asked Nasser whether he thought an arms race here might not peril the whole world’s security.
“My security is the most important item,” he said. “When I decided to take weapons from Russia I was not looking to the rest of the world. I was looking to my own borders. I am feeling a threat, a nightmare of hostility. We would have preferred to deal with the West, but for me it was a case of life or death. I have no choice.”
I asked him whether he would consent to an arms embargo on both sides. He said he would not, because according to his intelligence, Israel has a better military plant than Egypt.
“I am thinking of the destiny of my country,” he said.
I asked whether his military preparations (Nasser speaks only of defense preparations) weren’t retarding the domestic reforms he pledged when he seized power in 1952.
“I can’t defend my country with hospitals and schools,” Nasser replied.
I asked him whether the Arabs could live side by side with Israel and recognize the Jewish state if some formula for peace could be worked out. We went over that question many times during the evening.
I can’t find any answer in my notes.