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Quiet Diplomacy: The Exodus of Egyptian Jews between the Six-Day War and the War of Attrition

 
Filed under: Egypt, Israel, World Jewry
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review
Volume 31, Numbers 1-2

The Six-Day War confronted Israel with a major existential challenge. Israel had to contend not only with a threat at the level of the country’s existence but also with a threat at the level of the Jewish nation. From the moment the battles between Israel and the Arab states began, physical attacks on Jews in these states began. The Egyptian government’s conduct was extreme; hundreds of Jews were arrested and imprisoned under very difficult conditions.1 This situation compelled the Israeli government to pursue both a political and a Jewish foreign policy. It had to deal with the issue of the military existential threat, and also with the issue of aiding Egyptian Jewry amid a reality of warfare between the countries. 

Israel’s foreign policy is unique and composed of both political and Jewish motivations.2The policy extends beyond the sovereign and physical borders of the country. This reality affects the state’s conduct in the international arena and its orders of priority with regard to achieving its national, Jewish, and political goals.3As the state of the Jewish people, Israel assumed the role of spokesman for the part of the Jewish people that lives in the Diaspora. It is committed to act within the international community along two tracks, the Israeli and the Jewish. These tracks sometimes run parallel and sometimes contradict each other and create conflict among the Israeli decision-makers. Such situations confront the Israeli government with the dilemma of how to prioritize its goals – the political ones and the Jewish ones.

This dilemma came to the fore during the Six-Day War when the Egyptian authorities arrested and imprisoned about 500 Egyptian Jews. The Israeli government was compelled to work for their release and emigration from Egypt. At the same time, it had to pursue the political goals related to the war, such as putting an end to the hostilities, establishing an enduring ceasefire, and winning the release of the prisoners of war. Thus Israel had to set its order of priorities and, correspondingly, decide on its policy toward Egypt.

The approach Israel took in this arena was that of quiet diplomacy,4 which enabled it to pursue both its Jewish and its political goals. By taking the quiet-diplomacy tack, the Israeli government could create a framework for cooperation with an enemy state under conditions that would enhance the effectiveness of its political activity and lead to the achievement of its goals. The purpose of this study, then, is to examine how quiet diplomacy served the Israeli government in this situation. To what extent did the Israeli government make use of quiet diplomacy to promote its political goals – ending the violence, reaching a cease-fire, and winning the release of the prisoners of war – as well as its Jewish goals, which involved helping the detainees and prisoners in Egypt attain their freedom and emigrate to Israel? On the issue of the Egyptian Jews, we will consider whether Israel’s emphasis on the clandestine aspect of quiet diplomacy was designed to ensure that its ability to promote its political goals would not be compromised. We will also consider the degree of importance of the political objective of securing the release of the prisoners of war in Egypt compared to the degree of importance of the national objective, namely, aiding the Egyptian Jews.

A number of studies have discussed the Israeli government’s approach to aiding the Egyptian Jewish community.5To shed light on Israel’s policy at the time of the Six-Day War, this survey provides a perspective on the relations that prevailed between Israel and the Egyptian Jewish community. Ruth Kimchi examined those relations against the backdrop of the War for Independence. The Egyptian Jewish community was caught between the hammer and the anvil. On the one hand, as a Jewish community it was loyal and linked to the Jewish people, the Zionist movement, and the state of Israel; on the other, Egyptian Jews felt themselves to be part of Egyptian society. The Zionism that developed in the shadow of the pyramids created a conflict of identity and loyalty for Egyptian Jewry. Michael Laskier explored the reasons for the changes that occurred in the Egyptian Jewish community and for its diminution up to the time of the Six-Day War.6 Joel Beinin criticized the Israeli government’s approach to the community.7In his view, Egyptian Jewry, like the other Jewish communities in the East, did not regard aliyah (emigration to Israel) as a central goal in their lives. They saw themselves as Egyptian citizens who took part in Egyptian industry, commerce, art, music, theater, and cinema.8Israeli policy created a conflict for this community. The issue of the status of the Egyptian Jews during and after the Six-Day War was discussed in a study by Ovadia Yerushalmi.9He surveyed the decision-making processes and the policy regarding their status as well as their release from prison and emigration to Israel with their families.

These studies provide an in-depth view of the processes and the changes that occurred in the Egyptian Jewish community. Yerushalmi’s study was the first to deal with the issue that will be discussed in this article. But Yerushalmi’s book, which is presented as a first-person testimony that surveys the events, does not shed light on the Israeli government’s complex policy toward the Jewish prisoners in Egypt. This study will examine the Israeli government’s approach to that issue. I will maintain that the Israeli government pursued quiet diplomacy in order to promote its national, political, and Jewish goals. It provided diplomatic assistance to the Egyptian Jews quietly so as not to create pressure on Egypt, which, in response, may have harassed the Jewish prisoners and their family members, but also so as not to compromise Israel’s political objectives in this arena.

Theoretical Framework: Quiet Diplomacy  

The diplomacy of the 19th century was typically secret diplomacy conducted without the knowledge or involvement of the public and public opinion. The diplomacy of our time, however, is typically public, reported in the media, and often conducted in open, international frameworks such as international conferences and summit conferences.10Abba Eban maintained that this “new diplomacy” is influenced  by the media, public opinion, and conferences.11

In some situations, however, a state must adopt a clandestine policy because media publicity and the involvement of public opinion could hamper the achievement of vital national objectives including security and economic ones, as well as, to a considerable extent, humanitarian objectives involving the saving of lives.12Thus the state engages in covert diplomatic activity that enables the sides in the negotiating process to reach understandings. Nicholson maintains that precisely in this era of open and public diplomacy, covert diplomacy has become more common and more effective. Hence diplomatic ties are based not only on open diplomacy but also on quiet diplomacy, which is still plays a dominant role in international relations.13

The clandestine aspect of international relations is an important element in achieving a state’s foreign policy goals in the international system. Sometimes there is a need for the seclusion of the decision-makers during the negotiating process; for example, in the Camp David negotiations between Israel, the United States, and Egypt.14And sometimes there is a need for clandestine processes, such as the talks in Oslo that led to the signing of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the Palestinians in September 1993.15Aharon Klieman points to an additional factor that enables the sides to reach a resolution of their conflict and an agreement, namely, quiet diplomacy.16He asserts that quiet diplomacy is based on cooperation between two or more international actors who essentially want to promote their international objectives. When such a process is conducted between rivals or enemies, it entails communication, practical changes, covert understandings, arrangements, and sensitivity and precludes revealing the process to the public and to external actors.17

The concept of quiet diplomacy defines the framework of diplomatic activity. This framework must be clear-cut, without any attempt to create situations in which there are deceptions or suspicion between the sides. A positive communicative environment is an important factor in facilitating negotiations between adversaries. Such a framework limits and even precludes the influence of public pressures exerted by domestic or external actors that could affect the negotiating process. This tool was intended to give Israel freedom of action from a political standpoint and to reduce the pressure on the Egyptian decision-makers. Quiet diplomacy as a tool of foreign policy provides an operative means to help decision-makers generate dialogue, even with enemies, through the backchannel. Such a channel must be clandestine and acceptable to the adversarial states. It is relevant to situations in which formal and open dialogue is impossible, and it is designed to serve political objectives.18 This article will examine the extent of the use and effectiveness of these tools in the Israeli government’s endeavor to win the release of the Jewish prisoners in Egypt.

With the end of the Six-Day War, a process of diplomatic negotiations began between Israel and Egypt with the aim of ending the crisis between them. The immediate issues on Egypt’s agenda were ceasing the hostilities as well as the prisoners of war and Egyptian civilians who were in Israel’s hands. For the Israeli government the important issues were ceasing the hostilities; freeing the Israeli prisoners of war in an exchange; freeing four Jews still imprisoned in Cairo for acts of sabotage during the mid-1950s, in what came to known as the Lavon Affair; and freeing the more than 500 Egyptian Jews who had been arrested and imprisoned during and after the war. Klieman presents nine situations in which Israeli foreign policy made use of quiet diplomacy, analyzing how the Israeli government operated in each of these.19 The situations include winning the release of prisoners of war and providing assistance to Jewish communities in distress. This study will explore how the Israeli government operated when it needed to achieve, through quiet diplomacy, both the release of the prisoners of war and the provision of aid to the Jewish community in distress. Such a situation creates conflict regarding the priority of the objectives – on the one hand, a political objective of freeing the Israeli prisoners of war, and on the other, securing the release of the Egyptian Jews and enabling them to come to Israel.  We will also examine how, after the freeing of the prisoners of war, the Israeli government worked for the emigration of the Egyptian Jews. We will consider to what extent Israel was committed to the emigration of those Jews or, instead, to its own political issues, including the diplomatic struggle and control over the territories it had conquered, along with the military struggle imposed on it by the War of Attrition.

 

After the War: Quiet Diplomacy and the Conflict over Achieving the National Objectives

The Six-Day War confronted Israel with a true existential challenge. The military cooperation between the Arab states – Egypt, Syria, Jordan, as well as Iraq – constituted an existential danger. The Israeli government worked to remove the threat from its borders. It had to contend with the issue of national survival, not only at the Israeli political level but also at the Jewish-national level. It had to deal with an additional threat, namely, physical attacks on Jews in Arab countries during and after the war.20 The persecution of these Jews was another element in the Arab states’ array of military and political measures to take against Israel. It was the Jews of Egypt who suffered the harshest treatment. The Arab governments saw the Jewish minorities as representatives of Israel and thus as constituting a threat; hence both governments and mobs of civilians had to curb their freedom and abuse them. This was the fate of these Jewish communities during the Six-Day War as well. Already in its initial hours, Nasser personally ordered a wave of arrests of the men. Thus about 500 Egyptian Jews were arrested out of a community of about 2,500, and the community found itself in a grave existential crisis.21

The tidings about the situation of the Egyptian Jews reached the Israeli decision-makers as soon as the battles began. Shlomo Hillel, deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, said that “immediately with the start of the military activities we began to receive reports and rumors about attacks on Jews in Arab countries.”22This is also attested by some of the Jews who were imprisoned at that time – such as Ovadia Yerushalmi, who was arrested on the first day of the war. “Intelligence officers raided the homes of the Jews, closed off the Jews in the area where they lived, came to their stores and to the clubs and cafés they would visit.”23Despite their existential plight and the need for active, direct, and rapid measures, in a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Knesset on the question of the future of the Jews in Arab countries, Hillel set the policy as one of quiet, inconspicuous activity that would make use of diplomacy by international actors, foreign representations, the United Nations, and the Red Cross.24

On the military battlefield, the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula collapsed and thousands of its soldiers and officers were taken prisoner, in addition to the diplomatic representatives, collaborators, and Egyptian citizens who were taken prisoner in the Gaza Strip. According to the data, over 5,000 officers and NCOs were imprisoned. As for the other soldiers, Israel led them to the Suez Canal and allowed them to cross to the Egyptian side; scores of wounded prisoners were also transferred to Egyptian hands. This was immediately after a ceasefire was declared between the states, without negotiations and without any demand for an exchange involving the Jewish detainees and prisoners in Egypt.

The negotiations for a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Arab states began immediately in the first days after the war. Some 591 prisoners were returned to Syria in exchange for a pilot and a civilian, and terms were also reached with Jordan.27 With Egypt, however, the process of returning prisoners was more complicated. During the war, eight members of Israel’s elite Shayetet 13 commando unit and two pilots were taken prisoner. The Egyptian government agreed to negotiate on the return of the Egyptian prisoners in exchange for the Israeli prisoners. However, the Israeli government demanded that the deal also include the freeing of the four Jews who had been imprisoned in Egypt since 1954 as well as Wolfgang Lutz and his wife Martha, who had spied for Israel in Egypt.28 At this stage the Israeli government adopted quiet diplomacy and, for two reasons, did not raise the demand for the freeing of the Egyptian Jewish prisoners. First, the political objective of the prisoner-of-war exchange was defined as the primary and immediate one. Second, negotiating with Egypt was difficult, and it was feared that adopting a public policy on the Jewish prisoners might worsen Nasser’s persecution of the Egyptian Jews; the Egyptian government viewed the issue of the Jewish prisoners as a domestic matter.

The Israeli government wanted to give Egypt clear messages and avert suspicion on its part. It also wanted to prevent the involvement of external actors such as Jewish organizations or of domestic actors such as the media or the families of the prisoners; such involvement could damage the negotiation process. Moreover, that process was conducted against the backdrop of the military tension between the states. Shooting incidents from both sides of the Suez Canal became routine. One of the peaks of this tension occurred at the end of October 1967 when the Egyptian army sank the Israeli destroyer INS Eilat, and in reaction Israel bombed the oil refineries in Port Suez.29

When the Israeli government realized that the number of captured Egyptian officers and NCOs exceeded 5,000, and also became aware, as the prisoner-exchange negotiations dragged on, of the grave, existential plight of the Jews in Egypt, the government placed on its agenda the demand that a deal include the freeing of the Egyptian Jewish prisoners and the emigration of the Egyptian Jews.30 Avraham Harman, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, linked the prisoner exchange to that objective. With American Jewish organizations supporting the demand to act publicly vis-à-vis the Egyptian government, he raised the issue before the Foreign Ministry.31 The Israeli government, which had already decided to take diplomatic measures on this issue, insisted on not acting publicly because it would do more harm than good. A public international discourse on the issues involving Egypt would aggravate the harassment of the prisoners and their families and increase Nasser’s determination not to free the spies from the 1950s on the ground that they were Egyptian citizens.32

During the negotiations the Israeli government avoided creating any explicit linkage between the prisoner exchange and the freeing of the Jewish prisoners. It conveyed its demands indirectly through international channels. The government turned to international representations and organizations, as when it appealed to UN Secretary-General U Thant33 to intervene for the release of the Jewish prisoners and the emigration of the Egyptian Jews, and also complained of the inability of the Red Cross to make contact with the prisoners and aid them. As the organization’s representative in Egypt stated: “What can we do, they do not allow me to act, they do not allow me to visit the prisons and see what the situation is.”34

When it came to providing assistance to Jews in the world, Israel made use of all the means at its disposal including political, economic, and even military means.35To thwart danger to Jews, Israel acted even in states with which it did not have diplomatic relations. It also acted in tandem with third countries, such as the collaboration between Israel and Spain to extricate Jews from Morocco in the 1950s following the Sinai Campaign, and likewise in the early 1960s in Operation Yachin. This was despite the fact that during this period Israel and Spain did not have diplomatic ties.

In the case in question, too, Israel was aided by European states such as France, Italy, Greece, and Spain, which dealt with the Egyptian authorities through backchannels, seeking the release of the prisoners and their emigration from Egypt.37Spain’s assistance played a significant role in the release of all the prisoners by the beginning of the 1970s. Spain, which had diplomatic ties with Arab countries, worked for the release of the Jewish prisoners having Spanish citizenship, similarly to how the other states operated. But the activity of the Spanish ambassador in Cairo, Angel Sagaz,38was substantial and effective in getting the authorities, in the course of the negotiations, to bring about the release of the prisoners with foreign citizenship. The diplomatic aid that Israel received indirectly from France and other European states was an instance of what Klieman called the backchannel method of quiet diplomacy.39 As evidenced in the rest of the campaign for the release of the prisoners, this approach was convenient both for Israel and Egypt.

The Spanish ambassador’s conduct reflected Spain’s historical link to its Jews since the days of the Spanish Expulsion. Modern Spain sought to renew its ties with Jewish and non-Jewish Spaniards through laws that were passed at the end of the 19th century and during the 20th century.40 Ambassador Sagaz’s activity was a practical manifestation of the Spanish interest as Franco defined it,41and it served the interest of the Israeli government. Indeed, during and after the war Sagaz had already acted on behalf of the Jewish prisoners. The instructions of the Spanish government were to offer assistance in cooperation with the Egyptian authorities. Sagaz appealed to the authorities to allow the Jewish prisoners with Spanish citizenship, or without any citizenship, to leave Egypt.42

The quiet-diplomacy policy proved itself with regard to international pressure. Although the Egyptian government treated the Jewish prisoners harshly, it did not adopt a clear policy concerning their continued incarceration. About a month after the outbreak of the war, the Egyptian government agreed to release not only the Jewish prisoners with foreign citizenship but also some of those without citizenship.43By arresting the Jews, the government had sought to strike a blow against Israel’s Jewish-national objective and to use the Jews as a bargaining chip vis-à-vis the Israeli government.44 As time went on, however, the prisoner issue became a burden because of the international pressures on the Egyptian government. Egypt’s problem was how to avoid, if the prisoners were to be released and to leave Egypt, damage to the country’s international status and prestige. Indeed the international pressure on Egypt forced it to cooperate with other states as well, such as France. France promised Egypt that it would not draw international attention to the situation of the Jews in Egypt if, in return, Egypt were, in small groups, to free all the prisoners with foreign citizenship or without citizenship.45 France was prepared to receive and absorb these emigrants.46 Another indication of the softening of the Egyptian policy may be found in the words of Yosef Tekoah, who was deputy director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry before Shlomo Hillel assumed that post. Tekoah said that toward the end of July, Egypt had already promised the Red Cross to free the Jews with foreign citizenship and without citizenship.47

 In the second half of 1967 and the beginning of 1968, the main issue in Israeli-Egyptian relations was the prisoner exchange and the freeing of the four prisoners from the Lavon affair as well as the Lutz couple. Even though the government ministers were determined to win the release of the Jewish prisoners, the issue of Egyptian Jewry was secondary to the prisoner exchange and was discussed in secret channels. In the context of this activity, Red Cross representatives in Egypt managed to get permission to visit the Jewish prisoners and to aid their family members.48However, because of the continued shooting incidents between Israel and Egypt and the bombing of the city of Ismailia by the Israeli air force, along with the Israeli government’s refusal to return Egyptian civilians from Gaza to Egypt, those privileges were canceled.49Nevertheless, because of the importance of the prisoner exchange, the Israeli government returned some of the Egyptian civilians from Gaza to Egypt. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan saw them as a burden for Israel. Some weeks earlier, when Israel had opposed returning them to Egypt, it had aggravated the situation of the Egyptian Jews; but returning them was indispensable to promoting the prisoner exchange. Dayan pointed out that Israel still held other bargaining chips – over 5,000 Egyptian prisoners of war and other civilians.50

In a meeting of the security cabinet on September 13, 1967, the ministers took a tough line regarding the Egyptian Jews on a declarative level. On the political level, however, as required from an operative standpoint, they adhered to the quiet-diplomacy policy. Dayan, intensely angry about the difficult and humiliating condition of the Jewish prisoners in Egypt, said: “We residents of the Jewish state who can deal with this issue, whenever something reminds me of it – I explode. We sit and live our lives as usual while Egyptian Jews sit in detention camps because Egyptians want to abuse them and be cruel to them. In my opinion we must, despite all the damage it will cause us, regard ourselves as the only ones who can deal with this issue, as if our sons were in that prison.”51He suggest to the security cabinet that Israel do damage to the Egyptian assets still under its control, such as the Egyptian manganese mines; it was proposed to bomb them as a way of signaling to Egypt that it must free the Jewish prisoners and allow the rest of the community to leave Egypt.52However, the decision taken in this cabinet meeting was to exhaust all possible diplomatic means to ameliorate the situation of the Jews in the Arab countries and to win the release of the Egyptian Jews from the detention camps and their emigration from Egypt.53

In a security-cabinet meeting on October 1, 1967, it was already clear to the ministers that the issue of the Egyptian Jews would not be discussed in the negotiations dealing with the prisoner-of-war exchange as well as the freeing of the Lavon-affair prisoners and the Lutz couple. The issue was not placed directly on the government’s agenda but rather as a subsidiary issue to the prisoner exchange. In this meeting as well, there was a gap between the words about acting on the Egyptian Jews’ behalf and the decisions that were taken. Justice Minister Yaakov Shimshon Shapira proposed taking measures against Egypt. “Yes,” he said, “we know that they are domestic citizens of Egypt and one shouldn’t intervene in domestic affairs. But we have already learned from experience. Hitler, too, had his Jews, and he annihilated them. We cannot quietly set this aside…. If the Jews are not freed, we will do things.”54 Nevertheless, the real upshot of this meeting was that the Egyptian-Jews issue was pushed from the agenda because of the immediate need to solve the problem of the prisoners of war, the Lavon-affair prisoners, and the Lutz couple. The time factor was affecting the mood of the prisoners of war and their family members, who pressured the government on the issue.55  

The issue was brought up in the discussion. For instance, Labor Minister Yigal Allon said: “I understand that we could not link the release of the Egyptian prisoners to the release of all the rest of Egyptian Jewry. But as for this handful that has been sitting and suffering there – the prisoners from the ]Lavon] affair – for many years, I think we can be insistent.”56 The security cabinet decided at this stage “to delay the prisoner exchange with Egypt and link the issue of the exchange to the prisoners of Zion [the Lavon-affair prisoners and the Lutz couple] and the Egyptian Jews.”57It was also decided that the Israeli government would not act through Egypt to free the Jewish prisoners. Instead friendly countries would work to free them, and an appeal would be made to the pope. In other words, the Israeli government refrained from acting directly on the matter. It took indirect diplomatic measures so as not to harm the chances for the release of the Lavon-affair prisoners, the Lutz couple, and the Jewish prisoners.58

With regard to the prisoners of war and their families, the government took the path of quiet diplomacy so as to limit their influence on the negotiation process. Dayan proposed that the issue of freeing the Jewish prisoners not be linked to the issue of the prisoner exchange.59As the police minister, Eliyahu Sasson, said: “Clearly it is not possible to demand all the Jews of Egypt. No one will back us. No one in the world will back us if we make such a demand.”60The cabinet still, at this stage, wanted to demand the release of the Jewish prisoners. It resolved to keep pursuing quiet diplomacy on the issue of the prisoners of war and the other prisoners. It was decided to delay the prisoner exchange with Egypt and link the issue of the exchange to the prisoners of Zion (those from the Lavon affair as well as the Lutz couple) and the Egyptian Jews. However, as time went on and the exchange was not carried out, it became clear that the Jewish-prisoners issue would not be raised in the negotiations but would be dealt with in international frameworks and by diplomatic actors, as referred to in the security-cabinet meeting of December 27, 1967. The issue that was discussed in this meeting was the prisoner exchange; the matter of the Jewish prisoners was not discussed, so that a decision could be taken that would lead only to the prisoner exchange.61The defense minister was determined to close the prisoner-exchange deal; Meir Amit, head of the Mossad, quoted Dayan as saying: “Listen Meir, we can’t go on like this forever. I am not prepared to hold five thousand prisoners here during the winter and give them blankets and amenities. I see that matters are moving slowly. Nasser is being stubborn and it’s hard for me to believe that he’ll give in anytime soon.”62

The point of summoning Amit to this meeting was to advance the decision on the prisoner exchange. He saw the release of the Lavon-affair prisoners as a national moral debt that the state of Israel had to pay. During the meeting he got the government to decide on a gradual release of the Egyptian prisoners of war, thereby fostering relations of trust with the Egyptian leadership that could lead them to agree to release the Lavon-affair prisoners.63 Egypt agreed to this framework and indeed, within several weeks, began the process of the prisoner exchange; and by the beginning of February 1968, the process of releasing the Lavon-affair prisoners and the Lutz couple also came to an end. But while this covert diplomatic process enabled the freeing of the Lavon-affair prisoners, it was to the detriment of the Jewish prisoners. Israel avoided giving publicity to the Jewish issue, and it remained without a solution on the political level. It was dealt with, as noted, by international actors and Jewish organizations in the context of quiet, indirect diplomacy.

From a formal standpoint, the government’s policy was to defer the prisoner exchange with Egypt so that the deal would also include the release of the Lavon-affair prisoners and of the Egyptian Jews. However, the decision actually taken contravened what the prime minister, Levi Eshkol, had said to the Knesset about the Israeli government’s obligation to work for the rescue of the Jews in Arab countries who were in serious plight as a result of the Six-Day War: “In standing before you today I cannot avoid mentioning the persecution and the torture that has become the lot of our brethren, survivors of the ancient communities in Egypt, in Syria, and in Iraq and other Arab countries. Israel will not accept in any way the persecution of Jews, and it demands that they be released from prison and allowed to leave these lands of suffering.”64

The government saw an obligation to act on behalf of the Jews in Arab countries in general, and of the Jewish prisoners in Egypt in particular. Although it could have publicly and directly demanded the emigration of the Egyptian Jews, doing so would have endangered the prisoner-exchange deal. Moreover, because Egypt, as noted, viewed the prisoners as Egyptian citizens, at this stage it was clear that quiet diplomacy had to be pursued. Indeed, on the issue of the Egyptian Jews, Nasser behave consistently with the line he had already taken in the first weeks after the war: all those with foreign citizenship or without citizenship could leave Egypt for countries that would agree to accept them such as Spain and France, on condition that they would not sully Egypt’s name. The world must not, however, get the impression that Egypt had succumbed to international pressure.

The quiet-diplomacy process bore fruit. It created a sense, however, that Israel was not doing enough and that the negotiations were moving sluggishly. Appeals were made to the Israeli government to act decisively;65 after all, Israel was holding over 5,000 prisoners. The government maintained that in light of the political and security situation, it had to employ quiet-diplomacy methods and not – as the prisoners who had already arrived in Europe were demanding – generate pressure on Egypt, which might respond by halting the Jews’ departure.66

At this stage, quiet diplomacy made a great contribution. Some of the prisoners and their family members, as mentioned, left Egypt. The policy was meant to enable all the prisoners and their family members to leave. However, the publication of the testimony of Berto Farhi, one of the prisoners who had reached Paris, put a stop to the Jews’ emigration. Farhi published his testimony in a lengthy article in the French weekly L’Express.67 The inclination of the Egyptian authorities, particularly the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, was to speed up the Jews’ departure from Egypt, including the prisoners. But with the appearance of the article, of whose details Nasser became aware, it was decided not to allow the departure of those without citizenship or with Egyptian citizenship, and to allow only those with foreign citizenship to keep leaving as per agreements with the European ambassadors and with representatives of the international organizations.68The release of the detainees without citizenship and of the Egyptian citizens was resumed only in April 1969. The use of quiet diplomacy proved effective in light of the Egyptian opposition to publicizing the negotiations that were held on the issue.

 

The Quiet Campaign for the Release of the Noncitizens and the Foreign Citizens

In the course of 1967 and 1968, all the prisoners with foreign citizenship were freed and left Egypt. The task that remained was to win the release of those without citizenship and those with Egyptian citizenship. Nasser, who had put a halt to the process in that regard, promised to free all the prisoners. The fact that Jews continued to languish in the Egyptian prisons became a political and diplomatic burden. At first the military saw the Jews as hostages and as a bargaining chip to use against Israel. But in February 1969 the Jewish-prisoner issue was transferred, in line with a decision by Nasser, to the Interior Ministry, which was prepared to free the prisoners and let them emigrate along with their family members. This decision was brought to the knowledge of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan. He defined those without citizenship as refugees and hence was obligated to ensure their release and emigration.     

From an operative standpoint, the Egyptian government approved the departure of all those without citizenship as it had promised Sadruddin. In the first stage, all the prisoners were transferred to a single prison – the first sign that there was indeed an intention to free them. After some bureaucratic procedures, they were freed in small groups so as not to prompt an outcry in Arab countries.69Indeed it was promised at the beginning of February that the first prisoners would already be allowed to leave. However, events in the international environment caused a delay. On January 1, 1969, Nasser expressed solidarity with the hangings of Jews in Iraq.70And the mounting tension between the Israeli and Egyptian armies along the banks of the Suez Canal also affected policy on freeing the prisoners. This tension reached a peak on March 8, 1969, the day on which the War of Attrition broke out.71On that day the chief of staff of the Egyptian army, Abdul Munim Riad,72was killed, and an Egyptian plane was shot down and its pilot captured. The pilot, Mohamed Abdul Baki,73was the son-in-law of one of the heads of Egyptian intelligence. These events pushed the prisoner-release issue aside. 

The Israeli government, fearing that Nasser would change the policy on the prisoner releases that had been determined at the beginning of February, used the backchannels to ask the French and Spanish ambassadors and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadruddin to appeal to Nasser to uphold his promise.74This diplomatic appeal was made against the backdrop of the continued hostilities between the two armies along the Suez Canal. Israel acted on two levels, creating a separation between the political goal – prevailing in the military struggle, and the Jewish-national goal – winning the release of the Jewish prisoners.

Despite his promise to free all the prisoners, Nasser presented a new condition in the wake of the capture of the Egyptian pilot.75Egypt sought to link the two issues. The abovementioned deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, Shlomo Hillel, said there should be no such link between freeing the pilot and freeing the Egyptian Jews.76 Israel would free the prisoner after he was interrogated; hence one should not consent to Nasser’s cruelty toward the Jews after he had already, before the pilot had been captured, laid out in detail the policy on freeing the prisoners. The Israeli government’s claim that no link should be created between the two issues stemmed from Nasser’s promise to free the Jews as well as a fear that, once the pilot had been returned, the rest of the prisoners might not be allowed to go free.77Thus the Israeli government adopted the quiet-diplomacy approach for both its political and its national needs. It had to keep employing military measures against Egypt and to deal with the repercussions, which also included soldiers being captured by Egypt, while continuing the policy of diplomatic pressure on Spain and France to work for the prisoners’ release.   

The French ambassador’s pressure on Nasser achieved its purpose. Toward the end of March, the Egyptian defense minister, Mohamed Fawzi, said in Madrid that the Egyptians were not making the Jews’ release conditional on the pilot’s release.78 In a meeting in Cairo between the French ambassador and Nasser, the ambassador raised the issue of the Jewish prisoners and told Nasser that world Jewry, not the Israeli government, was exerting great pressure for their release. Nasser said he would look into the matter.79 In the aftermath of the death of the Egyptian chief of staff and the downing of the pilot, Nasser was under pressure from the senior officer corps. After he managed to overcome that problem, Nasser confirmed to Sadruddin that he was again permitting the Jewish prisoners to depart, with no link to the issue of the captured Egyptian pilot.80 Indeed, on April 21, the Egyptians began to release the prisoners without citizenship in small groups and to transfer them outside the borders of the country. By May 2, 102 Jews had arrived in Paris.81Hillel said that “if there are no surprises one can expect, then, in the coming months the departure of about another 1,500 Egyptian Jews.”82By August some 380 Jews had left Egypt.83

On April 28, an article in the Chicago Sun-Times by the team of pundits Rowland Evans and Robert Novak addressed the question of the freeing of the Egyptian pilot and the release of the Jewish prisoners who lacked citizenship. Evans and Novak claimed that the Israeli government had not agreed to a quid pro quo; it had made use of the plight of the Jews in Egypt to prevent UN inspectors from visiting the West Bank.84 In other words, the pundits accused the Israeli government of exploiting the Egyptian Jews’ situation to promote its political goals. The government responded that these charges were baseless.85On the issue of the Jewish prisoners, the government asserted that creating the link would have turned the Jews into hostages; thus it was using quiet diplomacy and secret channels.

While the Jews were departing, Israel acted in the political arena on the issue of a prisoner exchange with Egypt. The issue of the pilot’s release was up for discussion in this framework. Egypt held six Israeli prisoners of war and the body of a soldier, while Israel, apart from the pilot, held another 25 Egyptian prisoners of war. After Nasser permitted the release and emigration of the Jewish prisoners, the Israeli Foreign Ministry saw the freeing of the pilot as a catalyst for the speedier release of the Jews from Egypt; this was in the overall context of the release of the other detainees and prisoners held by Israel. There has been criticism of Israel for rejecting the Egyptian proposal to free the pilot in return for all the prisoners.87As noted, however, the Israeli government did not consent because it feared that after pilot’s release, the freeing of the Jews would be halted and the prisoners and their family members would become hostages. The pilot was finally released only in July, not at the beginning of March, after more than a hundred of the prisoners had left Egypt with their family members. The Israeli government’s aim was to promote the political goal of a prisoner exchange, but along with the Jewish-national goal of securing the Jews’ freedom. This quiet approach prevented domestic and external actors, such as the family members and the Jewish nongovernmental organizations, from influencing the implementation of this deal. From the last months of 1969 to the beginning of 1970, all the prisoners without citizenship were freed.88

At first Nasser refused to free the prisoners with Egyptian citizenship who were men of military-conscription age. The Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Mordechai Kidron, asked Sadruddin to talk with Nasser about these prisoners, who numbered about 80. Sadruddin replied that he could not act on behalf of the prisoners with Egyptian citizenship.89Instead Israel made effective use of the French channel, leading to the end of this difficult period in the history of the Egyptian Jews. Nasser assured the French ambassador that, from a humanitarian standpoint, he agreed to free these prisoners and let them and their family members leave Egypt – on condition that the prisoners would promise to renounce their Egyptian citizenship and not return to Egypt.90The French ambassador asked Israel to prevent media leaks on this matter or any publicity on the issue of the Egyptian Jews. By March 1971 all the prisoners had been freed.91

 

Conclusion

The situation of the Jews in Arab countries deteriorated as a result of the Six-Day War; the same had happened at the time of the War of Independence and the Sinai Campaign. The Jews suffered discrimination and persecution. In Egypt the Six-Day War prompted the imprisonment of about 500 members of the community. Israel, as the state of the Jewish people and their spokesman, worked for these Jewish prisoners’ release. It saw a need to remedy the situation despite its ongoing conflict with Egypt. However, when 10 soldiers were captured by Egypt during the war, in addition to the four individuals already imprisoned there from the Lavon affair as well as the Lutz couple, who had spied for Israel in Egypt, the Israeli government faced a question of how to bring about a prisoner-of-war exchange as well as the release of the Jewish prisoners in Egypt. To enable it to act indirectly and achieve its goal, it adopted quiet diplomacy.

The purpose of this study was to examine how the Israeli government used this diplomatic tool to promote its political goal, namely, the prisoner-of-war exchange and the freeing of the four Lavon-affair prisoners as well as the Lutz-couple affair, and its Jewish-national goal, namely the freeing of the Jewish prisoners. I considered how and to what extent quiet diplomacy helped the Israeli government achieve both the political and the Jewish-national goals. I maintained that this approach was intended to promote first the political goal and afterward the Jewish-national goal, and also to help pursue indirect negotiations with Egypt, which demanded secrecy regarding the efforts to secure the release and emigration of the Jewish prisoners and their families.

In the initial stages of the negotiations between the states, Israel conditioned the prisoner-of-war exchange on the release of the Jewish prisoners. However, Egypt opposed such terms. It saw the issue of the Jewish prisoners as part of its own domestic politics. As the negotiations continued, the Israeli decision-makers decided to remove the release of the Jewish prisoners from the agenda in order to promote the prisoner-exchange deal. The release of the Jewish prisoners would be achieved through quiet diplomacy utilizing Israel’s diplomatic ties with friendly European countries such as Spain and France and its relations with international organizations such as the United Nations and the Red Cross. This approach succeeded when Egypt agreed to release all the prisoners having foreign citizenship.

Israel held a major bargaining chip of more than 5,000 prisoners with which to pressure Egypt to free the Jewish prisoners. But the Israeli government gave the political goal priority over the Jewish-national one. The issue of getting the Jewish prisoners freed was relegated to quiet diplomacy. In terms of the order of importance, it is clear that the Israeli government saw the prisoner exchange as an urgent issue and securing the Jewish prisoners’ release as a secondary one that could be dealt with covertly, thereby preventing pressure on the government from the families and their representatives, and from the international organizations, that would affect the negotiations for the prisoner exchange. This approach proved effective in light of Nasser’s policy and his demand to maintain secrecy on the issue of the Jewish prisoners.

The second part of the article focused on the freeing of the prisoners without citizenship and those with Egyptian citizenship, as the Israeli government again resorted to quiet diplomacy. This was the time of the War of Attrition, during which Israeli soldiers were taken into Egyptian captivity and Egyptian soldiers and civilians into Israeli captivity, most notably the pilot Mohamed Abdul Baki, son-in-law of one of the heads of Egyptian intelligence. Nasser offered to Israel to free all the Jewish prisoners in return for the freeing of the pilot, but Israel refused, fearing that once the pilot had been released, Nasser would halt the freeing of the Jews without citizenship. Israel did, however, agree to release the pilot as part of a prisoner-exchange deal. The Israeli decision-makers claimed that by rejecting Nasser’s proposal, they prevented a situation in which the prisoners and the members of the community would have become Nasser’s hostages. Israel exploited the international pressure on Nasser on the issue of freeing the Jewish prisoners and separated it from the prisoner-exchange deal, which was the dominant issue for Israel.

Regarding Israel’s policy on the prisoner-release issue, a straight and clear line connects the prisoner-exchange deal after the Six-Day War and the prisoner-exchange deal during the War of Attrition. The dominant goal was the political one, the prisoner exchange, while the Jewish-national goal, the freeing of the Jewish prisoners, was secondary. This order of priority stemmed not only from the question of importance but also from practical obstacles posed by the Egyptian government, which did not want to appear to succumb to international pressures and dictates on the Jewish-prisoners issue.

The quiet diplomacy and secret channels proved an effective tool for the Israeli government. They were a by-product of Israel’s and Egypt’s political goals. Throughout the period, Israel used its diplomatic capability to generate pressure on Egypt through indirect negotiations mediated by the French and Spanish ambassadors in Cairo and the international organizations. The use of quiet diplomacy enabled Israel to put its political objective over its Jewish-national objective and to operate free from any political, social, or media-related constraints. The Egyptian Jewish community again paid the price for Israel’s foreign policy.

* * *

Notes

1 Ovadia Yerushalmi, Five Long Minutes (Tel Aviv: Achiasaf, 2017), 7-11, 30-34 (Hebrew); Michael Laskier, The Jews of Egypt, 1920-1970 (New York: New York University Press, 1992), 290-97.

2 Shmuel Sandler, “Toward a Theory of World Politics (Statesmanship) and Jewish Foreign Policy,” in Moshe Hellinger, ed., The Jewish Political Tradition over the Years (Ramat Gan, Israel: Bar-Ilan University, 2010), 307-433 (Hebrew).

3 Yitzhak Muallem, Israeli-Jewish Foreign Policy (Ashkelon: Ashkelon College and Bialik Institute, 2017), 176-80 (Hebrew).  

4 Aharon Klieman, Statecraft in the Dark: Israel’s Practice of Quiet Diplomacy (Tel Aviv: Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies , 1900), 8-10.

5 Nahem Ilan, “The Zionist Component in the Identity of the Egyptian Jews,” accessed July 20, 2019 (Hebrew), in

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqqFllay0pA; Ruth Kimchi, Zionism in the Shadow of the Pyramids (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2009), 588-609 (Hebrew); see also her article: “Zionism and Aliyah,” in Nahem Ilan, ed., Egypt (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: Ben Zvi Institute and Ministry of Education, 2008) 189-206 (Hebrew).

6 Laskier, Jews of Egypt.

7 Joel Beinin,  The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry (Berkekey: University of California Press, 1998), 83-89.

8 Amnon Shiloach, “The Music,” in Ilan, Egypt, 131-38 (Hebrew);  Eyal Sagi Bizawi, “The Theater and the Cinema,” in Ilan, Egypt, 161-78 (Hebrew); Bat Yeor, The Jews of Egypt (Ramat Gan, Israel: Maariv and World Jewish Congress, 1974), 140-51 (Hebrew).  

9 Yerushalmi, Five Long Minutes.  

10 Robin Broun, “The Politics of Relations Public Diplomacy,” in R. S. Zaharna, Amelia Arsenault, and Ali Fisher, eds., Relational, Networked and  Collaborative Approaches to Public Diplomacy (New York and London: Routledge, 2013), 44-55; Craig Hayden, The Rhetoric of Soft  Power:  Public Diplomacy in Global Contexts (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2012), 4-14. 

11 Abba Eban, The New Diplomacy (Tel Aviv: Yediot Aharonot, 1985) (Hebrew).  

12 K. J. Holsti, International Relations (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1995), 139-49.

13 Harold Nicolson, Diplomacy (Ramat Gan, Israel: Masada, 1966), 48-49 (Hebrew).

14 Sasson Sofer, Menachem Begin at the Camp David Summit: A Chapter in the New Diplomacy, Policy Publications, no. 15 (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1986), 52-54 (Hebrew); William Quandt, Camp David: Peace and the Political Game (Jerusalem: Keter, 1988), 181-205 (Hebrew).

15 Yair Hirschfeld, Oslo: Formula for Peace (Tel Aviv: Yitzhak Rabin Center, 1998), 275-83 (Hebrew).

16 Klieman, Statecraft, 8-17.

17 Ibid., 10.

18 Aharon Klieman, Israeli Diplomacy in the Back Channel (Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 2000), 2-3.

19 Aharon Klieman, Arms Sales: The Clandestine Cultivation of the National Interest, in Benjamin Neuberger, ed., Wars and Arrangements (Tel Aviv: Open University, 1992), 215-37) (Hebrew).

20  Goah (גואה), “The Wave of Murders and Terror against Jews in Arab Countries,” Maariv, June 29, 1967 (Hebrew); Yerushalmi, Five Long Minutes, 23-29; Tad Szulc, The Secret Alliance (London: Pan Books, 1991), 280-83.

21 Yerushalmi, Five Long Minutes, 30-34; Laskier, Jews of Egypt, 290-92.   

22 Protocol of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Israeli Knesset, July 18, 1967, State Archive (Hebrew).

23 Ovadia Yerushalmi, “The Six-Day War and the Five Long Minutes,” in Edna Aharoni, ed., The Golden Age of Egyptian Jewry (Holon, Israel: Orion, 2014), 291 (Hebrew).  

24 See Protocol, no. 74.

25 See an update sent from the Israeli Foreign Ministry to the Israeli representation in New York, June 22, 1967, State Archive, file 4085/1—חצ; on the release of the consuls, see letter sent from the Israeli Foreign Ministry to the representation in New York, July 2, 1967, State Archive, file 4085/1—חצ.  

26 See letter sent from Tel Aviv to the Israeli representations in the world, June 17, 1967, State Archive, file 4085/1—חצ; see also in Yoav Gelber, Attrition: The Forgotten War (Modi’in: Kinneret Zmora-Bitan Dvir, 2017), 284-85 (Hebrew).

27 Gelber, ibid., 286-87; see letter sent from the Israeli Foreign Ministry to the embassy in Geneva, June 21, 1967, State Archive, file 4085/1—חצ.

28 See Protocol of Government Meeting, September 13, 1967, State Archive (Hebrew); see the letter from A. P. Lambert of the Israeli representation in the United Nations to the embassy in Geneva, July 7, 1967, State Archive, file 4085/1—חצ.  

29 Dan Schueftan, Attrition (Tel Aviv: Maarachot, 1989), 123-25 (Hebrew); see report that the Swiss ambassador in Israel gave to Shlomo Hillel, deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, August 16, 1967, State Archive, file 4085/1—חצ; for the effect of the bombing of the oil refineries in Port Suez on the release of the prisoners, see letter of Ambassador Levin in Paris to Shlomo Hillel, November 3, 1967, State Archive, file 6549/28—חצ.

30 See a discussion that was held with one of the detainees who were released, Freddie Yomtov Jeba, Central Zionist Archive, file L34/223; see report that B. Oren of the Mossad conveyed to Shlomo Shragai, head of the Aliyah and Absorption Department of the Jewish Agency, August 23, 1967, Central Zionist Archive, file L34/223; see report by the American Jewish Committee, September 5, 1967, State Archive, file 6549/28—חצ; and see report by the Institute of Jewish Affairs of the World Jewish Congress, August 1967, State Archive, file 6549/28—חצ.

31 See letter of Avraham Harman, Israeli ambassador to the United States, to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, June 26, 1967, State Archive, file 4085/1—חצ.  

32 See letter of David Ariel from the New York representation to Shlomo Hillel, deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, November 15, 1967, State Archive, file 6549/28—חצ.    

33 See letter of Shlomo Hillel to the New York representation, August 25, 1967, State Archive, file 4095/15—חצ; see report that Uri Berger conveyed to Shlomo Hillel, September 7, 1967, State Archive, file 6549/28—חצ; see also letter of Yosef Tekoah, deputy director-general of the Foreign Ministry, to the Israeli representations, July 20, 1967, State Archive, file 4086/8—חצ; and see report by the Red Cross on the Jews of Egypt, July 10, 1967, State Archive, file 4086/8—חצ.  

34 See a conversation held with Freddie Yomtov Jeba, file  L34/223.

35 Yitzhak Mualem, “Israel’s Foreign Policy: Military-Economic Aid and Assisting   Distress – Can the Two Coexist?” Israel Affairs 18, 2 (2012): 201-18.

36 Eliyahu Elissar, Living with the Jews (Jerusalem: Marcus, 1981), 358-60 (Hebrew); Raanan Rein, “Franco’s Spain and the Jews of Spanish Origin in Arab Countries, 1956-1970,” Gesher מא (131), עמ’ 75-69.   (Hebrew); José Antonio Lisbona, Rentro aSefarad (Barcelona: Riopiedros ediciones, 1993), 198-203; España-Israel Hitoria de Unas Relaciones Secretas (Madrid: Temas de Hoy, 2002), 104-07.

37 Yerushalmi, Five Long Minutes, 66-77.

38 Rein, Franco’s Spain, 75-78.

39 Klieman, Israeli Diplomacy, 6-8.

40 Mordechai Heimovitz, “The Price of Victory,” Maariv, supplement, June 7, 2019, 12 (Hebrew); Raanan Rein, “Diplomacy, Propaganda and Humanitarian Gestures: Francoist Spain and Egyptian Jews, 1956-1968,” Iberoamericano 6, 29 (2001): 29-32; Chaim Lipschitz, Franco, Spain, the Jews, and the Holocaust (New York: Ktav, 1984), 186-89.

41  Lipschitz, ibid., 157-59.

42 Rein, Franco’s Spain, 76; Lipschitz, ibid., 189; see telegram sent by Shlomo Hillel to the representation in New York, February 19, 1968, State Archive, file 4290/7—חצ.     

43 See letter of Yosef Tekoah to the Israeli representation, July 20, 1967, State Archive, file 4086/8—חצ.   

44 See report by Zvi Gabai sent to Shlomo Hillel, January 9, 1968, State Archive, file 4290/7—חצ; see letter of David Ariel from the representation in New York to the Middle East Department, December 27, 1967, State Archive, file 4290/7—חצ.   

45 See report by Gerhart Riegner, director-general of the World Jewish Congress, October 25, 1967, State Archive, file 6549/28—חצ.

46 See report that Gerhart Riegner conveyed to Natan Lerner, October 25, 1967, State Archive, file 6549/28—חצ.

47 See n. 42.

48 See letter of Yael Vered to Shlomo Hillel, August 10, 1967, State Archive, file 4095/15—חצ; see letter of the ambassador in Paris to Shlomo Hillel, November 3, 1967, State Archive, file 6549/28—חצ.

49 See n. 48, letter of Yael Vered.  

50 Protocol of Meeting of the Security Cabinet, September 13, 1967, State Archive, p. 29.

51 Ibid., p. 30.

52 Ibid.  

53 Ibid., p. 33.  

54 Protocol of Joint Meeting of the Security Cabinet and the special ministerial committee set up by governmental decision,State Archive, October 1, 1967, p. 22 (Hebrew).

55 See the words of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, ibid., p. 14.

56 Ibid.

57 Ibid., p. 27.

58 Ibid.

59 Ibid., p. 20.

60 Ibid., p. 16.

61 Protocol of Meeting of the Security Cabinet, December 27, 1967, State Archive (Hebrew).  

62 Meir Amit, Head to Head (Or Yehuda: Hed Artzi, 1999), 251 (Hebrew).

63 Ibid., 247-87; Amnon Jackont, Meir Amit, Head of the Mossad (Tel Aviv: Yediot-Sifrei Hemed, 2012), 237-46 (Hebrew).

64 Knesset Archives, October 30, 1967 (Hebrew).

65 See letters of Nehama Frank, January 7, 1968, and Sarit Yanovsky, January 12, 1968, to the prime minister and also the request of Avraham Kalfon, chair of the Committee of the Sephardic Community, January 3, 1968, on the issue of freeing the prisoners, State Archive, file 4873/8—פ.

66 Yerushalmi, Five Long Minutes, 86; see letter of Yehuda Helman to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, February 14, 1968, file 4290/7—חצ.

67 Berto Farhi, “Les juifs de Nasser,” in: http://www.hsje.org/Egypt/Juifs%20de%20Nasser.pdf. See the negative effect of the article in the letter of Yoel Allon from the Israeli representation to the UN institutions in Geneva to Shlomo Hillel, February 5, 1968, State Archive, file 4290/7—חצ; see also memorandum of Uri Berger to Shlomo Hillel, January 29, 1968, State Archive, file 4290/7—חצ.

68 See report of the World Jewish Congress prepared by Henry Jebs on the situation of the Jews in Arab countries, October 30, 1967, file 6549/28—חצ.  

69 See summation of the meeting between Mordechai Kidron, Israeli ambassador to the UN institutions in Geneva, and , April 16, 1969, State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.

70 See letter of Shlomo Hillel to the Israeli consul in Australia, Yitzhak David Marmor, September 19, 1969, State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.  

71 Gelber, Attrition, 330-74; Yaacov Barsimantov, “The War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt, 1969-1970: Outcomes, Assessments and Conclusions,” in Benjamin Neuberger and Arie Gronik, eds., Foreign Policy between Conflicts and Settlements: Israel 1948-2008 (Raanana, Israel: Open University, 2008), 596-613 (Hebrew); Moshe Shemesh, “Nasser’s Strategy of ‘Destroying the Aggression,’ June 1969 – September 1970: A Reassessment,” Iyunim b’Tkumat Yisrael 19 (2009): 246-82 (Hebrew).

72 Shimon Golan, The War to Stop the Attrition (Moshav Ben Shemen, Israel: Modan-Misrad Habitachon, 2018), 83 (Hebrew); Schueftan, Attrition, 152.

73 Yerushalmi, Five Long Minutes, 93.

74 See telegram sent by Shlomo Hillel to the Israeli representation to the UN institutions in Geneva, February 28, 1968, State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ; see letter of Shlomo Hillel to Foreign Minister Abba Eban, April 11, 1969, State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.

75 See letter sent by the Israeli embassy in Washington to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.   

76 See letter of Shlomo Hillel to Foreign Minister Abba Eban, March 26, 1969,  State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.    

77 See letter of Mordechai Kidron to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, April 21, 1969, State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.    

78 See report of the Israeli embassy in Washington to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, March 26, 1969, State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.    

79 See a report of the Israeli embassy in Washington to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, April 3, 1969, State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.      

80 See letter of Shlomo Hillel to Foreign Minister Abba Eban, April 11, 1969,  State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.    

81 See letter of Shlomo Hillel to Foreign Minister Abba Eban, April 5, 1969,  State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.    

82 Ibid.

83 See letter of Shlomo Hillel to Yitzhak David Marmor, Israeli consul in Australia, ibid.  

84 Rowland Evans and Robert Novak,  “Chilling Impasse in Middle East,” Chicago Sun-Times, April 28, 1969, 36. 

85 See letter of Shlomo Hillel to Israeli representation in Europe, April 29, 1969, State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.      

86 See letter of Yosef Caleb, assistant to the head of the Department of Military Administration and Territorial Security, to the head of the Operations Branch of the General Staff, State Archive, file 3875/6—חצ.    

87 Yerushalmi, Five Long Minutes, 136-37; Heimovitz, Price of Victory.

88  See letter of Mordechai Kidron to Shmuel Dibon, Department of Diaspora Affairs in the Foreign Ministry, March 11, 1970, State Archive, file 7047/7.  

89 Ibid.

90 See letter of Ambassador Levin from the Israeli embassy in Paris to Shmuel Dibon in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, May 13, 1970, State Archive, file 7047/7.  

91 Yerushalmi, Five Long Minutes, 108.