How Did Jerusalem React to the Death of Egypt’s President Nasser?

September 25, 2015 | Israel State Archives
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Monday marks the 45th anniversary of the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, arch-foe of the state of Israel. Herewith, a summary of Israeli government reactions, based on declassified documents and reports in the contemporary press:

[At a cabinet meeting the day after Nasser’s death], Prime Minister Golda Meir . . . reported that President Zalman Shazar wanted to make a radio statement on Nasser’s death. The tourism minister, Moshe Kol, said there was no reason for generosity toward Nasser: his policies were a failure and, while driving out the British and the French, he had let in the Russians. Nasser could have been a great leader, [said Kol], but had wasted his efforts on trying to destroy Israel. However, a new ruler in Egypt might take a different line, and Kol agreed with [Moshe] Dayan that Israel should take the initiative.

Several ministers favored an official statement by Shazar or Golda, but the interior minister, Yosef Burg, said they should approach the question “without malice and without hypocrisy.” Surely, [argued Burg], the Jewish community of Shushan would not have sent a telegram of sympathy to the family of Haman (who had plotted to destroy the Jews).

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