Six Day War of 1967 - 3rd Arab Israeli War

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"Every one of the hundred million Arabs has been living ... to see the day Israel is liquidated"

Cairo Radio’s Voice of the Arabs broadcast,
May 18th 1967.

Personal recollections from the Diaspora

Sidney Assor

I had become worried about the potential conflict several weeks before the war. I was running a subsidiary Export Company of an Engineering Complex of Companies. I had visited the Arabian/Persian Gulf and secured substantial export orders, parts for the building and motoring industries, and quickly prepared them for shipping.

During my visit to Egypt, Lebanon and the Gulf the previous months, it was obvious the commercial and trading world had no inkling of the forthcoming events - optimism was prevailing.

Once I'd secured my orders and made them ready for shipment, I left the shipping documentation and transport preparations in the hands of my shipping clerk and forwarding agent, then left with my family for a motoring holiday to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary in the south of France.

On the Monday Morning, ever a conscientious partner, I phoned the office from France to enquire on how matters were going. To my astonishment I was told that my partners, original staunch Zionists had cancelled the orders and halted the shipments!

I blew up and, on asking why, was told, very "matter of factly" "THE WAR HAS STARTED!"

"Which war?" I asked. The Middle East has exploded yesterday (Sunday), I was told.

There was not a murmur of this in Perpignan or Canet. No papers from Paris had yet arrived. No radio or television in the House. Complete silence.

I went to my car; where I spent most of the remaining four days of my holidays, listening to the car radio to find out more. Once " au fait" with the situation, I went back inside and called again the office and talked to my partners, explaining that stopping the shipment would deprive us of profit which we could pass on to Magen David Adom (Israel's ambulance service).

Whilst talking a man with tools climbed a stepladder along a nearby telephone pole – then suddenly the line went dead! When I asked what had happened he shrugged

"Je repare ligne du secteur" (I am putting in order the area telephone system).

"But why do you cut it before installing a new line?

C'est le syteme qui le demande "

Here I was, dumbfounded and without any means of communication.

I tried the General Post Office, but they had never heard of Hemel Hempstead so it took two hours to be connected, by which time it was lunch time in France and everything stopped! So then I tried the police station, a doctor surgery and even a hairdresser, getting more agitated all the time before finally managing to bribe the owner of a brasserie to borrow his phone.

After a few wrong numbers, I was finally connected to my partners who explained the situation and that they were just as keen as I was to do their utmost to help Israel. It took over an hour on our three way conversation to finally convince them that it was in Israel's favour to ship the goods as per the condition of the Letter of Credit, being paid and hopefully, peace be achieved, and as I said earlier the profit donated to Israel.

I won the argument!

However after this we could not return to our holiday mood and spent all our time listening to the French and English news, which were completely different.

Imagine our worries and desperation when we heard the Israeli Radio advising the population to shelter the young: "as they are the future of Israel". Our hearts sank and we were sobbing listening to all the news stations describing the final days of Israel, little realising that, by this time the war was over and Israel had been victorious.

We decided on Tuesday to leave for a return via Marseille as my daughter developed an ear infection and I wanted to have the best attention as I knew people in the medical world in Marseille.

We arrived in Marseille on Wednesday evening to a festive atmosphere of jubilation, with crowds of thousands in the streets waving Israeli and French Flags.

The radios had still not yet informed us of the final outcome. Friends who had been in contact with the Israeli Embassy in Paris and the Israeli Consulate in Marseille gave us the information we needed to hear, so with much relief we were able join in the festivities.

We joined the crowd at the Marseille main synagogue in prayers of thanksgiving

The goods arrived few months later and I developed a very good business relations in the Gulf which led me in my interest in the Arab World, its culture, its methods and its attitude towards loyalty, so different from the world I was brought up, Morocco and North Africa.

And as they say, the rest is history…

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