On June 6, 1967, the second day of the Six Day War, a secret unit in Israel, known only as 8200, intercepted and recorded a radiophone conversation between Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser and King Hussein of Jordan.
Nasser: Does Britain have aircraft carriers?
Note Nasser’s stunning ignorance of British military capabilities.
Nasser: Very well. So King Hussein will publish and we shall publish an announcement.
Nasser is pushing the lie that the British are fighting with the Israelis. Never underestimate the centrality and durability of conspiracy theories in the Muslim world.
Hussein: Thank you.
Nasser: Yes, Yes. Hello, good morning my brother, be strong.
Hussein: Mr. President, if you have any request or idea… at any time.
Nasser: We are fighting with all our forces. The fighting goes on all fronts, all the night, and if there was anything at the beginning, never mind, we shall overcome. Allah will be with us. Will his Highness publish an announcement concerning British and American participation?
Nasser, a staggeringly inept leader, neglects to inform King Hussein that the entire Egyptian air force was wiped out by the Israeli Air Force in the first few hours of the war. Instead, Nasser gives the impression that maybe things have not have gone so well in the first few hours of the war but hey, it’s going to be fine and by the way, let’s tell the world that the the British and, what the heck, the Americans are fighting alongside the Israelis.
King Hussein was clueless about the facts on the ground, but he was not a stupid man. As soon as Nasser fabricated American and British military forces Hussein’s instincts must have told him that the Egyptian military situation was less than rosy.
Nasser: I swear to Allah that we shall publish an announcement, and you will publish and we shall see to it that the Syrians will publish an announcement that American and British aircraft are participating against us from aircraft carriers. We shall announce it and emphasize it.
Hussein, always suspicious of the mercurial and grandiose Nasser, gives a neutral response.
Nasser picks up on the less than enthusiastic “okay” and presses the hapless monarch.
Nasser: Your Highness, do you agree?
I can just see the crafty Hussein slapping his palm over the phone’s speaker and letting loose with a few grunts to confuse the increasingly desperate Nasser.
Nasser: Thousands of thanks. Be strong. We are with you with all our hearts. Our aircraft are over Israel all day long today. Our aircraft are pounding the Israeli airbases since this morning.
Nasser is urging Hussein to open a third front—Syria was the Northern front—against Israel and join in the glory and spoils. Hussein is not biting—at least not yet.
Hussein: A thousand thanks, good-bye.
Here’s what the Egyptian air force looked like when Nasser urged King Hussein to declare war on Israel, June 1967
Political pressure on King Hussein was enormous. And though the Israelis cautioned Hussein not to enter the fray, the Jordanian monarch opened up with an artillery barrage on Jerusalem’s New City joining forces with Nasser. Hussein lost half his kingdom: Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem’s Old City, which the Jordanians had ethnically cleansed of all Jews back in 1948.
This phone call—Arab politics at its most squalid—with Nasser’s big lies, has yielded geo-political consequences that reverberate to this very day.
Unit 8200 is Israel’s NSA, though working on a far more modest budget.
In the past few weeks, as Hamas and Hizbullah have intensified their eliminationist war against the Jewish State, Israel has struck back with near pin-point accuracy.
Leading Hamas terrorists have been killed and arrested. A shipment of arms intended for Gaza was intercepted on the high seas. In Sudan the IAF—uncredit—incinerated an Iranian/Syrian convoy laden with arms headed towards the terrorist state of Gaza.
Each strike is the result of Unit 8200’s unique and top-secret electronic capabilities. Some intelligence gathering missions go on for months, if not years. And sometimes, under a ticking time-bomb scenario, Unit 8200 must gather intel within a few short hours so the military and Shin Bet can act.
About a year ago, Karen and I had lunch with an ex-member of Unit 8200. Sober, articulate, yet thoroughly bright and cheerful, this young woman—Orthodox, modest and quite beautiful—would only say that her service in the elite 8200 made her acutely aware of the multiple existential threats arrayed against the Jewish State and the Jewish people.
It’s a frightening world, but it’s good to know that Unit 8200 is out there watching and listening.