JANUARY 28, 1957
NEW YORK—Premier David Ben-Gurion's latest statement on the Israeli-Egypt problem seems to me the only one that the head of the state could properly make. As such, his first and most important duty is to protect his people. That is all he is doing when he asks for assurances that U.N. forces will move in before he withdraws from the Aqaba Straits and the Gaza Strip. Otherwise he runs the risk of having those two points again occupied by the Egyptians. He would then be in the same spot he was in before he decided to try and protect his people from the Egyptian raids launched from areas along the Egyptian-Israeli border.
It seems to me very unreasonable for Egypt to state that this action on the part of Israel may cause a major crisis, and for the Egyptian press to announce that clearing of the Suez Canal might be halted because of it. The Israelis have not refused to withdraw. They have only made the condition that they must first have assurances that the Egyptians will not move back to threaten them again.
One wonders what Secretary of the Treasury Humphrey thought when President Eisenhower said at his news conference that there would be no limit, other than that imposed by the Constitution, on any Federal government actions to combat any future recessions. For the President to include deficit spending as a possibility was an extraordinary doctrine to espouse, especially in view of the stand previously taken by his Secretary of the Treasury. It is fortunate, I think, that the President feels fairly sure there will be no recession or depression in the near future.
I don't know whether most people knew as little as I did about Beihan, a settlement in Britain's Aden Protectorate, which figured so suddenly in the news last week. Quite frankly, when I first read that the Yemenis might attack and overrun Beihan unless the British flew in more reinforcements, I had no picture in my mind of where this place could be. Two days ago, the British airlifted a company of Cameron Highlanders from Aden into Beihan. Sherif Husein Bin Ahmed, ruler of this remote tribal state, seems very agitated over the situation and not at all content with the protection given them by British troops. Beihan is 150 miles north of Aden across a rocky plateau, and is accessible only by air. Supply planes must weave their way around high rocky pinnacles and alight on a bumpy sand strip outside the main settlement. The sherif has been called a British stooge by the Yemenis, and apparently he is afraid this will upset his own people. Some of them have already gone over to join the Yemenis on the promise of free arms, ammunition and food.
It all seems so very far away, as you read about it, and so different from anything we here can imagine as a way of life. One can almost believe that none of it is real, yet the New York Times correspondent who wrote the story evidently senses a real fear of assassination on the part of this sherif who rules his tribesmen. That fear can be as real on the streets of the greatest metropolis of the world as in this little, lost country so remote from us. When I read stories like this it always makes me want to go and see the country and the people, whose life must be so very different.