Gamal Abdel Nasser

President of Egypt from 1956 to 1970

Gamal Abdel Nasser (January 15, 1918September 28, 1970; Arabic: جمال عبد الناصر, name also transliterated as Jamal Abd al-Naser , "Jamal Abd An-Nasser", and other variants) was the leader of Egypt from 1954 until his death in 1970. He is considered one of the most important political figures in modern Arab history, and in Developing World politics of the 20th century. He was well-known for his nationalist policies and his version of pan-Arabism also referred to as Nasserism, which won a great following in the Arab World during the 1950s and 1960s. Many in the general Arab populace still view Nasser as a symbol of Arab dignity and freedom.

I am alive, and even if I die, all of you are Gamal Abdul Nasser!

Quotes edit

Gamal Abdel Nasser giving a homeless Egyptian man a job
Map of the United Arab Republic with Egypt and Syria
  • My countrymen, my blood spills for you and for Egypt. I will live for your sake and die for the sake of your freedom and honor. Let them kill me; it does not concern me so long as I have instilled pride, honor, and freedom in you. If Gamal Abdel Nasser should die, each of you shall be Gamal Abdel Nasser ... Gamal Abdel Nasser is of you and from you and he is willing to sacrifice his life for the nation.
    • Stephens, Robert Henry (1972), Nasser: A Political Biography, New York
  • The holy march on which the Arab nation insists, will carry us forward from one victory to another ... the flag of freedom which flies over Baghdad today will fly over Amman and Riyadh. Yes, the flag of freedom which flies over Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad today will fly over the rest of the Middle East.
    • Aburish, Said K. (2004), Nasser, the Last Arab, New York City
  • You are from Britain. Would you accept to give Manchester to some other people? And if you are American, I ask the same way, do you accept to give California to some other people? Or would you accept the 'status quo' of occupying Manchester by some other people, by the Chinese for instance? And then reach agreement after expelling the people of Manchester from their homes, depriving them of their property, of everything? This is the question of Palestine.
  • We are awaiting aggression by Israel and any supporters of Israel. We will make it a decisive battle and get rid of Israel once and for all… This is the dream of every Arab.
    • As quoted in the Washington Post (27 July 1959)
  • If the refugees return to Israel – Israel will cease to exist.
    • As quoted in A Mandate for Terror : The United Nations and the PLO (1989), by Harris O. Schoenberg, p. 239
  • Let them kill Nasser! What is Nasser but one among many? I am alive, and even if I die, all of you are Gamal Abdul Nasser!
    • To his followers during the assassination attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood, as quoted in The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright ISBN 978-0375414862
  • The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them we are missing.
    • As quoted in Copeland, Miles (1970). The Game of Nations (4 ed.). Simon and Schuster. p. 216. 
  • Our path to Palestine will not be covered with a red carpet or with yellow sand. Our path to Palestine will be covered with blood… In order that we may liberate Palestine, the Arab nation must unite, the Arab armies must unite, and a unified plan of action must be established
    • In a re-election speech (1965), as quoted in Islamic Imperialism : A History (2007) by Efraim Karsh, p. 162
  • If the Jews win this battle, then the Arabs had better go bury their faces in the mud!
  • No person, not even the most simple one, takes seriously the lie of the six million Jews that were murdered [in the Holocaust].[1][2]
  • If anyone thinks we have become tired, let me say that we are a struggling nation, a fighting nation, a patient nation.
  • We knew that by closing the Gulf of Aqaba it might mean war with Israel. [If war comes] it will be total and the objective will be to destroy Israel.
    • As quoted in the Washington Post (27 May 1967)
  • We have to go along a road covered with blood. We have no other alternative. For us it is a matter of life or death, a matter of living or existing. We have to be ready to face the challenges that await us.
    • Gamal Abdel Nasser, speech to Egypt's National Assembly, Cairo (November 6, 1969), as reported by The Washington Post (November 7, 1969), p. 1.
  • We must fight our way to victory on a sea of blood and a horizon of fire.
    • As quoted in the Wall Street Journal (14 November 1969)
  • I believe that we now have a duty to remove the aggressor from our land and to regain the Arab territory occupied by the Israelis. We can then engage in a clandestine struggle to liberate the land of Palestine, to liberate Haifa and Jaffa.
    • In a meeting with King Hussein, as quoted in the in Efraim Karsh, Islamic Imperialism: A History (2007), p. 172

Quotes about Nasser edit

  • Lyndon's gone and dragged Nasser away from the fireplace and onto the balcony again. Once you get him out there, it's a helluva job to get him back to the fireplace again.
  • In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him. This was a war of self-defence in the noblest sense of the term. The government of national unity then established decided unanimously: We will take the initiative and attack the enemy, drive him back, and thus assure the security of Israel and the future of the nation.
  • Nasser's a thug. He needs to be taught a lesson.
    • Aneurin Bevin, Remark to Ian Mikardo after Nasser's nationalisation of the Suez Canal (August 1956), quoted in Mervyn Jones, Michael Foot (1994), p. 214
  • Our quarrel is not with Egypt, still less with the Arab world. It is with Colonel Nasser. He has shown that he is not a man who can be trusted to keep an agreement. Now he has torn up all his country's promises to the Suez Canal Company and has even gone back on his own statements.
    • Anthony Eden, Broadcast (8 August 1956), quoted in "Oil route 'a matter of life and death'", The Times (9 August 1956), p. 6
  • There is now doubt in our minds that Nasser, whether he likes it or not, is now effectively in Russian hands, just as Mussolini was in Hitler's. It would be as ineffective to show weakness to Nasser now in order to placate him as it was to show weakness to Mussolini.
  • My father taught me that you have to stand by your principles. He was president of the bar association and was preaching civil liberties and human rights during some of the most repressive years of the Nasser era. He was the focus of a lot of pressure and intimidation, but he stood by his principles. And I think that's a lesson I remember from him — that you stand up for what you believe in.
  • By 1956, only four years after toppling the corrupt and ineffective King Farouk, Egypt’s second president and virtual dictator, the thirty-six-year-old Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, had become a major figure in international affairs. A champion of pan-Arabism, he aimed to build up Egypt and liberate the Middle East from the last vestiges of European colonialism. He had won Britain’s agreement to withdraw its eighty thousand troops from the Suez Canal Zone, played a starring role at the Bandung Conference, and defied the West with a spectacular arms deal with communist Czechoslovakia in 1955 and the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China in 1956. By 1956 Nasser’s feats had aroused his opponents. Israeli leaders, worried over their neighbor’s acquisition of sophisticated Eastern-bloc weapons, the escalating border violence, and the hostile propaganda emanating from Cairo radio, contemplated a preemptive strike. They found a kindred spirit in France, where the Guy Mollet government was obsessed with Nasser’s support of the Algerian revolution. And Britain’s prime minister, Anthony Eden, furious over Nasser’s attempts to undermine British interests in Iraq and Jordan, viewed the Egyptian leader as an “Arab Mussolini” intent on using Soviet aid to dominate the Middle East and to threaten Western Europe’s oil supplies.
    • Carole C. Fink, The Cold War: An International History (2017)
  • When I met Nasser, he said to me, "I see myself when I was young in you. You are the future for the Arab revolution." This meant very, very much to me.
    • Muammar Gaddafi, as quoted in "Gadhafi, the man the world loves to hate" by Marie Colvin (UPI) in The Pittsburgh Press (3 August 1986)
  • What Nasser showed, then—along with Tito, Nehru, and Zhou Enlai—was that being a Cold War superpower did not always ensure that one got one's way. There were limits to how much either Moscow or Washington could order smaller powers around, because they could always defect to the other side, or at least threaten to do so. The very compulsiveness with which the Soviet Union and the United States sought to bring such states within their orbits wound up giving those states the means of escape. Autonomy, in what might have seemed to be inhospitable circumstances, was becoming attainable. Tails were beginning to wag dogs.
  • We cannot forget that Colonel Nasser has repeatedly boasted of his intention to create an Arab empire from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. The French Prime Minister, M. Mollet, the other day quoted a speech of Colonel Nasser's and rightly said that it could remind us only of one thing—of the speeches of Hitler before the war.
    • Hugh Gaitskell, Speech in the House of Commons (2 August 1956) after Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal
  • Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world. Other nations when they are defeated survive and recover but should Israel be defeated it would be destroyed. Had Nasser triumphed last June he would have wiped Israel off the map, and no one would have lifted a finger to save the Jews. No commitment to the Jews by any government, including our own, is worth the paper it is written on.
  • In the 19th century you had two important events in Europe: the unification of Italy and the unification of Germany, and both of these had a tremendous impact in the Arab world. They saw in this, a model for what they should be able to do, and they tried for a long time to do it. Nasserism is probably the final phase of that movement and, as you know, it failed. Now all the Arab states are independent but no union of Arab states has ever worked. They always fall apart through internal dissension.
    • Bernard Lewis, "Islam and the West: A Conversation with Bernard Lewis." The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (April 27, 2006), Washington, D.C.: Hay-Adams Hotel.
  • It is true, as I have already stated, that I have been influenced by Marxist thought. But this is also true of many of the leaders of the new independent States. Such widely different persons as Gandhi, Nehru, Nkrumah, and Nasser all acknowledge this fact. We all accept the need for some form of socialism to enable our people to catch up with the advanced countries of this world and to overcome their legacy of extreme poverty. But this does not mean we are Marxists.
    • Nelson Mandela, statement from the dock at the opening of the defence case in the Rivonia Trial, Pretoria Supreme Court, (20 April 1964)
  • One of history's ironies is that Kosovo, a Muslim territory, owes its survival to the assistance of the Americans, just as Nasser's pseudo-victory against France, England, and Israel was obtained through the intervention of the Americans and Russians.
  • First it is a question of International Law. The UN was intended to have a means of enforcing the law. It has no such means. Egypt and Israel have been breaking the law for 9 years without correction. Secondly, the Nasser danger is much more serious than a local friction. The real danger is we should be faced by a coalition of Arab, Muslim and anti-Western states, led nominally by Egypt but really by Russia. ... Such a danger, the Prime Minister saw, must be stopped.
    • Gilbert Murray, Letter to the editor of Time and Tide during the Suez Crisis (10 November 1956), quoted in Duncan Wilson, Gilbert Murray OM (1987), p. 393
  • I have learned by experience that a tragic end awaits anyone who dares cross swords with me; Nasser is no more, John and Robert Kennedy died at the hands of assassins, their brother Edward has been disgraced, Krushchev was toppled, the list is endless.
  • It is small surprise that among tyrannical regimes and their defenders, America and Israel are so often identified as the same enemy. This is not merely a consequence of America's standing along behind Israel; the United States has aided various Arab countries very generously, and it has on some critical occasions backed Arab regimes, such as Nasser's Egypt in 1956 and Saudi Arabia in 1981, against Israel. The hostility is aroused largely because America and Israel represent democracy, equal rights for women, a higher quality of life, and a willingness to confront despotism. That is why the two non-Muslim countries that have suffered the heaviest losses from Islamic suicide murderers are Israel and the United States.
    • Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin. Why the Jews?: The Reason for Antisemitism, pp. 194-195. 2003.
  • My reading of Camus, and certainly of his later stories, starts with the fact that he, in the late 1950s, was very much opposed to independence for Algeria. He in fact compared the FLN to Abdel Nasser in Egypt, after Suez, after 1956.
    • Edward Said, in The Pen and the Sword: Conversations with David Barsamian (1994), pp.73-74
  • We did not think that Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to Sinai on May 14 would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive against Israel. He knew it and we knew it.
    • Yitzhak Rabin, As quoted in Le Monde (28 February 1968), when he was Chief of General Staff for Israel
  • The spirit of Bandung got its first test in the Middle East in the summer of 1956. At the head of a new radical military government, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser was frustrated by fruitless negotiations with the Americans over loans. He resented that Egypt, long under British domination, still was forced to accept substantial foreign influence. Nasser wanted the Suez Canal, bisecting his country, to revert from British and French to Egyptian control, not least so that Egypt could benefit more from the substantial income from the canal. The United States urged negotiations. When London and Paris both declined, Nasser seized control of the canal zone in a sudden military operation on 26 July 1956. The Egyptian code word for the immediate start of the operation, cleverly woven into a lengthy Nasser speech in Alexandria, was Lesseps—the name of the French engineer who had designed the canal in the 1860s. In his Suez speech, Nasser summed up the injustices imperialism had committed not only against Egypt, but against all Arabs. Arabs had been second-class citizens in their own countries; they had been divided, or evicted, like the Palestinians. But no longer. In a speech laden with references to Bandung and anticolonial solidarity, Nasser declared a new Arab unity, of which Egypt and Syria would form the initial parts, but which all Arab states could join.
    • Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A Global History (2017)

References edit

  1. Satloff, Robert (2007). Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust's Long Reach Into Arab lands. PublicAffairs. p. 163. ISBN 9781586485108. 
  2. Laqueur, Walter (2006). The Changing Face of Antisemitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day. Oxford University Press. p. 141. ISBN 9780195304299. 

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