121. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow) to President Johnson1

Mr. President:

As instructed, I called on Congressman Celler2 and Congressman Morgan3 at noon in the Rayburn Building.

Congressman Celler explained that he and Morgan were working closely together in providing leadership in the House with respect to the Mid East crisis.

They wish me to convey to you the following:

The clear majority sentiment in the House of Representatives is pro-Israel. They feel Israel is being “pushed around” by Nasser.
They are worried about the effect of the passage of time on Israel with respect to the build-up of Egyptian forces in Sinai and the debilitating consequences for the Israeli economy.
They feel we shall, in the end, have to “do something” to open the blockade at Aqaba—multilaterally or otherwise.
They do not believe that the Soviet Union will directly confront us if we so act. They will react indirectly.
They wanted it clearly understood that they are “Administration men”; they fully support the President; they fully support your statement of May 23; and they wish to do nothing that you would not regard as helpful.
Celler then asked, “Would the President regard it as helpful if we generated a strong statement of support for his position on Aqaba?” He said that without even trying, they got over 100 signatures last week.

I replied that I could not speak for the President. It was my impression that the President might need their support in the days ahead, and it might be wise to await the President’s direct guidance. But I could be wrong; and if the President wished them to generate a statement of support, I would let them know.

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Celler did most of the speaking; but, at each point, he asked Morgan for confirmation that this was also his view. Morgan explicitly stated his agreement at each point and at the end when I summarized their message to you.


No Congressional statement wanted now4
Tell Celler and Morgan to do the following
See me

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Middle East Crisis, Vol. III. No classification marking. A handwritten notation on the memorandum indicates that it was received at 1:25 p.m.
  2. Representative Emmanuel Celler of New York.
  3. Representative Thomas E. Morgan of Pennsylvania, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
  4. This option is checked.