Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Edward Gibson Lanpher
LANPHER: The ambassador is somebody I'd like to talk about later. His name was Walworth Barbour, a real legend. A fellow named Bill Dale was the DCM. Heywood Stackhouse was the political counselor. I can't remember who the economic counselor was. I was assigned for the first part of my rotation to the consular section. The consul general was an old veteran named Cliff English. It was set up as a traditional embassy with a public affairs officer. I can't remember how many Americans there were, but we had six or eight Marines. It was a traditional embassy.
Q: When you arrived in '67, what was the situation there?
LANPHER: When I got there in January, there were reports about incursions and [whatnot and] firings across the line between Israel and Syria around the Sea of Galilee, but everything was sort of under control. The thing I remember most about the early days, January through March of 1967, was, Israel was in a deep recession. People were fairly blue. It was a pretty heavily socialist country in those days. It wasn't working economically. I saw this on a day to day basis because I was assigned when I got there to be the immigrant visa officer, my first job. I saw a steady stream of Israelis coming in to try to get visas to the United States. I interviewed them and they were leaving for economic reasons. The country was dispirited. It was a good education. It was a good way to start out in the Foreign Service.
Q: Had these immigrants come there for religious reasons?
LANPHER: It's hard to generalize. There were some Sabras and many, many Israelis have relatives in the United States. It was a question of petitions from brothers and sisters. But there was also in the '50s and early '60s a lot of immigration to Israel out of Eastern Europe. To a certain extent, these people showed up in Israel and with the tough economic times, they couldn't get jobs, they couldn't sustain themselves. So they looked to relatives in the United States to petition for them and showed up in my office.
Q: Coming out of Eastern Europe, this must have complicated your life because of connections to communist movements in all these countries they came out of?