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November 27 in Middle East History

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De Gaulle and richard nixon

Richard Nixon and Charles De Gaulle in a White House photograph from March 2, 1969. That's a young Richard Nixon to the left. The fourth man is unidentified.

1095: On the 10th day of the Catholic Church’s Council of Cleremont, Pope Urban II calls all of Christianity to arms to face down Muslim conquests in the East, claiming that “God demands it.” Asking all future “soldiers of Christ” to cross themselves for their mission, the pope has, in effect, called for the first Crusade against Islam’s expanding forces in Byzantium (present-day Turkey) and the Levant (Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria).

1967: At a wide-ranging news conference on Nov. 27, 1967, French President Charles De Gaulle condemned Israel’s Six-Day War for its subsequent occupation of Arab territories ion Jordan, Syria and Egypt, and subjugation of local populations. De Gaulle’s words would prove keenly prophetic as he predicted that Israel could not carry out a long-term occupation "without oppression, repression, expulsions and resistance, which Israel, in its turn, calls terrorism."

1970: Syria announces it will join Egypt, Libya and the Sudan in a projected federation that would pool its forces in opposition to Israel. The announcement follows talks between Syria’s Hafez el-Assad, then Syria’s defense minister, and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Two weeks earlier, Assad had led a coup against Syrian President Nureddin al-Attasi. The federation is fated to remain all talk as the Arab regimes fail to agree on their unity’s parameters.

1975: California Gov. Edmund G. Brown suspends negotiations with Saudi Arabia over a $25 million plan to send unemployed California highway workers to Saudi Arabia to build roads there. The Saudi kingdom was in dire need of workers, but it forbade California from sending Jews, blacks or women as part of the labor pool. The Saudi government denied that blacks and women would be excluded (indeed, some Saudis are black), but reiterated its opposition to accepting Jews who adhere to Zionists principles. “It is hard to tell exactly what they mean by Zionists even after a week of talks with the U.S. State Department and Saudi representatives,” J. Anthony Kline, the governor’s legal secretary, says at the time. “A lot of euphemisms and abstract concepts were thrown around. But in the end, I think that realistically speaking the Saudi Government defines Zionists as all Jews.”

1987: A shadowy group calling itself the Organization for Revolutionary Justice releases two French hostages in Beirut. Jean-Louis Normandin, a 36-year-old television lighting engineer, was held for 629 days. Roger Auque, a 31-year-old photographer-journalist, was held for 319 days. Between 1982 and 1991, about 30 militias take some 150 Westerners hostage in Lebanon, 10 of whom are killed or die in captivity.

2005: A day before Saddam Hussein is scheduled to return to court on charges of crimes against humanity, Iraqi police in the northern city of Kirkuk—Hussein’s home town—arrest 10 Sunni men allegedly carrying orders from a Hussein deputy to assassinate Raid Juhi, the chief investigative judge of the court that is trying Hussein.

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