University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


On August 24, 1970, Senator J. William Fulbright presented the speech "Old Myths and New Realities II: The Middle East" to the United States Senate. The intent of this paper is to uncover the significant implications of Senator Fulbright's delivery of this particular speech at this particular moment in American History. In brief, Fulbright proposed a bilateral agreement between the United States and Israel, whereby Israel would return the conquered Arab lands of the I967 War in exchange for military protection from the United States. The speech, when taken out of context, provides a fairly simple plan to initiate peace in the Middle East. However, in relation to the events of 1969 and 1970, and specifically to the increasing alliance of the Soviet Union and Egypt, the Fulbright Peace plan offered a solution not only to the Arab-Israeli conflict, but also to the Cold War rivalry in the Middle East and to the perceived ineffectiveness of the United Nations. The crucial timing of the release of "Old Myths and New Realities 11: The Middle East" reflected Fulbright's awareness that continued attacks between Israel and thefedayeen (Egyptian-trained Arab fighters) would inevitably draw the United States into war with the Soviet Union. Angered by a series of inadequately implemented peace initiatives resulting from the unstable relationship between the Administration and the State Department, Fulbright could remain silent no longer. Moreover, the method of release (the speech was published widely both domestically and abroad before it was delivered on the Senate floor) reflected Fulbright's growing frustrations with the dwindling influence of the United States Congress over foreign policy decisions. Unfortunately, the proposal was rejected immediately by Israel and ignored by the administration. However, it received significant attention from the media.