Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Shaw) of a Conversation Between the Secretary of State, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and Judge Milton Strasburger

The Secretary stated that he had given the most careful study to the Resolution of the American Jewish Congress presented to him by Rabbi Wise and his delegation on January 13. He added that he had also considered all the applicable precedents from the earliest period of our history down to the present. The Secretary pointed out to Rabbi Wise that formal representations addressed by us to a foreign government concerning the internal affairs of that foreign government [Page 639] were entirely inadmissible and would doubtless do more harm than good in any event. The Secretary stressed the fact that international practice in such matters was perfectly clear. We could not send a note to Rumania regarding the treatment of the Jews in that country.

The Secretary then went on to point out that, international doctrine and practice being as he had explained, if he were to make a formal reply to the Resolution of the Jewish Congress this reply would necessarily have to refer in unqualified terms to our inability to make formal representations to Rumania. The Secretary inquired whether such a reply would serve the interests which Rabbi Wise and his colleagues had at heart. Rabbi Wise replied with an unequivocal “no”. The Secretary then pointed out that he had not the slightest desire to question the propriety of the Resolution, and he would go even further. He would be prepared to call in the Rumanian Minister and tell him of the state of public opinion in America concerning the treatment of Jews in Rumania and also of the expression which that public opinion had recently received. The American Minister at Bucharest would of course be informed of this move. Rabbi Wise at first seemed inclined to think that this procedure did not go far enough. The Secretary then explained in detail exactly what he had done in the face of the requests of the Catholics in this country that we make representations to Mexico on the religious situation in that country. He said that he had had numerous interviews with Catholic prelates and had pointed out to them that we could riot make formal representations on such a subject to the Mexican Government. He had inquired whether they desired him, in reply to their written protests, to state this fact. After a series of conferences, the Secretary said, the Catholics had come around to see that it was not in the interest of their cause to press for formal representations. The Secretary explained that he had called in the Mexican Ambassador and showed him the petitions and communications which had been received by the Department concerning the religious situation in Mexico and he had explained the significance of these expressions of American public opinion.11 Rabbi Wise asked whether it would not be possible for the Department to make some sort of reply to the Resolution. The Secretary made it perfectly clear that if any reply were to be sent it would necessarily have to contain an unequivocal statement as to our inability to make formal representations to Rumania.

At the conclusion of the interview it was understood that the Secretary would call in the Rumanian Minister and show him the Resolution of the Jewish Congress and explain its significance. The question of the Department making a written reply to the Resolution was [Page 640] adjourned and meanwhile it was clearly understood that Rabbi Wise and his colleagues would make no public statement as to the course of action which it was proposed to take.

G. Howland Shaw
  1. See instruction No. 995, Aug. 25, 1926, to the Chargé in Mexico, Foreign Relations, 1926, vol. ii, p. 705.