867n.404Wailing Wall/255

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Shaw)47

Rabbi Wise48 called to ask the Secretary’s views with respect to the American Zionists retaining the services of a prominent American [Page 59]lawyer to assist in presenting the Jewish point of view before the Shaw49 Commission of Investigation. Rabbi Wise felt that in view of the killing of American citizens in the course of the Palestine troubles this move would be eminently proper. The Secretary said he could see no objection to Rabbi Wise’s suggestion, it being distinctly understood that the American lawyer chosen had no official status and that the steps necessary to enable him to appear before the Shaw Commission should be taken by the American Zionist Organization in collaboration with the Jewish Agency in London and the British Colonial Office. It was pointed out to Rabbi Wise that the presenting of the Jewish or Zionist point of view before the Commission of Investigation was one thing and the presentation before the competent authorities of private claims for damages on account of the killing of American citizens was something quite different and the two should not be confused. It was suggested to Rabbi Wise that to argue that because eight American citizens had been killed in Palestine therefore the American Government was under some sort of obligation to assist in presenting the Zionist side before the Commission of Investigation was clearly fallacious reasoning. Why should the American Government assist in presenting either the Jewish or the Arab side? If on the other hand the competent Zionist authorities desired to retain the services of an American, a German or a Polish lawyer to assist Sir F. Boyd Merriman that was entirely a matter to be settled through the Jewish Agency and the Colonial Office.

G. H[owland] S[haw]
  1. Marked “O K” by the Secretary of State.
  2. Stephen S. Wise, of New York.
  3. Sir Walter Shaw, Chairman.