Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray)44

I think we may anticipate the exercise of considerable pressure on the Department and on the President in the event the London conference on Palestine, which is now in progress, fails to result in an agreement acceptable to the Jews.

You will recall that the British Government has announced that if the London discussions should not produce an agreement within a reasonable period of time the British Government will take its own decision in the light of its examination of the problem and of the discussions in London and announce the policy which it proposes to pursue.

The recent British suggestion at the conference, that the mandate be terminated and an independent state set up in treaty relations with Great Britain with certain undefined safeguards for the Jewish minority population, has resulted, as you are aware, in a Jewish threat to withdraw from the conference. Further conversations are reported [Page 724] as now in progress in London looking to the continuance of the conference, but it is not known what their result will be.

Last October when American Zionists were aroused over reports from Dr. Weizmann in London that the British Government was contemplating the termination of the mandate, emergency committees were organized by the Zionist Organization of America which resulted in an unprecedented mass appeal for American intervention with Great Britain in behalf of the Jewish interest in Palestine. At that time we received more than 100,000 telegrams and letters from Jewish organizations and individuals and from non-Jewish American citizens whose support had been enlisted by the Zionist Organization. In answer to this appeal there was issued the Department’s public statement of October 14, 1938, setting forth very explicitly our position with reference to Palestine.

The New Palestine, organ of the Zionist Organization of America, in its issue of March 3, 1939, reports that three members of the American delegation at the London conference, namely Dr. Stephen Wise, Mr. Louis Lipsky and Mr. Robert Szold, will give an account of the proceedings of the conference at a public meeting arranged by the Zionist Organization of America in Carnegie Hall in New York on March 13th. It had been previously announced in the press that Dr. Wise would sail from England on March 4th and it is presumed he will be accompanied by Messrs. Lipsky and Szold.

The New Palestine also announced that, following news of the British Government’s proposals concerning Palestine, national officers of the Zionist Organization of America and the Mizrach Organization of America had met to formulate a program of action and that “Zionist districts throughout the country were forming Emergency Committees reminiscent of those formed during the previous crisis” of October 1938.

We have already begun to note a marked increase in correspondence relating to Palestine with requests for the intervention of this Government in behalf of the Zionist aims in Palestine. I think we may expect to find exerted on the Department and the White House pressure hardly less than that exerted by the Zionists and their sympathizers last October in the event the London Conference fails to result in an agreement.

It appears probable that the greatest pressure is likely to be exerted on the President rather than the Department. In that connection it may be recalled that after the issuance of the Department’s public statement of October 14, 1938, the New Palestine gave implicit recognition of the strength of the legal arguments of the Department with respect to the position of this Government toward Palestine as defined in the statement of October 14th and expressed the opinion that [Page 725] emphasis should be placed on the “moral and humanitarian” aspects of the Palestine problem. It is believed that Jewish pressure, accordingly, will be based more and more on those considerations.

Wallace Murray
  1. For the Under Secretary and the Secretary.