Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)

Dr. Emanuel Neumann8 came in to see me. I had intimated that I should be glad to see someone representing Dr. Weizmann, informally.

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Dr. Neumann explained that Dr. Weizmann would have come himself, but that he was not well.

I said that I had nothing particular in mind, except that I wanted to go over the situation of the Zionists in Palestine in the light of the present unfavorable moves. Many of these people were American citizens, or of American origin, and we have had a very considerable interest in the Zionist situation.

I said that while we had every hope that it would not occur, we had at least to consider the possibility that the British might be so hard beset that they did not have force available to defend Palestine. There had been a more or less pro-German coup d’état in Iraq; and the Germans were, of course, attacking Egypt.

I said I thought it would be the part of statesmanship for the group Dr. Weizmann represented to consider what they might do in that situation. They would then be face to face with the Arabs, without any screen of protecting force. It would seem that some sort of understanding with the Arabs might at that time become a crucial necessity. I did not presume to suggest whether, or how, it could be done—but merely expressed the personal hope that they would consider the matter and possibly consult a little with Mr. Wallace Murray, in the event that they had any tangible ideas.

Dr. Neumann said he appreciated our interest in the matter, and was glad we were thinking about it. They themselves were canvassing various ideas.

  1. Secretary to Dr. Chaim Weizmann.