740.0011 European War 1939/11258: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

572. For the Secretary and Under Secretary. In discussing the general situation in this area with various representative persons both Egyptian and foreign I have repeatedly heard reference made to the failure of British policy in the Arab world and its deleterious effect on the position of the British not only in the Arab countries but also in the Islamic world in general which has greatly facilitated the extension of Nazi influence in this area. Recent developments in Iraq and Syria including the arrival of German military forces and accompanied by disquieting indications in Turkey and Iran have served to throw the seriousness of this situation into high relief and even [Page 610] raise the question of whether the British will be able to maintain their armies in the Middle East. The serious effect of such an eventuality on the course and duration of the war needs no emphasis.

Although reasons contributing to this situation are many and varied, I find in discussing the angle of the subject that the major factor which inevitably emerges is the problem presented by Zionism in Palestine. There lies the basic disorder whatever may be the immediate and [apparent omission] symptom and should it be that the Axis is temporarily successful in this area no very apparent fact will probably have contributed more to their success than the dissension sown in the Arab world by the Zionists. In the face of this state of affairs, I have not infrequently heard surprise expressed that the responsible heads of world Jewry have not apparently been brought to realize the great contribution which they could render not only to the cause of democracy but also to their co-religionists by admitting that despite the noble sentiments which may have characterized the idea of the Jewish national home at its inception the project in its present form has not only failed in the past but is incapable of realization in the future unless imposed by force on an unwilling native population.

In making mention of the foregoing I need not add that I have not sufficient information or special experience which would warrant definite suggestions on my part as remedies for the adverse reaction to the Zionist issue in the Arab world. It may be that some declaration could be made which would tend to mitigate the state of animosity prevailing among Moslems as a result of certain factors of this issue in Palestine which are regarded as offensive by the Arabs. It may also be possible that some fundamental realignment of the idea of a Jewish national home may be effected with a practical reorganization of the project on a basis different from that prevailing at present and in this connection reference has been made to the part which the Vatican might play in such a plan. These suggestions are naturally vague and in no way deemed as exhausting the possibilities. The problem is so grave, however, and the potential consequences so far reaching that I venture to bring very critical impressions to the Department’s attention in the belief that the essential fact should be appreciated that the maintenance of present concepts in respect of Zionism constitutes a major obstacle to the successful prosecution of the war in this area and that those who have knowledge of this situation and power to act should exert every effort toward finding a solution. In the matter of initiating any such efforts the American Government is generally regarded as in the most favorable position to act.