740.0011 European War 1939/12842: Telegram

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

294. Your 840, June 28, noon, and previous telegrams mentioned therein. The Department does not consider that it would be desirable, in present circumstances, for this Government to issue a statement designed to give political satisfaction to the Arabs, or to endeavor to induce Zionist leaders in the United States “to revise their views on the Palestine problem in the light of the demonstrated impracticability of the present policy.” Some of the principal reasons for the Department’s attitude are as follows:

The areas inhabited by the Arabs are, as among the Allied and pro-Ally powers, of primary interest and importance to Great Britain, by whom they are for the most part controlled or dominated politically or militarily. It is entirely natural and appropriate, therefore, that the British should take the lead in the issuance of political statements having reference to those areas, and, if they consider a modification of Zionist aims necessary or desirable, that they should be the first to take steps to that end.
From the Department’s observation of the views and aims of Zionists in this country, they do not admit and could not be brought to admit that “the project in its present form has not only failed in the past but is incapable of realization in the future.” They do not grant that the movement is a handicap to the British war effort in the Near East, but hold it to be a source of strength if the British will but use it.
The political strength of Zionists in England is offset to a greater or less extent, depending on circumstances, by considerations of Empire involving the Arabs and the Moslems generally. In the United States there is no such offset which is in any degree comparable. This country, consequently, can hardly be expected to adopt an attitude or policy which is more pro-Arab than the British. In this connection it is noted that Eden’s statement of May 29 omitted all reference to the highly charged question of Palestine.
Well-informed Arabs are quite aware that the Zionists play a far more important part in American politics than do Arab sympathizers. The Arabs are constantly apprehensive lest this circumstance be translated into pressure brought to bear by this Government upon the British Government to weigh the balance in Palestine in favor of the Zionists. If, therefore, this Government should issue a pro-Arab declaration, intelligent Arabs would probably regard it as purely war-connected, and place even less reliance upon it than upon a similar declaration from the British who, as above stated, are obliged to take Arab and Moslem opinion into careful account. Thus the Arabs themselves would be likely to value an American declaration of this character as a mere self-conveniencing statement.
Up to the present time, it has not been feasible to apply the Wilsonian principle of self-determination to Palestine. Should the [Page 616] situation change in such a way as to make it possible to expect or to hope for its application, the question of a declaration could be reexamined.