Memorandum by the Adviser on Political Relations ( Murray ) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Secretary: With reference to the recent conference held in your office concerning the harmful effects of Zionist agitation on the war effort, there is attached, in accordance with your instruction, a draft declaration, based on Atlantic Charter2 principles, setting forth this Government’s attitude toward the Near Eastern peoples generally, and the peoples of Palestine in particular. There is also enclosed a suggested letter of transmittal to the President.

The drafts have been approved by Mr. Hoskins,3 and initialed by Mr. Dunn4 and Mr. Hackworth,5 who, you will recall, took part in the conference. Mr. Dunn and Mr. Hackworth feel that before it is issued, the declaration should be cleared with the British. I concur in their view, and suggest that it might be shown to the British before being sent to the President.

If you concur, would you please indicate the manner in which you desire this matter taken up with the British.

Wallace Murray
[Enclosure 1]

Draft Declaration or Statement 6

Some uncertainty appears to exist as to the attitude of the Government of the United States toward the peoples of the Near East, with [Page 539] particular reference to their future. It is therefore desirable to make known this Government’s attitude, which is as follows:

The war objectives of this Government as stated in the Atlantic Charter include the “desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned”, and respect for “the right of all peoples to choose the form of Government under which they will live”.

This Government is of course dedicated to the application of these principles in the Near East as elsewhere. In Palestine, despite past difficulties, it is highly desirable that a political solution be reached through agreement between the Arab and Jewish communities, and this Government earnestly hopes that outstanding problems will be settled on that basis.

The record shows that the Axis powers have repeatedly and cynically dishonored their promises and engagements. Therefore it is inconceivable that any Near Eastern peoples place either faith or credence in them. The Axis aggressors threaten the extension and maintenance of freedom in the Near East; consequently, increased participation in the war effort by all Near Eastern peoples would be in their own interest and naturally would be welcomed by the United States Government.

The participation of the peoples of Palestine in the war effort obviously presents a difficult problem. The British Government as the Mandatory is responsible for the defense of Palestine. It is understood that the British Army is open to able-bodied Palestinians, and that numbers of them have already enlisted. However, if it should be deemed preferable to form separate Arab and Jewish military units, and if the necessary equipment can be made available, such an arrangement would be agreeable to the Government of the United States. In the same way that United States forces are used wherever danger threatens, these units would be utilized, under United Nations command, wherever their services are required.

[Enclosure 2]

Draft Letter to President Roosevelt

My Dear Mr. President: The agitation for the formation of a Jewish army in Palestine is having such alarming effects in the Near and Middle East that I am impelled to draw your attention to the matter. From the reports of our military and political observers, it is clear that the British and ourselves cannot use these territories as bases of operations against Germany, Italy and Japan and as routes of access to the combat areas in Libya, Russia and China, if, in addition to combatting the Axis forces, we have to defend ourselves against the local populations.

[Page 540]

The essential fact which has to be faced is that the Near and Middle East is overwhelmingly Moslem. In India the only worthwhile fighting material of significance is drawn from the large minority group of 80,000,000 Moslems.

These peoples are becoming more and more hostile to the United Nations’ cause due to the fear that their fellow Moslems in Palestine will be overridden. As the result of continuous agitation by the Zionists of their ambitions in Palestine, the Axis propagandists have been broadcasting, with good effect from their viewpoint, that the United States intends to turn Palestine over to the Jews despite the opposition of the Moslem majority in that country. Of course, this agitation, which has recently taken the form of full-page advertisements in the metropolitan press advocating the formation of a Jewish army to defend Palestine, and a widely publicized dinner here in Washington, gives the Axis powers additional oil to pour on the fire, which is already dangerously high. We have just learned that the Axis powers have promised the Arabs their independence and the elimination of the Jewish national home in Palestine. Doubtless, the Axis will in the near future make public announcement of this promise as further evidence of their friendship for the Moslems.

Much has been written and a great deal of blood has been spilled over the Palestine problem, which admittedly is difficult. It is evident, however, that no satisfactory and lasting political solution can be reached except on the basis of common agreement between the Arabs and the Jews in that country. So long as the Zionists feel that they can obtain outside support which will enable them to impose their own solution, they will not be disposed to treat with the Arabs on equal terms. A settlement in Palestine resulting from the use or threat of force, would, of course, be completely opposed to the principles for which we fought the last war and are fighting the present war.

For a year our representatives in Egypt and elsewhere in the Near East have been calling attention to the progressive undermining of the military and political position in the Middle Eastern area as a result of Zionist agitation, and the fact that the authorities here, through silence, appear to support the objectives of political Zionism. I believe that the time has come when the position of this Government, based squarely on the Atlantic Charter, should be made known. To that end, I enclose a draft of a declaration or statement7 which might now be issued to clarify the situation.

Faithfully yours,

  1. Joint statement by President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill, August 14, 1941, Foreign Relations, 1941, Vol. i, p. 367.
  2. Harold B. Hoskins, Executive Assistant to Assistant Secretary of State Berle.
  3. James Clement Dunn, Adviser on Political Relations.
  4. Green H. Hackworth, Legal Adviser.
  5. An attached memorandum dated July 9, 1942, by Mr. Alling reads as follows: “On June 26, 1942, at the direction of the Secretary, I dictated to one of the President’s secretaries the attached draft declaration for urgent consideration with a view to issuance at the earliest possible moment.”
  6. supra.