Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Gordon P. Merriam of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs

Participants: Dr. Emmanuel Neuman, Zionist Organization of America
Mr. Alling
Mr. Merriam

During the course of a long call this morning, Dr. Neuman observed that in Zionist circles there was a growing feeling that there would be far less opposition to the creation of a Jewish army if a similar equal opportunity to create an army were to be offered to the Arabs. It was stated in reply that this might well be true.

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When speaking alone to Mr. Merriam, Dr. Neuman said he had heard that the Department was considering the issuance of a statement on the Jewish army question, to which Mr. Merriam replied that he had no idea whether or not any such statement would be issued. Dr. Neuman did not pursue the question in this form, but observed later in talking with both Mr. Alling and Mr. Merriam that army circles considered the question to be largely political in character. Dr. Neuman was told that while that might be true, the fact remained that up to the present time the question of supplying arms and equipment even to existing forces had been one of great difficulty.

Dr. Neuman said that in Zionist circles it was felt that the Palestine question should be settled in connection with a general settlement involving the countries neighboring Palestine as well as that country itself, and he asked whether we felt the same way. It was said to him in reply that most of the thought and energies of the Department in these days were being devoted to minute-by-minute problems directly connected with the war. However, there seemed to be no preconceived ideas in the Department as to whether the Palestine problem should be handled on a narrow or a wide territorial basis. Any settlement agreed upon by the peoples concerned would be pleasing.

Dr. Neuman then alluded to reports of a recent statement by the Prime Minister of Iraq to the effect that the Iraqi Minister at Washington had received assurances from this Government regarding the future independent status of Syria, Trans-Jordan, and Palestine, and asked whether the Division of Near Eastern Affairs had given any such assurance. Dr. Neuman was informed that we had received a report from the Legation at Baghdad giving the text of Nuri Pasha’s statement to the Chamber of Deputies. The statement did not name any Arab countries, but was to the effect that the Prime Minister had received from the Minister of Iraq in Washington an assurance in regard to the future independence of the Arab states and that no more could be said at the moment. Dr. Neuman was told that the Division had given no such assurance nor had anyone in the Department so far as we were aware.