The British Embassy to the Department of State
The High Commissioner for Palestine26 has recently reported to London on the situation in that country. The High Commissioner states that it has been learnt that the Inner Zionist Council and the Executive of the Jewish Agency have accepted, in both cases by a majority vote, the so-called “Biltmore Resolutions”27 formulated at the American Zionist Conference in New York last May.
- The most important of these resolutions are those calling for a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine and “unalterable rejection of the White Paper”,28 for the institution of a Jewish military force fighting under its own flag and under the high command of the United Nations, and for the control of immigration into Palestine by the Jewish Agency.
- The Inner Zionist Council is reported to have accepted the resolutions by 21 votes to 9. In proposing the motion, Mr. Ben Gurion29 intimated that the words “Jewish State” should be substituted for “Commonwealth”. He is also said to have made it clear that acceptance of the “Biltmore programme” was not to be taken as a definition of ultimate Zionist aims. A new world order, he said, was about to be established and the Jewish problem would once again be before an international forum. The resolutions represented immediate aims for submission to that forum, as the demands of the Jewish people.
- These developments mean that official Zionist policy has now been shown publicly to be maximalist. This should enable the long-discussed rapprochement with the Revisionists to take place, and the latter are in fact believed to have accepted the “Biltmore resolutions”. There would then be a strong Zionist bloc pledged to an extremist [Page 552] policy and unable, even if willing, to retract, in view of the publicity given to their acceptance of this policy.
- The High Commissioner regards the situation as potentially dangerous. He reports having felt for some time that the critical period in Jewish politics would come when it became evident that the United Nations are winning the war but still had their hands full. It appears that the Zionist leaders have seen in the successes in Africa a sign that the end of the war is drawing near and that they should hurry ahead with the construction and consolidation of their Zionist platform in order to be in time for the Peace Conference. Nor are indications wanting that the extremist Zionists would welcome at this juncture some manifestations of Arab resentment that they could exploit for publicity value outside Palestine.
- For the first time since the outbreak of the war the High Commissioner has noted a certain disturbance of Arab political feelings, not confined to a small section of the community. This is due to the intense publicity given by the whole of the Jewish press to statements made on the occasion of the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration by prominent personalities in the United Kingdom and the United States expressing sympathy with Zionist political aspirations. Particular notice has been taken of a message sent by Mr. Wendell Willkie30 to a mass meeting in New York City opening with the words “The doors of Palestine must be opened to the Jewish peoples of Central and Eastern Europe after the war.” This and other statements have evoked adverse comment in the Arab press, and numerous protests have been received from Arab bodies and individuals. The Emir Abdullah of Transjordan has also written to the High Commissioner on the subject. Typical comment on Mr. Willkie’s statement is that it is contrary to the declared principles of the United Nations, and that the Arabs do not ask for anything more than has been promised by the democracies to all of the countries of the world. The situation has not been improved by the publication in the local Jewish press of the “Biltmore Resolutions”, and there is a persistent belief in Arab circles that where the Palestine question is concerned, Jewish influence in the United States is extremely powerful.
- The High Commissioner reports that while some of the protests received by him are from professional politicians, he has no doubt that there is also widespread and sincere concern in Arab circles. He states that while their positive help to the Allied cause has not been remarkable, it is the case that since the outbreak of war they have refrained from pressing their case, notably for the implementation of the constitutional provisions of the White Paper, because they genuinely do not wish to hamper the war effort. Now, however, there [Page 553] has been a hardening of hearts and it has even been reported that the Jewish activities mentioned in the earlier paragraphs of this memorandum have diminished Arab enthusiasm for the success in North Africa. The argument used in Arab circles is that there is little point in supporting the Allies if their victory is to result in Palestine being handed over to the Jews.
- The High Commissioner is not apprehensive that this resentment will be expressed in more active or violent forms unless there is further and more intense provocation. Arab opinion will, in his opinion, be satisfied to have ensured by their protests that His Majesty’s Government have been reminded that the Arabs as well as the Jews have rights in Palestine. Some of the protests conclude by asking for an official declaration by His Majesty’s Government to counter Mr. Willkie’s statement and reassure the Arabs. Apart from the objections to attempting to make any precise declarations at the present time, the High Commissioner does not take such requests very seriously, and regards them as no more than an attempt to take advantage of the situation to extract fresh promises for post-war use.
- Sir Harold MacMichael.↩
- For text of the program adopted in a resolution of May 11, 1942, by an extraordinary conference of Zionists at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City, see J. C. Hurewitz, Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East, A Documentary Record, 1914–1956 (Princeton, 1956), Vol. ii, pp. 234 and 235.↩
- British Cmd. 6019: Palestine, Statement of Policy, 1939. ↩
- David Ben-Gurion, Head of the Jewish Agency in Palestine.↩
- Republican candidate for President in 1940.↩