867N.00/630: Telegram

The Consul General at Jerusalem (Pinkerton) to the Secretary of State

102. In the absence of High Commissioner in Iran I have consulted Chief Secretary who is acting and have discussed situation generally with him and other officials of the Secretariat. Following information and expression of opinion arises from discussion with Palestine [Page 772] officials. It is assumed Department’s telegram42 refers to speech made by Ben-Gurion before Maccabee organization on April 1. On this as on numerous occasions recently Ben-Gurion and other extremist Zionist leaders have made speeches visualizing use of force if necessary for the attainment of Jewish nationalist aims in connection with the post war settlement. Majority of Jews of Palestine share these aims. How many agree with use of force to achieve them is uncertain but Chief of CID43 estimates forty percent of population will follow into violence if necessary. Community has been influenced into acceptance of extremist policy and more moderate portion of community although generally perturbed are ineffectual in opposition to advocates of extremist backed by organizations said to be controlled by Jewish Agency.

British authorities have been aware for some time that secret caches of arms and ammunition were being built up in Jewish settlements ostensibly with sole object of defence against Arab attack. Action to prevent this has been hampered by British desire to avoid major clashes with sections of Jewish community which they say could only have led to a showdown with Jewish Agency with consequent undesirable repercussions on war effort. I have been informed in strict confidence by Secretariat that of late thefts by Jews of military arms and explosives have reached alarming proportions and recent hauls have included two consignments of some 300 rifles each, more than 20 machine guns and over three tons of gelignite and other explosives. Evidence points to organized arms racket involving Jewish units of the British Army employed on guard duties. Investigations are still proceeding. Secretariat states that extent of arms thefts and reports regarding nature of illegal military training now being conducted in Jewish settlements indicates that action contemplated is offensive as well as defensive, stress on offensive side having been intensified.

Neither side wishes to risk being blamed for embarrassing war efforts by starting violence now but officials say greater danger is at present from Jews who are well prepared. General opinion is that serious trouble need not be anticipated until near or at end of war. Both races however are excitable and feelings may quickly boil over. Each side would naturally be glad to see the other blamed for initiating disturbances.

It is generally agreed that eventual showdown is inevitable unless extremism on both sides can be checked. British efforts to soften both parties on basis of common interests have so far resulted only in Zionist opposition to local government which Ben-Gurion characterizes [Page 773] as White Paper government and in Arab accusations of appeasement of Jews.

  1. Telegram No. 105, April 10, p. 768.
  2. Presumably the Criminal Investigation Department.