King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud to President Roosevelt 44

Excellency: In this great world war in which nations are shedding their blood and expending their wealth in the defence of freedom and liberty, in this war in which the high principles for which the Allies are fighting have been proclaimed in the Atlantic Charter, in this struggle in which the leaders of every country are appealing to their countrymen, allies and friends to stand with them in their struggle for life, I have been alarmed, as have other Moslems and Arabs, because a group of Zionists are seizing the opportunity of this terrible crisis to make extensive propaganda by which they seek on the one hand to mislead American public opinion and, on the other hand, to bring pressure upon the Allied Governments in these critical times in order to force them to go against the principles of right, justice and equity which they have proclaimed and for which they are fighting, the principles of the freedom and liberty of peoples. By so doing the Jews seek to compel the Allies to help them exterminate the peaceful Arabs settled in Palestine for thousands of years. They hope to evict this noble nation from its home and to install Jews from every horizon in this sacred Moslem Arab country. What a calamitous and infamous miscarriage of justice would, God forbid, result from this world struggle if the Allies should, at the end of their struggle crown their victory by evicting the Arabs from their home in Palestine, substituting in their place vagrant Jews who have no ties with this country except an imaginary claim which, from the point of view of right and justice, has no grounds except what they invent through fraud and deceit. They avail themselves of the Allies’ critical situation and of the fact that the American nation is unaware of the truth about the Arabs in general and the Palestine question in particular.

On November 19 [29], 1938 (Shawal 7, 1867 H.) I wrote to Your Excellency a letter45 in which I set forth the true situation of the Arabs and Jews in Palestine. If Your Excellency would refer to that letter, you will find that the Jews have no right to Palestine and that their claim is an act of injustice unprecedented in the history of the human race. Palestine has from the earliest history belonged to the Arabs and is situated in the midst of Arab countries. The Jews only occupied it for a short period and the greater part of that period was full of massacres and tragedies. Subsequently they were [Page 774] driven out of the country and today it is proposed to re-install them in it. By so doing the Jews will do wrong to the quiet and peaceful Arabs. The Heavens will split, the earth will be rent asunder, and the mountains will tremble at what the Jews claim in Palestine, both materially and spiritually.

Having sent to Your Excellency my above-mentioned letter, I believed, and I still believe, that the Arab claim to Palestine had become clear to you, for in your kind letter to me dated January 9, 193946 you made no remark about any of the facts which I had mentioned in my previous letter. I would not have wasted Your Excellency’s time over this case nor the time of the men at the head of your government at this critical moment but the persistent news that these Zionists do not refrain from bringing forth their wrong and unjust claim induces me to remind Your Excellency of the rights of Moslems and Arabs in the Holy Land so that you may prevent this act of injustice and that my explanation to Your Excellency may convince the Americans of the Arabs’ rights in Palestine, and that Americans whom Jewish Zionism intends to mislead by propaganda may know the real facts, help the oppressed Arabs, and crown their present efforts by setting up right and justice in all parts of the world.

If we leave aside the religious animosity between Moslems and Jews which dates back to the time when Islam appeared and which is due to the treacherous behavior of the Jews towards Moslems and their Prophet, if we leave aside all this and consider the case of the Jews from a purely humanitarian point of view, we would find, as I mentioned in my previous letter, that Palestine, as every human creature who knows that country admits, cannot solve the Jewish problem. Supposing that the country were subjected to injustice in all its forms, that all the Arabs of Palestine, men, women and children, were killed and their lands wrested from them and given to the Jews, the Jewish problem would not be solved and no sufficient lands would be available for the Jews. Why, therefore, should such an act of injustice, which is unique in the history of the human race, be tolerated, seeing that it would not satisfy the would-be murderers, i.e., the Jews?

In my previous letter to Your Excellency I stated that if we consider this matter from a humanitarian point of view, we would find that the small country we call Palestine was crammed at the beginning of the present war with nearly 400,000 Jews. At the end of the last Great War they only constituted 7% of the whole population but this proportion rose before the beginning of the present war to 29% and is still rising. We do not know where it will stop, but we know that a little before the present war the Jews possessed 1,000,332 [Page 775] donams out of 7,000,000 donams which is the sum total of all the cultivable land in Palestine.

We do not intend, nor demand, the destruction of the Jews but we demand that the Arabs should not be exterminated for the sake of the Jews. The world should not be too small to receive them. In fact, if each of the Allied countries would bear one tenth of what Palestine has borne, it would be possible to solve the Jewish problem and the problem of giving them a home to live in. All that we request at present is that you should help to stop the flow of migration by finding a place for the Jews to live in other than Palestine, and by preventing completely the sale of lands to them. Later on the Allies and Arabs can look into the matter of assuring the accommodation of those of the Jews residing in Palestine whom that country can support provided that they reside quietly and do not foment trouble between Arabs and the Allies.

In writing this to Your Excellency I am sure that you will respond to the appeal of a friend who feels that you appreciate friendship as you appreciate right, justice, and equity, and who is aware that the greatest hope of the American people is to come out of this world struggle, rejoicing in the triumph of the principles for which it is fighting, i.e., to ensure to every people its freedom and to grant it its rights. For if—God forbid!—the Jews were to be granted their desire, Palestine would forever remain a hotbed of troubles and disturbances as in the past. This will create difficulties for the Allies in general and for our friend Great Britain in particular. In view of their financial power and learning the Jews can stir up enmity between the Arabs and the Allies at any moment. They have been the cause of many troubles in the past.

All that we are now anxious for is that right and justice should prevail in the solution of the various problems which will come to light after the war and that the relations between the Arabs and the Allies should always be of the best and strongest.

In closing, I beg you to accept my most cordial greetings.

  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Minister in Egypt in his des patch No. 1034, May 11; received May 25.
  2. Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. ii, p. 994.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1939, vol. iv, p. 696.